|Alamo Too Late to Seek Bond, Judge Decides
By Andy Davis
April 16, 2009
Evangelist Tony Alamo's request to be released on bond while he awaits trial on sex charges was made more than five months too late, a federal judge ruled Wednesday.
Alamo, the 74-year-old leader of a multistate ministry with headquarters in Fouke, has been incarcerated since Sept. 25, when he was arrested in Arizona on charges that he transported an underage girl across state lines for sex. Prosecutors have since added charges accusing him of transporting four other girls for sexual purposes since 1994. His trial is set for May 18.
At a hearing Oct. 22, U.S. Magistrate Judge Barry Bryant declined to set a bond, saying prosecutors had shown that Alamo poses a danger to the community and might flee if given the chance.
Alamo's attorneys asked U.S. District Judge Harry F. Barnes to overturn Bryant's order, saying the magistrate failed to consider Alamo's numerous health problems and that the evidence presented against Alamo at the hearing was weak.
Prosecutors disagreed. They also cited a federal court rule governing the appeal of decisions by magistrates judges, who handle preliminary matters in criminal cases.
Rule 59 of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure, says: "A party may serve and file any objections to [a magistrate judge's] order within 10 days after being served with a copy of a written order or after the oral order is made on the record, or at some other time the court sets."
Since Bryant's order was issued Oct. 22, prosecutors argued that the rule required any objections to be filed 10 days after that - by Nov. 1. Alamo's attorneys didn't lodge their objection until last week.
Barnes agreed that the deadline had passed.
"Defendant's objections are untimely," Barnes wrote in a two-page order filed Wednesday. "He has waived his right to a review of the magistrate's order."
In a brief filed just after Barnes' order was entered, defense attorney Don Ervin of Houston argued that prosecutors misinterpreted the rule. He noted the rule says objections "may" be filed within 10 days "or at some other time the court sets." In this case, he argued, no deadline had been set.
Assistant U.S. attorney Chris Plumlee said Barnes' ruling Wednesday was "just precisely what we had asked the court to do."
"Obviously that's been our position from the very beginning, that he be detained," Plumlee said.
Along with requesting that a bond be set, Ervin had also complained about Alamo's treatment in the Bowie County jail annex of the Bi-State Detention Center in Texarkana, Texas. He said Alamo, who has glaucoma and is legally blind, once fell on the concrete floor while handcuffed, causing him to "seriously injure himself."
Reached by phone later, Ervin declined to elaborate on Alamo's fall or his injuries. Jeff Woodfin, chief deputy U.S. marshal for the Western District of Arkansas, said he wasn't aware of any fall or that Alamo had received any injury requiring medical attention.
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