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UNITED STATES v. LOPEZ

June 11, 1993

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
v.
EDUARDO ANTONIO LOPEZ, et al., Defendants.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: ALFRED M. WOLIN

 Before the court is the motion of defendant Eduardo Antonio Lopez ("Lopez") for review and reversal of the magistrate judge's denial of his motion to vacate the detention order and set conditions of release. For the reasons expressed below, the Court will grant defendant's motion.

 BACKGROUND

 Lopez was arrested on September 30, 1992 on charges relating to the trafficking of cocaine. On October 9, 1992, he appeared, along with two codefendants, before United States Magistrate Judge Hedges for a detention hearing. Judge Hedges detained Lopez on the ground of risk of flight, citing the absence of employment ties and the limited properties offered on his behalf. Lopez appealed, and Judge Wolin assigned the matter to United States Magistrate Judge Pisano.

 After a two-day hearing on November 24, 1992 and December 1, 1992, Judge Pisano refused to disturb the original detention order. He found that defendant had not rebutted the statutory presumption required for his release, citing the seriousness of the offense and the correspondingly severe penalties as suggestive of danger and flight. On May 6, 1993, Judge Hedges denied defendant's motion to revoke the detention order, concluding that defendant's close family ties did not overcome his role in the drug conspiracy. A review of this motion currently is pending before the court.

 DISCUSSION

 A. Standard of Review

 A district judge's review of a magistrate's denial of bail is de novo. See United States v. Delker, 757 F.2d 1390, 1394-95 (3d Cir. 1985). While such courts may do more than examine the transcript of the hearing before the magistrate, id. at 1394, in most cases they find it useful to consider carefully the reasoning and decision of the magistrate. Id. at 1395. Thus, the Court must make an independent determination of Lopez's right to bail, fully explaining the result it reaches and its reasons. Id.

 B. The Bail Reform Act

 Courts must strive to impose the least restrictive bail conditions necessary to assure the appearance of defendant at trial and the safety of the public in the interim between arrest and trial. See United States v. Himler, 797 F.2d 156, 159 (3d Cir. 1986). Yet section 1342(e) of title 18 of the United States Code recognizes the necessity of detention in certain circumstances, providing:

 
If, after a hearing pursuant to the provisions of subsection (f) of this section, the judicial officer finds that no condition or combination of conditions will reasonably assure the appearance of the person as required and the safety of any other person and the community, such judicial officer shall order the detention of the person before trial.

 18 U.S.C. ยง 1342(e). Indeed, Congress isolated categories of crimes in which detention more frequently will be appropriate.

 
Subject to rebuttal by the person, it shall be presumed that no condition or combination of conditions will reasonably assure the appearance of the person as required and the safety of the community if the judicial officer finds that there is probable cause to believe that the person committed an offense for which a maximum term of imprisonment of ten years or more is prescribed in the Controlled Substances Act (21 U.S.C. 801 et seq.), the Controlled Substances Import and Export Act (12 U.S.C. 951 et seq.), the ...

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