Judge Halleck set bond at $5,000 and 10% for one defendant;
more than $1,000 for four defendants; $1,000 for 18 defendants;
$800 for three defendants; $500 for seven defendants, and
$ 1 ,000 and 5% for one defendant. One person was released on
personal recognizance and two in third party custody.
On Saturday night, Judge Daly also thought the Bail Re-
form Act could not be followed and that the disorder had shown
the fallacy in the Act:
"[DEFENSE ATTORNEY] : These are men who have fam-
"THE COURT: They did it once, they were arrested for it.
What is going to stop them from doing it a second
Now, the first twenty-five people they released on per-
sonal recognizance on Friday, five of them were ar-
rested a second time for looting.
Now, what assurance can you give me?
"[DEFENSE ATTORNEY] : Your Honor, I can say that
they have not been predisposed to get into difficulty
with the law before. They have had one very bad ex-
perience with the law, and, I think, after my brief asso-
ciation with them, they are convinced that that is not
the way to do things.
"THE COURT: That's the problem.
My understanding of the Bail Bond Act, is that we are
supposed to be concerned with those things. They say
that's not to be taken into consideration, but I don't
know how you are going to do this. Maybe Congress
will see how utterly foolish it was to write some act
"[DEFENSE ATTORNEY] : But, may it not be equally
foolish not to observe it.
"THE COURT: You're going to have a mandamus. It is
going to be argued in the District Court on Monday."
Judge Daly set bond at $ 1 ,000 with a 10% cash deposit in 3 1 of
his 38 cases, $300 in three cases, third party custody in three
cases and committed one to St. Elizabeth's hospital.
Judge Ryan also expressly took the "situation" into account
in setting bond.
"You have a city in flames and there are certain facts you
deal with. You deal with facts in the order of their priority
and so some people will have to languish in jail."
Of 21 cases on the transcript, the Judge ordered two released in
third party custody, six to obtain a surety bond from $1,000 to
$2,000, and 13 to post 10% collateral for bonds ranging from
$500 to $2,500.
Sunday Daytime, April 7
The bail hearings on Sunday in the daytime show a decided
shift away from money bond. Transcripts of 76 hearings before
three judges are available. Money bond was set in only 18 cases.
The majority, 56 defendants, were released in third party custody,
usually to a relative who was in court. Only one defendant was
released on personal recognizance.
Judge Pryor favored money bond, setting money bond but
with a cash deposit in 10 of 12 cases. Judge Pryor very carefully
inquired into the community ties and prior criminal records of
each defendant, but also considered the "civil disorder" as a fac-
tor. However, unlike the judges on the night before, Judge Pryor
thought that his action was consistent with the Bail Reform Act:
"THE COURT: I think a close reading of the Bail Act will
indicate that the Court is entitled to take into consid-
eration the nature of the circumstances of the offense
charged as well as the question of fugitivity; and it is a
fact that we are utmost concerned with whether the
defendant will return to court. But I will take into ac-
count the nature of the circumstances of the offense
charged." (Emphasis added.)
However, in contrast with the $ 1 ,000 bond policy enforced
the night before, Judge Pryor set no bond higher than $500, even
in felony cases. In seven cases, Judge Pryor set bond at $500 and
in three cases, at $300. In every case he allowed a percentage de-
posit (ranging from 5% to 20%). Judge Pryor committed one per-
son to a hospital and released one in third party custody.
In Judge Pryor's courtroom relatives to take third party cus-
tody were absent. In contrast, in Judge Alexander's courtroom,
42 fortunate defendants out of 50 had relatives in court to take
custody of them. Judge Alexander made clear at the beginning
that he favored third party custody and the lawyers in the court-
room made efforts to get their defendants' relatives down to
court. When relatives were available, he would release the person
in their custody, after carefully questioning all third parties to
make sure they were familiar with the defendant, willing to keep
him out of trouble, and see that he appeared later in court. If a
third party was not available, Judge Alexander would allow the
case to be passed without decision until someone who would take
custody was brought into court. Judge Alexander expressly de-
nied the existence of any uniform policy against personal recog-
nizance in his court:
"LAWYER: Your Honor, with respect to the bail. I was
prepared to argue for personal recognizance; since
there is nobody to whom he might be released, I am
not allowed to.
