A federal judge has once again held that North Georgia’s City’s misdemeanor bond policy is unconstitutional, according to an article printed by the Daily Report. The City of Calhoun’s bond policy allowed defendants with enough funds to secure their release to post bail while other defendants too poor to do so remained in custody.
Indigent Defendants Could Not Post Bond
The decision was a second order, penned by U.S. District Judge Harold Murphy, after the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals vacated his previous injunction that barred the city from detaining those arrested for misdemeanors who could not afford to post a cash bond. Judge Murphy certified the case as a class action and directed the city to release misdemeanor defendants awaiting court appearances.
The case is being closely watched across the nation by city and county government associations and local jurisdictions with similar misdemeanor bail practices. National bail bond associations are keeping an eye on the case, as well. Amicus briefs were presented to the court in 2016 through the U.S. Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division by The American Bar Association and the Obama Administration in support of Judge Murphy’s original opinion.
Civil Rights Groups Step in
The case is being litigated by Atlanta’s Southern Center for Human Rights and Washington-based nonprofit Civil Rights Corps on behalf of indigent plaintiffs who had been detained. They represent 54-year-old Maurice Walker, who was arrested on a charge of being a pedestrian under the influence. Walker’s affidavit notes he has mental health issues, lives with his sister, and brings in about $530 per month in disability payments. Walker was being held in County jail in lieu of a $160 bond, a payment he says his sister could not afford to make. The result was that Walker had to remain behind bars until he could make his first appearance.
In his second opinion, Judge Murphy rejected the City of Calhoun’s claim that its revised bail policy, which now limited the time an indigent arrestee could be jailed to 48 hours, was constitutional. Judge Murphy found the changes to still violate the constitution because it allowed those arrestees who had the resources to post bond (or had someone who could do it for them) to be immediately released while indigent arrestees had to wait 48 hours for a hearing.
Criminal Defense Help
If you or someone you know has been charged and arrested for a crime, it is essential to contact a knowledgeable criminal defense attorney right away to protect your rights. Whether you hire a private attorney or appointed a public defender by the court, you should learn about your rights and obligations under the law to make sure they are protected at all times.