HOUSTON (AP) — The Latest on a Texas lawsuit challenging bail rules (all times local):
Harris County will comply with a court ruling that has allowed dozens of inmates who can’t afford their bail to be freed from a Houston jail.
However, First Assistant County Attorney Robert Soard said Justice Clarence Thomas’ rejection of the county’s emergency request for a stay doesn’t affect the county’s appeal of the lower-court ruling to the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. He says the county’s appeals court brief is due early next month.
Thomas’ ruling came after the 5th Circuit rejected the request for an emergency stay of a preliminary injunction issued by U.S. District Jude Lee Rosenthal.
The U.S. Supreme Court has refused an emergency request from Harris County officials to block a lower court ruling that has allowed dozens of inmates who can’t afford their bail to be freed from a Houston jail.
Justice Clarence Thomas, without referring the case to the full court and without comment, rejected the county’s appeal Wednesday, a day after a federal appeals court upheld a lower court ruling that allowed poor inmates to be released on personal bond.
Two civil rights groups and a Houston law firm sued the county last year after a woman was jailed for two days for driving without a valid license because she couldn’t afford $2,500 bail. They argued that poor inmates are unfairly incarcerated while awaiting trial.
County officials expect about 100 indigent misdemeanor offenders to be released daily.
Harris County officials are asking the U.S. Supreme Court to block a lower court ruling that would allow the release of dozens of misdemeanor offenders from the county jail who are unable to afford bail.
U.S. District Judge Lee Rosenthal earlier ruled the prisoners can be released on personal bond. A federal appeals court upheld that decision Tuesday. County officials then went to the Supreme Court to halt the ruling.
Two civil rights groups and a Houston law firm sued the county last year after a woman was jailed for two days for driving without a valid license because she couldn’t afford $2,500 bail.
They argue poor offenders are unfairly incarcerated while awaiting trial.
Up to 177 inmates could be released but a sheriff’s spokesman says it would likely be fewer.
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