Courts news

The United States Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit vacated a grant of a preliminary injunction on Thursday, March 9 in the federal bail case of Walker v. Calhoun, Georgia, remanding the case back to the district court.

During the hearing, the presiding panel of three judges expressed concern at the underlying equal protection theories put forth in the case.

District Judge Harold Murphy had earlier granted an injunction against the city because he determined that the city’s bail system discriminated against people based on their wealth, however,the judges ruled that Judge Murphy’s injunction order violated Rule 65 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, insofar as it requires the city to simply follow the law, but then offers no guidance or specificity as to what the constitutionally minimal criteria may be.

Of a number of similar cases around the country that have challenged the constitutionality of money bail, only one has not been vacated on the theory of underlying equal protection, which offers that criminal defendants are discriminated against because they cannot afford to pay for their bail after arrest.  

The case is expected to go to another preliminary injunction hearing before Judge Murphy.