Judge Set This Man's Bail at $4B to Make a Point

Claudia Brown says our approach to bail has gotten ridiculous
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 10, 2017 7:45 AM CST

(Newser) – Antonio Willis is likely to be in jail a while after a Texas justice of the peace set what might be the largest bond in US history. The $4 billion bond is certainly the highest ever in Bell County, where Willis, 25, is accused of killing Donte Samuels. However, the figure—too large for the jail's booking software—may violate Eighth Amendment protections against excessive bail, reports USA Today. Justice of the Peace Claudia Brown knows that. Brown tells the Killeen Daily Herald that she wanted to set bond at $100,000 but was pressured by other unspecified people to set it higher. And so she did, to make a point.

Her goal was to show "how ridiculous it is for us to be setting bail too high for people to get out of jail," she adds, per the Temple Daily Telegram. "People are going into prison like it’s adult day care, and it’s mostly because they can’t afford to get out." Counters a lawyer who spoke with the AP, "This justice of the peace is abusing the bail process in an attempt to make a name for herself." Willis' lawyer intends to ask a state district judge to lower the amount. The AP notes that Willis' bond is much larger than the eye-popping $3 billion amount set for New York real estate heir Robert Durst more than a decade ago; an appeals court in 2004 found it to be unconstitutionally excessive and dropped it to $450,000. (Read more Texas stories.)

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