On Halloween eve, the residents of Harris County are frightened. It is not because of Halloween pranks. If they think Halloween is scary, they should be scared to death of bail reform.

Courthousenews.com reported, Harris County Criminal Court Judge Franklin Bynum was among a group of Democrats voters elected in November 2018. All 14 Republican judges who were defending the old fee-schedule bail system in court were ousted. Now, Houston suffers.

Judge Bynum Testifies

Bynum testified Monday that he led settlement negotiations with the class attorneys on changes to rules for rescheduling court dates.

He said since taking the bench in January he can attest most people don’t skip court appearances.

Failure to Appear Warrants Increase Substantially

Judge Bynum stated “most people don’t skip court”. If so, why does Harris County have 19,386 outstanding misdemeanor warrants? There are 1077 pages of warrants. There are eighteen defendants per page. Over 1000 pages of warrants! Over 19,000 warrants! Judge Bynum anecdotally believes most people go to court? Judge Bynum needs to open his eyes because he is blind to defendants failing to appear. He needs to look at actually facts.

On February 1, 2019 the warrants page showed 969 pages of warrants. Total outstanding misdemeanor warrants were 17,442! Misdemeanor warrants are up 11% over the past eight months. It is shameful a judge with a personal agenda uses personal opinion rather than facts. Judge Bynum must believe more warrants is better for citizens and victims.

US Court of Appeals Decision

In August 2019, the US Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit ruled mandated the lower court judge fix the issues with her decision. The appellate court ruled bail and bail schedules are constitutional. The Appellate court reversed the decision by the lower court judge in February 2019. The lower court judge is still contemplating her decision.

If the thousands of outstanding warrants are not scary enough, try the price tag. Eliminating bail will cost the residents of Harris County close to $100 million.

About Ken Berke

Ken Berke is a licensed bail agent in Florida. As Executive Vice President of Roche Surety & Casualty Co. Inc. he frequently travels throughout the United States meeting with bail agents and the public to increase awareness of the professionalism and importance of the bail industry to victims, defendants and the judicial system. He is a frequent contributor to the Roche Surety blog where he dispels false claims against the 8th Amendment and bail through facts, statistics and logic.