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'The judge failed this community': Former judge says he would have set Quintez Brown's bail at $500K or more

Under Kentucky law, attempted murder is not a capital offense, meaning the judge in Brown's case was required to offer a cash bail.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Several people have questioned why the man accused of trying to kill Louisville mayoral candidate Craig Greenberg was able to be released on bail two days after allegedly shooting at him several times.

Greenberg said the person who tried to shoot him was less than 10 feet away from him. No one was injured, but Greenberg's sweater and undershirt were grazed by a bullet.

Kentucky's constitution requires judges to set cash bail for anyone charged with a crime unless it's a capital offense.

Quintez Brown, who police said targeted Greenberg in his campaign office Monday morning, has been charged with attempted murder and four counts of wanton endangerment.

Under Kentucky law, attempted murder is not a capital offense, meaning the judge in Brown's case was required to offer a cash bail. The judge set it at $100,000. The full amount was required to be paid, not 10% as is seen in some cases. 

The Louisville Community Bail Fund, which was co-founded by Black Lives Matter Louisville organizer Chanelle Helm, paid Brown's bail Wednesday afternoon. 

Brown was released from the Louisville Metro Department of Corrections Wednesday evening, two days after the shooting took place. 

RELATED: Senator Mitch McConnell responds following Quintez Brown's bond release

The case has brought a lot of scrutiny to Kentucky's bail process. Lawmakers were working on bail reform before Monday's attempted shooting, but now there's even a bigger push in Frankfort to get something passed. 

Rep. Jason Nemes, R-Louisville, is co-sponsoring a bill that would create restrictions for organizations posting cash bails for people charged with violent offenses.

Nemes said he doesn't think community bail funds should be allowed to pay to get alleged violent offenders out of jail. He said he feels only people with personal connections to someone charged with a crime should. 

"We want someone who has a connection to an individual, who can vouch for an individual, so they put their own treasury on the line so if the person recommits a crime or they don't show up, they lose their own treasury," Nemes said. 

Nemes has been working on bail reform since before this incident happened. 

He spoke with WHAS11's Rachel Droze in mid-January about the need for bail reform in Kentucky. 

Ultimately, he'd like to see Kentucky's constitution amended so judges could keep defendants charged with violent crimes in custody without offering a cash bail.

RELATED: Bill introduced to make charitable bail organizations illegal in Kentucky

"In Kentucky, we hold them only if they can't post bail, but they are entitled to have bail set for them," Nemes said. "That should change. That takes a constitutional amendment and we'll file that bill next week."

Judge David Holton, who is retired from the bench and now a practicing attorney, said he would like to see cash bond eliminated completely in Kentucky. 

"If the organizations were not allowed to post bond for persons with violent offenses, that would be, I believe, a step in the right direction," Holton said. "But again, that is not the fairest of the system's affairs to the system is to eliminate cash bail all together with other options such as home incarceration, or daily reporting services, things like that."

Since bail is still required to be set under current law, Holton said if he was the judge in the Quintez Brown case, he'd have set bail much higher. 

"A person like this, who was alleged to have shot at Greenberg, I would have set bond at probably a half-million dollars or higher based on the nature of the offense," Holton said. "I was disappointed that the bond was as low as it was. I believe that the judge failed this community."

RELATED: 'Our criminal justice system is clearly broken' | Craig Greenberg responds after Quintez Brown moved to home incarceration

A judge initially set Brown’s bail at $75,000. On the day of his arraignment, the prosecution asked the judge to raise bail to $100,000, which she did.

“It is frustrating that my office has such little control in these situations. Unlike the federal system, bond must be set under Kentucky law," Jefferson County Attorney Mike O'Connell said. 

O'Connell said the criteria of release "should not be the ability to access a certain amount of money," but rather on the person's "threat to the community and whether or not they have a history of non appearance in court."

"I’ve said previously that people should not be in jail just because they can’t afford bond or be released just because they can," he said. "We should have a system like the federal government where my office can provide evidence and a judge can decide."

"Kentucky’s current system does not allow that," O'Connell said. "Our office has kept the victim involved throughout this process.”

Holton said setting bail, also called a bond, was one of the most difficult things he did as a judge. 

There are certain factors judges take into account when setting bail according to Holton, including the seriousness of the offense, the prior criminal record of the person charged, the ability of the individual charged to pay bail, whether the person is likely to return to court and a defendant's ties to the community. 

Holton is running against incumbent O'Connell in the May Democratic Primary Election. O'Connell is the prosecutor in Brown's case. 

WHAS11 reached out to O'Connell for a statement about what he thinks about the bail set by the judge but did not hear back at the time this story was published.

Contact reporter Rachel Droze at rdroze@whas11.com. Follow her on TwitterFacebook and Instagram.

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