No Bail for Padilla

Judge Martha Cooke denied bail for Jose Padilla today. She cited several facts which together, I think, make the decision unassailable:

‘Dirty bomb’ suspect Padilla to remain in jail without bail: Government lawyers maintained that Padilla, who has a lengthy criminal record — including murder as a juvenile in 1985 — and a wife and children in Egypt, is both a danger to the community and a flight risk. He also used several aliases, prosecutors said.

Cooke said she was mindful of the unusual circumstances of Padilla’s detention, but would not allow his release. She noted that Padilla had failed to show up for court appearances in connection with criminal charges brought in the late 1980s and early ’90s when Padilla was involved with a Chicago gang.

According to this sympathetic profile by SusanDeborah Sontag, Padilla’s (second) wife lives in Egypt.

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10 Responses to No Bail for Padilla

  1. bricklayer says:

    Just out of curiosity, which part of the Sontag piece do liberals find the most “sympathetic?”

    The part where he admits to brutally stabbing and robbing immigrants in Chicago? The part where he fired shots during a road rage incident? The part where he abandons his first wife? The part where he suffers from insane dillusions that he is actually an arab?

    Is the denial of bail a surprise? Why should he be on the streets? Are there really liberals out there who would take this psychopath into their homes?

  2. Michael says:

    By “sympathetic” I meant of course “sympathetic to Padilla”. Which the article clearly is.

  3. bricklayer says:

    The sun-sentinel portion you quoted says he has a wife in egypt, then you quote the Sontag article for further support of that proposition. Why? Do you mean to support the notion that his foreign ties implicate flight risk, and denial of bail was proper? Or do you mean to imply that we ought to be sympathetic to this “family man” and his loved ones who surely miss his gentle ways? Who cares if there’s a wife one way or the other? He’s implicated in a conspiracy to commit mass murder…that isn’t enough?

    Up until now you’ve avoided the merits of his case and discussed the procedural due process issues. It seemed to me the question was effectually theoretical, because nobody doubts he’ll eventually end up in prison one way or another, the only question is by what mechanism.

    But now with the UN and other liberal kooks demanding release of Gitmo prisoners because we tortured them by force-feeding (apparently even terrorists have a right-to-die) during a hunger strike, I find any hint of releasing terrorists deeply disturbing.

    Do liberals think the American people so dumb that if they wait long enough, the red states will forget why the detainees are there in the first place? Or is Padilla Alfred Dreyfus reincarnate?

    Bottom line, do you feel sorry for this guy?

    (also Deborah Sontag, not Susan)

  4. Mojo says:

    Bricklayer, Why can’t you just take what Michael wrote at face value? He said he was going to list several reasons why the decision to deny bail was unassailable and then did so. He cited an article that noted that Padilla’s wife did indeed live in Egypt and noted (accurately) that the linked article was sympathetic to Padilla. How do you go from that to believing that Michael is sympathetic to Padilla and favors releasing him on bail, the exact opposite of what he stated? (You did catch him on the Susan/Deborah thing though.)

  5. bricklayer says:


    You can understand how one could be confused when he throws in the parenthetical “.., I think,..” because that tends to indicate uncertainty. So I’m inquiring as to what he’s uncertain about. I just want to understand what “unassailable” means. “Unassailable” because the judge was right, i.e. Padilla is a menace to society, or if by “unassailable” he means that the judge’s decision would be undisturbed on appeal because the factors considered were legally proper. Note the latter doesn’t rule out the possibility that another judge (a more sympathetic one) could have judged the facts otherwise.

    I’m confused as to his position because I don’t see how the Sontag article is relevant whatsoever after already having quoted the facts in the sun-sentinel article. Why draw readers’ attention to an article slanting towards a sympathetic portrayal? A fair reading of the post could be that but for the foreign ties, Padilla might have (or should have?) been released.

  6. Michael says:

    I cited the Sontag article because — brace yourself, this will come as a shock — it was the first New York Times article (or indeed article from any major media) with substantial biographical info that my Google search turned up.

