Rodriguez-Ziese v. Hennessy

Filing 22


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1 2 3 4 UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT 5 NORTHERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA 6 SAN JOSE DIVISION 7 8 CHRISTIAN RODRIGUEZ-ZIESE, Petitioner, 9 10 United States District Court Northern District of California 11 12 v. VICKI HENNESSY, Respondent. Case No. 17-cv-06473-BLF ORDER GRANTING PETITIONER’S MOTION TO LIFT STAY OF COURT’S DECEMBER 6, 2017 ORDER GRANTING WRIT OF HABEAS CORPUS; IMPOSING NEW STAY UNTIL AND INCLUDING FEBRUARY 20, 2018 13 14 15 Before the Court is Petitioner Christian Rodriguez-Ziese’s (“Petitioner”) motion to lift the 16 stay of this Court’s December 6, 2017 Order Granting the Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus. See 17 ECF 18 (“Mot.”). Petitioner argues that after two hearings, the state court has failed to provide a 18 bail hearing that meets basic minimum constitutional standards. Thus, he requests that the Court 19 lift its stay and require Petitioner’s release from custody until the state obtains a valid order of 20 pretrial detention. 21 Respondent Vicki Hennessy (“Respondent”) agrees in part with Petitioner’s motion, but 22 requests the Court to stay the grant of the writ of habeas corpus to permit a more appropriate 23 remedy than unconditional release. See ECF 21 (“Opp’n”). Petitioner did not file a response to 24 Respondent’s request as permitted by the briefing schedule. For the reasons that follow, the Court 25 GRANTS Petitioner’s motion to lift the stay of the Court’s December 6, 2017 Order granting his 26 petition for writ of habeas corpus. However, the Court STAYS this Order until and including 27 February 20, 2018 to permit the state court to conduct a hearing to consider and impose 28 appropriate non-monetary conditions on Petitioner’s pretrial release. 1 I. PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND 2 The facts of this case are familiar to the parties and the Court and are set forth in this 3 Court’s Order Granting Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus. See ECF 16. Petitioner is a defendant 4 in a pending state criminal case who has been detained since his arrest on April 16, 2017. On 5 December 6, 2017, this Court granted Petitioner’s request for a writ of habeas corpus, but stayed 6 the order until December 8, 2017 to afford the state an opportunity to conduct a constitutionally 7 adequate bail hearing. Id. at 6.1 In response to this Court’s Order, the state convened another bail 8 hearing for Petitioner on December 8, 2017. See Mot. at 3. The prosecutor requested to detain 9 Petitioner under article I, section 28 of the California Constitution, or, in the alternative, under article I, section 12. Id. Defense counsel opposed pretrial detention, pointing to Petitioner’s strong 11 United States District Court Northern District of California 10 ties to the community including his employment and his 10-year-old daughter. See Mot. at 3. The 12 state court declined to issue a detention order under section 12 or 28, but instead decided to leave 13 money bail as previously set at $200,000. Id. at 4. 14 The state court announced that pursuant to California Penal Code section 1275(c), it could 15 not deviate from the predetermined bail schedule absent unusual circumstances, and found that no 16 unusual circumstances warranted departure in this case. Id. at 4. At one point during the hearing, 17 the state court announced that $190,000 money bail was appropriate, but when the clerk informed 18 the judge that money bail had previously been set at $200,000, the judge then declared that the 19 amount would be $200,000. Id. at 5. The state court also stated that non-monetary conditions of 20 release were not sufficient to address public safety and flight risk concerns. Id. For example, the 21 court found that Petitioner is charged with carjacking with a gun, after pointing a gun at the 22 victim’s head and threatening to shoot the victim if he did not walk away. See Opp’n at 2. 23 Petitioner faces a sentence of 19 years in prison if convicted, and he was on probation for 24 misdemeanor grand theft at the time that he committed the offense. Id. at 2-3. On December 15, 2017, defense counsel filed a motion for reconsideration, which was 25 26 heard on December 20, 2017. Mot. at 5. The state court heard evidence of new developments, 27 1 28 With respect to the original petition for writ of habeas corpus, Respondent conceded that the state court’s bail setting in Petitioner’s case was unconstitutional. See ECF 16 at 3. 