"THE COURT: Well, I don't know from whom you under-
stood such a policy as that.
"LAWYER: Well, then you have concluded-
"THE COURT: The Court hasn't announced such a policy
and never has said counsel was not allowed to argue."
Whether or not Judge Alexander was aware of it, he was fol-
lowing the policy of restricted release established Friday after-
noon. He set money bond for every person unable to produce a
third party. In three of the five cases in which Judge Alexander
set bond despite a favorable Bail Agency recommendation (one at
$1,000, one at $1,000 and 10%, and one at $300 and 10%), it
was clear on the record that relatives were unavailable to assume
custody. In the other two (one at $1,000 and one at $300), the
lawyers and the Bail Agency were unable to verify community tie
information in addition to being unable to produce a third party
willing to assume custody.
Judge Murphy's transcript records 14 hearings on Sunday,
all for women, and he released 12 in third party custody. In al-
most every case, he asked if relatives were available to assume
Sunday Nighttime, April 7-8
By Sunday evening Judge Beard, who earlier in the weekend
had set money bond in most cases, was far more liberal in grant-
ing personal recognizance. On the other hand, Judge Malloy, who
had not been assigned to the bench before Sunday, required a
money bond in every case. Judge Atkinson, also on his first as-
signment, followed a similar but slightly less restrictive policy.
Judge Korman released most persons on personal recognizance.
Judge Malloy set $ 1 ,000 surety bond in 1 5 out of 23 cases.
In eight others, he imposed bond amounts ranging from $300 to
$500. Judge Malloy repeatedly stated as his reason for denying
personal recognizance that he had insufficient information about
the defendants. However, at one point, an attorney asked the
Judge if a Bail Agency recommendation would make a difference:
"DEFENSE COUNSEL: May I make the proffer to the
Court, if the Ball Agency speaks to Mr. Johnson and
does recommend personal bond for [the defendant] ,
would the Court reconsider the matter?
"THE COURT: No, absolutely not; not at the present time;
maybe at a later date we might; not at this time."
Judge Malloy ruled out any release in third party custody:
'THE COURT: Well, I'll not release him in custody of any-
body. If she doesn't have any more control over him
for the next two weeks than she had over him during
the last couple of days, I'll set bond at a thousand dol-
lars. I think perhaps that would be more reasonable."
Judge Malloy was setting surety bonds of $ 1 ,000 for felonies and
$500 for misdemeanors and was applying the guidelines of the
restricted release policy established on Friday afternoon.
Judge Atkinson, likewise on his first assignment, was strict
in requiring a surety money bond:
'THE COURT: If we're going to turn these guys loose as
soon as they get down here we're all wasting our time;
we all might as well go home and go to sleep."
In some cases, the imposition of a bond seemed to be a form of
punishment. When an attorney said it was unfair to keep his
client in jail, Judge Atkinson remarked: "It's unfair to go over
there and break in the liquor store and take the man's whiskey,
too, if you're talking about what's unfair." In response, the at-
torney argued that a man is presumed innocent until proven
guilty and that his client would lose his job if he did not get out.
"Well," returned Judge Atkinson, "he should have thought of
that before going in the store."
Judge Atkinson's position was that only a "bond" would in-
sure that a person was "responsible." He readily agreed to a per-
centage bond in most cases. In many cases he would set bond at
a sum the defendant's attorney said his client could afford. In
only two cases was a surety bond set, one at $ 1 ,500 and another
at $1,000. The rest were percentage bonds, one at $2,000 and
10%, four at $1 ,000 and 10%, and 14 at $500 and 10%.
In contrast Judge Beard released eight of 18 defendants in
third party custody and two on personal recognizance. In all
eight cases in which he set money bond the defendants had a
prior record and there was no verification of community ties.
For Judge Beard, prior criminal record was crucial.
"THE COURT: I have no objection to letting these people
go out with their folks when they've been in no trouble
before. But if he's a convicted thief, no, thank you.
Let him fight it out."
