United States v. Montalvo-Murillo

PETITIONER: United States
RESPONDENT: Guadalupe Montalvo-Murillo
LOCATION: Bernalillo Court House

DOCKET NO.: 89-163
DECIDED BY: Rehnquist Court (1988-1990)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit

CITATION: 495 US 711 (1990)
ARGUED: Jan 09, 1990
DECIDED: May 29, 1990

Bernard J. Panetta, II - on behalf of the Respondent
William C. Bryson - on behalf of the Petitioner

Facts of the case

Guadalupe Montalvo-Murillo (Montalvo) was held in pretrial custody on federal criminal charges for attempting to enter New Mexico from Mexico with 72 pounds of cocaine. Montalvo cooperated with authorities and agreed to make a controlled delivery to the intended purchasers in Chicago. The authorities took Montalvo to Chicago where the purchase fell through, so they transferred Montalvo back to New Mexico where the criminal complaint charging him with possession of cocaine was originally filed. Montalvo’s detention hearing was not held until 13 days after his initial arrest in New Mexico because of the need to transfer him, the passage of two weekends, a federal holiday, and the fact that the government attorneys were unprepared. At Montalvo’s detention hearing, the district court determined that the delays violated the timeliness of proceedings required by the Bail Reform Act (Act). The district court also determined that Montalvo did not pose a flight risk and, to remedy the untimeliness of the pre-trial proceedings, released him. Montalvo fled upon his release. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit affirmed the district court’s ruling and held that the government’s failure to uphold the Act’s directions for a timely hearing justified Montalvo’s release.


Did the district court err in holding that the defendant must be released as a remedy for the government’s failure to hold a timely detention hearing?

Media for United States v. Montalvo-Murillo

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - January 09, 1990 in United States v. Montalvo-Murillo

William H. Rehnquist:

We'll hear argument next in No. 89-163, United States against Guadalupe Montalvo-Murillo.

Mr. Bryson.

William C. Bryson:

Thank you, Mr. Chief Justice, and may it please the Court:

The issue in this case is whether a violation of the time limits found in the pretrial detention statute require the release of a defendant who is subject to pretrial detention, no matter how strong the case for detention may be.

The case comes to the Court from the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit.

But the facts, briefly stated, are as follows:

Is he still a fugitive?

William C. Bryson:

--He is still a fugitive as of this day, Your Honor.

We have not rearrested him.

The defendant was picked up at a border patrol checkpoint some distance from the Mexican border in New Mexico, and found to be carrying 72 pounds of cocaine in his truck.

He chatted with the border patrol officers at that time and agreed to participate in a continuation of the investigation... the so-called "controlled" delivery in Chicago.

He was flown to Chicago to participate in the controlled delivery.

The idea, of course, being to try to capture the people who were buying the cocaine from him.

And the agents... one of the agents drove the truck.

The controlled delivery failed.

The buyers did not show up and Mr. Montalvo was immediately taken into district court.

A complaint and warrant were filed, and he was ordered to... transferred back to New Mexico.

In New Mexico a detention hearing was set and held.

The day of that detention hearing was February 16th.

He had been initially arrested on February 8th, and the transfer hearing had occurred on February 10th.

At the detention hearing, the magistrate, noting that no pre-trial services report had been made and that Mr. Montalvo's counsel had just been hired about three hours before the hearing, granted a continuance, which... the magistrate was apparently under a misapprehension had been requested by the government, but in fact there's nothing in the record that reflects it was requested by the government, until February 21st, which was two working days later.

This was over the President's Day holiday weekend.

At that hearing the magistrate then took evidence and decided that Mr. Montalvo was releasable.

The government immediately took an appeal, and two days later the district court took evidence in a much longer hearing and decided that Mr. Montalvo was in fact not releasable under the pretrial detention standards of the act because he was both a risk of flight and also he presented a case of dangerousness to the community that could not be disposed of by any conditions placed on his liberty.

Mr. Bryson, do you concede that the government failed to comply with the statute here?

You want us to consider the case in that posture?

William C. Bryson:

We do.

We have brought the case to this Court without contesting the question of whether there was a violation.

As we've indicated--

Certainly it might have been contested, might it not--