Former U.S. Solicitor General Paul Clement Files Amicus Brief on Behalf of the American Bail Coalition in Support of the Constitutionality of Monetary Conditions Bail

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Legal movement to end monetary bail conditions faces first significant test in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit

On June 22, 2016, Paul Clement filed an amicus brief in support of the constitutionality of monetary bail conditions in a case pending in the United States Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit on behalf the American Bail Coalition, Georgia Association of Professional Bondsmen, and the Georgia Sheriffs' Association.

Mr. Clement's brief contains the following summary: “Plaintiffs would have this Court effectively abolish monetary bail on the theory that any defendant is entitled to immediate release based on an unverified assertion of indigency." Mr. Clement's brief summarized his clients' position as follows: "The City of Calhoun’s monetary bail system is clearly constitutional. The Constitution prohibits only excessive bail. Yet, plaintiff has not claimed that his bail was excessive under the Eighth Amendment. Instead, he attacks the City’s bail system—and monetary bail in general—alleging that it discriminates against the indigent. But it does no such thing. Under the City’s bail schedule, a defendant’s bail amount is initially set to match the crime he is accused of committing. And under the City’s Standing Order, within 48 hours, each defendant is afforded an individualized hearing where he has the opportunity to demonstrate that his bail should be reduced or eliminate."

“Bail is a liberty-promoting institution as old as the republic,” Clement added.

Mr. Clement also stated: “Under the Fourteenth Amendment, distinctions based on wealth must only be rationally related to a legitimate government purpose, and the City’s bail system is eminently rational. Its bail schedule efficiently serves the twin goals of bail by enabling defendants to obtain pretrial release (often without having to wait for a hearing) while protecting the community.”

The case is Maurice Walker v. City of Calhoun, Georgia, Docket No. 16-10521, pending before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit. Due next are the briefs of the plaintiff, Mr. Walker, and any amici in support of the plaintiff. The case is expected to go to oral argument sometime in the fall. The brief filed by Mr. Clement June 22, 2016 is here:

About the American Bail Coalition
The American Bail Coalition is dedicated protecting the Constitutional right to bail and the promotion, protection and advancement of the surety bail profession in the United States. Comprised of the nation’s largest surety insurance companies, ABC works with local communities, law enforcement, legislators and other criminal justice stakeholders to utilizes its expertise and knowledge of the surety bail industry to develop more effective and efficient criminal justice solutions.

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