Felony judges move to dismiss bail lawsuit

Of interest.

A group of district judges in Houston on Thursday argued for dismissal of a lawsuit alleging their felony bail practices are unconstitutional because they discriminate against poor people, keeping them jailed when they can’t pay bail.

Among the defendants are the 23 criminal district judges of Harris County, who argue that the plaintiffs lack standing, and the judges have immunity to the claims. They say the plaintiffs were all released on bail and they don’t have an injury that qualifies them to sue.


“The felony bail system in Harris County raises the same legal issues as the misdemeanor system, has the same devastating consequences for impoverished arrestees, is similarly coercive of guilty pleas, and is even more costly to the system,” said the second amended complaint in Russell v. Harris County.

The lawsuit argued that Harris County for felony bail must stop using a secured bail schedule to make release decisions and better ensure that detained defendants receive constitutional protections that will protect against “erroneous deprivation of the right to bodily liberty.”

The plaintiffs are all detained in Harris County because they couldn’t afford to pay bail. Their lawsuit seeks an injunction against the county’s felony bail practices. They say the county can’t base release decisions on money alone. It must make factual findings that a person is able to afford the bail, or if they can’t pay, that pretrial detention is necessary because there’s a specific, compelling government interest and there’s no less-restrictive alternative.

The 23 judge-defendants’ motion to dismiss said the plaintiffs in the case were released on bail and they don’t have an injury that would grant them standing to sue the judges. The judges also argue they have immunity, and that an exception to immunity for constitutional violations does not apply, because the plaintiffs haven’t alleged a colorable constitutional claim.

“Plaintiffs’ claims all rest on an alleged fundamental right to pre-trial release, but the Fifth Circuit has already made clear that there is no such right. Consequently, there is no colorable constitutional claim in this suit,” the judges’ motion to dismiss said.

See here for the last update, which is when the judges were added to lawsuit. The story notes both the settlement in the misdemeanor bail lawsuit, which took a dramatic turn following the 2018 election when the Democratic slate won en masse and followed through on a promise to settle this, as well as the fact that two of the felony court judges, Chuck Silverman and Brian Warren, have filed motions in support of the plaintiffs. We’re still very much in the early stages of this litigation.

Because the felony (criminal district) courts are state offices, the felony judges are represented by the AG’s office; the misdemeanor court judges were represented by the County Attorney. It’s unclear to me how much influence Harris County government will have in this lawsuit. County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez, who favored the misdemeanor settlement, is a named plaintiff in both cases, so whatever influence there is will come via that. As far as I know, he has not yet spoken about this lawsuit.

I want this lawsuit to be settled as well, for the same reasons about equal justice for rich and poor, as well as serious concerns about jailing many non-violent offenders who have not been convicted of anything. It may be that the standing argument has merit – I’m not a lawyer, I don’t know – but that’s not really important to me. What I want is for the system to get a big dose of the reform it badly needs, and along the way I want these judges that I voted for to be part of the solution, not part of the problem like their now-former colleagues on the misdemeanor bench were. I’m willing to see how this plays out, but I need to see that we’re all moving towards a fairer and more equitable system. I’ll definitely be keeping this in mind the next time there are primaries.

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22 Responses to Felony judges move to dismiss bail lawsuit

  1. Paul Kubosh says:

    Bail reform is been a massive success. More crime, less people in jail. More work for defense attorneys and more victims of crime. It is hard to believe that all of these innocent habitual non-violent criminals are out there committing crimes in the rich white neighborhoods.

  2. Paul Kubosh says:

    Auto fill corrections on phone while driving.

  3. Bill Daniels says:

    You’re preaching to the atheist association, group, Paul.

    This is a coordinated plan:

    ~release a flood of predatory criminals on the country

    ~no bond, free release for new criminals being caught (see: Kim Ogg)

    ~arrest and jail people trying to make an honest living…BOND REQUIRED

    ~unleash violent protests on the streets of America

    ~mass dismissal of any charges against rioters (see: Kim Ogg)

    ~zealous prosecution of anyone who stands up to or pushes back on rioters

    ~prevent people from working to make them desperate

    Can you see the pattern now? This is no different than Hugo Chavez and Maduro flooding the streets with their paid street thugs, to enforce terror on the people.

    This isn’t random, it’s orchestrated, and it is entirely political.

  4. C.L. says:

    No one gives a shit about the benefits of, or problems associated with, Harris County bail reform as long as the clown car remains chugging along in Washington.

  5. Jen says:

    Pretty hilarious fantasy there Bill and Paul, it’s all good except no one is seeing any criminals wandering around, no protesters in the streets, and no law-abiding citizens like Paul in jail…..wait a sec….

    Paul you just admitted texting while driving. Law abiding citizen? Lol…

  6. Paul Kubosh says:

    C.L. we shall see.

  7. Jen says:

    Paul Kubosh posteth above–“Auto fill corrections on phone while driving.”

    Oh wait I get it–your *phone* was texting while driving, not you.

  8. Lobo says:

    Re: flooding the streets with their paid street thugs, to enforce terror on the people.

    Does that description include the ones that look like storm troopers and dispense gas/pepper stray, with no insignia or name tags, the ones who take people away in unmarked vans?

  9. Bill Daniels says:


    After the Oregon governor finally agreed to defend the federal courthouse from being destroyed, the feds pulled their ‘storm troopers’ out of Portland. Yay! Peace and tranquility were restored after those jack booted thugs were pulled out, right?



