Pubdate: Tue, 01 Oct 2002
Source: Herald Chronicle, The (TN)
Copyright: The Herald Chronicle 2002
Contact: 906 Dinah Shore Blvd Winchester, TN 37398
Author:  Wayne Thomas


In recent weeks, many Franklin Countians have asked why the bonds for 
persons accused of various crimes are lower than those of surrounding 
communities .

Franklin County General Sessions Judge Floyd Davis took time out last week 
to explain why there is a difference in the bonds.

"The state laws says that you are suppose to consider an O.R. (own 
recognizance) bond first," Davis said. "Then, if you can't give an O.R. 
bond for some reason, you are to consider the least restrictive bond to the 

He said that by least restrictive for that person for each person, as in 
whether they can make a bond, how many assets they have or whether or not 
they are going to have stay in jail.

A bond is set to guarantee that a defendant is going to return for court, 
is the way Davis explained the matter.

Judge Davis explained that he feels the bonds of the county are "really too 
high, in most cases."

Davis explained that the Corrections Officers of the Franklin County Jail 
have a list of bonds to follow that he has issued.

"In some cases, if the bond was too high, the defendant would not be able 
to post a bond, because they would not have the means to do so," Davis 
said. "The U.S. Constitution says a person arrested and charged with a 
crime is innocent until proven guilty."

He explained that a bond could not be used to punish somebody who is 
charged with a crime.

The Judge noted that in a case that was before him Thursday, four men were 
accused of manufacturing methamphetamines several months ago, but when the 
"District Attorney's office presented a plea for me that had reduced the 
manufacturing charge to possession of drug paraphernalia."

He said that if he had set their bonds at $25,000 or higher as opposed to 
the set $7,500 bond the men would have been detained in jail for about 
eight months on charges that were dropped against them.

Davis explained that a high bond can punish a person, "who when all of the 
evidence is presented is found innocent." That, the Judge said, would open 
the county up to a lawsuit for false arrest.

"The state law says you have got to consider the least restrictive avenue 
for setting a bond for a defendant," Judge Davis said.

Davis stated that he has asked judges from other jurisdictions at judicial 
conferences how they can justify setting such high bonds when those can 
prevent an accused person from being able to make a bond. That, he said, is 
not what the Constitution calls for.

To support his statements, Judge Davis pointed out that when people appear 
before federal judges they are given either an Own Recognizance Bond or 
hold without bonds.

He again reiterated that bonds are to ensure that a person will show up for 

"That is all it is for," Judge Davis explained. "All you are doing is 
saying you have been charged with this and you have a court there."

Judge Davis said that when he sets a bond all he considers is whether the 
individual will appear for court.

The Judge said that some times officers would call him and tell him that a 
person arrested might be dangerous and they need a higher bond.

"If they can convince me that a higher bond is in fact needed, I will set 
it higher until the person gets to court," Judge Davis said.

The Judge explained that the law enforcement officers and the victims 
always want the bond to be high, but the defendant and their families do 
not. "The bondsmen also want the bonds to be high so they can make money," 
Judge Davis said.

The judge concluded his remarks by reiterating that the U.S. Constitution 
says everyone is innocent until proven guilty.
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