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Bail Reform Act of 1984 and Witness Coercion

NCJ Number
California Western Law Review Volume: 25 Issue: 1 Dated: (1988-1989) Pages: 149-171
T J Vanden Heuvel
Date Published
22 pages
Pretrial detention under the Bail Reform Act of 1984 can be misused by governments to force witnesses to testify or remain imprisoned indefinitely.
Such coercion jeopardizes the due process rights of both defendant and witness. Witness coercion also brings into question the reliability of testimony given by a hardened criminal held under the Act, testifying when forced to choose between perjury and indefinite detention. The Comment suggests a time limit clause be added to the Act, allowing for defendants to appeal upon expiry of specified time. The clause could allow for grant of extensions to defense counsel to prepare a defense under excludable time delay. The suggested time limit clause would retain the Act's original intention of safeguarding society from a dangerous criminal under trial, while minimizing the prosecution's coercive power of obtaining testimony. 130 notes.