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Bondsman ‘Desperate’ To Regain ‘Unlawful’ Control Over Bail Process

Bondsman ‘Desperate’ To Regain ‘Unlawful’ Control Over Bail Process

"This action is little more than a desperate charge by the commercial bail industry to regain the control it once unlawfully exerted over pretrial release of criminal defendants in New Mexico."

The New Mexico Supreme Court has fired back at the state’s bail bond companies, saying their recent lawsuit challenging the state’s new bond rules are a “desperate” attempt by the industry to regain control over the bail process that it illegally exerted for years.

New Mexico has followed federal bail guidelines since 1972, and those federal guidelines establish the “presumption of release,” the Supreme Court said in its response to the bail bond companies’ federal court lawsuit seeking to block the new rules.

“Plaintiffs ask this Court to nullify the New Mexico Supreme Court’s rule-making authority, to invent a new constitutional ‘right’ to money bail in all cases, and to effectively repudiate a half-century of bail reform efforts both in the federal court system and in New Mexico,” the court’s response said.

“Disguised as an effort to maximize the options for pretrial release available to criminal defendants, this action is little more than a desperate charge by the commercial bail industry to regain the control it once unlawfully exerted over pretrial release of criminal defendants in New Mexico. Plaintiffs utterly fail to meet any, let alone all, of the four required showings to obtain that unprecedented relief through a preliminary injunction.”

The Bail Bond Association of New Mexico filed suit against the Supreme Court last month, saying the new bond rules, which took effect July 1, were hurting their business. According to the suit, the organization’s members are “the many bail bond companies that have been severely harmed by the drastic reduction in the number of defendants given the option of jailhouse bonds or secured bonds under the new law.

“If New Mexico criminal defendants had the option of secured bonds or jailhouse bonds, the members of plaintiff BBANM would help them to take advantage of that option. Plaintiff BBANM thus asserts both its members own constitutional rights and those of their potential customers,” the lawsuit added.

New Mexico voters approved a change in the New Mexico Constitution in November 2016 to provide district court judges with the authority to detain felony defendants shown to be too dangerous for release while awaiting trial. The Constitution also now explicitly guarantees that people who are arrested, and who are not dangerous or a flight risk, cannot be held in jail pretrial solely because they are unable to afford a money bail bond.

In an affidavit to the Supreme Court’s answer to the lawsuit, Justice Charles Daniels said there was basically nothing new about New Mexico’s bail rules.

In 1972, the state wrote rules for bail that followed the federal Bail Reform Act of 1966. Those rules “specifically incorporated the evidence-based, rather than money-based procedures that were and still are statutorily required for federal courts,” Daniels’ affidavit said.

Like the Supreme Court’s “new” rules, the 1972 rules required that a defendant’s conditions of release be set during an initial court appearance, and not before, and have required “nonfinancial” conditions of release “Unless the court makes specific findings that no nonfinancial conditions will reasonably assure court appearance.”

But since 1972, an unlawful, money-based system of bail developed, Daniels’ affidavit said.

“The New Mexico Supreme Court realized that despite the federal-law-based provisions of the rules in existence since 1972, many courts of the state had drifted into unlawful reliance on a growing money-bind industry and practices of routinely requiring money bonds, including fixed bond schedules that did not require judicial determinations of individual risk or ability to pay, in apparent violation” of the state’s rules and the New Mexico Constitution, Daniels’ affidavit said.

The bail bondsmen have argued that the new rules prevent pre-trial detainees from bonding out until they are arraigned, when under the old rules they could have bonded out from the jailhouse, within hours.

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Albuquerque’s definitive alternative newspaper publishing an inquisitive, modern approach to the news and entertainment stories that matter most to New Mexicans. ABQ Free Press’ fresh voice speaks to insightful and involved professionals who care deeply about our community.
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5 Comments

  • Public Safety
    August 21, 2017, 4:58 pm

    What does New Mexico think will happen when defendants are released for FREE on their own recognizance? Do they really think that they will show up for court? New Jersey eliminated bail in January and the state has become a haven for criminals. The so called "evidenced based" solutions that Justice Daniels refers to and that are being used in NJ (the Arnold PSA) is identifying every defendant as low risk. Crime in New Jersey is skyrocketing. Texas has been using the evidence based solution (the Arnold tool) for a month and their Failure to appear rate is over 20%. San Francisco has been using the evidence based solution (the Arnold too) for six months and their failure to appear rate is over 30%. At what point can anyone say that these "evidenced based solutions" are successful….based on their results it appears that they are not "based on anything" real. Bail Reform is a complete sham. It is merely an attempt by public sector pretrial advocates to eliminate the private sector from the criminal justice system. It doesn’t matter if bail is a more effective way to release defendants and ensure they show up for court. It doesn’t matter if bail is a cheaper solution to release and supervise defendants. It doesn’t matter to these advocates that bail is a safer way to release and manage defendants. At what point will the public wake up and realize that dangerous criminals are being let out of jail with no supervision and no accountability. When will the public realize that the people who are supporting bail reform care more about the rights of the criminals as opposed to the rights of the crime victims. It is time to wake up.

