Memphis TN April 3 2012 A general sessions criminal court judge told prosecutors their courts are no longer holding hearings for detention orders, effectively ending the policy that allowed people to be held in jail without charges for up to 48 hours.
Up until Friday, Shelby County could hold a person behind bars if probable cause was established.
They had up to 48 hours to officially charge the person.
District Attorney General Amy Weirich has maintained there is probable cause for every person booked into jail.
Friday’s letter from the judge however, now means people booked into jail must be charged immediately.
D’Army Bailey, an attorney and retired circuit court judge, said of the hold practice, “This is an unconstitutional process, employed by the city of Memphis and its police department, with an arbitrary period of a 48-hour hold, often for the purpose to build probable cause, and that’s not lawful.”
Bailey said there’s an opportunity for abuse and harassment.
“The 48 hours is a limitation on a reasonable time that you can hold someone. Not an invitation to hold people for 48 hours, which is what the police department and prosecutors have been doing,” he said.
Phillip Kelley, a Memphis resident, said, “If the officers can hold them without any charges for 48 hours, then the person should have 48 hours too, to protect himself, to get his case together. So I don’t think the hold is fair.”
Kelley admits however, that the holding policy might be useful in cases of rape or murder.
He said he would want to have people suspected of such crimes off the streets.
Roosevelt Foxx said he’s been incarcerated before. He wonders about the people being held, then released without any charge.
“Then once they find out that you’re innocent, then what are they going to do then? They’re going to compensate you for that?” he said.
The District Attorney’s office will appeal the opinion that overturned the murder conviction and take it to the Tennessee Supreme Court.