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Mehserle Seeks Bail Friday; Low Chance Of Success, Expert Says

Publication Date: 
November 30, 2010
Source: 
The Oakland Tribune
Author: 
Paul T. Rosynsky

Whether former BART police Officer Johannes Mehserle is released on bail Friday will largely depend on whether the judge who heard the jury trial believes an appeal of the involuntary manslaughter conviction will be successful.

Mehserle will ask Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Robert Perry to release him on bail while he appeals, arguing that he has a high likelihood of successfully overturning the conviction reached by a jury this year for the shooting death of Oscar Grant III.

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"I'd be very surprised if bail was granted," said Robert Weisberg, professor of law at Stanford Law School and director of the university's criminal justice center. "At this point, the phrase 'don't press your luck' comes to mind."

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Weisberg said that given the short prison sentence and the issues already addressed by Perry during sentencing, the chances of Mehserle being released on bail during an appeal are slim.

Having a defendant released on bail after a conviction is not a right as it is while a defendant faces trial, Weisberg said. As a result, he said, it becomes harder to argue that bail should be granted.

"It's hard for him to say now that it is a right to get out, it is more of a privilege," Weisberg said.

In addition, he said, the judge will probably consider the outrage a release would cause and consider Mehserle's safety.

But Weisberg said the biggest factor will be Mehserle's chance for winning appeal.

"The biggest issue, as the prosecutor says, is that he does not have that great a case on appeal," Weisberg said.