The Bronx Defenders Legal Director Marika Meis successfully argues in New York Court of Appeals that courts must set alternatives to cash bail

The New York Court of Appeals today ruled in favor of Bronx Defenders client, Sean McManus, in a decision that will have widespread impact on the state criminal court system, particularly for the indigent. The decision recognizes that the statutory bail scheme in New York was created to provide flexible bail alternatives for those accused of crimes and who are presumptively innocent prior to a determination of guilt. In its ruling, the Court of Appeals agreed with the Bronx Defenders position that “Providing flexible bail alternatives to pretrial detainees — who are presumptively innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt — is consistent with the underlying purpose of article 520 [of the Criminal Procedure Law]”.

Marika Meis, Legal Director of The Bronx Defenders, who argued the case in the Court of Appeals, stated: “We are delighted that the Court of Appeals has reaffirmed the statutory mandate that judges are required to set two forms of bail and cannot set bail as cash only, the hardest form of bail for poor people to make. We hope this decision will encourage judges to set flexible bail alternatives to accomplish the stated legislative intent of reducing the number of people incarcerated pre-trial because they cannot make bail, and utilize the nine forms of bail from which they may choose – including partially secured and unsecured bond which require little or no money to be posted to secure an accused release. Ones freedom should never be determined by the size of ones wallet.”

New York Court of Appeals Decision: