That’s the question today that Spokane area residents need to have answered.

This article is the 2nd piece in a two part story that will go in depth into how a suspected violent rapist was placed back on the streets for less than a tenth of what the normal bond would start at. More importantly what role was played by his sister in-law a setting judge in securing his release on such ridiculously low bond?

In researching this it became clear that judges have a great deal of discretion perhaps way too much.

Over and over again bail bondman here in Spokane were contacted to see if they thought $20,000 was a low bond for a first degree rape were asked if it was low high or standard.

To a person they thought it was very low. Spokane Bail Bonds was contacted the person who didn’t wish to be identified when asked about a $20,000 bail for a person charged with 1st degree rape.

When he stopped laughing he said it was unbelievably low. He indicated that while judges have discretion he’s never seen a 1st degree rape less than $100,000.00, normally it’s between $300,000.00 and $500,000.00 for such a serious crime.

I also contacted All City Bail. The gentleman reported that $20,000.00 for a first degree rape seemed really low.

He explained that an attorney that used to have the office next door to his offices, allegedly tried to force a female co-worker to have sex with him and his bail was $100,000.00 and he never completed the rape.

So for an attempt forcible rape his bond was five times higher than that of a violent rapist that allegedly completed the act of rape using violent force.

Next the person at the court clerk’s office stated the Marci bail bond was on the bond for Michael Fassbender.

Calling this bail bondman the question was the same. Would a bond of $20,000.00 seem low for a 1st degree rape?

Again the same answer as before “that would seem very low to me, why who is it on?” The reporter’s response was “while I think one of your clients, Michael Fassbender, his brother and sister in-law may have used their house as collateral, Mark and Jennifer Fassbender.”

The person at Marci bail bonds said “oh yeah, yeah that sounds familiar let me check here.”  A minute or two went by when there was a muffled voice in the background.  The bondsman returned “No I don’t see them I don’t think it’s one of my bonds!” That interview ended quickly.

Several law enforcement officers were interviewed none wished to go on the record or be identified as it would be just too easy for judges to hold it against them in court. They were pretty consistent in their dismay that a 1st degree rapist would be back on the streets for what amounts $2,000.00 dollars that needs to be given to a bondsman.

One corrections officer said well it depends the judge as they have so much discretion, the suspect‘s record would be looked at the officers report would be an important factor.

When interviewing law enforcement officer one theme ran throughout the discussion, that being the subject of the criminal justice system here in Spokane has become a revolving door.  The officers work their butts off catching the bad guys and the judges put them right back on the streets.

Part of the problem is some judges just put everyone back on the streets period, they are such bleeding hearts they will ask seriously bad people, “how much bail can you afford?”

(Interestingly 36 years ago when I entered law enforcement we argued the same thing that system was a revolving door. It was then and it is now pretty much the same. Local politician hate spending money on law enforcement services, jails as well as officers. They see it as a necessary evil they’d rather spend the taxpayer’s money on pet projects. They forget the first responsibility of government local, state, or federal, is to protect the people!)

This was explained in part by one of the prosecutors that also did not want to go on the record.  Judges have a great deal of discretion but often it has to do with the over -crowding at the county jail. Question: Well are there not some people in the county jail that are less dangerous to put out on the streets than a suspected 1st degree rapist? Answer: sure there are but it’s all up to the judge!

For at least thirty five years that’s been a constant problem for law enforcement agencies. They have to do more with less and have no place to put the bad guys and gals when they catch them. Now it’s getting worse because all of the agencies are trying to avoid layoff’s long enough for the economy to improve to expand facilities to house the bad guy that the people want off the streets.

If you put one in jail you have to let one out of jail. Many of these people re-offend at a very quick pace. Some of them make it back to jail the day leave with new charges only be released again. It’s frustrating for the officers, the prosecutors and often some of the judges.

