Sunday, January 09, 2005

Gray v. Superior Court (Cal. App. - January 5, 2005)

There are a thousand different ways of properly suspending a medical license. The California Court of Appeal in this case got it right that an improper way of suspending such a license is to demand that a pretrial detainee give it up as a condition of granting bail.

Justice Parrilli rightly held that the bail condition here was a violation of the defendant's right to procedural due process. To me, such a condition is also deeply troubling under the Eighth Amendment (though no such claim was raised in this case). Suspending the (innocent-until-proven-guilty) defendant's medical license has nothing to do with ensuring that he will appear at trial, which is the principal function of bail.

There may be limited exceptions where particular bail conditions are necessary for public safety, but -- especially given the historical underpinnings of the Eighth Amendment -- those properly involve a very narrow set of cases inapplicable to this run-of-the-mill case.