Remand

The term “remand” means to place a person in custody or on bail while awaiting a trial. For example, a remand is necessary if the court believes the defendant may be a flight risk, or likely to leave the state while awaiting his trial. Remand can also mean to return a court case to a lower court from a higher court so the lower court can reconsider the case. To explore this concept, consider the following remand definition.

Definition of Remand

Verb

  1. The act of ordering a defendant to custody or to place him on bail to ensure his appearance at his future trial.
  2. To return a court case to the lower court so the lower court can re-consider the case.

Origin

Late 18th century          Late Latin (remandare)

What Happens When a Person is Remanded

When the court remands a person, this means that law enforcement is to keep him in prison until his trial or sentencing hearing. Most people who are on remand have not received a conviction, nor have they plead guilty. For example, remand typically applies to those who are awaiting trial. A person who is on remand is not to endure the same treatment as a person with a conviction. For instance, the prison should allow a person on remand to wear his own clothes and to have more visitors than an inmate receives.

Reasons for a Remand

There are several reasons for a remand. For instance, the prosecution can request a remand if the defendant has prior convictions on his record. They may also request a remand if they believe the defendant will not show up at his trial, or if he has the potential to interfere with witness testimony. And, of course, the prosecution can request a remand if they believe the defendant may go out and commit similar crimes while awaiting his trial. This is, of course, why a court may order a suspected serial killer to stay put until his trial.

Bail

Instead of a remand to a prison cell, a court may provide for the option of bail. This means that the defendant pays a fee in exchange for his freedom on the condition that he agrees to return to his next court date. The bail may either be conditional or unconditional. Conditional bail comes with certain requirements established by the court, such as:

  • The Defendant must continue to live at his last known address until at least the conclusion of his trial.
  • The Defendant must refrain from interacting with certain people until the conclusion of his trial.
  • The Defendant must regularly check in with his local police station.

Of course, in more serious cases, such as those involved murder or rape, or the attempts of either crime, bail is not even an option. The court immediately sentences the defendant to a remand until the conclusion of his trial.

Reversed and Remanded

When a higher court reverses and remands a case, this means that the court, in reviewing a decision made by a lower court, orders the lower court to review the case again. In other words, the higher court reverses the made by the lower court. The higher court then remands the case back to the lower court so that the lower court can order a re-trial on the issues at hand.

There are three situations wherein a court may typically reverse and remand a case:

  • The higher court believes the lower court made a procedural error.
  • The higher court believes the lower court’s decision was improper based on the merits of the case.
  • The higher court believes the lower court failed to acknowledge evidence that may have changed the overall outcome of the case.

In certain criminal cases, if a higher court reverses and remands a lower court’s decision, this could mean the immediate release of a defendant from custody. This can happen if the higher court decides that the lower court improperly convicted the defendant, and that the defendant should actually go free.

Motion to Remand

An attorney may file a motion to remand to request a court to move a case to a different court. For instance, a motion to remand can ask for a case in federal court to move to state court if the attorney thinks federal court has more jurisdiction. Similarly, an attorney may make a motion to remand to ask a federal court to return a case to state court if he feels the case is not serious enough to warrant the federal court’s attention.

Remand Example Involving Type 2 Diabetes

An important example of remand in a Supreme Court case appears in the matter of Regina A. Schaefer v. The State Insurance Fund, et al. In this case, Regina Schaefer, an employee of the New York Office of General Services, had worked as an office clerk for several years. In or around 1990, her doctor diagnosed Schaefer Type 2 diabetes. In March of 1991, Schaefer’s doctor hospitalized her for complications resulting from the disease.

In April of 1991, Schaefer’s department suffered a workforce reduction, and she took a probationary role with The State Insurance Fund. After her six-month probation was up, her supervisor told her they would not be keeping her on due to her poor job performance. In September of that same year, she took up another probationary position with the same company. Once those six months was up, the company terminated her employment.

Filing Suit

Upon losing her job and her insurance coverage, Schaefer was unable to afford her diabetes medication. She became ill and nearly died as a result. In January of 1995, Schaefer sued The State Insurance Fund, alleging they had violated her rights under Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Trial and Decision

In November of 1995, Schaefer’s case went to trial. Schaefer argued that her employer knew she had a disability and terminated her because of her diabetes. As proof, she provided evidence that her condition required her to see her doctor every two weeks, and that she had to use her sick leave at work for these appointments.

She also provided evidence that her employer had scolded her for using so much sick time, and that she had informed him that she needed the time because of her diabetes. In the end, the jury found in Schaefer’s favor and awarded her over $87,000 in damages and fees, and an additional $149,000 in attorney’s fees.

Appeal

While the defendants in Schaefer’s case were awaiting their appeal, the Supreme Court ruled on a similar case that ultimately changed the law with regard to how courts were to recognize disabilities. According to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, this change in the law should have been enough to vacate the lower court’s decision in Schaefer’s case.

However, the Court instead chose to remand the case back to the lower court. The Court did this so that the lower court could decide whether Schaefer had a true disability as defined by the new laws, and then amend its decision accordingly.

In Its Own Words

In the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit’s decision, Acting Assistant Attorney General Bill Lann Lee wrote:

“Courts decide cases before them in accordance with the law that is in effect at the time of the decision. The Supreme Court’s decision in Sutton significantly changed the law. The case should, therefore, be remanded to the district court for it to apply the new law to the facts.

In similar circumstances, where an intervening decision changes the legal landscape, courts have ruled that parties may be entitled to amend their pleadings or introduce additional evidence in light of the new legal standard. [Citations omitted.]

Such a course is probably appropriate here, particularly since plaintiff structured her proof at trial in reliance on the district court’s (and this Court’s) ultimately erroneous rulings. The determination of the appropriate course of action should be made in the first instance by the district court. ‘The district court, with its extensive knowledge of the facts and proceedings in this case, is in a far better position than [the court of appeals] to address and to first apply’ new case law.” [Citations omitted.]

Related Legal Terms and Issues

  • Damages – A monetary award in compensation for a financial loss, loss of or damage to personal or real property, or an injury.
  • Defendant – A party who is the target of a lawsuit in civil court, or who stands accused of, or with, a crime or offense.
  • Hearing – A proceeding in which the court hears an issue of fact or law by hearing evidence and testimony presented, and then makes a decision.
  • Jurisdiction – The legal authority to hear legal cases and make judgments; the geographical region of authority to enforce justice.
  • Prosecution – The attorney(s) whose job it is to prove that the defendant in a criminal case is guilty.
  • Trial – A formal presentation of evidence before a judge and jury for the purpose of determining guilt or innocence in a criminal case, or to decide in a civil matter.
  • Witness – An individual who can provide a firsthand account of something heard, seen, or experienced.

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