We, along with cooperating attorneys at Keker, Van Nest & Peters LLP and Lopez, Dietzel, Perkins & Wallace, P.C., filed a Motion for Expedited Review of Conditions of Release in the New Mexico Court of Appeals on behalf of Molynda Brewer, an indigent woman who had been jailed for nearly three months because she could not afford the court-imposed fees for her pretrial release.
Ms. Brewer, who was arrested in Silver City on October 30, 2018, was homeless and therefore could not meet the demands of the District Court that she remain under house arrest or that she pay for GPS monitoring.
In 2016, New Mexico’s voters and Legislature voted to amend the New Mexico Constitution to ensure that bail could not turn on a defendant’s financial means. The State Constitution now expressly states that a person who does not present a danger to the community or who is not a flight risk “shall not be detained solely because of financial inability to post a money or property bond.”
However, costly conditions of release continue to result in prolonged incarceration for those who cannot afford to pay. This practice operates as a back-door bail system that keeps poor people in jail pending trial simply because they are poor.
The motion called for Ms. Brewer’s immediate release and asked the Court of Appeals to instruct the District Court to eliminate or modify any unaffordable conditions of release. Ms. Brewer was released from jail after we filed our motion.