    I don’t claim a great expertise on general criminal procedure — while I know a lot about a few specialized areas of criminal law, such as the fourth amendment, especially as it relates to wiretapping and sense-enhanced searching, there are huge chunks of crim pro that I’m not at all well versed in. And bail is surely one of them. So expect lots of hedging (and “I thinks”) in my discussion of those topics. That said, my guess is that the actual charges against Padilla in this case, and the relative paucity of the evidence, might have made a different person a decent candidate for bail. But that hypothetical person would be one with the same local ties (mother, other relatives) but without the foreign spouse and especially without the priors. Indeed, one of the co-defendants, judged to be less of a flight risk, has been released on bail — subject to strict monitoring. One of the few things I recall about bail is that it isn’t punitive and thus doesn’t in principle depend on the severity of the charges: bail is mostly about ensuring the defendant will turn up, although in rare cases it can be denied in order to protect the community from dangerousness.

    As to the merits, I think Padilla’s incarceration in military custody was a terrible crime, and represents a direct and (until ruled unconstitutional) continuing assault on the Constitution and our liberties. Whether the current trial is one on meaty or flimsy charges is a small side issue to that main and critical point, but so far it’s an interesting side issue. And, so far, I think it’s an open question whether Padilla will actually be convicted unless the government has some more evidence up its sleeve. Having read the actual indictment, and read what news reports I can, I think what we’ve seen so far is surprisingly thin, especially since this guy was supposedly so dangerous the administration had to put him on ice and throw away the key. Not so thin that I’m prepared to predict an acquittal, but surely thin enough that it would seem even more uphill for the government were he not on trial with other people against whom the government seems to have a much better case. The defense case will, however, be hampered by its powerful reasons to want to keep Padilla off the stand. On the one hand, he’s best placed to rebut whatever the government’s informants have said. On the other hand, given his long career as a hoodlum and worse, I imagine that the last thing the defense will want to do is allow the government to introduce his record as impeachment evidence.

    Thank you for the Sontag first name correction, by the way.

  7. bricklayer says:

    I don’t see how you can make the jump from legal technicality to “terrible crime” without a minimally cursory analysis of the merits. Unless you are prepared to show that Padilla’s fate (incarceration) would be different had his case been left entirely to another branch of government from the start, I fail to see how a terrible crime has been committed.

    Even under the best light, or as you put it sympathetic, he is clearly a threat to society. Purported visions, complete abandonment of civilized culture, violent tendencies…all earmarks of fanatical islamic adherance. All valid circumstantial evidence of motive and intent, and as you seem to concede no jury would acquit him. He’d be rotting in jail in either case.

    Assume that some, like me, believe there is some merit to the executive’s argument that extraordinary circumstances require prolonged detention of certain individuals rather than trial, and under narrow constraints the Constitution affords the executive this power. Clearly, much like a bail determination, the severity of the crime and the strength of the evidence speak to the appropriateness of each circumstance.

    For example, there are murmorings about that the kid from Ft. Lauderdale who went to Iraq for a “journalism” project may have actually been a courier for a local terror cell. The merits of such a case are far less persuasive, particularly because the circumstantial evidence is far greater that the kid was merely a naive fool. If the executive grabbed that kid for indefinite detention, then you might have my ear. There the executive may have overstepped a line, assuming arguendo he had the power to do so under certain circumstances.

    But how one can use the Padilla case to mount an all out attack on the executive’s purported power of detention is beyond me.

    Assume bin laden is secretly captured today. The Pentagon believes it would be excellent strategy to have osama look-a-likes make appearances in remote villages to avoid his henchmen going further underground and facilitate more intelligence gathering. Obviously success would require great secrecy and throwing osama in a secret basement for a long time. Do you believe the executive lacks the power to do this? That they must get a court’s approval and risk blowing the whole operation? If you believe the executive has the power to do this, than how is it different from Padilla? He planned to poison us all with nuclear fallout?! Simply because he’s a US citizen? Not a very persuasive reading of the Constitution if you ask me.

    Clearly the merits matter. The detention of Padilla is no “terrible crime”. (The terrible crime was the Cook County court that let him out after the stabbing.)

  8. Mojo says:

    Bricklayer, please try to keep up. The government gave up on the claim that Padilla “planned to poison us all with nuclear fallout”. Turns out the evidence that you felt was strong enough to lock him up forever without trial wasn’t strong enough for the government to even go to court with.

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