Arkansas Chief Justice Cites Johnny Cash In Bail Dissent Opinion

Feb 12, 2016

Johnny Cash's album recorded live at San Quentin, which featured Starkville City Jail."

Objecting to the Arkansas Supreme Court ruling that lower-court judges can require that defendants pay their bail only in cash, the high court's chief justice cited a musician seldom thought of as a legal scholar: Johnny Cash.

Interim Chief Justice Howard Brill on Thursday cited Cash's song "Starkville City Jail" in a dissent. He said it was wrong for the majority to deny a Benton County man's objection to a $300,000 cash-only bail set in an assault and battery case.

In the 5-2 ruling, justices said Arkansas' constitution allows cash-only bail. Brill's dissent begins with lyrics from Cash's song about his 1965 arrest in the Mississippi town for public drunkenness.

Brill said requiring cash-only for bail strips a person of a constitutional right to provide sufficient surety for their release.