Off the Kuff Rotating Header Image

Posts Tagged ‘Commissioners Court’

SCOTUS will not hear Harris County bail appeal

Let this please be the end of the line. U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas has denied Harris County’s request to stop the release of misdemeanor inmates who can’t afford to post cash bail. The county had appealed late Tuesday to halt Chief U.S. District Judge Lee H. Rosenthal’s directive that it begin releasing some […]

Fifth Circuit reinstates bail order

Good. Harris County took the fight over its controversial bail system to the U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday, even as county officials scrambled to plan the imminent release of dozens of misdemeanor defendants held behind bars who cannot afford to post cash bail. A federal appeals court ruling earlier Tuesday had greenlighted the release of […]

No Astrodome vote this fall

This is a bit of a surprise. [Sen. John] Whitmire filed a bill that would force the county to get voter approval before spending any money on the Dome. “It’s a dream and you shouldn’t spend taxpayer dollars on a dream,” Whitmire said. Whitmire’s bill sailed through the Senate, but hit a brick wall in […]

Time for the 5th Court to decide on Paxton prosecutor pay

Do your job, y’all. Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton’s months-long effort to remove the judge in his securities fraud case is coming to a head in a Dallas appeals court. Prosecutors say the 5th Court of Appeals has no jurisdiction to get rid of the judge, George Gallagher, because he has moved the case out […]

Collin County punts prosecutor pay question back to appeals court

Incoming! The Collin County Commissioners Court has voted to not pay the prosecutors pursuing criminal charges against Attorney General Ken Paxton. The 5th Court of Appeals last week directed the commissioners to vote on the prosecutors’ latest bill before it can rule on a lawsuit challenging the fees’ legality. On Monday, the commissioners voted against […]

Appeals court chooses not to decide in Paxton prosecutor pay case

This is oddly fitting. The 5th Court of Appeals on Wednesday said they won’t make a decision on whether the three prosecutors’ fees are legal until the county votes to pay their last bill, which topped $205,000. The prosecutors’ pay has been on hold since January. The court has told the Collin County Commissioners Court […]

Harris County bail order halted

Very late in the day on Friday. A federal appeals court granted Harris County a last-minute reprieve Friday in a contentious civil rights lawsuit, calling a temporary halt to a judge’s order that would have altered the way cash bail is handled for hundreds of people jailed on misdemeanor charges. In an order posted after […]

Harris County will continue to fight bail lawsuit

Stupid. Stupid, stupid, stupid. Harris County has appealed a federal civil rights lawsuit that challenged the county’s bail system, despite rising legal costs that have neared $3 million. After a heated discussion and a closed-door meeting Tuesday, Harris County Commissioners Court voted 4-1 to appeal the suit and to ask for a delay to a […]

“What are we fighting for?”

That’s the key question for the county in the bail lawsuit. As legal costs mount, surpassing $200,000 per month, pressure is building for Harris County officials to settle a lawsuit over the county’s cash bail system that a federal judge has ruled unconstitutional. Newly available documents reveal that teams of defense lawyers are racking up […]

Why won’t the county settle the damn bail lawsuit?

Lisa Falkenberg asks the same question I’ve been asking. Now that Chief U.S. District Judge Lee Rosenthal – it should be noted, a Republican appointee — levelled her devastating assessment of Harris County’s rigid bail system a few days ago, ordering county officials to cease practices that violate misdemeanor defendants’ rights to due process and […]

County considers its bail options

I can think of one, if they need some help. With just two weeks until the 193-page order from Chief U.S. District Judge Lee H. Rosenthal kicks in May 15, county officials are working to draft a plan to deal with the hundreds of misdemeanor offenders now behind bars and the new cases filed each […]

Harris County bail system ruled unconstitutional

Damn right. A federal judge in Houston Friday issued a scathing denouncement of Harris County’s cash bail system, saying it is fundamentally unfair to detain indigent people arrested for low-level offenses simply because they can’t afford to pay bail. In a 193-page ruling released Friday, Chief U.S. District Judge Lee H. Rosenthal ordered the county […]

