An appeals court has denied bail in the case of a psychiatrist who has been in jail for almost a year while she awaits trial for charges that she orchestrated a botched murder plot for her child’s father.
New York Law Journal
Appeals Court Denies Bail to Psychiatrist Charged for Role in Failed Murder Plot
By Andrew Denney
September 25, 2018
In 2015, a Family Court found that Pamela Buchbinder “masterminded a plot to kill” fellow psychiatrist Michael Weiss, with whom she had a child, in 2012, granting sole custody of the child to Weiss and issuing a five-year order of protection against Buchbinder.
In a prior Family Court proceeding, Weiss had been ordered to take out a $1.5 million life insurance policy naming his child as a beneficiary and Buchbinder as a trustee.
The following year, according to court papers, Jacob Nolan, Buchbinder’s cousin, was convicted and sentenced for attempting to bludgeon Weiss to death with a sledgehammer, as well as stabbing him several times, inside Weiss’ apartment.
At trial, Nolan’s defense attorneys argued that Buchbinder, who was charged and arrested in October 2017 for her role in the botched murder plot, brainwashed their client, according to media reports.
Surveillance footage shows Buchbinder and Nolan together at a Home Depot in the Chelsea section of Manhattan purchasing a sledgehammer and zip-ties, court papers state. Additionally, investigators found on Nolan a hand-drawn map showing how to get into Weiss’s building.
Buchbinder has pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder and two counts of first-degree burglary.
Since her arrest, Buchbinder, represented by veteran defense attorney Ronald Fischetti, has made two unsuccessful bids for bail; on Tuesday, the Appellate Division, First Department ruled that it too would grant no such relief.
Buchbinder, who said she would post $1.5 million for her release, argued that her offering to put up the money for enhanced security measures to ensure her delivery to trial should entitle her to bail, but Justice Peter Tom, writing for the court, said that same argument didn’t work for Gigi Jordan, a well-heeled pharmaceutical executive who was convicted of killing her son by force-feeding him drugs and vodka and who was represented by an all-star defense team that included Ronald Kuby and Alan Dershowitz.
Tom also said that the bail court was correct in finding that bail should be denied based on the likelihood that she will be convicted of her charges, her risk of flight and the financial resources she has on hand to aid in taking flight.
Tom was joined on the decision by Justices Rolando Acosta, Sallie Manzanet-Daniels, Angela Mazzarelli and Peter Moulton.
Assistant District Attorneys Joel Seidemann and Armand Durastanti appeared for the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office. The office declined to comment on the ruling.
Fischetti said he will file for leave to appeal the First Department’s ruling to the Court of Appeals, calling the appeals court’s ruling “contrary to law.” He said there is no indication that his client is a flight risk, noting that she has no prior criminal record, and took issue with the fact that the court took four months to issue a ruling on the habeas petition.
“Outrageously, the Appellate Division used her offer to post bail against her, finding that those same financial resources could be used to facilitate flight,” Fischetti said in a written statement. “Nothing here could be further from the truth.”
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