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