I love Joey Jackson! Joey and I have a long and rich history of appearing together on CNN and HLN, weighing in on the various legal issues that have captivated courtroom observers around the world. But when it came to predicting what was going to happen at the bail hearing of Robert Durst in a New Orleans court, I believe the score now stands at Kavinoky 1, Jackson 0.
(Actually, Joey is a phenomenal criminal defense lawyer, and if he and I were ever teamed up arguing on behalf of anyone, our opponent wouldn’t stand a chance! I’m just having some fun with you JJ, you know I can’t quit you!)
Robert Durst, the focus of the wildly popular (and incredibly well done) HBO docuseries “The Jinx” faces capital murder charges in Los Angeles Superior Court. He stands accused of killing his old friend (and former spokesperson) Susan Berman. Two “special circumstances” – murder of a witness and lying in wait – make Durst eligible for the death penalty, though it will be up to a District Attorney committee to determine whether or not they will actually seek death, or merely a term of life without the possibility of parole.
When Durst was arrested in New Orleans, authorities found him in possession of five ounces of marijuana and a pistol, along with over $44,000 in cash and a disguise. There were also five suitcases and a map that suggested Durst was en route to Cuba.
A bail hearing is unusual in criminal law. It is the one place that the court will routinely not apply the usual presumption of innocence, but instead consider that the defendant is in fact guilty of the crimes alleged, and fix bail in an amount necessary to secure their appearance. The two main factors the court will consider are flight risk, and danger to the community.
Given the evidence of Durst’s apparent intention to leave the country, his personal wealth – estimated at $100 million dollars, and the people that are either alleged to be dead because of him (or are admittedly dead because of him in the case of Morris Black), no surprise that bail was denied. Durst is next scheduled to be in court in Louisiana on April 2, 2015.
Conspiracy theorists may posit that the delay in returning Durst to California to face the murder charge is something that is being coordinated by the Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office. If Durst were promptly returned to LA, he could stand on his Constitutional right to a speedy trial, and force the prosecution to proceed when they may not be ready to do so (just as a well-financed O.J. Simpson did two decades ago). Why else would Louisiana care about the relatively minor offenses of some pot and a pistol when Durst has much bigger concerns in Los Angeles?
I’ve been quoted before as saying that “If loving a good murder case is wrong, I don’t want to be right!” I find myself saying that again, as I’m more impatient that criminal defense attorney Dick DeGuerin allegedly is in seeing the Durst case happen here. In a town full of klieg lights, and with Hollywood as both a backdrop and a central figure, this one promises to be great.
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