Brief filed: 02/14/2020
Booth v. Galveston
5th Circuit Court of Appeals; Case No. 19-40785
Decision below 2019 WL 4305457 (S.D. Tex. Sept. 11, 2019)
A determination of bail, pursuant to TEX. CODE CRIM. P. ART. 15.17, at a defendant’s initial appearance, is a critical stage of trial requiring the assistance of counsel. The district court’s findings and conclusions aptly support this proposition. An unrepresented defendant before a magistrate at first appearance has the untenable choice of speaking on her own behalf for release – and possibly saying something that may later be used against her – or lose that opportunity to advocate for freedom by remaining silent. Once that first bail determination has been made, the chance of changing it, particularly to lower bail, significantly diminishes. That loss of liberty has a direct detrimental effect on a defendant’s outcome at trial. In support, Amicus Curiae will offer its current relevant experience and data, some of which were previously accepted as fact by another United States District Judge and a panel of this Honorable Court of Appeals.
Kathryn Kase, Houston, TX; Alexander Bunin, Harris County Public Defender, Houston, TX