Defense lawyers and prosecutors are calling it a nightmare, while bail bondsmen say the judges of Davidson County are extorting them and usurping the Tennessee Legislature’s power — all over a new state law that doesn't even fill a page, reports the Tennessean. The new law, which slipped through in the last legislative session, rewrites a portion of the state law on bail bonds by allowing bondsmen to avoid liability once a defendant is found guilty or pleads guilty.
No longer will bondsmen remain liable until a defendant is actually sentenced. A review of videotapes of House and Senate sessions shows there was little discussion of the bill, and confusion dominated what little discussion took place. Judges, prosecutors and defense lawyers now say the law, which has gone into effect, allows bondsmen to withdraw from a case at the time of a guilty plea or verdict, leaving the defendant liable to be put in jail or pay for another bond. Sentencing can come days or weeks after a plea is entered.