Four different law firms will represent county officials and departments sued by the American Civil Liberties Union over the county’s bail system.

Lawyers will individually represent the county government, the county district court judges, the county courts-at-law and the county’s magistrate judges, county officials said.

The county is not using its own legal services because the case could create conflicts of interest for those attorneys, said Robert Boemer, the director of Galveston County’s legal department. The county’s in-house legal department doesn’t have the time to solely focus on the lawsuit, Boemer said. The county will pay for the costs of the legal representation, because the courts are funded with county money, he said.

Commissioners unanimously voted to approve engagement letters to the law firms Akerman, Mills Shirley, Mcleod Alexander Powel & Apffel and Greer, Herz & Adams last week. Commissioners plan to finalize the agreements with firms at another meeting in the near future, Boemer said.

The ACLU sued Galveston County, and its judge and magistrates on April 8. The lawsuit claims Galveston County’s courts violate due process rights and unjustly harm indigent people accused of crimes by operating a cash bail system that favors wealthier defendants while encouraging poorer defendants to either plead guilty or sit in jail.

The lawsuit came about six months after the ACLU gave the county a deadline to reform its jail system or face a lawsuit. While some reforms have been implemented, the union sued after being told that other reforms could take up to a year to implement.

The lawsuit was filed on behalf of Aaron Booth, 36, of Galveston, who had been arrested on charges of possession of a controlled substance on the same day the lawsuit was filed. The ACLU has filed a motion asking for the case to be approved as a class-action lawsuit, which would allow more plaintiffs to be added to the proceedings.

Galveston County District Court Judges Kerry Neves, Lonnie Cox, John Ellisor, Patricia Grady, Anne Darring and Michelle Slaughter; Galveston County Court at Law Judges John Grady, Barbara Roberts and Jack Ewing; Galveston County Magistrates Mark Baker, Kerri Foley and James Woltz; and District Attorney Jack Roady were all named in the lawsuit.

None of the plaintiffs have filed a response to to the lawsuit as of Sunday. Court records indicate that responses are due in June.

John Wayne Ferguson: 409-683-5226; or on Twitter @johnwferguson.


(26) comments

Ron Shelby

Does it make a difference that the majority of the District judge’s salary and benefits are funded by the state?

Donald Glywasky

no. tell you why later

Paul Hyatt

What can one expect from the leftist group Anti-Christian League Union.... They have done more damage to this nation with their leftist ideology than one can count.

Gary Scoggin

The article didn’t mention where the suit was filed. I’m assuming Federal Court.

Jim Forsythe

Gary, this is the court it is in.
U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas
Civil Action No. 18-cv- Class Action
Plaintiff Aaron Booth

Click on link below
Click on ACLU Sues Texas County Over Discriminatory, Wealth-Based ...

Go to very bottom of page to and click on.
Yesterday’s complaint can be found here:

George Croix

You'd think there would be cause for the ACLU to sue 'controlled substance' possessers/abusers for their 'discriminatory' negative effect on the civil liberties of the honest part of society that suffers their actions and costs of their reality escape attempts, not sue to make it easier for them to get out of jail and get back to what they were doing.
But, seemingly, nooooooo......

Obviously, I'm missing something here....
HOW is it discriminatory for the same level of bail to be applied to the same type crime?
Is it discriminatory for all to pay the same price for a same brand gallon of milk?

I doubt the ACLU gives a fig about Galveston County incarceration budget costs.....and thus is just trying to help us save some change on that...
But, maybe I'm wrong....

Jim Forsythe

If you remember the overcrowding case, it changed the way we house prisoners in the state prison system.
This has the possibility of doing the same for the way Galveston County and or Texas handles bail.
The outcome may spell out how we will do it , which could mean eliminating some bail and changing the requirements for bail for all.
"HOW is it discriminatory for the same level of bail to be applied to the same type crime?" That is what this case is about.
If a person does not have the means to come up with the bail, is it against the law to place a bail on them, that they have no way of paying. Is there other ways of making sure they show up.
Bail is to ensure that a person shows up for trial, not punishment.

