NACDL News: Parties Reach Settlement in Missouri Class Action Bail Case

On June 3, 2015, a settlement order was issued in a Missouri case that prohibits the imposition of cash or surety bonds for municipal court offenses in Velda City. The class action lawsuit of Donya Pierce, et al., v. The City of Velda City (Case No. 4:15-cv-570-HEA), filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri, arose from the city’s practice of requiring cash or surety bonds in set amounts for municipal violations, without regard to the individual’s circumstances or ability to pay. The order states that the resulting difference in treatment between those who can afford to pay and those who cannot is a violation of the Fourteenth Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause, noting that “[i]f the government generally offers prompt release from custody after arrest upon posting a bond pursuant to a schedule, it cannot deny prompt release from custody to a person because the person is financially incapable of posting such a bond.”