Montgomery Court Hearing On Bail Execution Fees Passed By Alabama LegislatureRickey Stokes
Posted by: RStokes
Date: Aug 07 2012 5:48 PM
MONTGOMERY: A hearing before Montgomery County Circuit Court Judge Tracy McCooey in reference to legislation passed this legislative session.
The suit was filed by bail bonding companies and some individuals over fees being assessed for persons making bail and fees assed at the conclusion of the criminal case.
The Alabama House and Senate passed legislation requiring a $ 35.00 bond posting fee be paid by the surety within 48 hours of the bond being made. The fee is for separate incidents. There is an additional fee when a person enters a guilty plea or is found guilty. That fee is 3.5% of the bond amount – or $ 100, whichever is greater not to exceed $ 450.00 on misdemeanors. On felonies a fee of 3.5% or $ 150.00, whichever is greater and not to exceed $ 750.00, on each offense.
The argument of the plaintiff’s is this is a unconstitutional fee and is keeping people in jail.
Today was a hearing for a Temporary Restraining Order and a Preliminary Injunction stopping the collection of the fees. Bondsman from across the state and District Attorney’s from across the state were on hand for a packed courtroom.
The Judge wanted to hear arguments on standing to bring the lawsuit. She advised both sides that she had read the filings and thought the plaintiffs had some strong hurdles to overcome.
Judge McCooey gave away her position in the hearing when she said “…obviously there will be a big hardship to the state if they don’t get money – Big Hardship”.
The money goes to several entities to include 45% of the $ 35.00 bond fee to the District Attorney, to the Circuit Clerk, a small amount to the Sheriff. Some Sheriff’s across the state are opposed to the fee saying the District Attorney should not get the fee because they do nothing on the bond. Arguments are also it puts the District Attorney involved in a financial interest in the amount of a bond.
After hearing arguments Judge Cooey will take the issue under advisement and issue a ruling on the Temporary Restraining Order which would stop the collection of the fee.
This legislation was lobbied for by District Attorneys, the Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court, Circuit Clerks and other court officials who will receive benefits from.
Regardless of the final ruling today, the issue will still be heard in court.