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No Settlement Of Harris County Bail Bond Suit Until 2019

Outgoing County Judge Ed Emmett accused plaintiffs in the suit of stalling a deal after the election.

Emmett Cagle Ellis
Harris County Judge Ed Emmett (left) arguing with Commissioner Rodney Ellis (right) over the bail bond lawsuit. Commissioner Jack Cagle sits between them.

The fate of a lawsuit over Harris County’s bail bond system now rests in the hands of the incoming county government. County Judge Ed Emmett said he’s done trying to reach a settlement. The case has been stalled most of the year, following a ruling by the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals

The 5th Circuit upheld most of a lower court decision that the bail system discriminates against poor defendants, keeping them in jail if they can’t afford to pay their bond. Judge Emmett said he and the county commissioners were willing to settle based on the appeals court ruling, but the plaintiffs weren’t.

“I’m going to leave it to the county attorney to move forward,” Emmett said. “A couple of us aren’t going to be here come January, and you all can hash that out, but I think we made our best effort to settle based on what the 5th Circuit did.”

Emmett accused the plaintiffs of delaying a settlement until after the election for political reasons. “The pound of flesh has been extracted from this deal,” he said, “but we tried to settle. Make no bones about that.”

Emmett lost his bid for reelection to Lina Hidalgo. Commissioner Jack Morman of Precinct 2 lost to former Harris County Sheriff Adrian Garcia. In addition, seven of the 15 criminal court judges who are defendants in the lawsuit were defeated at the polls. Their successors will take office January 1.

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Andrew Schneider

Andrew Schneider

Politics and Government Reporter

Andrew heads Houston Public Media’s coverage of national, state, and local elections. He also reports on major policy issues before the Texas Legislature and county and city governments across Greater Houston. Before taking up his current post, Andrew spent five years as Houston Public Media’s business reporter, covering the oil...

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