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Appeals Court Reverses Bail, Sends Two Alleged Molotov Cocktail-Throwing Lawyers Back to Jail


Colinford Mattis, 32, and his alleged accomplice, 31-year-old Urooj Rahman.

Two New York-based attorneys accused of throwing Molotov cocktails at New York Police Department vehicles during police brutality protests are headed back to jail after a federal appellate court on Friday evening reversed a lower court’s decision granting them release on bond.

The lawyers, Colinford Mattis, 32, and Urooj Rahman, 31, had been out on bail with electronic monitoring since Monday after each were able to post $250,000 bail set by a magistrate judge in the Eastern District of New York. Federal prosecutors immediately appealed the bail order to the U.S. District Court, but U.S. District Judge Margo K. Brodie upheld the magistrate’s order.

The Government then filed a second appeal with the U.S. Court of Appeals For the Second Circuit on Tuesday, seeking an emergency stay of Judge Brodie’s order. In their motion to the Second Circuit, prosecutors argued that Judge Brodie erred in ordering the defendants’ release on bail by failing to fully consider the seriousness of their offense and the risk they pose to the community.

A three-judge panel of judges at the appeals court heard oral arguments on the matter Friday morning. Assistant U.S. Attorney David K. Kessler contended that if the defendants hadn’t been caught, they appeared poised to continue burning additional police vehicles.

“The contents of the defendants’ vehicle – including at least one other fully assembled Molotov cocktail as well as other precursor materials — reflects that the defendants intended to conduct other similar attacks opportunistically thereafter. In addition, the defendants sought to incite others to launch similar attacks and attempted to distribute other Molotov cocktails to other protestors in furtherance of this objective,” Kessler wrote in court documents.

“Moreover, just minutes after committing that dangerous and violent act, they were arrested with another assembled Molotov cocktail as well as other precursor materials that could be used to make additional destructive devices.”

The attorneys for the two lawyer-defendants told the panel that prior to their arrests, both of the accused fire-bombers had lived very stable lives, had never been arrested in the past, and presented no flight risk, according to the New York Law Journal.

The panel agreed with the Government, issuing an order later that day reversing the district court’s decision and ordering both Mattis and Rahman back to jail. In granting the prosecutors’ request for an emergency stay on the bail order, the panel also set forth an expedited schedule for the appeal with the first set of briefs due by June 10.

[image via EDNY Court Filings]

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Jerry Lambe is a journalist at Law&Crime. He is a graduate of Georgetown University and New York Law School and previously worked in financial securities compliance and Civil Rights employment law.