Cleveland.com recently turned to Attorney Ian Friedman for his insight on the encouraging new bail reforms
proposed by Judge Brian Melling of Bedford Municipal Court. Judge Melling
recently outlined the changes for the news outlet, which has been reporting
on the financial inequities of Ohio's bail system in its series
Impact 2016: Justice for All.
The proposed reforms—which may be implemented as soon as September—will
pull focus away from non-refundable bond payments to bond agents and instead
favor a 10% payment option. That option will allow some defendants to
be released from custody by paying just 10% of their bond, an amount they
can later recover by attending their next court date. Attorney Friedman
approved of the idea, saying that when the accused have "more skin
in the game, it seems logical that you are going to have a higher rate
Rate of appearance has been a growing concern in Bedford Municipal Court.
Melling told Cleveland.com that, under the court's current bail system,
only 75 - 80% of defendants actually return to court after paying the
non-refundable fee to bond agents.
The Bail "Balancing Act"
The 10% option Judge Melling describes has been implemented in other courts
in Cuyahoga County and, while he is optimistic that change will ultimately
benefit the community, it may take some adjusting to the bond amounts.
Melling believes that, for the new system to work, 10% of the current,
suggested bond amounts may not be enough to compel defendants to return to court.
Attorney Friedman also agreed with this assessment, calling the responsibility
of setting bail a balancing act. By lowering the bond amounts, the court
will give many underserved citizens a chance to continue their lives while
they wait for their court date. However, the amounts cannot be so forgiving
that they are considered acceptable losses to citizens looking to avoid
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