2 1 such as Petitioner’s admission to a sober living environment with a strict curfew, and Petitioner’s 2 approval for electronic monitoring. Id. The defense argued that Petitioner should be released 3 subject to these non-monetary conditions, as they were sufficient to address the court’s concerns 4 about flight risk. Id. In denying Petitioner’s motion for reconsideration, the state court found that 5 these were not “changed circumstances,” that Petitioner remained a threat to public safety and a 6 flight risk, and that non-monetary conditions of release were insufficient to address the court’s 7 concerns. Id. at 5-6. II. 9 Petitioner moves this Court to lift its previously imposed stay of its Order Granting 10 Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus because the state court has repeatedly failed to provide 11 United States District Court Northern District of California 8 DISCUSSION Petitioner with a constitutionally adequate bail hearing. See generally Mot. Specifically, 12 Petitioner argues that the state court applied an unconstitutional legal standard in imposing a 13 secured financial condition of release, and the monetary condition of release imposed was not 14 narrowly tailored to serve a compelling interest. Id. at 6-11. Petitioner further argues that the state 15 court did not, but should have, applied a “clear and convincing” evidentiary standard to its 16 determination that Petitioner was a flight risk, and that this correct evidentiary standard was not 17 met. Id. at 15. 18 Respondent concedes, as before, that the Constitution does not permit detaining a 19 defendant before trial solely because that defendant cannot afford to post a set amount of money 20 bail. Opp’n at 3. Because the state court imposed money bail in an amount that Petitioner cannot 21 afford, Respondent agrees that the setting of bail was constitutionally inadequate. Id. The Court 22 finds that the state court constitutionally erred by imposing unaffordable bail, and that Petitioner is 23 entitled to relief on that basis. The Court therefore does not reach Petitioner’s additional grounds 24 for relief, such as the proper evidentiary standard required for a pretrial detention decision under 25 the Constitution.2 26 27 28 2 Although Respondent concedes the constitutional inadequacy of the state court’s setting of bail in this case, she expressly disagrees with Petitioner’s contention that “clear and convincing” evidence is the required evidentiary standard for a pretrial detention order. Opp’n at 1 n.1. 3 1 Rather than order Petitioner’s immediate release from custody, Respondent requests that 2 the Court provide the state court with an opportunity to impose non-monetary conditions of 3 release in order to mitigate the public safety and flight risk posed by Petitioner. Id. For example, 4 Respondent points to the sober living arrangement and electronic monitoring conditions that 5 Petitioner previously requested the state court to impose instead of bail at the December 20, 2017 6 hearing on Petitioner’s motion for reconsideration. Id. Respondent represents that Petitioner does 7 not oppose a limited stay of the grant of his petition to allow the state court the opportunity to 8 consider and impose non-monetary conditions on his release. Id. at 4. Petitioner did not file a 9 reply brief within the allowable time, and thus the Court presumes that Petitioner has no objection to a limited stay to permit the state court to consider and impose appropriate non-monetary 11 United States District Court Northern District of California 10 conditions on his release pending trial. 12 For the foregoing reasons, the Court GRANTS Petitioner’s motion to lift the stay of this 13 Court’s December 6, 2017 Order Granting Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus, but STAYS this 14 Order until and including February 20, 2018 to allow the state court the opportunity to consider 15 and impose appropriate non-monetary conditions of release. 16 17 18 IT IS SO ORDERED. 19 20 21 22 Dated: February 14, 2018 ______________________________________ BETH LABSON FREEMAN United States District Judge 23 24 25 26 27 28 4

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