Court issues ruling to block bail bond rule in Nashville

Published 8:05 am Friday, March 20, 2020

NASHVILLE (AP) — A federal court has temporarily blocked a Tennessee court rule that says people who have been jailed can’t get their bail deposit back when their case is finished until court costs and other fees are paid.

The initial ruling applies to cases in which the Nashville Community Bail Fund posts bond, according to a statement Wednesday from the American Civil Liberties Union of Tennessee.

The ACLU, the Civil Rights Corps and the Choosing Justice Initiative filed suit in February against Davidson County — the state’s second largest county, which includes Nashville, over the rule. The plaintiffs assert the county is violating constitutional rights by forcing people to agree their cash bond will be subject to garnishment for fines, court costs and restitution.

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“The Nashville Community Bail Fund is extremely pleased with the federal court’s granting of this preliminary injunction, which is a moment of needed relief within our greater fight for bail reform. With the financial burden of Rule 10(B) removed, we can continue to free as many Nashvillians from pretrial incarceration as possible,” said the Rev. Davie Tucker Jr., vice chairperson of the board of the Nashville Community Bail Fund.

The cash bail system has been used in the United States since colonial days. The U.S. Constitution mentions it, alongside the better-known prohibition on cruel and unusual punishments. The Eighth Amendment allows for bail but says it can’t be excessive.