Bond changes land case in court

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- Making bond is sometimes the only thing that stands between a suspect and being released from jail.

Sometimes, when bonds are high, coming up with the 10% you have to pay can be difficult.

Bond companies have allowed clients to pay part of their 10% bond and credit the rest in smaller monthly payments.

That was until Shelby County Criminal Courts Judges made new rules preventing  credit on bonds over $100 thousand.

"Every state in the union that allows bonds has the credit bond concept that you pay off the percentage that goes to the bail bond company," said Attorney Eddie Bearman, who  filed a lawsuit on behalf of one of Memphis' largest bond companies.

He said the  constitutional right to bond was being limited.

"We believe it's going to hurt the citizens and hurt the bonding company's ability to do business with them," said Bearman.

The State Attorney General's Office said there was no proof the changes  would adversely affect bond companies, and the judges had the authority to set the rules.

"They saw things they didn't think were working. They were trying to improve the system and help the criminal court operate more efficiently," said Assistant State Attorney General Michael Meyer.

In Chancery Court Friday, the bond companies hoped the Judge would see otherwise.

He overturned one rule that called for drug testing bond company workers, but he refused to put a stay on other new rules and left it to an Appeals Court.

"Us not putting a stay, does encourage the Appellate Court to take this up and bring some clarity as to where we are," said Chancery Court Judge Jim Kyle.

So for now, the crack down on bonds stands.

Another new rule requires anyone paying bond to reveal the source that is providing the money.

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