U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit Deals Major Blow to Legal Effort to Declare Bail Unconstitutional

Atlanta, GA–Today, in a unanimous decision, the U.S. Court of Appeals vacated a grant of a preliminary injunction in the federal bail case of Walker v. Calhoun, Georgia, where District Judge Harold Murphy granted an injunction against the city because the city’s bail system discriminated against people based on their wealth.

The Court of Appeals Judges, at the hearing, were entirely skeptical of the underlying and basic equal protection theory of the cases.  That will be evident when the tape and transcript of the hearing are made public.

Nonetheless, in a per curium order, the unanimous panel had that Judge Murphy’s injunction order violated Rule 65 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure insofar as it requires the City to simply follow the law and but then offers “no guidance” or specificity as to what the constitutionally minimal criteria may be.

Said ABC Executive Director Jeff Clayton: “We knew Judge Murphy’s order would not stand either on the merits or as a matter of procedure.  Yet, we will continue to work with our partners, the Georgia Association of Professional Bondsmen and others, to finally put an end to these unmeritorious lawsuits whether it be in California, Texas, or Calhoun, Georgia.”

While this case move forward again, ostensibly to another preliminary injunction hearing before Judge Murhpy, this represents a major shift in the conversation as to the constitutionality of bail.  As it stands right now, only one District Judge has an order that has not been vacated on the underlying equal protection I-cannot-afford-my-bail legal theory–Judge Troy Nunley’s order dismissing that claim in Welchen v. Harris.

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