Judge sets $1 bond for 47-year-old habitual offender charged with violent crimes

For the second time in 15 months, we find a judge circumventing the law.

In December 2021, a law goes into effect prohibiting judges from granting PR or personal recognizance bonds to defendants charged with violent offenses. 

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47-year-old Bernard Lane's rap sheet is four pages long and dates to 1994. He has 11 felony convictions.

"Basically, he's been in and out of jail for more than two decades," said Andy Kahan with Crime Stoppers.

Lane is no longer behind bars, even though he has five pending felonies. He has 248th Judge Hillary Unger to thank for that.

Last January, Lane was charged with evading arrest, stalking, and aggravated assault.

"He's out on the three felonies on a $40,000 bond for all three of them," Kahan said. 

On March 11, Lane is arrested again for two more charges of assault of a family member.

"But those felonies were not allegedly committed while he was on bond," said defense attorney Emily Detoto. "Those felonies were allegedly committed prior to him being released on bond."

Even though Lane didn't violate his bond conditions, Judge Unger could have raised the $40,000 bond he posted in January.

"I think a message needed to be sent for public safety and certainly for the sake of the victim," Kahan said. "I'm going to increase the bond, and if you can make it, so be it. But a dollar bond, obviously you're going to make."

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By law, Judge Unger could not give Lane a PR bond or get out of jail free card. But she obviously didn't want him to go back to jail.

"She might have thought the $40,000 bonds were sufficient, so why not just set a dollar bond," said Detoto.

The most recent assault charges against Lane are disturbing. 

"He kicked her, struck her in the head with a closed fist, took out a pistol, and basically said I'm going to kill you," said Kahan.

Of course, we don't know if Judge Unger gave Lane a $1 bond because the law doesn't allow a PR bond.

But 232nd Criminal District Court Judge Josh Hill made it clear last year he wanted to give 42-year-old repeat offender Aubry Taylor a personal recognizance bond, even though Taylor was accused of kidnapping and beating a woman.

Just a few days after Taylor was released on a $1 bond, he picked up new felony charges.

He remains behind bars with no bond set.