PENSACOLA - A judge ruled Wednesday that suspended Escambia County Commissioner W.D. Childers can be freed on bail while appealing his bribery conviction, but the former Senate president will remain in jail at least another day.
Childers was returned to the Escambia County Jail after the hearing Wednesday and will remain there until another judge rules on a request for bail while Childers appeals convictions for violations of the state's open-government Sunshine Law. That case is unrelated to the bribery case.
Both judges initially denied bail, but the 1st District Court of Appeal in Tallahassee rejected their reasoning and ordered each to reconsider.
Circuit Judge Jere Tolton set bail at $10,000 on Wednesday, and Okaloosa County Judge T. Patterson Maney said he would rule on the bail request in the open-meetings case in 24 hours.
Childers, 69, is two weeks away from completing his 60-day sentence for violating the Sunshine Law by discussing public business in private with other commissioners. In the bribery case, he has been sentenced to 31/2 years in prison to begin after the Sunshine sentence.
Assistant State Attorney Bobby Elmore, who prosecuted the Sunshine charges, argued that bail should be denied on new grounds that Childers is a flight risk now that he knows he is facing substantial prison time for bribery. Defense lawyer Richard Lubin pointed out that prosecutors in the bribery case had said Childers was neither a flight risk nor a danger to the community.