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Arizona Supreme Court: Denying Bail Unconstitutional In Cases Involving Sex With Minors

Joe Paul Martinez has been held in isolation in a Maricopa County jail for almost two years after he was accused of having sex with a minor. Martinez was denied bail because in 2002, voters approved a change to the state Constitution preventing those charged with having sex with minors from being released on bail.

In a decision Thursday from the state Supreme Court, Justice Clint Bolick wrote the law violates Martinez’s right to due process under the 14th Amendment.

J. Cabou represented Martinez in the case. He says judges should be allowed to use their own discretion to determine whether a defendant is a flight risk or a danger to the community.

"By denying the trial court an opportunity to consider whether someone can be managed with any condition short of jail — that’s unconstitutional,” Cabou said.

Trial judges will now hold hearings to determine whether there are conditions for release for those awaiting trial.

Jimmy Jenkins was a producer and senior field correspondent at KJZZ from 2014 to 2021.