Bondsmen complain about new pre-trial release rules, procedures creating them

Bondsmen complain about new pre-trial release rules, procedures creating them

(excerpt from Missouri News Tribune July 15 2019)

Two organizations connected with the bail bonds industry have questioned the Missouri Supreme Court's new rules regarding pre-trial release and the way those rules were proposed.

The rules went into effect July 1 — except for some proposed modifications which won't go into effect until next Jan. 1.

In an email to the News Tribune last week, the American Bail Coalition said the new rules "were conceived and put into effect by the high court in complete secrecy. Not only was the public locked out of the closed-door proceedings, there was neither input nor approval from the state legislature."

Jeff Clayton, the coalition's executive director, said Friday afternoon that the Supreme Court's "rules process is a joke compared to other states."

In one state, which he didn't identify, Clayton said, "All three branches of government appoint who's on the rules committee — ultimately, the Supreme Court makes the final decision."

In a June 14 letter to the Supreme Court, Clayton wrote: "We believe these rules should cease to become law until or unless a full public process is launched in order to study the bail system in Missouri.

"This committee or panel should be inclusive and represent a diversity of opinions and include presentation by national experts."

However, Kansas City defense attorney J.R. Hobbs — one of three people who co-chaired the Supreme Court committee that worked on the new pre-trial releases rules for more than two years — said in a Friday evening interview: "The Supreme Court, under Article V, could just pass the rules. They don't have to have any input.

"There's no requirement that (they) set a task force up."

Historically, the court has used a number of advisory committees to suggest rules or policy changes for the state's court system.

Missouri's Constitution says the state Supreme Court "may establish rules relating to practice, procedure and pleading for all courts and administrative tribunals, which shall have the force and effect of law. The court shall publish the rules and fix the day on which they take effect, but no rule shall take effect before six months after its publication."

The Constitution doesn't give the Legislature or the executive branch any role in that rule-making process, although it does say: "Any rule may be annulled or amended in whole or in part by a law (passed by the Legislature and approved by the governor) limited to the purpose."

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