The Newnan Times-Herald


Judges often have peculiarities when setting bail

  • By The Newnan Times-Herald
  • |
  • May. 17, 2017 - 9:18 PM

Did ya ever wonder why there's not a line of applicants winding around the Human Resources buildings of law enforcement agencies of this nation vying for the position of police officer? 

I mean, here's an opportunity for long hours and shift changes. Half the people you encounter would just as soon spit on you as to shake your hand, and the pressures of a career without financial reward is added to a family life that is strained to the limits. 

Now if that junk ain't enough, add the petty administrative requirement of adding a more "descriptive narrative" to the remarks section of the Uniform Traffic Citation or face the wrath of a judge that would rather let a dangerous suspect loose on the community without bail than to pick up a phone and call the arresting officer if questions arise from the incident.

I wholeheartedly agree with the recent NTH editorial that the judge's decision to release a suspect charged with DUI, attempting to elude law enforcement, reckless driving, and obstruction of a law enforcement officer "without" bail was wrong and sets up the next, more aggressive encounter law enforcement officers will have to face with this criminal when his arrest warrant for "failure to appear" is attempted to be served. Does any reasonable person, which is the legal definition of a judge, truly believe property and lives won't be endangered when this suspect attempts escape from justice again?
I had a case one time with a transsexual prostitute who solicited me while I was working an undercover vice detail. The judge assigned to my case was historically sympathetic toward prostitutes for some unknown reason and routinely allowed suspects to be released with no bond but requiring them to appear in court at a future date. Of course, none of the prostitutes returned to court, and justice was averted. 

I was adamant about requiring bond for this suspect from this judge, but he refused. I raised the issues of risk of flight attesting that this suspect had no job, no residence, no identification… heck, we didn't even know what sex he/she was… all reasons to require bond. 

To no avail, release was made with no bond required and guess what? Yep, the suspect failed to appear, and the judge had the nerve to ask me to draw up an arrest warrant for failure to appear (FTA). 

I respectfully advised the judge my efforts to require bond on the first appearance was denied and therefore the FTA was a violation of the judge's orders and needed to be handled by court personnel. Surprised I was not held in contempt of court for contesting the judge's request, the judge (apparently assuming some degree of responsibility in the matter) agreed with me and handed the paperwork to the clerk for processing.
In my 26 years of police work, writing over 8,000 traffic citations (highest personal one day record: 36), and over 2,000 arrests, I was never required to indicate anything in the "remarks" section of the Georgia Uniform Traffic Citation. That section was usually reserved for my notes about the case for court testimony. 

Requesting arresting officers to make notations in the remarks section is all well and fine, but making the Draconian requirement of detailing "probable cause" in this section in order to set bond is petty, and a judge having a reputation by area officers as "nit-picky" demonstrates the lack of synergistic approach, which ideally is the goal of law enforcement both on the streets and in the courtroom. 

Check egos at the door and let common sense rule the day.