Monday, January 14, 2019

ARIZONA LEGAL SHORTS: U.S. Supreme Court Refuses To Reinstate Arizona's "No Bail" Law For People Charged With Sexual Assault

The U.S. Supreme Court declined today to hear Arizona's appeal from a decision finding the state's "no bail" law for rape suspects unconstitutional.

In May, the Arizona Supreme Court ruled 4-3 finding that the statute prohibiting bail for those suspected of sexual assault - without considering any factors that could justify bail in a particular case. AG Mark Brnovich appealed the opinion to the U.S. Supreme Court, and that court today refused to consider the matter.

The issue arose after the state charged Guy Goodman in 2017 for an assault that took place in 2010. The Superior Court held a bail hearing despite the fact that voters had approved the "no bail" provision in 2002 (Prop. 103). While the no bail provision was being considered in the courts, Goodman did plead guilty to the non-consensual assault while he was an overnight guest in the victim's  house; the Arizona Supreme Court decided the bail issue was still important enough to decide.

A 4-3 majority (Timmer, Bales, Brutinel, Pelander) ruled that it was a violation of the 14th Amendment's Due Process Clause (U.S. Constitution). Justice Bolick, writing for Justices Gould and Lopez, specifically appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court to overrule his colleagues' decision, writing that there should be a distinction between how individuals charged with sexual assault and those charged with sexual conduct with a minor are treated. (Full opinion is below.)

Brnovich took Justice Bolick's advice and appealed. The U.S. Supreme Court today signaled their disagreement.

Arizona attorney Paul Weich contributed this article.

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