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New Mexico Bail Reform Appeal Goes Bad for Challengers, Worse for Lawyer

By George Khoury, Esq. on March 01, 2019 10:30 AM

When New Mexico decided to reform the state's bail system, it basically destroyed the bail bond industry in the state.

Unfortunately for the industry challengers that filed a proposed class action, the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals has agreed with the federal district court that their challenge lacks merit and that all but one plaintiff, an individual who was denied cash-bail, lacked standing (though also had not stated a claim). Escalating matters for the challengers, one of their attorneys was sanctioned for instituting frivolous proceedings as to the clearly immune defendants.

Reformed Bail

Over the last few years, bail has become a focus for many states looking to reform their criminal justice practices to prevent socioeconomic discrimination. Effectively, eliminating cash bail and bail bondsmen in place of evidentiary hearings to evaluate whether a defendant is a flight risk, or is unlikely to appear.

The challengers, who were comprised of individuals in the bail industry, an industry association, and an individual defendant denied cash bail, were told that each of the defendants were immune either under sovereign immunity, judicial immunity, or legislative immunity.

The court explained that the nearly $15K in sanctions were related to adding the legislator defendants to the action full well knowing immunity would apply.

The ABA Journal reported that the sanctioned attorney is considering requesting an en banc review, particularly as to the Rule 11 sanctions that were issued against him.

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