This is a case that’s necessary reading if you’re going to have a client who is a witness where the State is seeking a material witness certification against your client. Even though these events happened a couple of years ago, the appellate court posted it on their website yesterday.
In this case, Ms. Johns was a witness in a murder case that the State could not locate and did not have service for a subpoena. After. Ms. Johns was picked up on a misdemeanor warrant, the State filed a motion to have her certified as a material witness and to have her held without bail until the trial was over. The judge granted these requests really without a hearing.
On appeal, while the appellate court held the trial court was correct in the material witness certification and while the appellate court held that holding someone no bail is legal under certain circumstances, it held that doing it in this case without a full hearing with the steps the statute requires was totally inappropriate. The appellate court ordered a remand to the circuit court to see if Ms. Johns was willing to sign a paper committing to come to court and to decide if a bail amount or judgment amount would be appropriate.
The case is People v. Johns.