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District Court Grants Bail in a Drug Case Over Government’s Typical Assertion That ‘No Condition or Combination of Conditions Would Reasonably Assure the Defendant’s Presence at Trial’

Proving that it can be done, Judge Coleen Kollar-Kotelly declined the Government’s request for an emergency stay in this case and, despite seemingly insurmountable evidence against her, affirmed the Magistrate Judge’s order releasing the Defendant, Tiffany Henry, on bail in this drug case.

Hayes, along with two other defendants, were charged with various crimes arising out of a conspiracy to distribute, and possess with intent to distribute, various quantities of marijuana and cocaine. After a detention hearing, and over the Government’s objection, the Magistrate Judge ordered the release on bail of Henry and one of her co-defendants. The Government then filed the instant motion for an emergency stay, arguing that, based on an assortment of damaging evidence against Henry, no condition or combination of conditions imposed on Henry during pre-trial release could reasonably assure the safety of other people and the community.

In support of its emergency motion, the Government proffered evidence that Henry “maintained a social media profile advertising the sale of marijuana and THC-infused products, that an undercover officer of local law enforcement had arranged to purchase certain such products from Defendant Henry, and that a search of Defendant Henry’s apartment . . . had yielded a large quantity of marijuana and THC-infused products, a smaller quantity of cocaine, and various implements for manufacturing and consuming marijuana and THCinfused products.” (Id. at 127).

The Government also proffered evidence that the Drug Enforcement Administration was processing material seized from Henry’s apartment that would amount to over 1,000 exhibits. A sample of photographs of such exhibits “showed copies of online and other text-based communications regarding the sale of marijuana, as well as photographs of what appear to be marijuana plants and related paraphernalia in the apartment.” (Id. at 129). Included in that list of damaging evidence found in Henry’s apartment were the following:

• Approximately 1 kilogram of plant-like substance, which field-tested positive for the presence of THC;

• Several items containing a white powdered substance that field-tested positive for cocaine with a combined weight of 71.5 grams; and

• Several caches containing U.S. currency located around the residence totaling approximately $75,683.12.

Ultimately, Judge Kollar-Kotelly did concede that “the nature and circumstances of the charged offenses weigh in favor of detaining Defendant Henry.” (Id.) She also concluded that “the strength of the evidence against Defendant Henry with respect to marijuana is strong.” (Id.)

Nevertheless, she also noted that the Magistrate Judge had imposed strong and stringent conditions on Henry’s release on personal recognizance, including: that she be released into a work release/halfway house; that she have no social passes, including that she not possess a passport; that she stay away from the apartment she leased; that she report to the Pretrial Services Agency weekly by telephone; that she be placed in a weekly drug testing program; and that she seek and maintain employment. She thus concluded:

Upon consideration of all of the evidence and the factors set forth in 18 U.S.C. § 3142(g), and the release conditions set by Magistrate Judge Harvey pursuant to § 3142(c), the Court finds that there is not clear and convincing evidence that no condition or combination of conditions will reasonably assure the safety of any other person and the community. Rather, the Court finds that the combination of conditions imposed by Magistrate Judge Harvey would reasonably ensure the safety of the community were Defendant Henry to be released pending trial. Defendant Henry has successfully provided evidence sufficient to rebut the presumption in favor of pretrial detention required by § 3142(e)(3)(A). (Id. at 131). 

See: U.S. v. Henry, 280 F.Supp. 3d 125 (D.C.C. 2017). This article originally appeared in the May 2018 issue of Punch & Jurists and is reprinted with permission, with minor edits. Copyright, Punch & Jurists.

 

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U.S. v. Henry




 

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