Friday, October 24, 2008

Fronting for bail bondsmen? Tyler jail debates getting weird

An attorney representing Smith County in an open records lawsuit, in which jail opponents are seeking access to proposed facility plans developed in secret meetings earlier this year, is making some bizarre allegations about the requestors:
[Robert] Davis said Mr. Good's motivation is that he represents bail bondsmen across the state, as well as sues Texas counties on their behalf. "Ken Good would love nothing more than to be able to give bail bond companies and criminals detailed security plans for our correctional institutions," Davis said.
For what nefarious reason does Davis think bail bondsmen want jail floor plans, I wonder? That's just weird. Citing long-established precedents, the Texas Attorney General already told the county they must release the plans, but the lawsuit ensures that won't happen until after voters have already made their decision.

This isn't the first strange and desperate argument being trotted out by jail proponents in Tyler. The local establishment types are pushing the jail as hard as they can, but diversion plans spearheaded by Judge Cynthia Kent have already eliminated the need for leasing space from other counties. As of October 1, Smith County had 628 county prisoners in the jail and leased 107 beds from other counties, but their jail capacity is 755 inmates. If they'd build on that success, a new jail wouldn't be necessary.

12 comments:

Ken W. Good said...

You know bondsmen make so much money busting people out of jail.

Anonymous said...

Bondsmen are often contributors to local judges, and want more people in jail so they can bond them out. Not break them out.

A Jeffersonian said...

Arrogance and demagoguery at it's very best, or worst! We have come to expect it from the county commissioners court, but forcing us to pay the bill for a legal counsel to do it, well, that's just brilliant! Chicago politics has nothing on Smith county!

Anonymous said...

During that interview Mr. Davis also made some derogatoryh comments about Judge Kent, accusing her of releasing dangerous inmates. He also said she has been on a power trip for years. This sounds like a comment that would have come from the DA's office. The DA's office has reluctantly gone along with the Alternative Incarceration programs but they don't like them because they don't want to release anyone. Their goal is to lock up as many people as they can for as long as they can. They aren't even concerned with innocence or guilt. They just want to lock up everyone they can. They don't like Judge Kent because she doesn't always give them what they want, like Judge Skeen does.

Anonymous said...

I doubt that the DA is behind this. Remember he just recused his office and that is why Davis had to come in. My guess is that this rant was all being orchestrated by Commissioner Fleming.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Davis is an attorney who represents many Texas counties who are members of the Texas Association of Counties.

Not that Mr. Davis' comments or his stance will cause voters to vote for the bond, don't underestimate him as far as him arguing the county's position on release of the jail plans. He is very good and is a strong advocate for his clients.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

Since Mr. Davis' stance here comes of as insensible, defensive, and dismissive of voters' intelligence, my guess is his comments - and in the bigger picture, the commissioners court's decision to contest the AG ruling - will contribute to the bond proposal's demise (assuming it ever had a chance, anyway).

He may be a good lawyer, but this was a really, really dumb thing to say. Not only that, even good lawyers can't make the Public Information Act include exceptions that aren't in the statute. The AG relied on well-established law to say the jail plans are public. There's simply no exception to the PIA that applies, like it or not.

Anonymous said...

I agree Grits with what the PIA says. However, has the PIA as it relates to this issue, ever been taken all the way to the TX or US Supreme Court?

Suppose the an appellate court agrees with Smith County?

How far do you see this thing going?

If Mr. Good's issue includes a violation of the Open Meetings Act, can the Texas AG investigate and prosecute or does this fall in the hands of the Smith County DA?

Gritsforbreakfast said...

"Suppose the an appellate court agrees with Smith County?"

Then they are activist judges who are writing law to suit their own agenda instead of applying it as it's written. I'll grant that's possible - we see it at the Court of Criminal Appeals all the time when they decide what outcome they want then concoct some distorted, cockamamy argument to justify it. But there's simply nothing in the PIA that justifies the county's stance - at all.

I think the AG is who does the enforcement.

Ken W. Good said...

The Smith County DA cannont investigate a claim against the Commissioners because an attorney in his office represents them. He would have to appoint a special prosecutor or call in the Texas Rangers.

On the issue of a court of appeals agreeing with the County, I am board certified in civil appellate law. Going to the courts of appeals is what I do for a living. By and large our appellate courts do a very good job. They follow the law. I would expect them to do so here too.

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