Police Officers’ Allege Collusion in Harris County Federal Court Proposed Settlement

In the many twists and turns of the Federal County litigation in Harris County regarding bail practices, the parties have filed a proposed Consent Decree and proposed settlement for the Court of approve. The trial court set August 22, 2019 as the deadline for any objections to be filed. Nine groups file amicus brief raising objections and or concerns regarding the proposed Consent Decree.

The amicus brief filed by the Harris County Deputies’ Organization, Fraternal Order of Police Lodge #39 and the amicus filed by Commissioner Raddick who voted against the proposal in the Harris County Commissioners’ Court allege improper collusion between Commissioner Rodney Ellis and the plaintiffs’ attorneys. They allege that Ellis and the plaintiffs are seeking to weaponize the litigation to impose significant financial obligations on the county for political purposes and not to satisfy any constitutional requirements. Commissioner Raddick cites various interviews and youtube videos to support the claim that Commissioner Ellis is not looking after the best interests of the county; but instead, is seeking to impose a political agenda on the County with significant financial obligations which are not required and which will not be able to be reversed for 7 years.

The groups filing objections and/or raising concerns regarding the proposed Consent Decree are as follows:

Two other groups filed a motion seeking more time until September 2, 2019 to file their objections to the proposed Consent Decree and Settlement. These two groups are the Houston Area Police Chief Association and the Texas School District Police chief’s Association.

The numerous briefs other additional arguments to the proposed Consent Decree. The Harris County District Attorney, who initially supported the plaintiffs is now objecting to the proposed Consent Decree and proposed settlement. Kim Ogg maintains that the settlement raises substantial public safety issues and violates Texas law in numerous respects regarding how defendants are allowed to cancel hearings unilaterally, how bonds are forfeited and warrants issued. Ogg maintains that the proposed Consent Decree will making it almost impossible to prosecute criminal cases.

In addition to the District Attorney, the Harris County Deputies, City of Pasadena Police Chief and the Harris County Bondsmen Association allege that the proposed Consent Decree violates Texas law in numerous ways. They allege in part that the proposed Consent Decree violates Chapter 17 of the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure regarding how bail is set in Texas. They maintain that the proposed settlement seeks to change Texas law in ways that are the exclusive purview of the Texas Legislature.

The Commissioners object to the proposed settlement also alleging that it seeks to impose significant financial obligations on the taxpayers of Harris County when these funds are not required to satisfy the constitutional issues raised in this suit.

Finally, almost all of the objections raise issues of public safety and cite examples of how the proposed system which is currently being used in Harris County is failing. Equal Justice Now and Kim Ogg cite numerous examples where defendants have been release and continue to commit more crimes and the judges have concluded that they have no discretion but are required to continue to release these defendants.

These amicus briefs and the motion for more time can be viewed and downloaded by clicking on the list above. The list is hyperlinked to each brief.

This is a fast moving story. For additional information call Ken W. Good 903.780.7731.

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