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Thursday, April 9, 2020

ACLU and Texas Judges Sue Texas Gov. Greg Abbott for Limiting Jail Release During Pandemic

Posted By on Thu, Apr 9, 2020 at 8:50 AM

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott - FLICKR / GAGE SKIDMORE
  • Flickr / Gage Skidmore
  • Texas Gov. Greg Abbott
The ACLU and a group of Texas judges have sued Gov. Greg Abbott, arguing that his recent move to block people accused of violent crimes from receiving personal bonds is unconstitutional.

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Abbott issued a March 29 order stopping judges from issuing personal bonds to defendants in violent crime cases. Such bonds allow arrestees conditional release without paying a cash bond.

However, the Republican governor's order still allows the release of people accused of violent crimes who can afford to pay their bonds.

The suit, filed in Travis County alleges Abbott's order oversteps his authority over the court system and creates a system where suspects' personal wealth determines how long they languish in jail. Advocates also argue the order heightens the risk of COVID-19 breakouts in already overcrowded local jails.

The Harris County Attorney's office signed onto the litigation, and 16 Harris County Criminal Court at Law judges are among the plaintiffs, as are Texas Fair Defense Project and the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law.

The lawsuit also targets Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, who has said he plans to enforce Abbott's order.

A separate court case filed April 1 by civil rights attorneys also challenges the constitutionality of Abbott's order.

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