Federal court orders Texas counties to provide counsel at bail h

Federal court orders Texas counties to provide counsel at bail hearings

Posted: Updated:
LUBBOCK, Texas -

A major federal court ruling in Galveston County has massive implications for the state of Texas, requiring legal representation for bail hearings.

This is the first time a federal court has enforced the Sixth Amendment right to counsel at bail hearings, according to the American Civil Liberties Union of Texas. 

Lubbock County District Attorney Sunshine Stanek said the county has been working on solutions to discriminatory bail hearings, even before this ruling.

"We try to be proactive and forward thinking, and so since then for several months, we've been meeting within the county to think about our practices and about ways we can improve on them," Stanek said.

But now with their hand forced, Stanek said this could create a major conflict between fairness and the safety of our county.

"The goal is to make sure that those very low-risk offenders aren't needlessly left in the jail incarcerated, while waiting on their trial. The high-risk offenders need to be awaiting their trial dates in the jail. So figuring out that balance and making sure good practices are in place," Stanek said.

"The procedure part of it is probably the most complicated. Of course that leads to needing more manpower, more funding, it's just a lot to consider, but we're working on it," Stanek said.

Stanek added the county will be traveling to different cities that have required bail representation in place to get a better idea of how to make this transition.

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