When it appeared, however, that some of the defendants
had been in jail since Friday afternoon, Judge Beard was willing
to release most of them. In one case, he remarked, "Okay. I
guess he had time to quiet down and cool off, anyway." Judge
Beard seems to have felt that the danger point in the disorder had
passed and that he could follow a more liberal policy. By then
Judge Beard seemed to be looking for signs of remorse, particu-
larly given the usual type of riot defendant before the court:
"THE COURT: Is there any remorse any sign of remorse
on these people. We have so many people here who
have been respectable, law-abiding people for so long,
and all of a sudden they find themselves here, faced
with a criminal charge against them. He happens to be
typical of the people coming in front of me. They
don't seem to be frustrated people, but they seem to
be responsible people for the most part. ..."
The contrast in the judges' practice on Sunday night is
shown sharply by Judge Korman's bail determinations. He an-
nounced from the bench that the Bail Reform Act would be fol-
lowed in his court and proceeded to release 1 5 out of 24 defend-
ants on personal bond, in every case following the advice of the
Bail Agency on whether a defendant should be released. In five
cases where a third party was available and willing to assume cus-
today, Judge Korman released the defendants in third party cus-
today . A curfew restriction was made a condition of release in
all cases in which a money bond was not required.
Monday, April 8
The sample of transcripts for Monday is meager. Judge
Pryor set bond at $300 and 10% for two defendants recommended
by the Bail Agency and sent one defendant to St. Elizabeth's for
On the other hand, Judge Kronheim set money bond in 15
out of 20 cases. In each case he would ask for a statement from
the Bail Agency. Out of the nine cases where the Agency recom-
mended personal recognizance, in four Judge Kronheim set bond
at $1 ,000 and 10%, granted personal recognizance in three, and
granted third party custody where a relative was available in two.
If the Bail Agency was unable to recommend or had not com-
piled a report on the individual, he set a surety bond (seven at
$1,000, two at $2,000, one at $3,000 and one at $5,000). At
one point, Judge Kronheim said that he had to "follow the for-
mula." If this was a reference to the policy of restricted release
then, at least for him, it was still in effect on Monday.
Tuesday, April 9
Preliminary hearings in riot cases began to be heard on Tues-
day, but a transcript of bail hearings before Judge Beard is avail-
able. On Tuesday Judge Beard set money bond in 14 out of 18
cases, allowing a 10% deposit in nine. In some of these cases, no
information about the defendant's community ties was available.
In others, Judge Beard stated that he would not release a looter
on his personal recognizance at this stage, "if he hasn't got some-
body down here to speak for him." Judge Beard set a surety
bond in a gun case, saying that this was his practice in normal
By the end of the day on Tuesday the Court of General Ses-
sions had processed virtually all of the riot offenders, and on
Wednesday the court returned to normal assignment court proce-
dures. The last civil disorder offenders were processed the next
Variations in Treatment
The variations among the judges in their willingness to adopt
the recommended policy of restricted release and in their own
consideration of danger to the community, as we have seen, af-
fected the conditions of release set for defendants. Variations in
procedures and other varying factors likewise affected the results.
The following statistics, derived from the records of the D.C. Bail
Agency and the transcripts of 415 bail hearings, are set out fully
in Appendices B and C.
Prosecution Recommendation. In 120 (28.9%) of the 415
Appendix C cases, the judges asked the Assistant United States At-
torney in the courtroom for his recommendation on bond. The
Assistant made a recommendation in 161 cases, 37.7%, and in all
but four he recommended money bond, recommending $1,000 or
more (or that the defendant be held without bond at all) in 136
cases or 84.5% of all cases in which a recommendation was made.
The Assistant in court was primarily responsible for the rec-
ommendation, although a recommendation was noted on the in-
formation by the Assistant who had "papered" the case down-
stairs. The United States Attorney, in an interview, stated that
no instructions were given to the Assistants to request or note
any particular amount. An Assistant who had a supervisory posi-
tion in the General Sessions section of the office confirms that
there were no specific instructions but remembered indicating to
the Assistants at a meeting that the burden for recommending
bond would lie upon the Assistants in court; the reason was that
the Assistant in court would have information not available to
the Assistant downstairs. He recalled that a standard seemed to
evolve as time went on, based primarily upon what information
was available about the defendant. Another Assistant confirmed
that there was no "iron-clad policy" on bail, but that he followed
the practice of writing $ 1 ,000 on the informations that he was
papering and he said that this policy "just grew as a consensus
among the Assistants for the purpose of "keeping people in jail
during the riot." A third Assistant recalled that on Friday after-
noon one of the Assistants came into Judge Hyde's courtroom to
recommend that a high bond be requested in every case because
some defendants who had been released had been rearrested. The
judge did not respond favorably to this argument and this reac-
tion may have led to the United States Attorney's appearance in
Judge Edgerton's courtroom. Still another Assistant recalled that
in papering cases, he too wrote $ 1 ,000 as the bond recommenda-
tion, relying upon an "office rumor" that that was to be done.
