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Texas’ Bail System Goes To Court

The case of ODonnell et al. v. Harris County, Texas et al., is a federal lawsuit which alleges that Texas’ bail system is unconstitutional. It concerns three individuals who officials arrested. They claim that authorities unlawfully denied them the right to bail because of their inability to pay the amount indicated by Harris County’s set bond schedule.

The case has enormous implications for public safety, not only in Harris County but large parts of Texas, Louisiana, and Mississippi, the jurisdiction of the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals. Because it is a federal case, the court’s ruling may have a ripple effect throughout the entire U.S. The decision may cause the total abolishment of money bail nationwide.

Judge Lee Rosenthal of Houston’s U.S. District Court this past April 28 issued a preliminary injunction. It is in support of the plaintiff’s contention. Harris County, Texas appealed the case where it will be heard this coming Tuesday by a three-judge panel in the 5th Circuit Federal Appeals Court in New Orleans.