As part of the ACLU of Michigan’s ongoing bail reform efforts throughout the state, we learned that the chief judge in Kent County was abusing the cash bail system to coerce criminal defendants into pleading guilty by raising their bail to unaffordable amounts, resulting in their immediate incarceration if they rejected a plea offer and insisted on exercising their constitutional right to be tried by a jury of their peers. We partnered with local criminal defense attorneys to make a record of these coercive and unconstitutional conditions and challenged them on appeal. In June and July 2021 the Michigan Court of Appeals ruled in favor of our clients, finding that the judge had abused his discretion in each case. We continue to monitor the situation to determine whether the judge will change his practices. (People v. Forbes; People v. Contreras-Reyes; ACLU Attorneys Phil Mayor and Dan Korobkin; co-counsel Brett Stevenson and Bruce Block).
Bail Campaign Launch
ACLU MI Launches 2021 Smart Justice Bail Reform Campaign.