Stiehl holds firm on Peel's custody

Steve Gonzalez Apr. 3, 2007, 1:00pm

United States District Judge William Stiehl again ordered Gary Peel to be held in custody of the U.S. Marshall's Service until his June 25 sentencing hearing.

Stiehl had originally ordered Peel to turn himself in on March 30, but stayed that order after his public defender, Stephen Williams, filed a motion to reconsider the ruling.

After his conviction on March 23, Assistant U.S. Attorney Kevin Burke asked Stiehl to detain Peel in accordance with Title 18, U.S.C. § 3143.

According to Burke, Title 18, U.S.C. § 3142(f)(1)(A) includes a "crime of violence."

In his response, Williams concedes that the mandatory detention provisions contained in 18 U.S.C. § 3143(a)(2) apply to Peel's case, but argues that the law allows courts to grant discretionary release pending sentencing in such cases, where a court determines that there are "exceptional reasons" which justify continuing a defendant on bond.

Williams argued that there is clear and convincing evidence that Peel is not a flight risk or threat to the community.

He also said that Peel had made all of his pretrial appearances and complied with all of his conditions of pretrial release.

"In any event, since it appears that Mr. Peel is not a flight risk or danger to the community, this Court should find that the threshold requirements for continuing him on bond have been met," Williams added.

Williams also claims Peel's unique circumstances present at least two exceptional and compelling factual reasons for allowing him to remain free on bond.

He argued that Peel is extremely unlikely to engage in recidivist behavior relating to the charges and that evidence presented an extremely unusual factual scenario which led to the convictions for possession of child pornography.

"Mr. Peel is not a pedophile," Williams said.

He also argued Peel's second exceptional circumstance relates to the nature of his conviction, the publicity it has received, and the effect this might have on his detention.

Williams said it is "foolish" to think that the inmates at the local jails had not read about the case or seen it on TV.

In his April 3 order, Stiehl concedes he has the discretion to allow Peel to be released before his sentencing. He wrote in his order that Peel has failed to show that "exceptional circumstances" are present which would warrant his release pending sentencing.

"Although the record is clear that the defendant did not possess a cache of child pornography, nor was there any evidence that he engaged in sexual acts with minors after the events which led to the taking of the photographs, nor that his possession of child pornography was part of a commercial venture, he nonetheless, in this case, used the child pornography in his possession in an attempt to gain an unfair, illegal advantage in ongoing court proceedings, and to compel his former wife to
acquiesce to altering the terms of their divorce settlement," Stiehl wrote.

"The Court simply cannot ignore the fact that the defendant is an attorney, and therefore, an officer of the court," Stiehl added. "His use of the child pornography in this case was specifically designed to mislead the bankruptcy court, and to obfuscate and obstruct the proper progress of ongoing judicial proceedings."

Peel faces a maximum sentence of 40 years.

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