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.

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