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United States v. Salerno

United States Supreme Court
481 U.S. 739 (1987)


Congress passed the Bail Reform Act (Act) in 1984. The Act allows a federal court to detain an arrestee before trial if the government can show by clear and convincing evidence that the safety of others will be jeopardized upon his release. The Act requires an adversary hearing where the arrestee has the right to have an attorney present; he may testify and present his own witnesses, proffer evidence, and cross-examine the government’s witnesses. The decision is left to a judicial officer but Congress outlined relevant factors to consider. In this case, Salerno (defendant) and another man were arrested after being charged on a 29-count indictment. At Salerno’s arraignment, the government moved to have him detained pursuant to the 1984 Act. At the hearing, the government showed that Salerno was the “boss” of a powerful crime family. The district court granted the government’s detention motion, concluding that the government had met its burden. On appeal, the court of appeals held that the Act was unconstitutional on its face as a violation of due process.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Rehnquist, C.J.)

Dissent (Marshall, J.)

Dissent (Stevens, J.)

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