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Court orders damages to Lake County in bail bond case

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The Indiana Court of Appeals has remanded a bail bond case it considers filed in bad faith, with instructions that the trial court judge calculate damages for the Lake County sheriff, Superior Court Clerk, and the Criminal Justice Section of the Lake County Bar Association.

In Smith and Zacek v. Lake County, et al., the appellate court ruled today that the two bail bondsmen filed a complaint in 1999 alleging that bail statutes included in the Indiana Code were unconstitutional under the Equal Protection Clause and Privileges and Immunities Clause of the state constitution, in that "when a defendant fails to appear, bail agents are subject to forfeiture and late surrender fees while defendants who post 10 percent cash bonds are not."

The following year, a judge entered an order declaring Indiana Code Section 35-33-8-3.2 unconstitutional and enjoined the defendants from allowing bail for any criminal defendants pursuant to that statute. The Lake County Bar Association entered as amicus curiae and later as a defendant, and the county appealed to the Indiana Supreme Court. The high court reversed the trial court decision and ruled the state ;s bail scheme doesn ;t violate the constitution. After further appeals, the case was ultimately remanded to a special judge, who entered final summary judgment in favor of the county on the basis of res judicata.

In this latest appeal, the Court of Appeals cites Smith ;s history of filing suits relating to bail bonds: "When viewed in the context of Smith ;s well-documented history of piecemeal attacks on Indiana ;s bail scheme, however, the instant appeal may fairly be calculated as harassing and vexatious. We therefore remand for a calculation of damages, including appellate attorneys ; fees, to which Appellees may be entitled in accordance with Appellate Rule 66(E)."

Read the full opinion at Herbert Smith, Jr. and Charles Zacek v. Lake Co., Lake Co. Sheriff, and Clerk of Lake Superior Court.
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