NEW ORLEANS (AP) - Advocacy groups are accusing a New Orleans judge of setting high bails without regard to defendants' ability to pay.
In a lawsuit filed Tuesday, they say the practices of Magistrate Judge Harry Cantrell in New Orleans' criminal court result in people accused of non-violent crimes being held in the dangerous New Orleans jail - sometimes for months.
The suit was filed by the Roderick and Solange MacArthur Justice Center and the Civil Rights Corps.
It seeks a court declaration that Cantrell violates poor defendants' rights. It also seeks a ruling that Cantrell has a conflict of interest because he routinely refuses to accept cash bail. That forces a defendant to use a commercial surety company to purchase a bond - a transaction that includes a fee for the court.