Eric Holder Bullies His Way to Success in Detroit Bail Reform Case

Eric Holder Bullies His Way to Success in Detroit Bail Reform Case as State and Local Officials Watch the Show

The Former Attorney General pulled off a stunt that even we didn’t think was possible: he bullied the judges of the 36th Judicial District Court, which covers Wayne County, to rewrite in a federal consent decree the Michigan Court rules as to bail to achieve his goal of ending cash bail.   The end result will be a more aggressive version of New York bail reform, a policy New York City Mayor Eric Adams recently called “insanity."[1]

In fact, the judges in the 234-page settlement[2] agreed to release 97% of all misdemeanor defendants on get out of jail free cards, and agreed to release 80-90% of felony defendants regardless of the charge, up to and including homicide cases, on get out of jail free cards with only 10-20% of defendants being held in jail pending trial.  How does that compare to the rest of the country?  As it turns out, in the 74 other largest cities in America, only 62% of felony defendants are released pending trial, with 38% being detained.  Thus, Detroit starting September 1, will have 200-300% felons per capita at large as the other 74 largest cities in America.  In a crime wave, this is recipe for disaster, and we have clearly seen this from Houston to New York City, to San Francisco.  These policies embolden recidivists and drive increases in pretrial crime.

A Rewrite of Michigan Law 

The settlement is so contrary to Michigan Court rules and statutes, it truly is a complete rewrite of the law in Michigan.  There is no way to take Michigan law and square it with this settlement.  One might ask, where was the Attorney General or Wayne County Prosecutor on this?  Well, they were not parties to the case, and neither the Judges nor Holder sought their opinion.  Clearly that was by design, so don’t blame them.  They were probably as surprised as we were that the judges completely caved in to Holder’s bullying.  In fact, the judges hired outside counsel at taxpayer expense, which begs the question why did they do that rather than having the Attorney General defend them and Michigan law in federal court?  So, we have private lawyers in private law firms making millions redrafting Michigan Court Rule 6.106 instead of the Michigan Supreme Court.

Pure Politics?

How do we know this is pure politics and not designed to be helping the persons damaged by bad bail policies?  Simple – Holder’s firm settled without compensating the class of people they were alleging were harmed by wrongfully being in jail.  These are the defendants they claim sat days on $200 bails that were not necessary and judges would later reduce.  Not a nickel to them.  Not a dime.  The only victory is knowing that Holder pulled a fast one on the State of Michigan.  Well, that is little if any compensation in our book.

What went wrong?

So, what is the answer here?  A read of the complaint makes clear that the Magistrates in Detroit were not following Court Rule 6.106.  That is unfortunate.  It appears that the Magistrates were not holding timely bail review hearings, and not taking into account the finances of the defendant.  By law, they have to, and they didn’t.  We have to think that requiring the Magistrates to follow the law is the answer, not completely rewriting Michigan law in the 36th judicial district.  Unfortunately, however, that is what happened.

But, it’s not too late.  This ticking crime bomb goes off September 1, and the Attorney General and Prosecutor Kym Worthy should act immediately to stop this.  We agree that it appears there is a problem in Detroit with low bails and inadequate due process.  But we can fix that without unleashing a crime wave upon Detroit under the supervision of a federal judge.  We can make the Magistrates do their job.  Holder’s theory of the case has already been rejected by several U.S. Courts of Appeal, with one occurring as recently as July 29, 2022.[3]  Thus, we know if someone actually defends Michigan law, they could send Holder packing by simply agreeing the Magistrates will follow the law or be terminated.  Simple problem, simple solution.

In short, this settlement is an affront to the People of Michigan, the Michigan Supreme Court, the legislature, and the Governor.  They make the laws—not Eric Holder.  Well, at least that is what is supposed to happen.  Let’s hope cooler heads prevail before September 1, before Holder unleashes a massive crime wave on Detroit the likes of which were not seen in New York City or anywhere else.




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