Working closely with the Clark County Public Defender’s Office, Civil Rights Corps is challenging Nevada’s use of money bail without consideration of a person’s ability to pay. Our client, Jose Valdez-Jimenez, was indicted in 2018 and assigned a money bail amount of $40,000. Valdez-Jimenez, who is poor and could not afford that amount, argued that the money bail amounted to an unconstitutional detention order. Valdez-Jimenez’s requests for a lower bail amount were denied and as a result, spent over a year jailed while awaiting trial.
The Supreme Court of the United States has held that a person may be jailed without a criminal trial only if the state proves that there is a very compelling reason to do so. Clark County jails thousands of people every day for no reason other than their poverty. We are optimistic that the Nevada Supreme Court will put a stop to this unconstitutional practice.
In April 2020, the Nevada Supreme Court issued a historic ruling declaring that every person arrested in Nevada has a right to a thorough hearing before a court requires money for his or her release pretrial, and that if he or she cannot pay that amount the court's order is equivalent to an order of detention and must meet exacting constitutional standards. This opinion will end decades of illegal practices by Nevada courts.