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Criminal defense in Austin Texas.

Baird — In The News (Again)

Posted By on December 1, 2010

The Statesman has a (surprisingly) fair article on Judge Charlie Baird.

In Travis County, where judges release more defendants on personal recognizance, or PR, bonds than any of the five most populous counties in Texas, Baird stands apart from his peers for regularly giving the jail release to defendants charged with the most serious crimes…

The article goes on to describe several cases where inmates were released from jail, and whose cases were ultimately dismissed, or no-billed by a grand jury, or who were acquitted. These are cases where defendants were spared months – or years – of needless incarceration. (And taxpayers were spared the cost of incarcerating them.)

But it also describes cases where Baird released people from jail who used that new-found freedom to commit new crimes.

Police Chief Art Acevedo said the use of personal bond for serious offenders “is a real concern for us from a public safety standpoint.”

During an interview, Acevedo ticked off a list of cases in which his officers have felt personal bond was misused. Most of them came from Baird’s court.

One case Acevedo mentioned involved Carlos Mares, 45, who was released on personal bond by Baird after pleading guilty June 23 to delivery of a controlled substance. An affidavit accused Mares of buying three crack rocks and giving them to undercover police officers after the officers asked him to get them the drugs near Braker Lane and Interstate 35. Mares had previous convictions for a variety of charges, including attempted burglary of a building, misdemeanor assault and drug possession.

Baird said he ordered Mares to live at a rehabilitation center and called the center to make sure space was available. Two days after he was released from jail, Mares fatally stabbed Otto Wiley, 57, at the Budget Lodge hotel on Interstate 35 after the two had been drinking together, according to a police affidavit.

Of course, it’s easy to make an after-the-fact judgment that somebody shouldn’t have been released from jail.

But the article says Judge Baird signed the bond after the Mares had pleaded guilty. What that means is that Mares had likely signed a plea bargain for probation, and was waiting for sentencing. (In Travis County, there is usually a one or two week delay in felony probation cases.) He was going to get out, in other words, in a week or two anyway.


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