State of Tennessee ex rel. Haynes v. Daugherty

No. M2018-01394-COA-R10-CV (Tenn. Ct. App. 2019)
September 2019

In a contempt proceeding, a court may not impose a cash-only bond. This violates the parent’s constitutional right to pretrial release, equal protection, and due process. In this contempt case, contempt was filed against the father for failure to pay child support, and the trial court set a cash-only bond. The court set bond as the amount of the child support arrearage and ordered all payments be forfeited immediately upon payment and applied to the child support order. The father applied for an extraordinary appeal. The court of appeals found that setting a cash-only bond in a child support case violated Article 1, §15 of the Tennessee Constitution, as well as the father’s rights to equal protection and due process. The court of appeals found that Article I, §15 was designed to limit the court’s discretion in determining who has a right to pretrial release. Further, requiring a cash-only bond treated the father more severely than a criminal defendant. The court found no rational basis to support making it more difficult for the father to be released from jail than a criminal defendant. The court also found that such a bond violated due process because there was no evidence of the actual amount owed or inquiry into his ability to pay.