By Guy Page
September 10, 2019
In accordance with a 2018 law limiting the use of bail, Vermont judges have released without bail at least two high-profile defendants whose alleged crimes have concerned many in their communities.
One of the alleged crimes occurred in Warren, a town represented by a co-sponsor of the bill and chair of the committee in which it was approved.
On July 22, avowed white supremacist Max Misch was released without bail by Judge William Cohen in Bennington after being charged with buying a gun, in violation of his conditions of release from an earlier charge. This decision prompted an angry outburst by Shawn Pratt, an African-American man: “You all keep letting him walk out of here!” he shouted in the back of the courtroom, according to a VT Digger report. Pratt was escorted outside. Judge Cohen explained he could only impose bail if Misch was a known flight risk – something his history with Vermont courts didn’t demonstrate.
This week, Washington County State’s Attorney Rory Thibault explained in a press release to a concerned public why an alleged carjacker who terrorized a Warren woman was then released without bail, pending trial.
According to a report in the September 5 Valley Reporter weekly newspaper, on August 30 Wade Glenn of Burlington allegedly stood in West Hill Road in Warren, flagged down a local female motorist and asked for help. He then entered her car in the back seat and climbed into the front passenger seat despite her protests. When he tried to move over to the front driver seat, she exited the car and he drove off.
Glenn – who according to Morrisville, PA court documents has a prior history of criminality including charges for burglary, robbery, kidnap to facilitate a felony, aggravated assault, simple assault, unlawful restraint and false imprisonment, the Valley Reporter said – was charged Sept. 3 with operating without the owner’s consent and released. He was also charged with larceny. An “appearance bond” of $5000 was added after his release. Unlike bail, appearance bonds are only due for payment if the defendant fails to appear.
In his press release, Thibault explains that Act 164 approved in 2018 “excludes the use of bail to mitigate the risk of non-appearance.” Only if there is a definite risk of leaving the court’s jurisdiction may the judge impose bail. The seriousness of the crime also is taken into account.
Thibault notes that “presently, often over the State’s objection, individuals accused of felony offenses, including violent crimes, are released with no bail or on conditions that allow them to remain in the community pending trial. These situations frequently cause concern among victims of crime….”
Act 164 was introduced as H728 in January, 2018. It was approved by the House Judiciary Committee, which is chaired by Rep. Maxine Grad, who represents Warren and several other towns. She was also the lead sponsor for the bill. The bill had strong support from the Vermont ACLU. The law took effect July 1, 2018.
Near the end of his statement, State’s Attorney Thibault said, “In this case, while the alleged behavior of Mr. Glenn is deeply alarming, and was incredibly frightening to the victim, his release on an unsecured appearance bond and the imposition of conditions of release is consistent with the law of the State of Vermont.”
Published by Guy Page, Page Communications
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