"A consulting company has presented county commissioners with a plan it says could save $4.4 million a year in criminal justice system expenses, but some officials are skeptical.""During several presentations to the commissioners court, Houston-based Justice Innovations proposed a system similar to one in Harris County. The system is designed to cut jail costs and move cases through the judicial system quicker.""
"In March 2015, the county hired a jail impact coordinator, who reports to County Judge Mark Henry, to help identify eligible candidates for person bond release and cut costs at the jail. "
One of the things they are looking at " Recent county-funded reviews of the legal system have recommended more frequent hearings, he said.“ Three times a day is probably ideal,” Henry said, referencing recent outside studies of the county legal system" so things are going to change ( from the once a day). Has it changed?

George Croix

The primary purpose of bail is for the accused to get out of jail UNTIL trial.
If the purpose is just to be sure the accused shows up for trial, then the sure way to accomplish that is keep them in bail....
A sliding scale for bail based on personal resources is pretty much like the inane 'hate crimes'...struff...where the same thing done to one gets a different punishment than to another.....
Lady Justice is holding a balance scale and wearing a blindfold for a reason.....

Jim Forsythe

Robert Durst did not stay for trial, but choose to run . If he would have had electronic monitoring, he may have not ran. One of the alternatives that the ACLU proposed was this type of control , electronic monitoring. This would allow someone to go to work, and reduce the cost from about $60 a day to keep someone in jail, to less then $20 a day, the cost for monitoring. An ankle bracelet is one way of making sure that one shows up for trial.
"After Durst was charged with the murder, he posted a $300,000 bond and then fled Texas"

George Croix

Bad example.
Any prisoner accused of murder and tossing body parts into the Gulf would PAY to get a jury verdict like his......[whistling]
Using your example, Jim, then why not do both...bail AND that ankle monitor, because it would be more likely to cause a show-up than just losing some bucks.
Another alternative if bucks saving is the issue, cut to two meals a day served...jail is not a rooming house

Jim Forsythe

George, the case may change the way we use bail.
The example was to show that if one has enough money, they can be released. That is what this case is about.
If ankle monitors are used, it would reduce the number of people in jail. Until trial,one is not guilty and bail should not be used as a punishment. The reduction in inmates would also reduce cost and may keep use from having to expand the size of the jail, as we are reaching max. capacity.

"Texas law requiring inmates be fed three times in 24 hours, applies to county jail inmates. All detention facilities must have a licensed dietician review their menus in order to be accredited by the American Correctional Association."
"Food provided must be adequate to maintain good health and nutrition, and it also must, if medically necessary, meet the needs of prisoners with conditions requiring special diets, such as diabetics, prisoners who have had heart attacks, etc."

When a jail reduces the number of meals, they may be violating the Eighth Amendment.
"In Foster v. Runnels, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit held that “it is clearly established under the Eighth Amendment that prison officials are obligated to provide inmates with nutritionally adequate meals on a regular basis.”
The court concluded: “On the basis of the evidence presented, a jury could find that Foster suffered a sufficiently serious deprivation and that Cole was deliberately indifferent to the obvious risk of harm. In addition, it is clearly established under the Eighth Amendment that prison officials are obligated to provide inmates with nutritionally adequate meals on a regular basis.”

Paul Hyatt

All the ACLU is doing is the same as society as a whole is doing and that is making it where people are NOT held accountable for the crimes that they do.... Why is it that if they are doing the crime that they don't have to pay for what they are doing.... Reducing the bail costs here in Galveston county will end up doing the same as it has in Harris county when the left wing DA took over and that is to allow all of the criminals out with out making it where they have to come back and then they end up doing more and more crimes.... The leftist in this nation will not stop until they have destroyed our nation....

George Croix

I know what the case is about, Jim.
Name a situation where a person who has a lot of money CAN'T do things those without can't.
People with money can rent better cars and buy better houses and fancier clothes and all kinds of stuff but nobody...nobody...says we should allow those less well off to get the same things on a sliding payment scale, or free....
No real reason for crime to be an exception. except for the phony PC 'disproportionate' effect silliness...
Was the effect on the VICTIM or on the whole of society dealing with criminal activitylessened by the same crime committed by a poor vs wealthy person?
Here's a thought.
You do the crime, you WILL be put in an ankle monitor until you show up for trial.
The bail amount to cover the costs of the monitoring program to be a function of the severity of the crime and any criminal history of the accused and any special considerations but the SAME for anyone in the same situation regardless of their economic status.
If you really are gainfully employed but cannot afford full price of bail in one payment, then payment of bail will be accepted in regular payments or even deducted from your paycheck or personal savings/checking/booze and cigs money for those who can't go the whole amount now. Miss a payment...go back to jail.
Crime does not pay for one better than another.
Jail crowding.costs lessened.
Accused can still go to work.
More whining from the ACLU and crimnal advocates....

