Disagreement over bond at hearing for Pickens

Judge Richard Hagar set bond at $10,000 cash or corporate surety for Clyde Pickens, 61, of Williston, despite his defense attorney’s argument in favor of a lower bond.

The State Supreme Court this week ordered a new trial for Pickens, who was convicted last year of sexually assaulting a girl on different occasions in Mountrail County in 2012 when she was 10 and 11 years old. The Supreme Court remanded the case back to the district court after finding there had been errors in the court’s response to jury requests during deliberation. The jury found Pickens guilty and Judge Todd Cresap later sentenced him to 20 years, with 10 years suspended.

During the bond hearing on Thursday, the prosecution asked Hagar to set bond at $20,000 cash or corporate surety, arguing that Pickens is now a greater flight risk because of the likelihood of a conviction at his new trial. Pickens’ defense attorney, Eric Baumann, said that Pickens’ original bond was set at $10,000 and he made all of his court appearances and returned for trial, even though the case dragged on for four years. Baumann said Pickens should be released on the previously posted bond, that the judge should give him an unsecured appearance bond or, at a minimum, should give him a percentage bond.

The prosecution told Hagar that Pickens’ previously posted bond would have been forfeited when he was convicted. Baumann said that shouldn’t be the case when Pickens’ conviction has now been vacated. Everything should go back to the way it was before his last trial, said Baumann, who called the prosecution’s argument bizarre and said it would be “an absolute travesty” to require Pickens to post another $2,000 to the court that will not be returned to him.

Baumann also argued that Pickens should be allowed to travel to Montana and to Missouri while he is out on bond, as he did before his last trial. Pickens told Hagar his truck is in Montana and he wants to visit his 96-year-old mother in Missouri.

Hagar said Pickens will not be allowed to travel outside North Dakota without written permission from the court.

Hagar also ordered that Pickens have no contact with the alleged victim in the case or with her mother or brother.