A new report from an Arizona Supreme Court task force explores the costs of pretrial penalties, fees, and cash-bail policies. jail Tent City Maricopa County

A new report from an Arizona Supreme Court task force explores the costs of pretrial penalties, fees, and cash-bail policies.

“Who pays?” could be the underlying theme for a new report out of the Arizona Supreme Court task force Fair Justice for All. One of the vital topics it examines is the inequities that may exist in a system of cash bail for those awaiting trial.

An Arizona Republic story describes the task force report. One of the report’s recommendations would be to move toward a risk-assessment approach in terms of bail. Already in use in some other states, the assessment would determine an individual’s danger to the community and his likelihood to return for hearings and trial. Critics say the current system more accurately assesses the depth of a defendant’s bank account than the more relevant questions.

Arizona_Supreme_Court_SealThe task force ultimately made 65 recommendations. The full report is here, and more detail about the report and its process is here. As you’ll see, the report examines the effects of court fines, fees, and penalties, as well as pretrial release policies.

I’m currently in conversation with a potential author who would write an article for Arizona Attorney explaining what this all means. More to come.

Of course, I previously wrote about another groundbreaking report titled “Who Pays?” It was created by the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights. At that time, I spoke with the Center’s Zach Norris about the “true cost to families of incarceration.”

You should read that report here, as it well examines the additional penalties that follow a previously incarcerated person after release and return to the community. That is the other side of a coin being written by the Arizona Supreme Court, about the cost of pretrial penalties.

A graph offers data on how many unconvicted individuals are held in the Maricopa County jail system awaiting trial.

A graph offers data on how many unconvicted individuals are held in the Maricopa County jail system awaiting trial.

Canadian Bar Association CBA 2014 report titled Transforming the Delivery of Legal Services in CanadaThis morning, if my plans don’t go awry, I’ll be attending the kickoff meeting of the new Arizona Supreme Court task force that will assess the management and governance of the State Bar of Arizona. I’ll report back on how it goes and what comes next.

Until then, you may want to skim some material about proposed changes to the Canadian legal system. True, the northerly report, if adopted, would make significant changes far beyond one bar association. But I was impressed by the Canadian task force’s willingness to look at all elements of the legal profession with a new eye.

I’m suspecting that the Arizona Supreme Court seeks a similarly clear-eyed look.

The entire report, titled “Transforming the Delivery of Legal Services in Canada,” is here.

Jordan Furlong

Jordan Furlong

And I agree: 106 pages is tough sledding on a Friday. But that’s why you should start with a Jordan Furlong column.

I have mentioned Jordan Furlong before (here and here). And I think his name is well associated with any assessment of what the future of law holds.

His concise and point-by-point analysis deconstructs the Canadian Bar Association report, which he admits he likes quite a bit. And, I’m pretty sure, his column and the related report are solid guideposts for what we may see coming to these United States in the not-so-distant future.

Here is Jordan’s post.

Have a wonderful—and transformative—weekend.