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ODonnell v. Harris County

United States District Court, S.D. Texas, Houston Division

April 28, 2017

MARANDA LYNN ODONNELL, et al., On behalf of themselves and all other similarly situated, Plaintiffs,
v.
HARRIS COUNTY, TEXAS, et al., Defendants.

          ORDER OF PRELIMINARY INJUNCTION

          Lee H. Rosenthal Chief United States District Judge

         In accordance with this court's Memorandum and Opinion of today's date, the following relief is ordered against Harris County and its final policymakers for pretrial bail in misdemeanor cases.

         (1) Harris County Pretrial Services, both at the City of Houston Jail and at the Harris County Jail, must make available to interviewed misdemeanor arrestees an affidavit of financial condition.

• Pretrial Services may administer either the form of the affidavit currently used to determine eligibility for appointed counsel or the adapted form that is being prepared for Pretrial Services to be administered by July 1, 2017.[1]
• The affidavit must permit the arrestee to declare under penalty of perjury the maximum amount of financial security the arrestee would be able to post or pay up front within 24 hours of arrest.[2]
• The arrestee must be informed by Pretrial Services that the affidavit of financial condition will be used to assess alternatives to imposing secured money bail.
• Pretrial Services must deliver completed affidavits to the Harris County Sheriff's Office before the declarant's probable cause hearing.

         (2) All misdemeanor defendants in the custody of Harris County,

• who have been deemed eligible for release at a live (videolink) probable cause and bail-setting hearing (that is, those who are not subject to formal holds, such as a federal immigration detainer or an outstanding warrant from another county or municipal authority; those who are not subject to a pending finding of mental competency; and those who are not subject to family violence detention procedures governed by Texas Code of Criminal Procedure Articles 17.152-153),
• who have executed an affidavit of financial condition in accordance with Section (1), and
• who have not been granted release by a Hearing Officer either: (1) on an unsecured personal bond with nonfinancial conditions of release; or (2) on a secured money bond for which the defendant could pay a commercial surety's premium, as indicated on the affidavit, [3]
must be promptly[4] released on unsecured money bail by the Harris County Sheriff no later than 24 hours after arrest. The bail amount determined by the Hearing Officer will remain the bail required of the misdemeanor defendant, but the Sheriff must require it on an unsecured, rather than a secured, basis. An indigent defendant's inability to pay secured money bail cannot be the basis for the Sheriff to continue to detain that defendant. The Sheriff may not alter nonfinancial conditions of release ordered by Harris County judicial officers, including but not limited to protective orders, GPS monitoring, drug testing, or alcohol intake ignition locks.

         (3) All misdemeanor defendants in the custody of Harris County:

• who are not subject to formal holds, such as a federal immigration detainer or an outstanding warrant from another county or municipal authority; those who are not subject to a pending finding of mental competency; and those who are not subject to family violence detention procedures ...

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