Posts

Showing posts from March, 2020

Bo Jones, No Turkey Here

Image
by Jim Lane I want to tell you about my friend Bo Jones.  His nickname for me was a word that should not be said in mixed company.  My nickname for him was just as bad.  In other words, we were best friends.  Our families were friends and we vacationed together.  We went hunting together.  Also, we were bondsmen in the same community. We met many years ago in Weatherford, Texas, the "Peach Capital of Texas" in Parker County just west of Fort Worth.   During the time that I knew Bo, the population in Parker County tripled, but it is still a small community with a population of around 30,000 people today.  For some reason we just hit it off.  Early on Bo kept telling me that he had this unique talent for hunting with just a knife.  Bo claimed he could take out his prey by throwing his knife with absolute precision.   Now this was something I had to see.  So, we went hunting together.   For the next few hours, I watched Bo chase one of the unluckiest "lucky" turkeys in

Good Intentions Gone Bad: What Lessons the Rest of Texas Can Learn From Harris County's "Bail Reform"

Image
Good Intentions Gone Bad- What Lessons the Rest of Texas Can Learn From Harris County's "Bail Reform" Introduction The start of the new year began with much promise.  But that was before the coronavirus began to spread.  Although a popular movement throughout the country in recent years, a colder reality has hit more recently as the solutions put forth in jurisdictions where it has been implemented have proven to be less successful than originally conceived.  Here in Texas, the citizens of Harris County are learning the hard lessons of good intentions gone bad as a result of federal litigation in the case of ODonnell v. Harris County -- something the remaining Texas should be aware of as advocates push ahead with their agendas. History Maranda ODonnell was arrested for driving with a suspended license, no insurance and having accumulated nearly $1,500 in unpaid tolls.  Having lost her license due to prior convictions involving the use of controlled substances, her attorne

Overview of Risk Assessments

Image
All You Need to Know About Risk Assessments by Ken W. Good A.    Introduction The use of a Risk Assessment Tool has been pushed for the last four years as the gold standard for bail reform.  These tools were heralded as the antidote for reforming an alleged “broken” system.  The bail industry and others have been skeptical of risk assessments and has suggested that risk assessment tools should be viewed with caution.  These concerns have been proven correct.  These tools have not withstood the test of time. Essentially all of the initial advocates pushing for the adoption of risk assessment tools now oppose their use.  Why?  Because research in the last several years has all been negative toward their use.  A pamphlet summarizing all of the research and other studies which have concluded that risk assessments should not be used is attached as Exhibit A to this notebook.  Most recently, the Pretrial Justice Institute which originally pushed for risk assessments to be used across the cou

NY D.A.- Release of Violent Offenders From Jail During COVID-19 Outbreak is a Mistake

Image
By Staten Island District Attorney Michael E. McMahon From the outset, my office has been committed to working with the administration in good faith to identify Staten Island defendants at Rikers Island who are at advanced risk of contracting COVID-19. When this process began, we were asked to consider consenting to release of those convicted of non-violent, non-domestic violence, and non-sexual abuse related offenses with a short time remaining on their sentence. In several instances, we were able to identify individuals who had little time left in their sentences and posed minimal risk to public safety and did give our consent to early release. In other instances, we have been actively working with defense counsel and the court to expeditiously connect detainees with treatment facilities who can serve their serious substance use and mental health needs outside of Rikers either as part of a plea or while they await trial. But, less than one week later, and in large measure without con

The Fuzzy Mic- COVID-19, Inmates, and Public Safety with Ken W. Good

Image
COVID-19 has jurisdictions throughout the country debating how to handle the incarceration of individuals. Some states have begun releasing individuals already serving time, as well as those waiting trial. Those who advocate for this feel it is inhumane to lock up individuals and place them in a situation where social distancing will not be possible or practical. It would also address jail overcrowding at a time when the courts have ground to a halt. There is an argument that keeping people in jail or prison increases their risk of contracting and spreading the COVID-19 virus to one another because of sheer proximity. On the other hand, does the proposed solution -- simply releasing them into society -- increase the possibility of an uncontrolled spread of the coronavirus, while simultaneously causing an increase in crime? Texas bail attorney and board member of the Professional Bondsmen of Texas, Ken W. Good shares his thoughts in this controversial episode of The Fuzzy Mic. Kevin Kli

