187 F.Supp. 483 (D.D.C. 1960), 198-60, Trimble v. Stone

Docket Nº:198-60.
Citation:187 F.Supp. 483
Party Name:Charles Lee TRIMBLE, Petitioner, v. William J. STONE, Superintendent of the Receiving Home for Children, Respondent.
Case Date:September 30, 1960
Court:United States District Courts, District of Columbia
 
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Page 483

187 F.Supp. 483 (D.D.C. 1960)

Charles Lee TRIMBLE, Petitioner,

v.

William J. STONE, Superintendent of the Receiving Home for Children, Respondent.

No. 198-60.

United States District Court, District of Columbia.

Sept. 30, 1960

Joseph Levin, Washington, D.C., for petitioner.

Chester H. Gray, Corp. Counsel, Una Rita Quenstedt and William W. Pavis, Asst. Corp. Counsel, Washington, D.C., for respondent.

HOLTZOFF, District Judge.

The question presented in this case is whether the constitutional right to bail accorded to persons awaiting trial, is applicable to a juvenile pending disposition of charges in the Juvenile Court of the District of Columbia. The matter comes before this court on a petition for a writ of habeas corpus by a juvenile held in the Receiving Home for Children,

Page 484

which constitutes the house of detention for minors awaiting disposition of their cases by the Juvenile Court. The respondent is the Superintendent of this institution. The petitioner requests that he be admitted to bail during the pendency of charges against him in the Juvenile Court.

The pertinent facts are as follows. Charles Lee Trimble, the petitioner, who is fifteen years old, was taken into custody by the police on September 11, 1960. He was immediately incarcerated in the Receiving Home which, as stated above, constitutes the house of detention for juveniles. Since his arrest he has been continuously confined in that institution. On September 12,-- the morning after his arrest,-- police officers filed a complaint against him with the Juvenile Court containing four charges of assault of a sexual nature on females on or about the streets of Washington. It was orally stated by counsel at the hearing before this Court, that the assaults were of a character that would have been prosecuted in the Municipal Court as simple assault, or as taking indecent liberties with a female, if the petitioner were not a juvenile. On the same day counsel for the petitioner appeared before the Juvenile Court and requested that the petitioner be admitted to bail. It appears from the transcript of the proceedings before the Juvenile Court that the Judge stated that 'the policy of the court is to deny any request for bond where the juvenile is living within the territorial jurisdiction of the Juvenile Court'. Accordingly the application was denied.

On September 15, the petitioner was brought before the Court and was represented by counsel. After hearing a member of his staff, the Court announced that a petition would be filed against the juvenile, an arraignment would take place, and the matter would then proceed either to trial or disposition; and that, in the meantime, the juvenile would be continued in custody. The Court set October 12,-- over a month after the arrest,-- as the date of the arraignment. It was understood that at the arraignment, if the juvenile did not admit his guilt, the case would be set for trial at a still later date. Counsel then requested that the petitioner be admitted to bond, contending that this was the constitutional right of the accused. The Juvenile Court held otherwise and ordered the petitioner to be remanded to custody.

It is entirely conceivable that several months may elapse between the date of the petitioner's arrest and the date of his trial, especially if he exercises his privilege of demanding a jury trial. If eventually he should be found not guilty, he will nevertheless have been incarcerated for a considerable period of time, although he is able and willing to give bail. It is a peculiar paradox that if the petitioner were over eighteen years of age, or if the Juvenile Court considered the case to be of sufficiently grave importance to warrant waiving jurisdiction to the District Court, the petitioner would be immediately entitled to admission to bail pending trial. Yet, because he is under eighteen and because the Juvenile Court does not deem the charges to be serious enough to justify transfer of the case to the District Court, the petitioner is denied this fundamental right and is being incarcerated for a period that may be prolonged to weeks and even months.

The right to bail before trial, except in capital cases, is guaranteed by the Bill of Rights. The Eighth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States, which is part of the Bill of Rights, provides that 'excessive bail shall not be required'. This clause has invariable been construed as guaranteeing the right to bail by necessary implication and not merely meaning that when allowed, bail shall not be excessive.

In Stack v. Boyle, 342 U.S. 1, 4, 72 S.Ct. 1, 3, 96 L.Ed. 3, Mr. Chief Justice Vinson wrote as follows on this general subject:

'From the passage...

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