Harris County lost more than Ed Emmett in the November 2018 election. This election represented a sea change in criminal justice issues and the bombardment of the socialist agenda. A look at the bail bond consent decree signed by Judge Lee Rosenthal and who is behind it.
Republican judges serving in the misdemeanor and felony courts left our criminal justice system vulnerable to criticism because of their cookie cutter bond system. This half-baked system was promoted by Susan Brown, the current presiding judge of the Elventh Adminstrative Judicial Region.
Part of the new criminal justice agenda is to release defendants, even violent and dangerous defendants, on bond. Over the last year, we have seen defendants on bond commit new offenses, but these judges continue to release dangerous defendants on bond.
Now, we are forced to entrust extremely serious cases to these same judges. Sadly, three defendants accused of capital murder of a police officer are living in the Harris County jail. In the last four months of 2019, three officers were murdered in Harris County – Harris County Sheriff’s Deputy Sandeep Dhaliwal, shot and killed on September 27 2019, Houston Police Sergeant Chris Brewster shot and killed on December 7, 2019, and Nassau Bay Police Sergeant Kaila Sullivan, struck with a vehicle and killed on December 11, days after Brewster’s murder. Never before have three defendants accused of capital murder of a police officer been held in the Harris County Jail at the same time.
In the fall, I attended the final hearing on a civil rights case filed when Republican judges held all of the misdemeanor benches and half of the felony court benches. The case was assigned to Judge Lee Rosenthal, Chief Administrative Judge of the Southern District of Texas. Judge Rosenthal holds a reputation as a fair and honest jurist and was appointed by President George H.W. Bush.
The case was filed by New York and Washington DC criminal justice activists to challenge the misdemeanor bail bond structure in Harris County with the ultimate goal of dismantling the entire bail bond system. They found a sympathetic individual to serve as the plaintiff – a woman held in the Harris County Jail on a driving while license suspended case. She was unable to make bond.
At the outset, the Republican judges had an opportunity to immediately address the cookie cutter bond system used by these judges, which existed for decades. Instead, the Republican judges mounted a defiant defense and the case dragged on for years. During that time, criminal justice radical Rodney Ellis became a County Commissioner in 2017 and the Republicans lost every criminal and civil bench in Harris County. As we entered 2019, the handwriting was on the wall – Harris County’s criminal justice system would get its political comeuppance.
As the county entered total democrat control in 2019, misdemeanor judge Franklin Bynum, an avowed Democratic Socialist, led the bail bond lawsuit settlement negotiations along with misdemeanor judge Darrell Jordan. I have never been a Franklin Bynum fan and have written about him before. The truth is that Rodney Ellis was in total control of any final settlement of this case.
At the final hearing on the bail bond lawsuit, Bynum and Jordan testified in favor of the settlement negotiated by Rodney Ellis. Bynum’s testimony was proffered by the general counsel of democrat Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez. With the political shift in the judiciary, the lawyers representing the parties also changed from conservative lawyers to lawyers supporting the woke progressive agenda. Think about it this way, how would you like your divorce being settled by your ex-wife’s lawyer acting as your legal counsel.
Darrell Jordan and Franklin Bynum both testified about how many misdemeanor defendants were actually showing up in their courts after being released on PR (or free) bonds. Understand that under this new scheme, defendants no longer remain in jail for misdemeanor offenses such as DWI.
Jordan and Bynum described admonishments to defendants in their court, which were nothing more than excuses as to why people were failing to show up in large numbers for court settings.
A thinking person’s interpretation of Jordan and Bynum’s testimony – it doesn’t matter what the Harris County District Attorney’s Office says about a criminal defendant, we told the defendants that they didn’t have to come to court. In this woke progressive system, the ends justify the means and victims or public safety are no longer part of the equation.
Neal Manne and the other counsel bringing this lawsuit represent the woke progressive movement and worked in conjunction with Commissioner Ellis and the Houston Chronicle to bring a bail bond system to Harris County that puts public safety at risk.
Remember that this bail bond lawsuit began when a woman was held in the Harris County Jail on a driving while license suspended case. She couldn’t afford the minimal bail. This issue was addressed very early, but the woke progressive pushed further and the Republican judges opened the door to this agenda. Woke progressives have used this case to advocate for bond for all defendants. And, now, we have capital murder defendants walking around on bond.
The original defendant in the case had a legitimate argument and her case clearly demonstrated the lack of fairness involved in the Harris County bail schedule and bond system. This issue was addressed immediately in the settlement discussions. Woke progressives took the opportunity to expanded the scope of the settlement, which is the real story.
Harris County judges used Judge Rosenthal’s ruling to stop jailing defendants, at least misdemeanor defendants, for any reason. Defendants were arrested and then immediately set free on, in most cases, PR (free) bonds. If a defendant fails to appear in court, it ain’t no big deal. And, what do we now see on our streets? People are dying on our roads.
The left also uses control of the probation department to not revoke defendants on probation. This combination made our roadways very dangerous. I never drive after 10 p.m. Judges are getting “hot” urinalysis results for probationers and taking no action. Again, this makes us unsafe.
Previously, judges recognized the danger of probation violations and responded to each violation with some action (jail or treatment). Now, not only are we not jailing people for DWI, but, now, we are not revoking them. All of this was still not good enough for the left. The radical left tsunami in Harris County took an even worse insidious form of criminal justice reform called political pressure.
The socialist judges sought to place political pressure on judges who were not supporting this radical agenda. Bynum, Jordan, and DaSean Jones, a felony judge, have led this effort. The pressure is being applied to felony judges as well – very frightening. The felony cases have garnered a lot of publicity. Aggravated robberies and murders are sweeping Harris County. Not even heavily armed police officers are safe. Unfortunately, these political pressure efforts has been largely successful with several judges threatened with opponents. Judges are being told that they will have a primary opponent if they don’t go along with these efforts. The threat is believable and we see it playing out in the DA’s race. Rodney Ellis recruited Democratic Socialist Audia Jones to run against Kim Ogg. Jones is married to felony judge DaSean Jones.
This woke progressive agenda has destroyed Baltimore, Chicago, Portland, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Austin, and many of our urban areas. Now, the woke progressives have taken over Harris County. If we don’t stop this agenda, we shall suffer the same fate as these once great cities. Progressives have destroyed our education and healthcare systems in Harris County and, now, our criminal justice system may suffer the same fate.
Communities of color are often the victims of such policies. The recent examples are horrendous. The fiery crash killing three people is just the latest example of these socialist policies.
Woke progressives led by Rodney Ellis are determined to tear down our criminal justice system. Harris County DA candidate Audia Jones, a Democratic Socialist, is clearly communicating this message on the campaign trail. Under a Jones administration, Harris County would no longer seek the death penalty and would no longer prosecute drug cases or use gang membership to enhance criminal punishments.
Make no mistake , if Kim Ogg loses her primary, crazy Harris County voters are very likely to elect Democratic Socialist Audia Jones. The Houston Chronicle and media sources in our area are never going to tell you what you just read here.