Only on 4: Robbery suspect's release raises questions about new bail system
RENO, Nev. (News 4) —
The 18-year-old suspect in a hot prowl burglary and robbery is back in custody in a case that's raising questions about a pilot bail system being tried out in our state.
Nevada courts are using a new program that allows judges to weigh a number of factors when setting bail. Under the previous system, bail amounts were standardized according to the specific charges involved.
But the new program is not perfect, as we learned this week.
Jordan Davis was arrested June 23 after a home invasion in Cold Springs. He was charged with burglary, armed robbery and child endangerment.
Authorities accused Davis of pointing a gun at the victim and her child when they confronted him in their home.
The Washoe County Sheriff's Office is also investigating Davis for his possible connection to several other burglaries in the Cold Springs area.
But Judge Patricia Lynch decided to set Davis free the day after he was arrested, possibly because he is only 18 and lacks any kind of adult criminal record.
Lynch did not set a bail amount and did not check with the District Attorney or the victim prior to setting Davis free. It's what the courts call being released on your own recognizance, or "O-R." So Davis was free despite some very serious charges.
"This bail pilot program has its hurdles," said Washoe County District Attorney Chris Hicks. "There are mistakes that can be made. I can't say I'm happy with with how it's being handled in Washoe County."
Davis' case ended up back before Judge Pierre Hascheff on Thursday, after the Washoe County District Attorney's office requested a bail hearing. Hascheff ordered bail set at $90,000, and Davis was immediately taken into custody to await his arraignment.
Some of those who were in attendance at the hearing Thursday said they will sleep better knowing the defendant is locked up.
The new pilot bail program is designed to allow judges to use their discretion in cases where defendants may not have an extensive criminal history.
But the fact that two judges could dictate two very different outcomes in terms of a defendant's bail status, within days of each other, is likely to create more questions as this pilot program moves forward and gets reviewed in the future.