Judge Hein discusses bail


GREENVILLE—All defendants tried in Darke County Common Pleas Court are presumed innocent until proven guilty.

“That’s what bail is all about,” Darke County Common Pleas Court Judge Jonathan P. Hein reiterated multiple times as he discussed bond.

The topic of bail in the Darke County courts was recently made relevant, when two defendants were released from jail about two weeks ago.

Dean M. Baker, indictmented for Murder, Tampering with Evidence and Gross Abuse of a Corpse, was released on a $150,000 bond pending trial.

William L. Fields, indictmented for Murder, was released on $75,000 bond pending trial.

Judge Hein said bail should be fair to all defendants.

“Everybody likes it [bail] in theory, until it’s someone else, then they should be in jail,” he said. “But if it’s their family, they really want it. We often do this double standard.”

It’s not just the theory that the defendants are presumed innocent, it’s the reality, he continued.

“How does that become real if you don’t actually do it?” He asked. “We have about 100 open criminal cases at one time. Most of those people are on supervision. They’re on bond. We rarely have a problem with anybody. It’s got nothing to do with how serious the crime is. It’s got more to do with; Are you equipped? Are you capable of coming back and participating?”

Most of the issues the court faces with reporting comes from lower-level offenders.

When heroine hit the streets, he said drug users were often the ones they had the most trouble with.

“The low-level felonies would not come back,” he said. “They were so hooked on drugs that you couldn’t do anything except lock them up long enough to go through detox. But they’re not a high-level of crime. Then you get someone who’s got a high-level of crime, that’s high functioning, doesn’t have a criminal history, why are they in jail? Just because it’s a high-level crime?”

Bail is set to guarantee participation. Are the defendants stable? Are they sober?

“Sobriety for me is the biggest thing,” Judge Hein said. “Mental health is second. Those are two variables that we can track that affect people showing up or not.”

To those who question the recent releases, Hein asked how they’d expect him to act if they were charged?

“Should I give you a chance?” He asked. “When the shoe is on the other foot, when it’s you, ‘I would never do that.’ Well, never is a long time. Never say never.”

Darke County Common Pleas Court hearings are available to stream on YouTube at https://tinyurl.com/commonpleas.