Below are a few of Judge Hillman’s reasons for releasing James Merrill from custody (something I would not have done, but I am not a Federal District Judge):
In making the determination as to whether “any condition or combination of conditions will reasonably assure the appearance of the [defendant] as required and the safety of any other person and of the community,” the Court must consider the following factors:
(1) the nature and circumstances of the offense charged, including whether the offense is a crime of violence or involves a narcotic drug
(2) the weight of the evidence against the person;
(3) the history and characteristics of the person, including:
(A) the person’s character, physical and mental condition, family ties, employment, financial resources, length of residence in the community, community ties, past conduct, history relating to drug or alcohol abuse, criminal history, and record concerning appearance at court proceedings; and
(B) whether, at the time of the current offense or arrest, he was on probation,
on parole, or other release pending trial, sentencing, appeal, or completion of sentence for an offense under Federal, State or local law; and
(4) the nature and seriousness of the danger to any other person or the community
that would be posed by the person’s release…. 18 U.S.C. § 3142(g).
To cover the Bond requested in the amount of $900,000:
Merrill and his wife have offered their home, which has equity of approximately $350,000, as security for his release. In addition, Merrill’s sister and her husband have offered to pledge their family home, valued at $330,000, and a family friend has offered to post his home on the Cape, valued at $264,000. Merrill has also offered to submit to any conditions set by the Court, including home detention, electronic monitoring, the surrender of his passport, the surrender of his wife’s passport, and daily telephone reports to Pretrial Services.
And here are the Conditions to which Merrill must adhere:
In addition to the standard conditions of release, the release of the Defendant is subject to
the following conditions:
(1) The Defendant promises to appear at all proceedings as required and to surrender for
service of any sentence imposed.
(2) The Defendant is placed in custody of: Kristen Merrill of Ashland, Massachusetts, who
agrees (a) to supervise the Defendant in accordance with all conditions of release, (b) to
use every effort to assure the appearance of the Defendant at all scheduled court
proceedings, and (c) to notify the court immediately in the event the Defendant violates
any conditions of release or disappears.
(3) The Defendant shall:
(a) Report to Pretrial Services in person and/or by telephone (508-929-9940), as
(b) execute a bond in the amount of $900,000 secured by the following designated property:
(i) The Defendant’s home located in Ashland, Massachusetts
(ii) The home of the Defendant’s sister Julie Merrill Wisell and her husband
located in Sutton, Massachusetts
(iii) The property located at 60 Meredith Drive, East Falmouth, Massachusetts held in trust by Michael Mitchell
(c) post with the court the following indicia of ownership of the above-described
property: documentation as set forth in “Recommended Procedure for the Posting of Real Property as Security for Defendant’s Appearance Bond in Criminal Cases”
(d) surrender passport to Pretrial Services.
(e) obtain no passport or international travel documents of any kind.
(f) not leave the Commonwealth of Massachusetts without the prior approval of the Pretrial Services Office.
(g) maintain residence in Ashland, Massachusetts.
(h) avoid all contact directly or indirectly, with any persons who are or who may
become a victim or potential witness in the subject investigation or prosecution and any co-conspirators.
(i) refrain from possessing a firearm, destructive device, or other dangerous weapons.
(j) refrain from the excessive use of alcohol
(k) refrain from the use or unlawful possession of a narcotic drug or other controlled substances defined in 21 U.S.C. § 802, unless prescribed by a licensed medical practitioner.
(l) submit to any method of testing required by the Pretrial Services Officer for
determining whether the defendant is using a prohibited substance. Such methods may be used with random frequency and include urine testing, the wearing of a sweat patch, a remote alcohol testing system, and/or any form of prohibited substance screening or testing.
(m)participate in a home confinement program and abide by all the requirements of the program including wearing an electronic monitoring bracelet at all times: Defendant shall be restricted to his residence every day from 8:00 pm to 8:00 am.
(n) refrain from obstructing or attempting to obstruct/tamper in any fashion, with the efficiency and accuracy of any testing or electronic monitoring which is required as a condition of release.
(4) The Defendant’s wife and children must agree to surrender their passports and agree not to seek new passports or international travel documents without prior written approval of the Court.
For the foregoing reasons, Defendant’s Motion to Revoke the Detention Order and for
Pretrial Release is granted. This case is remanded to Magistrate Judge Hennessey to issue an order consistent with this opinion.