    Even the leftist Mayor Wheeler understands how bad his Biden voters look, he’s begging them to stop, but they aren’t. The left has created a monster it cannot control. Those mean ol’ ‘storm troopers’ are gone, but the violence and destruction continue.

    I just have two questions for you, Wolf:

    Is this really what you want for Houston and the surrounding communities? Do you REALLY want marauding Biden voters terrorizing my neighborhood?

  10. mollusk says:

    I’m getting really, really tired of cherry picked generalizations being used to demonize people who don’t line up with the Talking Point Of The Day. Context from the linked AP story (tl;dr: the arsonists were a small group, the large protests are very peaceful):

    “The violence began after a group of about 100 people gathered in a nearby park for a rally advertised on social media by the group Pacific Northwest Youth Liberation Front with the slogan “No cops. No prisons. Total abolition.” The group then marched to the precinct.

    Passadore noted that at the same time, there was a larger, peaceful gathering of Black Lives Matter demonstrators outside the federal courthouse downtown, listening to speeches. That gathering required no police resources, he said.
    “I don’t want people to get confused to think that this was something related to Black Lives Matter,” he said of the precinct rally. “I’ve been the incident commander for 24 nights of the 70-plus events, and I’ve seen amazing protesting going on in the city of Portland where people gather together.”

  11. Bill Daniels says:


    You’re gaslighting here, in real time. What’s happening is the equivalent of, my cohorts are robbing a bank on one side of town, so I cause a disturbance that requires all the police to come to my side of town, leaving my bank robbing friends free to ply their trade with few police around.

    Why did YOU cherry pick your quote from the AP story? You did exactly what you accused me of doing. Excellent Trotsky tactic.

    Continue quoting the story. Here, let me help:

    “Wheeler said the city anticipates “additional planned attacks on public buildings” in the coming days and said he was giving the police leeway to do what they needed to do to counter those plans as long as it can be done without threatening peaceful protesters.

    “Based on the briefing I received this morning …I believe that city staff could have died last night. I cannot and I will not tolerate that,” said Wheeler, who is also police commissioner.

    Protests have gone on unabated in Portland since May 25….”

    So, the leftist mayor admits:

    ~there will be more violence by the Biden voters (implicit in that is, he can’t stop it)

    ~the Biden voters committed attempted murder that was only stopped by a forceful response by police

    Two questions for you, Mollusk:

    Do you want Biden voters in Houston doing what they are doing in Portland? Do you want these Biden voters coming to my neighborhood?

  12. C.L. says:

    Troll tactic #72: While trolling, direct questions to respondents you believe will be most offended by your generalization or inflammatory comments in the hopes of creating controversy.

  13. Lobo says:

    Re: Troll tactic #72: While trolling

    Intriguing … where is the full array running from #1 thru #71, #73 and yonder? Do you have an URL? – And are abatement/parrying/counter measures also included for each item, or are those safeguarded from the suckers behind a paywall?

    BTW… does anyone here know what happened at the Trib?

    Did Paxton get them to shut down the community commenting window through a terse “non-binding” advisory? Or did they hear from the Lords and Ladies of the Lexicon through the grapevine … some whiff of an early warning of custom libel law for select free speech offenders — hint, hint — should they elect to badmouth our squeaky-clean conflicts of interest.

    Whatever the most compelling speculation may be, I am starting to miss the quotidian skirmishes with the Trib Trolls in that venue.

  14. Pingback: Paxton (again) wants another judge on his case – Off the Kuff

  15. Manny says:

    The only question I ask myself who is nuttier the Russian asset that sits in the White House or our local racist troll, Bill Daniels.

    Bill Daniels

    Ogg did her duty as a dutiful Soros backed stooge and let all the rioters at the 60,000 person Joe Biden/DNC downtown go. Mass case dismissals!
    I’m assuming I could get that same level of courtesy if I go rob a liquor store while shouting, ‘Justice for George Kirby!’

    Bill Daniels; “give orders for the soldiers to shoot to kill any person entering the kill zone from the Mexican side, period. Women? Children? Old people? Military age males? Waste anyone that crosses from Mexico into the US. Back that up with predator drones . and perhaps an A-10 every 3 or 4 hundred miles, for close air support for larger groups, and you’ve secured the border, with no fences.”

    Bill Daniels; “I oppose the mandatory masks by government diktat (I’m OK with private businesses mandating it for their own property, however) AND I support abortion, because most of the murdered kids would otherwise have been born to liberal parents. It’s better they were never born and don’t have to suffer the neglect, abuse, and brainwashing leftist parent(s) are known for. They also don’t grow up to vote for leftists, so there’s that, too. Look at the crime and rioting in leftist controlled areas; Without easy access to abortions, the crime rate in those areas would be even higher as the unwanted, un-cared for kids grow up and turn into ‘super predators.’
    It’s really ironic. You would think that leftists would be the ones opposing abortion because it mainly kills their own voters.”

  16. C.L. says:

    Manny…. really ? You’ve tuned into that which you loathe.

  17. manny says:

    Like I give a rat’s ass of what you, CL, think or say, you are only slightly better than Bill.

  18. C.L. says:

    I like you, Manny – you’re high-larious !

  19. Paul Kubosh says:

    57 people killed in the last two years by people on multiple felony bonds and PR bonds. I told you so.

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