Brief of Amicus Curiae National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers in Support of Plaintiff
Argument: Texas Governor Greg Abbot’s Executive Order GA-13 of March 29, 2020 seeks to order that Texas judges may not release persons to personal bonds where the person has previously been convicted of a crime that involves physical violence or the threat of physical violence or of a person currently arrested for such a crime; that is supported by probable cause. Leaving aside the vague terms of this executive order, it encroaches on the function of the courts to determine whether persons should be released on personal bond, whether they should be released on electronic monitoring, or should be released on a cash or surety bond with conditions. It does not prohibit release of this same class of described persons on cash or surety bail. Therefore, it appears to place restrictions for release on the poor over those for those of greater means without any rational relationship to a distinguishing important governmental purpose. Thus, those previously convicted of the defined crimes or currently charged with those crimes can obtain release; while those without the economic means to post a cash or surety bail cannot obtain release. Under the circumstances presented by the COVID 19 pandemic and the Texas Criminal justice system, GA 13 violates the separation of powers, interferes with judicial independence, violates equal protection and due process of law, and constitutes cruel and unusual punishment for those who cannot afford cash or surety bail who otherwise qualify for release on personal bond.