Graves Update: Judge thumbs nose at feds

Lawyers for Graves fire back at Burleson Co. District Judge Reva Towslee-Corbett, who, in an apparent screw you to federal bench, set $1 million bond for Graves to be released from jail

Lawyers for Anthony Graves on Dec. 21 fired back at Burleson Co. District Judge Reva Towslee-Corbett, who, in an apparent screw-you to the federal bench, had the day before set a $1 million bond for Graves to be released from jail.

The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals – which had overturned Graves' 1994 capital murder conviction and death sentence in March, ruling that prosecutors withheld crucial exculpatory witness statements from Graves' defenders – on Dec. 18 handed down a second ruling, denying a state motion that sought to keep Graves in jail without bond pending any retrial. The court ordered the state to hold a bond hearing or to set Graves free by Jan. 4 on a $50,000 bond previously set by U.S. District Judge Samuel Kent.

In the habeas writ filed in state district court on Dec. 21, Graves' attorneys – Jeff Blackburn, David Mullin, and Nicole Casarez – argue that Towslee-Corbett thumbed her nose at the federal bench by setting the $1 million bond on her own without notifying the defense or holding an evidentiary hearing. The bond order "contains no facts, reasons, or conclusions about why the bond should be set at this amount," reads the petition. "It stands in flagrant defiance of the decisions of the federal courts."

Graves' attorneys argue that the bond is excessive – under no conceivable scenario would Graves be able to contemplate posting that high of a bond – and unlawful, set as a means to keep him behind bars and "to make it appear as if he is guilty of the crime he is charged with, thus depriving him of the right to a fair trial." Moreover, while Towslee-Corbett has instituted a sweeping gag order in the case – denying herself, the attorneys, and even Graves the right to speak out about the case (possibly in violation of state law) – Graves' lawyers contend that her bond decision was, in essence, a way to speak publicly about the case and, as such, is a violation of the gag order.

"For the court to gag [Graves] and his advocates on the one hand, and to speak to the public by setting an outrageous bond on the other, violates Mr. Graves' right to be judged fairly according to real evidence," Graves' attorneys wrote. A hearing on the defense motion is set for Jan. 22.

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