Ricardo Martinelli, the client from Hell
US Supreme Court (1903)
In the 1903 decision of Wright v Henkel, former President Ricardo Martinelli’s Miami lawyers argue, the US Supreme Court violated the Eighth Amendment prohibition against “excessive bail.” Moreover, Martinelli’s lawyers argue, the US Federal Court for the Southern District of Florida has no jurisdiction to decide whether their client gets bail. This, in a 40-page “emergency” motion for habeas corpus, filed while the high court is in recess and won’t be back into regular sessions until October.
Martinelli, who boasts that he’s a billionaire, offered some two percent of his claimed personal fortune — $20 million — to get out of jail on bail while extradition proceedings against him continue. US Magistrate Edwin G. Torres rejected that offer, citing in particular the risk that Martinelli would skip bail and flee given that a conviction on the wiretapping and embezzlement charges in Panama could mean that a man his age would spend the rest of his life in prison and given the enormous wealth that Martinelli possesses.
Usually, the risk of flight is the central issue in a bail decision. In an ordinary US criminal case in which a life sentence without possibility of parole or the death penalty are possibilities, there is no bail because it is expected that many or most people facing such a risk would run. But Martinelli’s case is not a US criminal matter, but an international extradition case. The rules are different in those, and even if bail is possible, because of the risk of international embarrassment it’s rare.
Another ordinary bail consideration is whether it is likely that, through intimidation or bribery, a defendant will thwart the operation of justice by exerting pressure on complainants or witnesses. And wasn’t that one of the first things that Martinelli did after the defeat of his proxy re-election bid in 2014? He told the members of his Cambio Democratico legislative caucus that they had better do what he says because he has a dossier on every one of them.
Martinelli has already fled to escape justice and has already intimidated potential witnesses in his case. Those sorts of prior acts are also commonly taken into account in the bail decisions for garden variety criminal cases.
Nobody can know with any certainty what the US Supreme Court will do, but it seems that Mr. Martinelli has hired lawyers to bring a frivolous motion. They would have the US legal system tear itself apart by declaring that its federal district courts can’t hear extradition cases. They would overturn a precedent of more than a century’s standing, one that reflected strong public policy imperatives and still does. They would have the ordinary bail considerations of flight risk and protection of witnesses and victims set aside.
Why? Apparently because it’s Ricky Martinelli.
The adult criminal who has never figured out that he or she is not the center of the universe, around which everything and everyone revolves, may actually be in synch with the people who have gained the upper hand in US society and government. But from a lawyer’s perspective, these are the clients from Hell.
Bear in mind…
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