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She made her point: court official's notable bond decision

"I changed the 1 to a 4 and added a whole bunch of zeroes."

Indeed, that is exactly what Claudia Brown did in effecting a bond decision regarding a prisoner that was centrally made to establish a point.

Brown's point: Bond amounts imposed on individuals awaiting trial are often onerously -- and sometimes illogically --- high, and that can be quickly and effectively demonstrated by putting out a number that the public can truly gawk at.

And, thus, wish a swoosh of her pen, Brown -- who is a county justice of the peace in Texas -- raised the $1 million bond being urged by enforcement officials in an alleged murder case to … $4 billion.

Yes, that's with a "b" and, no, the suspect could not make bail.

Brown told AP reporters that she is piqued with the criminal justice system on many levels, drawing special attention to what she regards as onerously high bond amounts she calls "ridiculous."

She initially sought to impose a $100,000 bond on the suspect, but met blowback from enforcement officials. She viewed their challenge as "the perfect time" to make a statement.

And $4 billion did just that.

Brown says she knew the amount could be viewed as constitutionally infirm and lowered, which it was -- to $150,000 -- by a state judge.

She is satisfied, though, that she made her point.

Candidly, bond amounts are often prohibitively high for many criminal suspects. We note on our website at the Nashville criminal defense firm of Thomas T. Overton that, in Tennessee, bond "in some cases is set too high."

And we further note on that page that we routinely work with judges "in an effort to reduce bonds or to get bonds set when they have not been offered."

We welcome readers' contacts to the firm and the opportunity to help individuals with any criminal law challenges they face.

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