Update: O’Donnell v. Harris County
Today, oral arguments were heard in New Orleans before a panel of three judges sitting on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, which covers Texas, Louisiana, and Mississippi, in the federal case of ODonnell v. Harris County, Texas where the Plaintiffs are challenging the constitutionality of the bail system in Harris County Texas.
Jeff Clayton, ABC Executive Director, sat in the hearing and made the following statement: “It seemed clear to me that these judges were not of the mind that they should affirm Judge Rosenthal’s opinion. The thing that stands out most was the question of what section of the constitution requires a hearing within 24 hours, and that if someone does not get a hearing, they are entitled to an immediate release on an unsecured bond. Plaintiffs’ counsel, as usual, was long on pontificating and short on answers.”
Arguing for the Harris County Judges (Defendants) was noted constitutional litigator, Charles Cooper. Despite expectations that former Solicitor General Seth Waxman, who was at Plaintiffs’counsel table, was going to argue their case, they instead had their lead counsel at the trial court level present the case.
A decision is expected within 30-60 days. Based upon the outcome of the decision, the case will either be sent back to Judge Rosenthal for further proceedings consistent with the Court’s opinion, or one side or the other will file a petition for review by the United States Supreme Court.
A recording of the oral argument is expected to be released by the Clerk of the Court later this afternoon.