There is one judge’s name that came up a lot in unsolicited comments no matter which group I spoke to about the local judiciary. Boiling down the comment some of which were unprintable there was a constant theme that Judge Ellen Clark was viewed as a defendants judge. It was not meant as a compliment in the tone, manner, or vernacular it was used. Her reputation is one of siding with the defense more often than not.

To be fair to her in some of the research I found cases in which she had gone beyond the sentence request by prosecutors and given some defendant more time than the prosecution was seeking.

The system has become so bogged down when judges send someone to prison it means someone will be coming out of prison early.

So a question was asked of a prosecutor, if this guy Fassbender, goes out and re-offends while out on bail what then? The prosecutor said; “it happens sometimes and then we just deal with the new charges as well as the old charges.”  Will the judge keep him in jail? “Well that depends on the judge and circumstances of the new case.”

It wasn’t necessary to ask if the judge could be held civilly liable for the defendant re-offending and hurting someone. Judges are indemnified from liability. It is based in old English law that the King can do no wrong!  So judges can exercise their discretion by putting dangerous people back on the street to re-offend and the only recourse the public has is to vote them out of office.

However in all fairness without this indemnity judges could not possibly do their job. They are selected as judges hopefully because of their experience, education, and ability to exercise good judgment.

Sometimes good judges lose that ability to exercise good judgment.  They are non-partisans but their thinking shifts to far from center. They become far too conservative or far too liberal. When this happens the effects can be damning, a far too conservative judge will be unfair to defendants. A judge that becomes far too liberal will become unfair to victims.

Contact was made with the Washington State Bar Association to get some kind of idea if this situation rose to the level of judicial misconduct. Judy Barrett of that association indicated that complaints against judges were not investigated by the Bar Association. They only investigate complaints against attorneys.

She said the Commission on Judicial Conduct was the governing body for the investigation into the conduct of a judge.

A call was place to the commission where Rachael Calmer indicated that they conduct an investigation into all complaints against judges.

She listens to the concern indicating that it might be an ethic violation or might not be depending on the outcome of an investigation. Why does that leave me with such little trust and confidence?

Wrestling with a dilemma; do you publish an article that can have a negative effect on two people lives that may only be guilty of exercising poor judgment?  Against what happens if the alleged rapist victimizes another innocent woman or several women. Even if he doesn’t what kind of signal does this situation send to this victim and future victims of rape.

Advocates have battled for years to get law enforcement and the judiciary to recognize how difficult it is for a victim of rape to trust the system. Along come a couple of judges, females judges no less, that clearly demonstrate that the act of violent rape is no big deal. They put an accused violent rapist back out on the streets for a $20,000.00 bond which really mean $2,000.00 cost to the defendant.

That is equal to the bond you might see in a person get that was arrested for their second or third shoplifting. 

This clearly this not an appropriate bond and makes a mockery of our judicial system.

Sadly this comes in a year when victims are being violated at an alarming rate, both as rape victims and victims of domestic violence homicide. This case sets a very bad precedent and begs for redress. The victim and all women in this area deserved better from these judges than was received.

If this is only a judge exercising her desecration than clearly her judgment is flawed!

Even if this boils down to a case of exercising poor judgment and nothing more, we pay judges to exercise superior judgment not poor judgment!

Like Limburger cheese this case smells so bad of favoritism asked for and favoritism given that given with what has been found, one would be unable to look one’s self in the mirror if they failed to bring this incident to the public’s attention. In the end the public should decide if this conduct by its judges is acceptable or if they find it repugnant.

If this situation is not brought to the surface the public has no way to judge.

Just to let you know

I have recently had a stroke that has resulted in some seizures. At times I make grammar errors as I don’t always have someone available to proof read these articles, before I have to submit them.

I try to do my best to keep the information fresh. The old brain doesn’t connect the dots as it once might have. The stroke dusted some of the dots of my dice I’m afraid. Thank you for being so understanding, as the wisdom goes “We do not write as we want, but as we can.” – W Somerset Maugham

Please feel free to point these errors out to me as I review all comments and try to use the information to give you a better article.

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