WASHINGTON – The Supreme Court said Thursday that a jilted woman can challenge the use of an anti-terrorism law to prosecute her for spreading deadly chemicals around the home of her husband's mistress.
The high court, in a unanimous decision, said Carol Anne Bond can challenge her conviction despite arguments from federal prosecutors and judges that she shouldn't even be allowed to appeal the verdict that has left her in federal prison since 2007.
Bond was convicted of trying to poison her husband's pregnant lover by spreading toxic chemicals around the woman's house and car and on her mailbox. Federal prosecutors then sent her to prison using a federal anti-terrorism law for using "chemical weapons."
Bond, from Lansdale, Pa., almost 30 miles northwest of Philadelphia, challenged her conviction on 10th Amendment grounds, saying that the federal government's decision to charge her under a chemical weapons law was an unconstitutional reach into a state's power to handle what her lawyer calls a domestic dispute.
But the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia threw out her appeal, saying that only states — not individuals — can use 10th Amendment arguments that the federal government cannot encroach into matters reserved for the states.
The high court decision overturned that ruling, allowing her to go back and challenge use of the terrorism law.
"The individual, in a proper case, can assert injury from governmental action taken in excess of the authority that federalism defines. Her rights in this regard do not belong to a state," said Justice Anthony Kennedy, who wrote the opinion for the court.
Lawyer Robert E. Goldman hopes to reach his imprisoned client Thursday to share the good news. "It vindicates an individual's rights to challenge the federal government when it oversteps its powers," Goldman told The Associated Press.
Bond, unable to bear any children of her own, was excited for her best friend Myrlina Haynes when the woman announced her pregnancy. But later the excitement turned to pain when Bond found out that her husband of more than 14 years, Clifford Bond, was the one who had impregnated Haynes.
Vowing revenge, Bond, a laboratory technician, stole the chemical 10-chloro-10H phenoxarsine from the company where she worked and purchased potassium dichromate on Amazon.com. Both can be deadly if ingested or exposed to the skin at sufficiently high levels.
Bond spread the chemicals on Haynes' door handle and in the tailpipe of Haynes' car. Haynes, noticing the chemicals and suffering a minor burn, called the local police, who didn't investigate to her satisfaction. She then found some of the chemicals on her mailbox, and called the United States Postal Service, which videotaped Bond going back and forth between Haynes' car and the mailbox with the chemicals.
Postal inspectors arrested her.
But instead of turning the domestic dispute case over to state prosecutors, a federal grand jury indicted her on two counts of possessing and using a chemical weapon using a federal anti-terrorism law passed to fulfill the United States' international treaty obligations under the 1993 Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling and use of Chemical Weapons and on Their Destruction.
Bond pleaded guilty and was given six years in prison.
The case is Bond v. United States, 09-1227.
Associated Press Writer Maryclaire Dale contributed to this story.