Judge weighs in on bail reform

WNYT Staff
Updated: January 08, 2020 10:13 AM
Created: January 08, 2020 08:43 AM

A county judge is speaking out about the state’s new bail reform laws.

In court documents obtained by NewsChannel 13’s Mark Mulholland, Washington County Judge Kelly McKeighan is sharply critical of the new laws.    


In one case, Judge McKeighan says the new law requires him to release a man with two prior felony convictions, and nine failures to appear.    

He writes, "Little if any regard is now given to whether or not a defendant might actually appear for their case." Judge McKeighan continued, "The court is constrained to obey these laws, which come dangerously close to relegating the judiciary to a rubber-stamping bureaucracy."

He also criticized the legislature for the way bail laws were enacted, writing, “These new laws contain absolutely no legislative history, instead of the very democratic debate our founding fathers envisioned, they were inserted into the state budget bill.”

Judges are typically precluded from commenting publicly, but nothing prevents them from explaining how they've applied the law to a decision.

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