Texas Governor Issues Executive Order Regarding Bail

Image
G overnor Abbott Issues Executive Order Regarding Bail On March 29, 2020, the Governor of the State of Texas Issued an Executive Order regarding bail practices.  The Governor ordered the following on a statewide basis effective immediately: Suspends article 17.03 of the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure and all other relevant statutes and rules relating to persona bonds "to the extent necessary to preclude the release on personal bond, any person previously convicted of a crime that involves physical violence or the threat of physical violence, or any person current arrested for such a crime that is supported by probable cause. Suspends article 17.151 of the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure to the extent necessary to prevent any person's automatic release on personal bond because the State is not ready for trial. Supsends article 15.21 of the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure to the extent necessary to prevent any person's automatic release on personal bond while serving a s

Legal Analysis of Governor Abbott's Bail Executive Order GA-13

Image
Bail Experts Discuss Compliance With The  Governor's Executive Order on Bail As a part of our continuing services to Counties during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Professional Bondsmen of Texas has approached several attorneys who specialize in bail law and sought their analysis regarding the Governor's Executive Order GA-13.  Here are the responses we received: The Executive Order addresses only the use of PR bonds in certain situations.   The Executive Order does not alter or change the process for setting bail under Texas Law.   Since the process of setting bail is done before a determination of whether a person is eligible for a PR bond is made, bail can continue to be set as usual in most counties.  Nothing in this order prevents a trial court from setting bail.  Nothing in the Order requires the denial of bail for certain charges such as assault.  Instead, the Executive Order precludes the use of a PR bond forcertain charges. If your county is providing individual magistrati

Attorney General Seeks to Intervene in Federal Litigation Accusing Harris County of Raising White Flag of Surrender

Image
After nothing happening for over a year, things are happening fast in the federal court litigation regarding defendants arrested for felony charges.  The case was originally filed in January 2019.  Nothing has happened since that time.  No answer has been filed.  No motion to dismiss.  The only parties sued are the county and the sheriff.  Even though the 5th Circuit held that the sheriff was not a proper party in the misdemeanor case, no motion to dismiss has been filed for the Sheriff.   This all changed on Friday.  This is a summary of the events over the last few days:       1.    On last Friday, March 27, 2020, a motion for temporary injunction and preliminary injunction was filed in the federal case.     2.    On Friday, March 27, 2020, there was a conference call held.  The Attorney General's office Adam Biggs participated in the call.  Another conference call is set fro March 30, 2020 at 4:00 pm     3.    Also on Friday, March 27, 2020, Judge Rosenthal ordered the defendant

Bail Reform by the Numbers- (Spoiler Alert- The Numbers are Bad!)

Image
Reform:  The Failed Social Experiment Has bail reform been successful?  Let's look at the numbers: Harris County: 2018  The implementation of bail reform started well before the settlement actually occurred and in 2019 we started to see the harmful effects. Property crime was up 7% in Houston and violent crime was up nearly 3% and trending in the wrong direction towards the end of year. It pains me to inform you that in 2020, crime is increasing at an alarming rate in Houston. As of the first week in March, property crime is already up 17% this year over last. 2019 Burglary of a Motor Vehicle is up over 30% Burglary is up 12% Theft is up 10% Auto Theft is up 25% Murders are up 23% Robberies are up 21% Aggravated Assault is up 26% Kidnapping up 68% New York: New York State recently embarked, through legislation, on a similar experiment of bail reform.  The crime data for New York City is downright frightening. T Overall crime up a staggering 30% in January 2020 over the same time pe

Shock- Prisoner Released Over COVID-19 Arrested on New Charges

Image
According to the arrest affidavit, Joshua Haskell, 42, committed the alleged crime only days after being released from Utah State Prison, where he was incarcerated for violating parole. He had been sent to a halfway house as a part of the Parole Violation Program but "due to the current COVID-19 pandemic, he was suddenly released" on March 17, two days before the break-in. You can see the article by  CLICKING HERE .

COVID-19 Information for Sheriffs and Judges

Image
The corona virus may do more long term damage than any tornado or hurricane that has hit the state of Texas. The ramifications will be felt for many years to come. These are interesting times.  Your cup is full and please know that our hearts and prayers are with you.  We want to help in anyway possible. Not Business As Usual If your county is open and everything is taking place as usual, then you are one of the lucky ones.  Please keep up the good work. Also, take this time to plan. Filing of Bonds, 17.16 Affidavits and 17.19 Affidavits Please consider setting up procedures that allow for the remote filing of bonds, 17.16 affidavits and 17.19 affidavits.  Tarrant County has allowed for the fax filing of bonds for a long time.  The original bond or power must follow and be sent to the jail in a reasonable time.  Other counties are setting up temporary procedures to allow for efiling or fax filing of these and other bond related documents. On the issue of bonds, we would point out that