That same Assistant, when in court, continued to recommend
money bond, but without objecting to allowance of a cash per-
centage bond, and the judge before whom he appeared set cash
bonds in most of the cases before him,. The Assistant recom-
mended money bond even though he himself believed that under
the Bail Reform Act defendants were entitled to personal recog-
nizance and believed further that to set a surety bond meant al-
most certain incarceration because he had seen no bondsmen
available to write bonds. Nevertheless, he said, he "bucked" the
decision to the judge.
The Assistant United States Attorney's recommendation, ar-
rived at in this fashion, had considerable influence on the condi-
tions set for defendants. Compared to an overall rate of release
on non-financial conditions of 41% for the 415 cases, where the
United States Attorney recommended no bond or money bond,
release on non-financial conditions was allowed in only 21% (Ap-
The practices and results varied considerably among the
judges. One judge asked the Assistant United States Attorney
for a recommendation in 87. 5% of the judge's cases, another in
82.1%. Three judges, on the other hand, never asked the Assist-
ant for a recommendation.
The resulting dispositions likewise vary considerably. One
judge followed the recommendation for a money bond (although
not necessarily in the amount requested) in every case. Another
judge rejected the recommendation and set non-financial condi-
tions of release in 73.3% of the cases. (Appendix C).
Court's Interest in the Defendant. The judge's interest in
the defendant (evidenced by his speaking to or questioning the
defendant directly) was a factor of considerable significance in
the determination of conditions of release. The judges spoke to
or questioned the defendant in 141 cases, 34%. Compared to the
overall non-financial release rate of 41%, non-financial conditions
were set in 65.2% of the cases where the judge spoke to the de-
fendant. The percentage of cases in which each individual judge
spoke to the defendant varied from a high of 78.9% and 77.4%
for two judges to 7.1% and 13.6% for two judges (Appendix C).
Other major variables were:
1. Sex; women were immediately released (on non-financial
conditions) in 62.3% of 45 cases; men in 38.3% of 370 cases (Ap-
2. Presence of a third party in court resulted in immediate
release in 81 .6% of the cases where the person was a member of
the defendant's family and 68.4% of the cases where the person
was outside the family (Appendix C).
3. Which judge; immediate release varied from 90.4% for
the judge with the highest rate of such release to zero for the low-
est (Appendix C).
4. Whether the hearing was in the daytime or nighttime;
59.4% of the defendants were released immediately in the day-
time, 29.6% at night (Appendix C).
5. Whether the information on community ties was verified;
63.4% immediate release where there was verification against
28.3% where there was not (Appendix C).
6. Indication in the fact statement that the defendant had
been acting with others reduced the rate of immediate release to
16.5% compared with the norm of 41% (Appendix C).
7. Indication that the defendant had a gun reduced the
rate of immediate release to 1 2.9% (23 cases out of 41 5 ;
8. A Bail Agency recommendation for release increased the
rate of immediate release from an overall 5 1 .6% to 60.6% (Ap-
pendix B; 452 cases) or from an overall 41% to 55.9% (Appen-
dix C; 95 cases).
9. Prior criminal record; the rate of immediate release was
62.4% where the defendant had no record (258 cases), 47.7%
where the defendant had a record only of petty misdemeanors
(174 cases) and 30.9% where he had a record of a felony or seri-
ous misdemeanor (68 cases); compared with the overall 51.6%
(Appendix B; total, 500 cases). 26
The Results-A Brief Summary. Out of 1 ,340 bond orders
in all civil disorder cases from April 5 through 10, and 604 money
bonds set (Appendix A), 449 defendants were remanded to jail
(Appendix D). Appendix A has daily figures for money bonds
set and Appendix D has daily figures for prisoners committed. It
would be misleading, however, to attempt to compare the daily
figures because of the time lag probable in many cases between
the date of hearing and the date of commitment. It is likely that
those individuals whose hearings were held at night would not be
committed to jail until the next day. But, subtracting the total
of 449 who were committed from the 604 for whom money bond
was set leaves 155 who were able to obtain release from court,
either by posting cash or finding a bondsman to post surety bond.