    REPLY
    • Norm@Public Safety
      August 21, 2017, 6:27 pm

      Defendants weren’t showing up on their own when they had bonds. So why do you think having them post a bond will do anything more than make the Madrid family richer? In New Mexico, as in other states, judges never make bond companies forfeit bonds, so it is an easy way for bondsmen to make a butt load of money by preying upon the poor. The ARNOLD system is a better way. We are better off without bondsmen, they are simply vampires sucking the blood out of people

      REPLY
      • Erin@Norm
        August 21, 2017, 9:19 pm

        Defendants WERE and DO show up when they have bonds. If they don’t, someone goes out and finds them, and brings them back to court. It is the Judges that have entrusted bail bond companies in the past because they know they do their job correctly. Bail bond companies have a 98% success rate in New Mexico, compared to Pretrial Services 40% success rate. Whoever wrote this last comment obviously has a vendetta against bail bond companies. It is the courts that set surety bonds when they know pretrial services won’t work. Don’t believe me? Set in court at a felony first appearance and you will see. And when a bail bond company cannot find a defendant, the bail bond company is forced to pay, and does pay, which is more than pretrial services does when many defendants never even report to pretrial services once they are released. Bail bond companies do not prey off the poor. The only persons responsible for people being stuck in jail are the judges. The bail bond companies only do what the Judges rule on in each case. And I know they take it very seriously. I have seen both sides work. And the Arnold tool has only made things worse. All the victims are outrages and we are getting no justice as people can commit murder and not be a risk to the community according to this tool. How is that safe for the community? If the Arnold tool is so great, why are warrants rising and crime is on the rise? It must be a good thing for defendants to be released and continue wreaking havoc on the community at the expense of innocent victims. But let’s worry about bail bond companies and what they are doing to help keep people from re-offending and returning to court. Great strategy.

        REPLY
        • Peter J. Horan@Erin
          August 22, 2017, 3:02 pm

          Just as clear, Erica, is that "Public Safety" there is a professional PR representative for the bail bonding association and that their comment is a prepared statement, and your bias is pretty clear, as well. The Supreme Court didn’t suggest, and has not implemented, a system that allows defendants out on their own recognizance without an individual review of the defendant, the crime they are accused of, their danger to the community, and their flight risk. It also does not do away with bail bonds.

          The measure, which was approved by voters as a reminder, is intended to fix the old, broken system that ensured only people of means were able to continue working, raising families, and otherwise going about life without facing the Sophie’s Choice of paying 10% of often outrageous and irrational bonds to bonding companies, or rot in jail for the many months a criminal trial can take to resolve itself in full. Pretrial detention was never intended as a punishment, but it became a de facto punishment, only for the poor, who often could not even afford the 10% extor… err, surety demanded by what has become something of a quasi-loansharking, grey market. I don’t know if "Public Safety" there’s numbers regarding the Arnold Tool are correct; if so, perhaps it needs tweaking or we need to use another tool of analysis, but reverting to the old system of arbitrarily set bond tables, with the primary beneficiary being the bond companies rather than ensuring that New Mexicans’ fundamental liberty interest is protected, is bad public policy and I hope the courts will see through this line of argument and reject the relief sought by these bailsmen.

          REPLY
      • Erin@Norm
        August 21, 2017, 9:20 pm

        Defendants WERE and DO show up when they have bonds. If they don’t, someone goes out and finds them, and brings them back to court. It is the Judges that have entrusted bail bond companies in the past because they know they do their job correctly. Bail bond companies have a 98% success rate in New Mexico, compared to Pretrial Services 40% success rate. Whoever wrote this last comment obviously has a vendetta against bail bond companies. It is the courts that set surety bonds when they know pretrial services won’t work. Don’t believe me? Set in court at a felony first appearance and you will see. And when a bail bond company cannot find a defendant, the bail bond company is forced to pay, and does pay, which is more than pretrial services does when many defendants never even report to pretrial services once they are released. Bail bond companies do not prey off the poor. The only persons responsible for people being stuck in jail are the judges. The bail bond companies only do what the Judges rule on in each case. And I know they take it very seriously. I have seen both sides work. And the Arnold tool has only made things worse. All the victims are outrages and we are getting no justice as people can commit murder and not be a risk to the community according to this tool. How is that safe for the community? If the Arnold tool is so great, why are warrants rising and crime is on the rise? It must be a good thing for defendants to be released and continue wreaking havoc on the community at the expense of innocent victims. But let’s worry about bail bond companies and what they are doing to help keep people from re-offending and returning to court. Great strategy.

        REPLY
The following two tabs change content below.
Albuquerque’s definitive alternative newspaper publishing an inquisitive, modern approach to the news and entertainment stories that matter most to New Mexicans. ABQ Free Press’ fresh voice speaks to insightful and involved professionals who care deeply about our community.