GLENWOOD SPRINGS — A local judge on Christmas Eve gave out a kind-of Christmas present, by letting inmate Joseph P. Moffatt, 28, out of jail on what is known as a “personal recognizance” (or PR) bond rather than making him pay the original bond of $20,100 over six counts of failing to appear for court cases.
But another inmate, Brant Rivera, 44, was not quite so lucky — he asked Chief District Judge James Boyd for a PR bond, which essentially lets an inmate out of jail without having to pay a lot of money, but managed only to get his bond reduced from $10,000 to $6,000, cash or surety involving a bail bondsman.
Under a PR bond, the defendant gets out of jail without paying cash, but if the defendant fails to make a court appearance or in other ways violated the conditions of his or her release, they often are tossed back in jail.
Boyd was the sole judge on the bench on Christmas Eve, and had fairly short dockets in the morning and in the afternoon.
Deputy Public Defender Elise Myer, sitting in for Public Defender Tina Fang, handled both cases, and in the first one told the judge that Moffatt wanted to get out of jail to be with his family and to get back to work as a local contract mechanic with his own diagnostic equipment and tools.
Unfortunately for her client, Myer told the judge, “These bonds are generally too high for him to post.”
Myer also predicted, based on information from Fang, that Moffatt would end up with a “community-based” sentence if convicted, meaning probation or some other non-incarceration sentence.
Deputy District Attorney Tony Hershey, however, argued that Moffatt already can get out of jail on many of his misdemeanor cases, but that it is two cases of felony forgery that were the basis of the higher portions of the bond.
“We’re certainly sympathetic,” Hershey told the judge, “especially if someone wants to see his family.” But, he added, a PR bond is not appropriate in this case.
The judge admitted to having a “concern” about Moffatt’s failure to appear in an earlier case, but authorized the PR bond anyway after Myer and Hershey agreed that a plea bargain in the case appears to be “close.”
In Rivera’s case, the defendant also appears headed for a plea bargain and a “community-based” sentence, Myer told the judge, although Rivera’s cases have been complicated because some of them have been in New Mexico, some in the 9th District and some have been elsewhere.
“He’s clearly a flight risk,” Hershey told the judge.
But, Rivera told the judge, “I’ve never absconded ... from the court’s grasp,” and he pledged he would not do so if he were granted the PR bond.
He said he has a job waiting, a place to live, and has been in jail for the past seven and a half months, which he said has put him behind in his child-support payments.
Boyd, conceding that Rivera “has generally tried to be here when he was supposed to be,” nevertheless apparently agreed with Hershey that the circumstances did not authorize a PR release and sent Rivera back to jail unless he can come up with the $6,000.