The Wenatchee World

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Two more ballot measures not to be overlooked:HJR 4220: Washington’s constitution states specifically that anyone accused of a crime is entitled to bail, unless charged with aggravated first-degree murder and possibly subject to the death penalty. Judges, when faced with a defendant they believe might be a danger to the public, often set bail so high that it is very unlikely to be met. But, sometimes, it is. The case of Maurice Clemmons is one example. He had a violent history and faced multiple felony counts, but was released after friends put up $8,000 and offered a house as backing for a $190,000 bond. Clemmons was free to gun down four Lakewood Police officers in a coffee shop. This constitutional amendment that would expand the bail exception to those accused of crimes punishable by life in prison. A judge could set bail or deny it if clear and convincing evidence suggests a defendant might be dangerous. It could apply to about 1,000 cases a year statewide, but is likely to be used infrequently. It is similar to the rule used in federal court.

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