The US Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit [official website] upheld [opinion, PDF] Monday a US District Court ruling that New Jersey’s new bail system, which does away with most cash bail, is constitutional.
The law was challenged by Brittan Holland, who was arrested for aggravated assault last year. He alleged that the new system created by the New Jersey Criminal Justice Reform Act [text] was unconstitutional because it violated the Fourth Amendment, Eighth Amendment, and the due process clause [text] of the Fourteenth Amendment of the US Constitution.
The opinion, written by Judge Thomas L. Ambro noted that:
We find no right to these forms of monetary bail in the Eighth Amendment’s proscription of excessive bail nor in the Fourteenth Amendment’s substantive and procedural due process components. We also reject Holland’s “less intrusive means” theory of a Fourth Amendment violation, and so we hold he has not made a sufficient showing of a violation of that constitutional amendment. Without a constitutional right violated, and with reconsideration of current release conditions an option if circumstances suggest and a request made, irreparable harm does not exist.
The courts ruling comes in the middle of a controversy surrounding the cash bail system. This system, used in many states, was criticized [JURIST report] by the UN Special Rapporteur on Extreme Poverty and Human Rights for criminalizing those who do not have the funds to pay monetary bail. In April, the American Civil Liberties Union sued [JURIST report] a Texas county after it says the county jailed many defendants for being unable to afford the bail without a “meaningful hearing.”