So far, Steinberg said she knew of no other charitable organization that plans to offer bail.
Marvin Ray Raskin, the cochairman of the criminal section of the Bronx Bar Association, said, "To an indigent person, $500 bail might be the equivalent of $5 million bail to an affluent person. In either case, it's a difficult if not impossible sum to meet."
David Jakab, operator of the Manhattan-based David Jakab Bail Bonds, said it is "definitely not true" that bail bondsmen will not write bail for less than $1,000.
"I service bonds starting at $500 and will do $500, $750, $1,000, whatever," Jakab said. "I have no problem doing that because it builds my client base. I do them all the time."
Fabrizio's decision in Miranda also alluded to ethical concerns raised by prosecutors about the The Bronx Defenders' participation in the Freedom Fund.
The judge noted that the American Bar Association, in ABA Formal Opinion 04-432 from 2004, discourages defense lawyers from posting bond for clients except in "rare circumstances" and where there is no possibility that attorneys would profit by their actions.
Fabrizio also said that the New York State Bar Association Committee on Professional Ethics advised in NY Eth Op 647, 1993 WL 560287, that an attorney cannot act as a paid bail bond agent for his own clients. But, Fabrizio added, the same opinion said an attorney can be a paid bail bondsman for a non-client. The Freedom Fund only offered bail to clients.
Lippman said in an interview after his speech that he was not troubled by ethical concerns.
"I don't see any inherent conflict," Lippman told reporters. "They are using grant money. Do I think it's more or less ethical than having them go pay money to a bail bondsman to get out, money that [defendants] don't have and that if they can scrape up the money, that's how they get out? If I look at the ethics or what's right and just, this [charitable bond] scenario makes a lot more sense."
@|Joel Stashenko can be contacted at email@example.com.