Bass, Berry & Sims attorney Angie Bergman represented the Nashville Community Bail Fund (NCBF) before a panel of judges reviewing how the fund operates within the Nashville criminal court system. At issue is whether the NCBF should be responsible for covering various court fines and fees in addition to paying bail for its low income participants. Currently, NCBF pays bail on behalf of qualified criminal defendants and is exempt from paying these fines and court fees; once the defendant fulfills all court obligations and the bail money is returned, NCBF uses those funds again for other defendants. However, if the panel rules that NCBF must pay the various fines and fees, it will significantly limit the amount of bail money available to help others.
As Angie points out, “Those fines, fees and costs would be far and away above what we are actually paying in bail. It would reduce the amount that the bail fund is getting back by about 30 to 40%.” To date, the NCBF has paid bail for more than 800 economically disadvantaged persons in Nashville who would otherwise be incarcerated due to their inability to pay their bail.
Angie is currently serving a six-month fellowship with the Choosing Justice Initiative to advocate for bail reform in Nashville’s criminal courts and working directly with the NCBF. The fellowship is part of the firm’s newly launched Pro Bono Program that provide opportunities and incentives for the firm’s attorneys to give back to the community.
The full article, “Nashville’s Nonprofit Bail Fund Argues To Keep Freeing People From Jail,” was published by Nashville Public Radio on July 18, 2019, and is available online.