By Esha Kher
SACRAMENTO, CA – In a Humphrey detention motion to mandate her client’s release with no or lower bail, private defense attorney Melissa McElheney argued last Friday that since bail was set at one point in the past that’s proof that the court doesn’t find the defendant should be detained and could return to society.
It didn’t work, at least with the judge on the bench.
Sacramento County Superior Court Judge Geoffrey Goodman countered the bail was set pre-Humphrey, which leaves the possibility that bail was just set wildly high on purpose to guarantee detainment, so this doesn’t preclude the court from making a different finding now.
Deputy District Attorney Bruce Chang filed a motion to set the matter at no bail, arguing that no combination of conditions can protect the public because the defendant has shown a proclivity to molest children.
Defense counsel McElheney pleaded to lower it to $10,000 and hold Raber to a combination of conditions, including search and seizure conditions, electronic monitoring with no use of computers, an ankle monitor, no contact with the victims, living in the apartment that he’s been renting for years, and checking in with probation.
The grounds for the defense pleading a reduction in bail was the defendant’s poor health and finances.
“Raber is 50 percent disabled and needs to get out of custody for dental and shoulder surgery. Moreover, his only source of income is a $1,300 monthly check from social security and a $1,085 monthly check from Veterans Affairs. But this money goes towards paying off loans and paying child support for his two children,” said McElheney.
In response, DDA Chang said the children he was paying child support to were in fact two named victims of the child molestation charges Raber is facing. DDA Chang then listed a slew of misconduct that speaks to the defendant’s alleged threat to public safety—a history of misconduct toward juveniles that goes back 40 years.
“He was first arrested in 1984 in Alameda County for soliciting a lewd act and contributing to the delinquency of a minor, he had a stalking case in Georgia in the early 2000s with involved a complaint about his cousin’s daughter-in-law who was a child at the time, there was a niece who complained that when she was a child the defendant would peep on her between 1996 and 1998,” said DDA Chang.
“He is currently charged with two (illegal) conducts against four different victims; one is a childhood friend of his daughter, the other four are his daughters. The defendant was also found in possession of a hard drive containing explicit child pornography, in 2016. The whole device had videos of children being sexually victimized,” DDA Chang added.
While McElheney accepted all of this past history, she maintained that it doesn’t matter in this Humphrey hearing.
“I’m gonna accept what Mr. Chang said. But regardless of whatever he’s done in the past, once bail is set by a court, what that’s telling us is that this person can be allowed back into the community as long as they have this amount of money. That’s the issue here in Humphrey.
“If they set bail that means we’re not concerned about the defendant failing to appear, we’re not concerned about the defendant committing other crimes, because we’ve already determined that he can get out as long as he pays bail,” said defense attorney McElheney.
The determination of bail in the past was initially $50,000, for the child pornography charge, then it went up to $500,000 dollars when he was arrested on the child molestation charges. But all of this was pre-Humphrey.
Judge Goodman highlighted that since the bail was determined pre-Humphrey, and brought attention to the fact that in light of the graveness of his offenses bail could’ve been purposely set incredibly high so that the defendant couldn’t make bail and would be detained.
“Ms. McElheney, your point was that since bail was set at one point that’s proof that we don’t find the defendant should be detained because, having been rich, he could’ve been out. I don’t think I buy that,” said the judge.
“I think it was set according to a bail schedule and based on everything that was said it may have been that Judge Brown [the previous judge] intended for him not to be able to make bail. Not the appropriate way to handle things,” said Judge Goodman.
Judge Goodman maintained that because this bail motion is post-Humphrey, he must re-weigh the person’s background, including current charges, prior convictions and their court attendance records, which then determines a risk level based on those factors.
“In light of Humphrey we don’t just set bails that people can’t afford in order to keep them detained, we have to make a specific finding in order for them to be detained before trial. By clear and convincing evidence there’s no combination of conditions that can sufficiently guarantee the defendant’s presence at trial and protect the public,” emphasized Judge Goodman.
In his ruling, Judge Goodman made a clear finding that no monetary or non-monetary conditions of release could sufficiently protect the victim or public safety.
“I do believe that the combination of charges, from child porn to molestation from 2005- 2017, suggests the threat to public safety is high. I’m going to set the matter at no bail,” he added.
Esha Kher is an undergraduate student at UC Davis studying Political Science and Computer Science, hoping to pursue a career in corporate law. She is passionate about legal journalism and political advocacy that provokes new perspectives and sparks conversation among the public.
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