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Supreme Court Reverses and Remands Ruling to Revoke Bail

In State v. Jeremy Gates, 2016 VT 36 (March 16, 2016), the Vermont Supreme Court reversed and remanded the trial court’s ruling to revoke defendant’s bail.

Issue: In December 2014, defendant was charged with felony extortion, domestic assault, and unlawful mischief after an incident involving his mother, who was the representative payee for his social security disability benefits. When she refused to give him money, he threatened to hurt and kill her. He was arraigned and released on conditions prohibiting him from getting in touch with his mother or entering the property of the Iron Kettle Motel, where his mother has a residence. Within the span of two years, defendant was charged with seventeen VCRs for having contact with his mother, going onto the premises of the motel, or both. After the most recent VCR charge, the trial court revoked defendant’s bail. Defendant appealed, arguing that revoking his right to release pending trial is a violation of Chapter II, §40 of the Vermont Constitution and that the revocation of the right to release was not supported under Vermont law, since the State did not provide any evidence of repeated VCRs or demonstrate a threat to the integrity of the judicial system.

Holding: The Supreme Court reversed and remanded the ruling to revoke bail, finding that there was no support in the record for the decision to hold defendant without conditions of release. The Court found that there was no evidence that defendant had intimidated his mother, which would have been a VCR. The Court also found that there was no nexus between the VCRs and a disruption of the prosecution, if any. The Court further found that there was no adequate reason to determine that the defendant “violated a condition or conditions of release which constitute a threat to the integrity of the judicial system,” since there was a failure of proof with regard to an obstruction of justice charge. Because the record did not support a revocation of defendant’s bail, the Court remanded to the superior court to consider whether additional conditions would be required under 13 V.S.A. §7554.

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