Settle the damn bail lawsuit already

Enough. Harris County commissioners Tuesday voted to add high-profile, conservative litigator Charles Cooper to a growing team of attorneys defending the county and several public officials against a civil rights lawsuit alleging the county’s bail system unconstitutionally jails the poor. Cooper, a former clerk for U.S. Supreme Court Justice William Rehnquist and friend of U.S. […]

Commissioners get testy over bail practices lawsuit

Let’s hash it all out. Tensions flared at Harris County Commissioners Court Tuesday after new Commissioner Rodney Ellis filed legal papers supporting civil rights groups in their high-profile federal lawsuit against the county and its bail system. In a rare public argument before dozens of onlookers at the meeting Tuesday, Ellis’ colleagues — all Republicans […]

January 2017 campaign finance reports: Harris County officeholders

We may or may not have City of Houston elections this year, but we will definitely have Harris County elections next year. Here’s a brief tour of the finance reports for Harris County officeholders. First up, Commissioners Court: Rodney Ellis Jack Morman Steve Radack Jack Cagle (PAC) El Franco Lee Gene Locke Name Raised Spent […]

County will use public defenders at bail hearings

Good. Harris County commissioners on Tuesday approved a pilot program to make public defenders available at bail hearings, a step aimed at retooling a criminal justice system that has increasingly drawn criticism for jailing thousands of poor, low-risk offenders. Within months, county officials anticipate that two public defenders will be present at bail hearings for […]

We have an opponent for Commissioner Morman

From the inbox: DEMOCRAT MIGUEL LEIJA JR. ANNOUNES CANDIDACY For Harris County Commissioner Pct. 2 Houston, TX, March 6, 2017– Harris County is the most populous county in Texas and the third-most populous county in the United States with the fourth largest city in the United States.   It is known for its sports, ports and […]

County approves defense attorneys for bail hearings

Long overdue. Harris County commissioners voted unanimously Tuesday to develop a pilot program that would make public defenders present at bail hearings, a move aimed at reducing what officials say is the unnecessary jailing of thousands of defendants because they can’t afford bail or are unfamiliar with the legal process. The pilot could lead to […]

Twice the trials, twice the fun

The Paxton special prosecutors want to separate the charges into two trials. Special prosecutors said Thursday they would like to try Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton first on charges he failed to register as an investment advisor, pushing a lengthy trial on his securities fraud charges until a later date. Kent Schaffer, one of the […]

More on the Whitmire Astrodome bill

I still don’t care for this. Harris County Judge Ed Emmett voiced concern Tuesday that a bill filed by a veteran state senator jeopardizes the county’s plan to revitalize the Astrodome, adding that county representatives would continue to try to persuade legislators to support the $105 million project. Emmett said state Sen. John Whitmire’s bill, […]

We don’t need another vote on the Astrodome

Not for this we don’t, anyway. Less than five months ago, the future of the Astrodome seemed to be more secure than it has been in the decades since it hosted its last Astros game, with Harris County commissioners moving forward on a massive renovation project they said would usher in festivals, conferences and commercial […]

Paxton prosecutor pay suspended

Whiplash! Collin County must immediately stop paying the three lawyers prosecuting Ken Paxton’s criminal fraud case, a Dallas court has said. The 5th Court of Appeals in Dallas on Monday temporarily halted the payments — the result of a lawsuit filed against the county and prosecutors by a local taxpayer — and will consider a […]

Chron favors a jail administrator

I remain unconvinced. Next month, we’ll have a new sheriff in town. Ed Gonzalez will take command of the largest sheriff’s office in Texas, the third-largest in the nation, with more than 4,600 employees responsible for serving and protecting the estimated 4.5 million people who call Harris County home. It would be nice if our […]