The Professional Bondsmen. Myth must be unraveled from
reality in discussing the effect of surety bond orders as a preven-
tive detention device. Of 604 money bonds, 523 (87%) were set
at $ 1 ,000 or less (Appendix A). This is the money bond com-
monly set in normal times for defendants who are not released
pursuant to the Bail Reform Act.
Some attorneys in court on Friday night and Saturday were
disturbed at what they perceived to be a policy of setting surety
bonds expressly as a preventive detention device because, the
rumor ran in the Court of General Sessions, there were no bonds-
men available to write the bonds. Some judges also stated this as
their impression; others, to the contrary, reported seeing bonds-
men at the court. It was speculated, as the reason for the bonds-
men's supposed absence, either that they had fled from the neigh-
borhood of the Courthouse because of the disorders, and prob-
ably would not return until order had been restored; or as one
it is worth noting that in many instances there was no verification of criminal record
information, which came from the defendant himself.
judge commented in court while reviewing bonds on Tuesday,
when the case load "swells to hundreds and hundreds of such
cases in the last few days, most of the bondsmen have probably
exceeded their limit and can't take out bonds."
It is nevertheless clear that someone was writing some bonds
at court during the disorders. The official court computer print-
out (see Appendix A) shows 1 48 bonds written in civil disorder
cases. Information on the date and method of release is available
for only 413 of the 449 riot defendants who went to jail. Of
those 413, 97 were released by making surety bond (Appendix
D). Even if all the remaining 36 for whom no release information
was available were released on surety bond after remand to jail
(most unlikely), the maximum total of surety bonds for defend-
ants remanded to jail would be 133, leaving at least 15 surety
bonds that must have been written at court.
A large majority of surety bonds (91 out of the 148) were
written by the Stuyvesant Insurance Co., only one out often
bondsmen and bonding companies regularly writing bonds in the
Court of General Sessions. The Stuyvesant Insurance Co. is rep-
resented in the District of Columbia by one Mickey Lewis, who
is the only Negro bondsman.
The significance of this figure is clarified by the results of
interviews of six of the ten bondsmen, including Mr. Lewis.
As a normal matter, the bondsmen indicated, they prefer to
write bonds for "prior customers." Because the bondsmen's pri-
mary concern is with appearance in court, they look for a record
of reliability in appearance; theoretically, at least, the bondsman
is subject to forfeit of the amount of the bond should the defend-
ant fail to appear. 27 Hence, as a normal matter, an individual
with a prior criminal record but who has faithfully met his court
appearance appointments finds it easier to have a bond written
by a professional bondsman than a first offender.
But, the bondsmen said, there were very few prior customers
among the riot defendants for whom bond was set. Mr. Lewis
stated specifically that while there were a few persons whom he
knew as repeaters, by and large most of the defendants for whom
he wrote bonds had no record of previous arrests as far as he
knew. Thus without his normal indicia of reliability, Mr. Lewis
operated as a kind of informal D.C. Bail Agency in satisfying him-
self of the defendants' community ties and employment. He
would accept as evidence of residence a D.C. driver's license; he
2 'Apparently, the forfeiture penalty is rarely imposed.
would accept as evidence of employment a building pass or other
employee identification. And he would rely upon a third party,
either a family member or a responsible friend, for further veri-
The other bondsmen, however, were most reluctant to write
bonds for riot defendants. They tended to identify themselves
with the white middle class businessmen who, they felt, were
bearing the brunt of the disorder and destruction. They frankly
expressed the view that the people who were responsible for
burning and looting should be put in jail and kept there. They
were as reluctant to write bonds in court as for prisoners who had
been remanded to custody. The only exceptions were for those
prisoners whom they knew as prior customers. The white bonds-