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United States v Salerno

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Using your text and the internet, in narrative format with a minimum of 500 words, outline the case of United States v. Salerno, 481 U.S. 739 (1987). Give the facts, issue, and court holding of the case.

In the case of United States v. Salerno, Anthony “Fat Tony” Salerno was arrested on charges of numerous RICO violations, and detained without bail. This case determined that the Bail Reform Act of 1984 did not violated the Due Process clause of the Fifth Amendment nor the Excessive Bail clause of the Eighth Amendment. Salerno was indicted on 35 violations of the Racketeering, Influence and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) act that included mail and wire fraud, criminal gambling violations and extortion. It was also determined that Salerno was the boss of the la cosa nostra crime family.

After this discovery, the government concluded that there were no provisions that would ensure the safety of the community. Under the Bail Reform Act of 1984, the government asked that Salerno be detained until his trial. The request for his detainment was granted on the trial court level. Salerno challenged this decision based on the premise that he was detained without bail. However, the Second Circuit Court of appeals found that Salerno’s pretrial detainment on the grounds of future dangerous behaviors violated his civil liberties. After this decision was made, the government appealed.

The primary issue in this case is whether or not pre-trial detention of a potentially dangerous suspect is punitive making it an unconstitutional deprivation of liberty without due process of the law. The Supreme Court held that the detention of a potentially dangerous suspect is regulatory. Additionally, it was held that when there is sufficient compelling interest, the detention of a dangerous suspect can be justified due to the pending threat the person may cause to society as a result of their release. However, there was dissent in this case, which indicated that the upholding of the Bail Reform Act and Salerno’s pre-trial detention opened the door for more detentions. Further, the dissenting argument indicated that a person who is presumed innocent until proven guilty should be granted due process of the law and not deprived of their freedoms afforded by the law.

The Bail Reform Act is a breeding ground for numerous cases of unconstitutionality as it relates to pre-trial detainment. The provisions of the Bail Reform Act of 1984 indicate that it was enacted as a potential solution to crimes committed by individuals who have been granted bail. The detention of Salerno was not deemed excessive in this case as it went along with the premise of the Bail Reform Act of 1984. As it relates to a violation of the Eighth Amendment, release on bail was not required as the compelling interest of public safety deemed the decision to be constitutional. In this case, Salerno’s presumption of innocent until proven guilty was immediately removed once it was discovered that he was the boss of a crime family, and the decision to detain on the possibility of future violent offenses.

Discuss the implications the 8th Amendment has on the right to bail.

The 8th Amendment has several implications as it relates to the right to bail. Pretrial release is not an absolute guarantee under the 8th Amendment. Although the right to bail is not absolute under this clause, it does not mean that it is unavailable. A presumption against bail has to be determined in which a violent offender may be granted bail if there are weaknesses found in the prosecution’s case. The government’s conditions cannot be excessive under the 8th amendment as it relates to the perceived threat of a particular dangerous criminal.

The right to bail relies on factors such as flight risk, previous criminal acts, and status in the community. In the case of preventative detention, the denial of bail is deemed constitutional if there are certain procedural safeguards in place. The 8th Amendment does not protect those who are perceived to be a major threat to the public.

Is the denial of bail the same as imposing excessive bail?

The denial of bail and imposing excessive bail serve the same purpose. A denial of bail ensures that a person will show up in court and not be a threat to society. Imposing excessive bail also ensures that a person is detained and will not be able to commit any further dangerous crimes. Being detained due to excessive bail is not always perceived as excessive especially is the person has a history of missing court appearances, is a threat to public safety or has committed a capital crime, which is dependent on the jurisdiction in which the crime took place.

Generally, a denial of bail is issued when a person is a perceived flight risk or has committed a crime such as murder in a heinous manner. So, it can be perceived that the denial of bail and imposing excessive bail are the same as they produce similar results.

If you were selected to sit on a grand jury for your county, and were appointed jury foreman, outline the duties, functions, and powers of a grand jury to the men and women who will serve as jurors under you.

If I were appointed grand jury foreman for my county, I would provide my fellow jurors with the following information:

The Grand Jury’s primary purpose is to determine whether there is probable cause that a person has committed a federal offense.

The Grand Jury has three functions:
To examine all aspects of city and county governments and special districts by initiating its own investigations. To serve as ombudsmen for the citizens of the cities and county. To conduct criminal investigations and, if the evidence is sufficient, issue criminal indictments in lieu of a preliminary Superior Court hearing.

The Grand Jury must:
Inquire into the condition and management of jails with the County. Investigate and report on the operations, accounts and records of county officers, departments, and functions. Inquire into the willful or corrupt misconduct in office of public officers. Submit a final report of its findings and recommendations, no later than the end of its term, to the Presiding Judge of the Superior Court.

The Grand Jury also has the power to issue reports that indicate non-criminal misconduct. The Grand Jury cannot be utilized for additional evidence discovery relating to a person who has already been indicted. A special grand jury can be convened based on a criminal investigation to create a report for public release to discuss the non-criminal misconduct of appointed officials.

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