Wednesday, July 25th, 2007


United States v. Sabhnani, Nos. 07-2567-cr, 07-2615-cr (2d Cir. July 6, 2007 ) (Winter, Cabranes, Raggi, CJJ).

In a decision so fact-bound as to be unlikely to serve as precedent for any other case, the court has ordered the defendants’ release on bail despite the horrific nature of the crimes and the strength of the evidence.

In May of 2007, the Sabhnanis, a married couple with homes on Long Island and in Manhattan, were charged with forced labor and harboring illegal aliens, based on allegations that they enslaved and beat two Indonesian woman who were their domestic servants. After numerous bail hearings in the district court, they were ordered detained as flight risks. The couple is extremely wealthy, and has extensive business, financial and personal ties to foreign countries, including some with which the United States has no extradition treaty.

They appealed the detention order, and the court of appeals agreed that there were bail conditions that would prevent their flight. It should be noted, however, that the court did so only after the government submitted proposed release conditions to the court and the defendants agreed to accept those conditions. “The government’s ability to identify such conditions and the defendants’ willingness to accede to them preclude a conclusion in this case that no conditions of release would reasonably assure the defendants’ presence at trial.”

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