Kenneth Buckingham had to wait two days and had to appear before a judge in Lancaster County after his fiancee paid his bail to be released from jail.
State law allows a judge to require the sheriff or jailer to bring an accused person to the courthouse before the person bonds out of jail.
While the extra step makes it easier to convict defendants who fail to appear in court, other counties require defendants to sign an appearance bond at the jail to ensure they’ll return to court, said Tim Noerrlinger, Buckingham’s defense attorney.
“No one else does it that way,” Noerrlinger of Lancaster County. “From Norfolk on down and Grand Island on out. It’s atypical.”
The additional time in jail, the transportation to and from court and attorneys’ fees end up costing taxpayers.
“They just paid me to sit there 20 minutes,” Noerrlinger said after a recent court appearance.
Some believe appearing before a judge is more effective, said retired Lancaster County District Judge Jeffre Cheuvront.
“I think there was a feeling that if you were brought into court and you were in front of a judge and you swore to the bond, it may have more of an effect on the person than if you just did it in the jail,” he said.
Judges typically try to fit in bond-swear hearings as soon as possible, but it can be difficult with their busy schedules, said Lancaster County Public Defender Joe Nigro.
“From our perspective, we would prefer if people could post bond at the jail,” he said. “The whole process is cumbersome.”