The U.S. Supreme Court has declined to grant certiorari to a bail bonds underwriter and a criminal defendant challenging the constitutionality of New Jersey’s bail reform law.
The court said Monday it would not hear the appeal in Holland v. Rosen, which presented the question of whether a New Jersey law favoring nonmonetary restrictions over monetary bail is an unnecessary restriction of pretrial liberty in violation of the Eighth Amendment, the Due Process Clause or the Fourth Amendment.
The challenge was brought on behalf of Brittan Holland, who was placed under home detention and required to wear an electronic monitoring device while awaiting trial on an aggravated assault charge, and Lexington National Insurance Co., which underwrites bail bonds but saw its business in New Jersey dwindle under the bail reform law.
Holland and Lexington National were represented at the Supreme Court by former U.S. Solicitor General Paul Clement, of Kirkland & Ellis in Washington, D.C. He did not respond to a request for comment.
Holland and Lexington National sought Supreme Court review in the case after U.S. District Judge Jerome Simandle refused to grant a preliminary injunction in the case in a September 2017 ruling, finding the plaintiffs had little chance of winning. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit affirmed that ruling last July. The Third Circuit held that New Jersey’s bail reform law did not offend the Eighth Amendment, the Due Process Clause or the Fourth Amendment.
Holland was arrested in April 2017 and charged with aggravated assault for his alleged participation in a bar fight. His suit argued that he likely would have been able to regain his freedom by paying bail under the former system. The Camden County Prosecutor’s Office sought his pretrial detention, but then offered to withdraw the motion if he agreed to home detention and to be monitored by an ankle bracelet. Holland agreed.
Clement’s petition to the Supreme Court said New Jersey’s bail reform act “effectively guaranteed that presumptively innocent individuals will not receive the least restrictive conditions of pre-trial release.” And the Third Circuit ruling recognized that the New Jersey law “necessarily leads to wholly unnecessary pretrial deprivations of liberty, such as imposing house arrest when a monetary bond would suffice, and nonetheless found no constitutional problem.”
The suit stems from a January 2017 revamp of New Jersey’s bail system that eliminated cash bail in most cases. The new law was intended to address what was said to be a large number of defendants spending time in jail when they are unable to come up with enough cash to pay modest amounts of bail for low-level offenses.