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A Dutchess County Supreme Court justice has ruled that setting cash bail on a defendant, without considering his or her ability to make such a payment, violates the constitutional rights of due process and equal protection.

The ruling by Justice Maria Rosa is believed to be the first of its kind in New York State. And according to the New York Civil Liberties Union, which brought the declaratory action on behalf of a county man held for months while he couldn’t afford to pay his bail, the decision may be used as a key precedent in pushing the courts to end certain cash bail practices in New York.

“We intend to use this ruling to pursue statewide reform to end the practice of jailing thousands across the state solely because of their inability to pay for their freedom,” said Philip Desgranges, an NYCLU senior staff attorney and the lead counsel on the case. “All New Yorkers deserve a justice system where the rich and the poor are equal under the law.”

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Jason Grant

Jason Grant is a staff writer covering legal stories and cases for the New York Law Journal, the National Law Journal and Law.com, and a former practicing attorney. He's written and reported previously for the New York Times, the Star-Ledger, the L.A. Times and other publications. Contact him at [email protected] On Twitter, pls find him @JasonBarrGrant

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