Responding to an admonishment by the federal appeals court, Judge Manuel Real has set a new bail hearing for Alex Sanchez at the federal court in downtown Los Angeles at 10:00am on January 6, leaving little time for legal preparations.
Judge Real is not expected to alter his denial of bail for Sanchez, but simply make new findings consistent with the 9th Circuit’s requirements issued December 22. Those requirements are that Real “accept and consider” evidence “beyond a reasonable doubt” that Sanchez would be a danger to the community if released on bail, and the “preponderance of evidence” in determining whether Sanchez would be a flight risk.
The problem for Sanchez is that the 9th Circuit order only requires that Real “consider” such evidence. Real is widely regarded as hostile and arbitrary, and has been admonished or reversed many times before by the higher courts. Currently he controls both the bail hearing and the trial itself, which virtually guarantees that Sanchez will not be released for over a year unless the 9th Circuit intervenes.
Of particular interest is how the judge will find that Sanchez is a danger to the community “beyond a reasonable doubt.” Hundreds of letters demanding bail for Sanchez have been filed with the court, insisting that his gang intervention efforts at Homies Unidos help maintain community peace rather than violence. As to whether the preponderance of evidence indicates Sanchez is a flight risk, the judge must consider the fact that over two million dollars in property and funds has been proferred by Sanchez supporters, including a pledge by a former LA FBI director, Thomas Harper, to personally ensure that the defendant makes his scheduled court appearances.
At the previous bail hearing, Judge Real dismissed the letters of support as having nothing to do with the issues of danger and flight risk, although the vast majority of the letters spoke directly to those issues.
The judge also dismissed a lengthy affadavit by Fr. Gregory Boyle, SJ, as “irrelevant”, and refused to allow the priest to take the stand. Fr. Boyle, the nationally-recognized founder of Homeboy Industries, offered a detailed refutation of charges against Sanchez made by LAPD anti-gang officer Frank Flores. Since no evidence has been offered showing Sanchez conspired in a 2006 gang killing in El Salvador, the LAPD’s Flores attempted to argue that gang members spoke in code on wiretapped phone calls. Fr. Boyle dismissed Flores’ interpretations as absurd efforts to create evidence that did not exist.
Though the LAPD’s Flores was presented as an objective expert, his testimony on the wiretaps failed to include exculpatory evidence showing that Sanchez was a former member of Mara Salvatrucha who was inactive at the time of the phone calls. Sanchez maintains that he intervened only on several of 2006 phone calls [the FBI has tens of thousands of recordings] after learning that his life was being threatened and rumors spread that he was collaborating with the FBI. When cross-examined, Flores had no explanation for his omission of the recorded evidence that Sanchez was a former member who left the gang life to found Homies Unidos in the 1990s.
If there is “reasonable” evidence that Sanchez was an inactive former gang member, the prosecution’s conspiracy claim that he is a currently-active shotcaller leading a double life – and therefore a present danger – falls apart.