Court Denies Mississippi Bail Bondsmen Appeal for Reinstatement

A panel consisting of three judges from the 5th United States Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans upheld a ruling regarding sheriffs in the state of Mississippi and their authority to make decisions about who can and cannot write bail bonds within their respective counties.

A federal judge in Mississippi made the decision in 2013. It stems from a lawsuit that was filed in late 2012 by three employees of a bonding company who Sheriff Mike Byrd barred from writing bonds in his jurisdiction.

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The three bail bondsman who filed the suit made allegations that they had been taken off the county’s list of approved bondsman without having been given any notice or any reason for their removal.

The lawsuit filed sought reinstatement for the bondsmen as well as a stipulation that would prevent sheriffs from being able to remove them ever again at any point in the future.

In November of 2013, however, a judge in Mississippi ruled against the bondsman and their names stayed off the list.

They were removed from the list initially because of several complaints that had been filed against them by other bail bondsman in the county alleging that they were undercutting them by not following the rule dictating a 10 percent bind premium and for “being disruptive” to the efforts of agents working for other bonding companies.

According to the panel, federal and state laws in Mississippi do not require due process protection for writing bail bonds. The decision as to who is able to write bail bonds, the panel said, is left up to the sheriff in a given county.

The plaintiffs in the case also made the allegation that Sheriff Byrd was discriminating against their company, but those allegations were rejected as well.

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