Trials & Litigation

Jailing man for 'attitude,' setting $1M bail was abuse of judicial discretion, top state court says

A Nevada judge said Juan Perez had an “attitude” when he sent the defendant to jail for 15 days and raised his bail from $3,000 to $1 million on a drug trafficking charge.

However, a video of the Jan. 16 hearing shows Perez, if anything, was merely casual, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reports.

Because his lawyer had withdrawn, Perez would have to get another lawyer, he and Clark County District Judge Doug Smith agreed. But after Perez said “thank you,” when Smith told him the court would help find a new attorney for him, the judge reacted strongly.

“You’re remanded. Thank you. An attitude like that, you can sit in jail,” Smith responded.

Later in January, Perez apologized to the judge at another hearing. Then, citing the defendant’s use of multiple names and social security numbers and prior convictions, Smith set bail at $1 million. Standard bail for the charge is $10,000, the newspaper says.

After three months in the slammer, Perez was released earlier this month when his new lawyer, deputy public defender David Lopez-Negrete, won a ruling from the state supreme court that Smith abused his discretion “by remanding (Perez) to custody and setting bail at an excessive amount in order to punish him for having an ‘attitude’ during a court proceeding.”

The court said bail for Perez should be set at $3,000 and shifted his case to another judge’s call.

The Review-Journal article includes a link to the video of the Jan. 16 hearing.

We welcome your comments, but please adhere to our comment policy and the ABA Code of Conduct.

Commenting is not available in this channel entry.