To me, there's only a very slight tinge of grey at the edges of a mostly black and white issue....if you can't afford to be a criminal, then don't do crimanal stuff.

Innocent until proven guilty is not supposed to mean a get out of jail free card.....

Jim Forsythe

Nothing is gained by keeping someone in jail awaiting trail.
For several years we have not done anything to address the bail system and reduce the cost associated with it. ACLU has suggested different ways to change, and our leadership has not done anything but say it is too hard to do.
Ankle monitors.Some places have set up payment plans.Cost can be worked out as to how much.
Many places, a wearer has To Help Pay For The Privilege of an Ankle Monitor.Usually, the wearer has to pay for the cost of the monitor and a daily use fee. Some court systems charge on a sliding scale based on income and ability to pay. Others have a set fee of about $5-15 per day plus a setup fee as high as $200.Ankle monitors are used for someone on house arrest, alcohol monitoring, or on bail pending a trial. They’re Waterproof and ankle monitors don’t just track where you are and where you go. Secure Continuous Remote Alcohol Monitors (SCRAM) can test your sweat and detect the level of alcohol in your body.
Other advantages.
When alerts are generated, officers can receive them via pager, e-mail, PDA or a combination of these methods. Supervising officers may also send pre-recorded voice messages to offenders through the system It is useful for appointment reminders or to notify an offender upon entering a zone that is forbidden.

Carlos Ponce

"Nothing is gained by keeping someone in jail awaiting trail."
If found guilty (and a lot of them are because they are indeed GUILTY) the time served in County counts towards their sentence. Friends and relatives can visit them "in-county" rather than have to travel all over the state to visit them in the big house.
Opponents of bail contend that those who cannot afford it have high rates of incarceration. Unless the jurors are informed (AND THEY'RE NOT) of the defendants' bail status this is a non-issue. They're found guilty because of the evidence presented not whether or not they were bailed out of county jail prior to the trial.

Jim Forsythe

The one's that choose to remain in jail, to start serving their time, do not believe they are not going to be found not guilty.

The one's that are not guilty may utilize bail or a ankle monitor if allowed. The case is about , is it legal to keep someone in jail that is unable to post bail. Most people would have a hard time coming up with the funds for say, $100,000 bond. Should they be keep in jail until the trial?
Choosing to remain in jail is different from the conversation on bail.

George Croix

"Nothing is gained by keeping someone in jail awaiting trail.'

Jim, old friend, they sure as heck won't be doing any of what put them behind bars while still there!
In most cases...[beam]
Personally, I think there should be fewer criminals in local jails and more spending some time in old-fashioned Pilgrim type stocks set up along the roadways....hard to look like a smug tough-guy-bad-A with your but_ stuck out behind you and bird poop all over your shoulders and little kids in passing cars laughing at you....
Can almost guarantee a decrease in crime if that were a possible outcome.
And definitely guarantee that the ACLU and various and assorted snowflakes woudl go absolutely bat stuff.....

Jim Forsythe

Just as the rest of the Amendment's, one can not choose what part they want to follow.
This case will help fine tune the Eighth Amendment, as to what excessive bail is. It also may touch on cruel and unusual punishment.
If you are going to use stocks, go all the way to the pillory. I have no desire to go back 1748 or before.
"The criminal could also be sentenced to further punishments while in the pillory: humiliation by shaving off some or all hair or regular corporal punishment(s), notably flagellation (the pillory serving as the "whipping post") or even permanent mutilation such as branding or having an ear cut off (cropping)"
"Some consider the stocks an example of torture and cruel and unusual punishment.Public punishment in the stocks was a common occurrence from around 1500 until at least 1748 The stocks were especially popular among the early American Puritans, who frequently employed the stocks for punishing the "lower class"."

