ABA opposes fixed bail schedules in new amicus brief filed with 11th Circuit

  • Print.

The ABA has filed an amicus brief with the Atlanta-based 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that opposes fixed bail schedules in Calhoun, Georgia.

Money-bail systems that don’t include individualized determinations violate the 14th Amendment’s due process and equal protection clauses, the ABA argues in the brief (PDF) filed on Monday. A press release is here.

“Money-bail systems frequently lead to poverty-based jailing of pretrial detainees,” the ABA says in the brief. “Pretrial detention disrupts indigent defendants’ lives, leads to worse legal outcomes, and pressures innocent defendants to plead guilty. At the same time, money-bail systems do not improve defendant appearance rates or public safety, and substantially consume public resources.”

The brief notes the ABA House of Delegates adopted a resolution in August that opposes bail schedules and backs policies favoring release on unsecured bonds. The resolution says pretrial detention should never occur solely because of an inability to pay.

The ABA had submitted a similar brief in the first appeal of the case, and in cases raising similar issues that are before the New Orleans-based 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals and the Cincinnati-based 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

The 11th Circuit case is Walker v. City of Calhoun. In the first appeal, the 11th Circuit remanded the case to the trial court to provide more guidance to Calhoun on how to comply with constitutional standards.

Give us feedback, share a story tip or update, or report an error.