Here come the Dems

All the newly-elected county officials have now been sworn in. The new Harris County officials sworn in New Year’s Day had something in common: They were all Democrats. The swearing-in ceremony at 2 p.m. Sunday followed the Democratic Party’s sweep of every countywide office in November’s general election, including closely watched contests against incumbent Republicans […]

Astrodome architects chosen

For the first phase. Harris County commissioners on Tuesday chose Kirksey Architecture to design a project to retrofit the Astrodome by raising its floor and installing parking spaces underneath. Commissioners designated the Houston-based firm as their top pick to conduct the architecture and engineering on the $105 million renovation of the Dome, a sweeping project […]

Commissioner Locke’s last day

He served well, and did a lot in his short time in office. Gene Locke, who was appointed Harris County commissioner nearly a year ago after the death of longtime Commissioner El Franco Lee, was praised for his effectiveness during a meeting Tuesday at which he cast his final vote. The former city attorney and […]

The new Sheriff in town

Sheriff-elect Ed Gonzalez has his work cut out for him. When newly elected Sheriff Ed Gonzalez takes office on Jan. 1, he will face a tangle of budget, staffing and jail inmate safety issues inherited from more than a decade of struggles at the nation’s third-largest sheriff’s department. Staff shortages at the troubled jail operation […]

Precinct analysis: Fort Bend State Rep districts

Following on from yesterday’s post, here’s a look at the vote in Fort Bend from the perspective of the State Rep districts. Office Rep Dem Rep % Dem % =============================================== President 35,005 31,558 52.59% 47.41% CJ, 1st CofA 40,047 28,336 58.56% 41.44% 1st CofA #4 39,311 28,940 57.60% 42.40% 14th CofA #2 39,351 28,873 57.68% […]

Precinct analysis: Fort Bend Commissioners Court precincts

I have not done Fort Bend precinct analyses in the past because I don’t get easily-worked-with CSV-format canvass reports from them after elections. However, it turns out that their election returns page for this year has a “Reports” button on it from which one can download an Excel-format canvass report. It’s laid out differently than […]

Precinct analysis: Gonzalez v Hickman

Ed Gonzalez scored a solid win for Sheriff, knocking out incumbent Ron Hickman to win the office back for Democrats. Let’s break it down. Dist Hickman Gonzalez Hickman% Gonzalez% ============================================= CD02 162,915 111,689 59.33% 40.67% CD07 139,292 113,853 55.02% 44.98% CD09 26,869 106,301 20.18% 79.82% CD10 81,824 36,293 69.27% 30.73% CD18 48,766 153,342 24.13% 75.87% […]

Precinct analysis: District courts

Today we will look at the Harris County-specific judicial races, by which I mean the district courts plus two County Court benches. I’m going to begin with something a little different, which is a look at the distribution of how many votes each candidate received. We know that most people know little to nothing about […]

Collin County Commissioners Court are a bunch of jerks

Unbelievable. In an attempt to lay the legal groundwork to quit funding Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton’s prosecution, Collin County is refusing to pay a longtime local attorney for his work defending indigent clients. On Monday, the Commissioners Court voted 3-2 to block payment to J. Matthew Goeller, a McKinney defense attorney who has provided […]

Sustaining the Harris County Democrats’ success

All things considered, I feel reasonably optimistic about Democratic prospects in Harris County going forward, but I felt that way in 2008 as well, so I certainly understand the inclination to be cautious. Democrats swept Harris County last Tuesday in nothing short of a rout, claiming every countywide position on the ballot as Hillary Clinton […]

Precinct analysis: Hillary in Harris County

Let’s get started with the precinct data, shall we? Here’s a Chron story from the day after the election about how things looked overall in the county. The country’s most populous swing county turned a shade bluer Tuesday, when Hillary Clinton trounced Donald Trump in Harris County despite trailing nationally. Clinton’s commanding victory here is […]