Activists Lose Their Shirts in Texas Bail Cases
You want to talk about having a court render your movement as a mere bagatelle, look at the slap in the face the United States Court of Appeals for the Firth Circuit just dealt to the Civil Rights Corps. We’ll cut through all the legal mumbo jumbo and technicalities and get to the point: the entire decade-long federal litigation over poor people’s bail that they couldn’t afford is just plain something that shouldn’t have happened in the first place.
READ MORE in the PRESS: Federal judge throws out lawsuit challenging Harris County’s felony bail system
Judge Lee Rosenthal, Texas’s best judicial legislator-from-the-bench, just dismissed a case she’d been legislating on for years—ODonnell v. Harris County, Texas. In fact, Judge Rosenthal created more legislation on criminal justice reform than the entire state legislature over the last decade. Yet, this is a case that was a legal monument to freedom and the protection of the poor. A case that made everyone in Houston prouder than Robin Hood riding in on Sam Houston’s horse. And, in fact, a case that the United States Court of Appeals tossed in the trash like a used K-cup full of Folger’s. Turns out, the best part of waking up to legality reality, is not Folger’s in your cup.
What does it all mean? It means that poor people’s bail is determined by judges in Texas in the criminal cases in which they occur—they are not supposed to “afford it.” It also means that if people in Texas want to go suing the judges, they have to do that in front of Texas judges and not feds like Judge Lee Rosenthal, or, I don’t know, even better, ask the judge who sets bail to do a better job.
So, for all the years of fighting over accused people’s bail, and losing (thereby creating great precedent for the continuation of monetary bail in this country for which we thank them), we will simply keep our comments as to the future of the Civil Rights Corps federal litigation short:
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