City of Cal­houn’s pol­icy on bail up­held by fed­eral ap­peals court

Calhoun Times - - FRONT PAGE - By Diane Wag­ner

The city of Cal­houn’s pol­icy on bail for mis­de­meanor of­fenses was up­held by a fed­eral ap­peals court, clear­ing the way for res­o­lu­tion of a law­suit dat­ing back to 2015.

“We’re still eval­u­at­ing what it means for the por­tion of the case that’s left, but we’re pleased the Court of Ap­peals found the Stand­ing Bail Or­der en­tirely con­sti­tu­tional,” said Andy Davis, a part­ner with the Rome law firm Brin­son Askew Berry.

Cal­houn of­fi­cials hired the firm in 2015 to de­fend against a class ac­tion suit brought by the South­ern Cen­ter for Hu­man Rights on be­half of Mau­rice Walker, who spent six days in jail await­ing a hear­ing be­cause he couldn’t af­ford to post a $160 bond.

Walker, whom his at­tor­ney said is schiz­o­phrenic, was ar­rested Sept. 3, 2015, on a charge of pedes­trian un­der the in­flu­ence. Due to the La­bor Day hol­i­day, his case was not due to be heard un­til Sept. 11, but of­fi­cials re­leased him Sept. 9 af­ter the suit was filed.

At­tor­neys for Walker con­tended it was a vi­o­la­tion of the 14th Amend­ment to keep some­one in jail sim­ply be­cause he can’t af­ford bail. At the time of his ar­rest, the city was us­ing a generic bail sched­ule.

It later adopted a Stand­ing Bail Or­der that in­cluded the right to a bond hear­ing within 48 hours but the SCHR con­tended it still lacked equal pro­tec­tion un­der the law.

Davis said the case — and sev­eral sim­i­lar ones — are be­ing watched across the coun­try. The 11th Cir­cuit U.S. Court of Ap­peals rul­ing Tues­day on the Walker v. Cal­houn case af­firms the right of a court to re­quire bail.

The case moves back to the U.S. District Court for the north­ern District of Ge­or­gia, where Walker is seek­ing dam­ages for the time he spent in jail.

Mau­rice Walker, from his 2015 ar­rest in Cal­houn.

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