Carlos Ponce

"who frequently employed the stocks for punishing the "lower class" "
Looks like you're quoting from the Wikipedia article. But did you bother to check the source of information? It does not mention "lower class" at all.
Looks like whoever wrote the Wikipedia article added his own Marxist interpretation to what was actually written.
Cited source:
No mention of Puritans using stocks to punish the "lower class" or anything quite resembling that remark.
Jim, whenever you quote from a Wikipedia article, check the cited source to see if it really corresponds to the Wiki article. This one does not.

Jim Forsythe

The stocks were popular during the Colonial days in America. Public punishment in the stocks was a common occurrence from around 1500 until at least 1748. The stocks were especially popular among the early American Puritans, who frequently employed the stocks for punishing
the "lower class.

The stocks were employed by civil and military authorities from medieval to early modern times including Colonial America. Public punishment in the stocks was a common occurrence from around 1500 until at least 1748 ] The stocks were especially popular among the early American Puritans, who frequently employed the stocks for punishing the "lower class".

Carlos Ponce

Jim, you're just chasing your own tail. These sources repeat the same Marxist interpretation found in the Wikipedia article. Not scholarly.

Jim Forsythe

You accuse me of using Wikipedia, and when I provided you sources, you said they were not up to your standards.
Wikipedia was not my source. You complained "But did you bother to check the source of information? It does not mention "lower class" at all." which is not true, at all.
You said "Jim, whenever you quote from a Wikipedia article, check the cited source to see if it really corresponds to the Wiki article. This one does not." If it did not , the reason was I did not use Wikipedia.
When I was looking at sources, your link was one of the many I looked at.
The links provided were just some of the many sources I used, which you said did not exists. You said. "No mention of Puritans using stocks to punish the "lower class" or anything quite resembling that remark" which is not true." The links I provided were just a few I used to verify this.
You said "These sources repeat the same Marxist interpretation found in the Wikipedia article." If they repeated the same as the Wikipedia article ( Wikipedia does not write articles) , I will take your word for it.

Carol Dean

Dare I suggest that this is all very similar to granting a "pass" to all of the illegals attempting to cross the border and expecting them to show back up for their hearings? That doesn't seemed to have worked very well!

George Croix

Jim, old friend, how about the guy in the newspaper today for attacking his disabled family member and threatening Police with a machete?
A little time in the stocks do him some good, maybe?
Is there, for this guy, 'no excuse to keep him in jail".....
The one thing without exception is that there are always exceptions.....

Bring back the stocks would be cruel and unusual punishment?
'Some people' belive in 'microaggressions' and have to have 'safe spaces' to escape reality and/or think that criminal activity is society's fault and other assorted unfixable 'reasoning', and are quite eaten up with the cancer of PC and 'progressive'...values....all the while screaming in the faces of and even threatening with physical harm anyone...anyone....disagreeing with them...
Expecting anything approaching logic and reason or an actual solution vs making a problem worse from such characters is like expecting an alligator to go 'vegan'....

Jim Forsythe

George, for me the guy that attacked his family and police is in need of medical help. If you have ever had a family member that needed that kind of help , you know how hard it is to get them the help they need.
If we are going to offer bail or other means to insure that one show up for trial, we have to offer it to all.
The other story today, "County adjusts plans for public defenders office" fells like they are trying to say, we are doing something before this case goes to trial.
Another thought I had is the ankle monitors, would put a big dent in bails bondsmen business.
The out come of this case will be interesting , and may change the way we handle business in Galveston County.

George Croix

No doubt change is coming...the kicker will be whether for better or worse...
Jim, I am certainly aware of just how hard it is to deal with mental health issues, at least it was a mess a couple decades ago, and can sympathize and empathize with folks in that situation, but the primary purpose of arrest and detainment is NOT to provide a treatment for a problem, it's to stop the person involved from continuing what he/she was doing wrong.
Eventual treatment for people with problems must come secondary to providing right now public safety for everybody else....imo....
Just ask the victims how they feel about it.....

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.

Thank you for Reading!

Please log in, or sign up for a new account and purchase a subscription to read or post comments.