Responding to concerns that low-income defendants have trouble making bail, New
York State’s highest court ruled that state judges may not require that
defendants post bail in cash, the New York Times reports.In a unanimous decision, the Court of Appeals said New York judges must give defendants the choice of at least two methods of posting bail, like paying in cash or using a bondsman.
Defendants typically pay bondsmen only a small fraction of their bail amount, as
well as a fee and sometimes some other form of collateral, in exchange for the
bondsman’s posting their bail. The ruling was a victory for civil libertarians
and the defense bar, which have often argued that bail restrictions are onerous
and slanted against the poor, who may not be able to afford the amount that
judges set. “I’m not much in favor of money bail, period,” said Jerome E.
McElroy, the executive director of the New York City Criminal Justice Agency, a
nonprofit organization that provides pretrial release services. “I would be in
favor of presenting the defendant with alternative ways in which he can make