Hearing Scheduled on Bail for Henley : Courts: Defense lawyers must present arguments why it shouldn’t be raised to $1 million regardless of the fact that the Rams travel issue has become moot.
A federal judge has ordered attorneys for former Rams cornerback Darryl Henley to explain why they think the football player’s bail should not be raised to $1 million.
Henley, who was cut by the Rams on Sunday as the team reduced its squad to comply with a 53-player limit, was charged in a federal indictment last year with conspiring to operate a nationwide cocaine distribution network from his home. Following his arrest, he was released on $200,000 bail.
Last week, Henley asked U.S. District Judge Gary L. Taylor to ease a travel ban imposed as a condition of his bail so he could play in Rams games outside the federal court district that encompasses Orange County.
The judge agreed to let him travel with the team, so long as Henley or a “responsible third party,” such as the Rams, provided the $1-million bail that prosecutors had demanded. The judge said Henley could flee to avoid prosecution if not under the watchful eye of local authorities.
After Henley was cut by the team Sunday, along with five other players, it appeared that the $1-million bail issue had become moot, and Henley would remain free on the $200,000 bail posted last year.
But unknown to Henley’s attorneys, Taylor signed an order the day after last week’s hearing asking the lawyers to “show cause” why bail should not be raised to $1 million regardless of the travel issue.
During the hearing last week, Taylor expressed concern that Henley’s bail--set by a U.S. magistrate in December--was too low, especially because Taylor had set $500,000 bail for Henley’s uncle, a co-defendant in the conspiracy case who is considered a lesser player in the alleged crimes.
Taylor detailed the seriousness of the conspiracy charges, saying that the government had outlined “a dangerous and important case” against Henley, and suggested that those accused of such crimes have a tendency to flee as the trial draws nearer.
If convicted, Henley faces a minimum sentence of 10 years in prison and a maximum sentence of life.
Attorneys for some of Henley’s co-defendants have complained of a double standard in the case, pointing out that their clients were denied bail and must remain in prison while awaiting trial, scheduled in January, while Henley is free.
Roger L. Cossack, one of Henley’s attorneys, said he was puzzled why Taylor would bring up the issue of $1-million bail, especially when prosecutors had only asked that it be raised in connection with relaxation of the travel ban.
If the higher bail is ordered, it will be impossible for Henley to meet, Cossack said. He has little equity in his home and his family does not have the money it would take to secure a bail bond. Moreover, they say, Henley was cut from the team and will not be earning the $350,000 salary he expected when he signed with the Rams this year.
“He just can’t do it,” Cossack said. “And there is no reason to believe that he can raise that kind of money.”
Taylor has set a hearing date of Sept. 7 for Henley’s attorneys to make their arguments against bail being raised.
In his order, Taylor said he was inclined to raise the bail under the same terms and conditions he recommended last week regarding Henley’s travel. The bond must be secured by cash or corporate surety or come from a “responsible third party.”
Cossack and attorney Gerald L. Chaleff argued in court that Henley could have fled at any time since he was released on bail last December. Taylor gave him permission to travel to Waco, Tex., to attend a wedding, and prosecutors did not oppose that request, the attorneys said.
Besides, they argued, Henley’s pretrial services officer has told the court that Henley has met all of his bail conditions, and the officer endorsed Henley’s request to travel out of town with the Rams.