The Florida Bar

Florida Bar News

Law directs Supreme Court to develop a uniform statewide bond schedule

Senior Editor Top Stories

With the new legislation, 11th Judicial Circuit ends its own pretrial detention reform project

Judge Nushin Sayfie

Chief Judge Nushin Sayfie

The 11th Judicial Circuit will no longer pursue a sweeping pretrial detention reform project, now that Gov. Ron DeSantis has signed legislation creating a statewide initiative.

“Now that the Florida Legislature has addressed our concerns with this legislation, continued collaboration on the APPR Project is no longer necessary,” Chief Judge Nushin Sayfie said in a statement.

APPR, or “Advancing Pretrial Policy & Research,” was a program that the 11th Circuit began planning in 2020, although Sayfie said former Chief Judge Bertila Soto began working with local officials to address the issue a decade ago.

Backed by a grant from the Arnold Foundation, APPR was a collaboration between the courts, Miami-Dade County, the state attorney, public defender, local law enforcement, and the Miami-Dade Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.

Sayfie said the primary goal was to enhance public safety by “preventing dangerous people from being released without a hearing simply because they could afford bond,” and to use “evidence-based tools” to assess low-risk individuals who cannot afford bond.

Sayfie noted that currently, suspects facing charges of aggravated battery with a firearm, possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, burglary of an occupied dwelling, attempted second-degree murder, and DUI manslaughter, can be released without appearing before a judge.

“Our APPR Project would have eliminated this severe shortcoming of the current system by making more than 700 crimes excluded from release on bond before first appearance,” she said.

APPR would have required every suspect charged with a crime in Miami-Dade County to undergo a prerelease assessment, Sayfie said.

Sayfie said she put the project on hold in January when DeSantis announced a legislative proposal. He signed HB 1627 on May 1.

The measure requires the Florida Supreme Court to develop a uniform statewide bond schedule by January 1, 2024.

Chief judges will be free to increase bond amounts, but they will have to seek Supreme Court approval to adopt a bond schedule that is lower than the statewide standard, according to a legislative analysis.

In a press release, DeSantis said the measure would enhance safety by limiting eligibility for pretrial release and making sure that judges are “the ultimate decision maker” when it comes to pre-trial detention.

Sayfie noted, among other things, that the legislation prevents suspects who have been arrested for “particularly violent or heinous” crimes from being released prior to a first appearance.

She pointed to another provision that adds DUI and BUI manslaughter, trafficking fentanyl, extortion, and written threats to kill, to the list of dangerous crimes.

The legislation addresses “many of the shortcomings in our current system that inspired the work we and our justice partners have been collaborating on for many years,” Sayfie said.

News in Photos