We’ve previously covered the subject of our local bail bonds industrial complex, and the fight to change it for the better.
Now, a lawsuit looks to challenge the system and alter legislation.
According to NOLA.com, New Orleans resident Jerome Morgan is suing Blair’s Bail Bonds over a partial bond refund that was never paid to him. Morgan was owed the refund after being released from jail over an overturned murder conviction that cost him twenty years in prison. The refund would have amounted to roughly $250.
The lawsuit aims to not only clarify and strengthen a February ruling by State Insurance Commissioner Jim Donelon which stated that the bonds industry had overcharged people above the law’s 12% cap on premiums but also to change the law that allows these companies a protective shield from individuals and families alike.
The Southern Poverty Law Center fought against the practice of charging one percent above the legal 12% cap on premiums – a “licensing fee” – back in 2017. Blair Boutte, the owner of Blair’s Bail Bonds, has refused to pay out the refund, having lobbied legislators earlier this year to allow businesses immunity from such situations. He won, even gaining support from Democrat Cedric Richmond.
Bill Quigley, a Loyola Law Professor working pro-bono on this case, said the following:
“It’s really a vehicle to challenge the constitutionality of what the Legislature did. We expect the court will strike down that recent law and that will apply to everyone.”
For Jerome Morgan, the man at the center of all of this, the positive prospect of the lawsuit includes helping his family to pay bills and move forward together, after all of the time lost.
Bill Arceneaux has been an independent writer and film critic in the New Orleans area since 2011, working with outlets like Film Threat, DIG Baton Rouge, Crosstown Conversations, and Occupy. He is a member of the Southeastern Film Critics Association and is Rotten Tomatoes approved. Follow him on Twitter: @billreviews