Off the Kuff Rotating Header Image

Bail reform plaintiffs want Paxton booted from case

I for one am a fan of kicking out Ken Paxton in any context.

Best mugshot ever

In a strategic move that could speed up their case against Harris County, the plaintiffs challenging felony bail practices are hoping to kick two dozen players out of the game — 23 judges and Republican Attorney General Ken Paxton, who represents most of them in the landmark suit.

These judges who dole out bail rulings on a daily basis to people accused of crime would become third parties. They would no longer go toe-to-toe with indigent defendants who sued in a civil rights case saying courts offer a vastly different outcomes to people arrested depending on how much money they have in their pocket.

The motion filed Wednesday asks Lee H. Rosenthal, the chief judge of the Southern District of Texas, to dismiss the felony judges as parties from the 2019 lawsuit. Should the judge grant it, the remaining defendants in the case would be the county and its sheriff. The majority in county government are in sync with bail reform and the sheriff’s office is headed by Ed Gonzalez, who has said that setting arbitrarily high bail rates doesn’t protect the public.

Paxton has been an impediment to progress, said Neal Manne, a pro bono lawyer from Susman Godfrey LLP, who is among the lead counsel behind twin bail challenges, to misdemeanor and felony bail.

“The county and the sheriff are actually operating in good faith and would like to figure out a solution to a terrible problem. The attorney general is not acting in good faith, he just wants to find ways to disrupt and disrupt and prevent any reform from happening.”

[…]

The idea of removing the judges from the case stems from a ruling by the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in a case that took on Dallas County’s bail system. The appellate court determined that sovereign immunity protected the Dallas judges from being sued over their bail practices. The 5th Circuit ruling said the sheriff is the key party to sue to obtain relief for people who are being detained unconstitutionally due to unaffordable bail.

See here for the previous update. The theory, as espoused by Judge Chuck Silverman, who is not represented by Paxton and agrees with the plaintiffs, is that this would thin the herd in the courtroom, which in turn might make it easier to come to a settlement agreement. It might also put some of the judges who are currently being represented by the AG’s office on the spot, and I’m fine with that.

Related Posts:

9 Comments

  1. Lobo says:

    Re “It might also put some of the judges who are currently being represented by the AG’s office on the spot, and I’m fine with that.”

    The felony judges preside over state courts, not county courts, so perhaps they don’t even have any/much say over how the Attorney General’s Office represents them (unless they come in as intervenor, rather than as defendant, and represent themselves or retain private counsel).

    Does anyone know more about the extent to which Paxton can block and thwart by virtue of handling the legal representation of the state defendants, here district court judges?

  2. Paul Kubosh says:

    There is so much wrong with the current Bail Reform I don’t know where to begin. How about here:

    https://thetexan.news/suspect-in-murder-of-houston-police-sergeant-out-on-100-bond-at-time-of-shooting/

    This is your poster child for people wrongly held in jail and losing their job because they can’t post bond.

  3. Ross says:

    So, Paul, you are willing to jail hundreds to prevent one bad guy from committing a crime? What’s your solution to the bail issue? Go back to the single value bail schedule, where the rich white guy gets out but the poor people of color get stuck in jail?

    Blame the lazy judges in the past who refused to determine bail for each individual defendant, but used a biased bail schedule that didn’t take all the circumstances into account. I have no problem setting bail, but it has to be based on each defendant’s own situation. In the case you mentioned, did the DA ask for high bail based on the defendant’s history? Were his prior forfeitures brought to the judge’s attention?

  4. Manny says:

    Paul if I recall Abbott recently stated that where people have a history of violence that the bail should be denied or made exceedingly high. That would take care of the case that is often used by bail bonds people or their supporters at least here in Texas.

    Lobo an intellectual should not be needing any help.

  5. Jules says:

    Ross, 100% agree on the lazy judges.

  6. Paul kubosh says:

    He is not the only one and you know it.

  7. Bill Daniels says:

    ¡Hola Paul! Glad to see you posting!

  8. Manny says:

    Yes, Paul, I knew that but you mentioned one and that had been addressed by Abbott, this past week if memory serves me correct. In fact one of my favorite TV shows from the past was Barretta, where the phrase “You do the crime, you do the time” was the quote of the show. Interestingly that Robert Blake, star of the show, found out the hard way.

    There is no perfect world and sometimes trial and error is the only method by which one can get to as close as the perfect solution.

  9. […] here for the background. If as that previous story suggests Ken Paxton and the AG’s office are […]