Clerks and bail hearings

Issue February 2011

Clerks, who are responsible for bail hearings, have taken public heat in recent years for the overtime pay they receive when going to after-hours bail hearings.

Due to the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruling that bail hearings must be held within six hours of arrest to avoid constitutional issues, clerks are often called after work hours to set or deny bail, and earn the $40 fee the arrestee pays after bail is set.

"Taxpayers get an enormous bang for their buck," Boston Municipal Court Clerk-Magistrate Daniel J. Hogan said about the additional after-hours fees clerks earn. "We may be there for a bail hearing, but we also perform significant constitutional duties for no compensation."

For example, Hogan, who was summoned down to the police station in July 2008 to admit someone to bail, was brought to detectives who also needed an arrest warrant. Although Hogan was only at the station to issue bail, he also went through the process of issuing a warrant - at no extra cost to the commonwealth and for no extra compensation - and then had a hand in watching the Boston police track down Christian Karl Gerhartsreiter, the man who used the alias of Clark Rockefeller.

"I was pleased to be a part of that," said Hogan, who was on hand to watch the Amber Alert go out for Rockefeller's daughter, Reigh. "When the system works, it really works."