Course: Introduction / Procedural Law
U.S. v. Salerno (1987) is a landmark SCOTUS decision in which the court ruled that the pretrial detention of a dangerous defendant was not a due process violation so long as the dangerousness was proven.
Citation: 481 U.S. 739 (1987)
U.S. v. Salerno (1987) is a landmark Supreme Court decision that addressed the constitutionality of pretrial detention for a defendant deemed dangerous to the community. The case centered around Anthony Salerno, a reputed organized crime figure who was arrested on charges of racketeering and other crimes. The government argued that Salerno posed a significant danger to the community and requested that he be detained pretrial.
The court ruled that the pretrial detention of a defendant deemed dangerous to the community was not a due process violation if the dangerousness was proven. The ruling rested on the premise that the government has a compelling interest in protecting the community from dangerous individuals and that pretrial detention is a necessary means of accomplishing that goal.
The court held that pretrial detention could be ordered if the government could demonstrate by clear and convincing evidence that the defendant posed a danger to the community or a risk of flight. The court also held that detention hearings must be held promptly, and defendants must be given the opportunity to challenge the government’s evidence.
The ruling in Salerno was significant because it upheld the constitutionality of a provision in the Bail Reform Act of 1984 that allowed for the pretrial detention of defendants deemed dangerous to the community. The act required detention hearings to be held within a specified time frame and required the government to prove by clear and convincing evidence that the defendant posed a danger to the community or a risk of flight.
The decision in Salerno had significant implications for the criminal justice system. It paved the way for the widespread use of pretrial detention for defendants deemed dangerous, leading to an increase in the number of individuals being held in pretrial detention. It also raised concerns about the potential for abuse and the potential for pretrial detention to be used as a form of punishment.
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Last Modified: 04/18/2023