Moyler has right to bail, presumption of innocence

Published 9:24 am Friday, July 10, 2009

To the Editor:

I have read a couple of recent letters to the editor in The Tidewater News insinuating that, by allowing Ed Moyler to be free on bail pending trial, our judicial system treated Mr. Moyler preferentially because he was a prominent attorney and member of the community. The letters reflect a serious misunderstanding of some of our fundamental rights and laws.

The right to bail is referred to in the Bill of Rights, and Virginia law specifically provides that an accused shall be entitled to bail unless there exists probable cause to believe that he will not appear for trial or that his liberty will constitute an unreasonable danger to the community. In law and practice, nearly every accused person is given a bond and released on bail unless he has been charged with a crime of serious violence against persons, or there exists a specific reason to believe that he will flee and not be present for trial.

A basic principle of our criminal justice system remains that every one of us who on any given day may be accused of a crime is presumed innocent until we are tried and convicted. I do not believe the Ed Moyler has any criminal record at all, nor is there any indication that he will somehow flee and not be present for his trial; nor is there the slightest suggestion that he ever would physically harm another person. The judicial system treated Mr. Moyler entirely in accordance with the law and just as it would have treated any other accused person in similar circumstances.

I will conclude with a disclosure. I have known Ed Moyler and been a friend of his family for many years. I graduated from law school, and over 25 years ago I practiced law for a couple of years before I went in other directions. None of that disqualifies me from clarifying the laws and rights that in America protect us — including Ed Moyler.

John R. Marks