Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Inflexible Policy Unjust

The Brazos County District Attorney's Office implemented a policy a few years ago they would not agree to bonds for adult probationers who had a motion to revoke probation (MTR) pending. Once a motion to revoke was filed the defendant was typically denied bond until they were arrested and the trial court judge reviewed the case. Persons on felony probation were not entitled to bond under law, but could obtain one if the judge approved. Persons on misdemeanor probation were eligible for a bond, subject only to what amount the court deemed appropriate.

Before this policy was implemented a defense lawyer could approach the D.A.'s office and reach an agreement regarding the setting of bond. The procedure saved everybody. It saved the county the expense of housing someone in jail for longer than necessary. It saved the court's time by not setting each case for a bond hearing. It saved the defendant's time and money since the sooner they bonded out the sooner they could get back to work. And it saved the sheriff's transport team time by reducing their number of transports from other counties.

Somewhere along the line the D.A.'s office got burned by an agreed bond. Human nature and their desire to cover the derrière kicked in and, wa-la, we have a policy. I don't have a problem with office policies. But I do have a problem with implementing them without exception.

My client was on probation for a misdemeanor delivery of marijuana case. He had allegedly violated his probation by coming-up dirty on a few urine screens and failed to complete community service on time. He was current on all his financial payments and had not missed a probation meeting. The D.A's office issued the motion to revoke and the judge denied bond. The client was arrested in Harris County and was awaiting transport to Brazos County. After talking to the transport team, they explained they couldn't transport my client until the middle of next week.

I went to the District Attorney's Office and talked with the elected official, Bill Turner, about making an exception to his policy. I explained my client was on misdemeanor probation, was faithful to reporting, but had failed some UAs. Turner told me no without explanation. My client was no threat the community. I asked him at least three times why he wouldn't agree to a bond. He refused to give me the courtesy of justifying his position.

Bill is good at eyeballing you - but today it betrayed his true feelings. His patent arrogance shined through like a beacon. Anyone watching could have told you he didn't give-a-hoot. I've known Turner for a long time. Almost eighteen years now. I worked for him four of those years. Regrettably, he has really changed for the worse over time. It is disappointing he's comfortable with such a curt and haughty attitude toward the defense bar.

No comments: