INDIANAPOLIS — A U.S. district judge has denied The Bail Project’s request for a preliminary injunction for a law that goes into effect on July 1. House Enrolled Act 1300 requires charitable bail organizations, like The Bail Project, to follow certain rules.
“Basically what the Bail Project is trying to do here is to get the judge to throw out the law before it’s even gone into effect,” Paul Helmke, Professor of Practice at IU’s O’Neill School of Public and Environmental Affairs, said.
The judge’s denial of the request means the Bail Project must follow the law going into effect on July 1. The judge noted the reason for the denial is “because The Bail Project has not shown a likelihood of success on the merits justifying a preliminary injunction.”
“Once the law’s in effect then it’s easier to argue the state’s written bad regulations or that the state has treated the Bail Project unfairly,” Helmke explained. “But ahead of time for a preliminary injunction, you have a very high standard.”
In May, The Bail Project and its attorneys with the ACLU Indiana filed a lawsuit against the state over whether the newly enacted law is constitutional and targets The Bail Project. The lawsuit argued HEA1300 violates The Bail Project’s First Amendment rights.
“What the Bail Project is arguing is the Supreme Court has said that money is speech in the context of political campaigns,” Helmke said. “That’s one of the main cases the judge looks at.”
HEA1300 puts restrictions on charitable bail organizations by restricting who it can pay bail for. Under the new law, charitable organizations can only pay bail for an indigent person who is not charged with a crime of violence or a person charged with a felony who does not have a prior conviction for a crime of violence. They are not able to bail out more than three people in a 180-day period without a license.
“If a person is accused of a crime and they’re in jail, again, the judge sets that amount, the church, anyone else, the bail bond industry, anyone else can go in and bail that person out,” Twyla Carter, National Director of Legal & Policy for The Bail Project, said in a May 04 interview. “We are the only ones who are not, therefore our advocacy rights are being violated and our equal protection rights are being violated.”
Helmke said The Bail Project can amend its complaint now and begin the appeal process.
“Oftentimes when you have settled law, you’re not going to have the district court judge, the local court judge throw a law out, but you might have more of a chance once you go up to the appellate court,” Helmke explained.
This is a developing story and it will be updated.