882 F.3d 528 (5th Cir. 2018), 17-20333, ODonnell v. Harris County, Texas

Docket Nº:17-20333
Citation:882 F.3d 528
Opinion Judge:EDITH BROWN CLEMENT, Circuit Judge:
Party Name:Maranda Lynn ODONNELL, Plaintiff-Appellee v. HARRIS COUNTY, TEXAS; Eric Stewart Hagstette; Joseph Licata, III; Ronald Nicholas; Blanca Estela Villagomez; Jill Wallace; Paula Goodhart; Bill Harmon; Natalie C. Fleming; John Clinton; Margaret Harris; Larry Standley; Pam Derbyshire; Jay Karahan; Judge Analia Wilkerson; Dan Spjut; Judge Diane Bull; ...
Judge Panel:Before CLEMENT, PRADO, and HAYNES, Circuit Judges.
Case Date:February 14, 2018
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit

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882 F.3d 528 (5th Cir. 2018)

Maranda Lynn ODONNELL, Plaintiff-Appellee


HARRIS COUNTY, TEXAS; Eric Stewart Hagstette; Joseph Licata, III; Ronald Nicholas; Blanca Estela Villagomez; Jill Wallace; Paula Goodhart; Bill Harmon; Natalie C. Fleming; John Clinton; Margaret Harris; Larry Standley; Pam Derbyshire; Jay Karahan; Judge Analia Wilkerson; Dan Spjut; Judge Diane Bull; Judge Robin Brown; Donald Smyth; Jean Hughes, Defendants-Appellants

Loetha Shanta McGruder; Robert Ryan Ford, Plaintiffs-Appellees


Harris County, Texas; Jill Wallace; Eric Stewart Hagstette; Joseph Licata, III; Ronald Nicholas; Blanca Estela Villagomez, Defendants-Appellants

No. 17-20333

United States Court of Appeals, Fifth Circuit

February 14, 2018

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Appeals from the United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas, Lee H. Rosenthal, Chief Judge

Alec George Karakatsanis, Esq., Elizabeth Anne Rossi, Civil Rights Corps, Arpit Kumar Garg, Daniel Volchok, Seth Paul Waxman, WilmerHale, L.L.P., Washington, DC, Rebecca Bernhardt, Austin, TX, Michael Gervais, New York, NY, Neal Manne, Alexandra Giselle White, Krisina Janaye Zuniga, Houston, TX, Susman Godfrey, L.L.P., for Plaintiffs-Appellees.

Susanne Ashley Pringle, Texas Fair Defense Project, Austin, TX, for Plaintiffs-Appellees Loetha Shanta McGruder, Robert Ryan Ford.

Stacy R. Obenhaus, Dallas, TX, Katharine D. David, Philip J. Morgan, Mike Anthony Stafford, Houston, TX, Gardere Wynne Sewell, L.L.P., for Defendants-Appellants Harris County, Texas, Eric Stewart Hagstette, Joseph Licata, III, Ronald Nicholas, Blanca Estela Villagomez, Jill Wallace.

Charles Justin Cooper, Michael Kirk, William C. Marra, John David Ohlendorf, Harold Reeves, Cooper & Kirk, P.L.L.C., Washington, DC, Sheryl Anne Falk, John R. Keville, Attorney, John E. O’Neill, Winston & Strawn, L.L.P., Houston, TX, for Defendants-Appellants Paula Goodhart, Bill Harmon, Natalie C. Fleming, John Clinton, Margaret Harris, Larry Standley, Pam Derbyshire, Jay Karahan, Judge Analia Wilkerson, Dan Spjut, Judge Diane Bull, Judge Robin Brown, Donald Smyth, Jean Hughes.

Murray Jules Fogler, Esq., Attorney, Fogler, Brar, Ford, O’Neil & Gray, L.L.P., Houston, TX, for Amicus Curiae Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez, in his official capacity.

Katherine R. Goldstein, Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy, L.L.P., New York, NY, Nicole Wignall DeBorde, Esq., Bires, Schaffer & DeBorde, Houston, TX, Michelle Simpson Tuegel, Hunt & Tuegel, P.L.L.C., Waco, TX, for Amicus Curiae National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers.

Scott A. Keller, Solicitor, Office of the Solicitor General for the State of Texas, Joseph David Hughes, Assistant Solicitor General, Office of the Attorney General, Office of the Solicitor General, Austin, TX, for Amici Curiae State of Texas, State of Arizona, State of Hawaii, State of Kansas, State of Louisiana, State of Nebraska.

Paul D. Clement, Edmund Gerard LaCour, Jr., Andrew Lawrence, Kirkland & Ellis, L.L.P., Washington, DC, for Amici Curiae American Bail Coalition, Professional Bondsmen of Texas, Professional Bondsmen of Harris County.

Thomas Royal Phillips, Janet Martini Himmel, Morgan Mallory Menchaca, Mary Margaret Roark, Evan A. Young, Attorney, Baker Botts, L.L.P., Austin, TX, for Amicus Curiae Conference of Chief Justices.

George Allan Van Fleet, Van Fleet, L.P., Houston, TX, for Amicus Curiae Darrell W. Jordan.

Mary B. McCord, Esq., Georgetown University Law Center, Washington, DC, for Amici Curiae District and State’s Attorneys, State Attorneys General, United States Attorneys, Assistant United States Attorneys, Department of Justice Officials.

Ilya Shapiro, Esq., Cato Institute, Washington, DC, for Amicus Curiae Cato Institute.

Elizabeth Bonnie Wydra, Chief Counsel, Constitutional Accountability Center, Washington, DC, for Amicus Curiae Constitutional Accountability Center.

Bradley S. Phillips, Munger, Tolles & Olson, L.L.P., Los Angeles, CA, for Amicus Curiae Law Enforcement and Corrections Officials.

Carter Glasgow Phillips, Sidley Austin, L.L.P., Washington, DC, for Amici Curiae Texas Public Policy Foundation, R Street Institute.

Jared Brandon Caplan, Houston, TX, James Bradley Robertson, Birmingham, AL, Jeffrey William Sheehan, Nashville, TN, Bradley Arant Boult Cummings, L.L.P., for Amici Curiae National Association of Pretrial Service Agencies, Pretrial Justice Institute, National Association for Public Defense, New York Association of Pretrial Service Agencies, Minnesota Association of Pretrial Service Agencies, Prison Policy Initiative, Incorporated, Drug Policy Alliance.

Linda A. Klein, American Bar Association, Chicago, IL, for Amicus Curiae American Bar Association.

Jonathan Lee Marcus, Esq., Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom, L.L.P., Washington, DC, for Amici Curiae Texas Baptists Christian Life Commission, Texas Catholic Conference of Bishops, Archbishop Joseph A. Fiorenza, Rabbi Samuel E. Karff, Reverend William A. Lawson, Right Reverend C. Andrew Doyle, Reverend Michael Rinehart.

Samuel Jacob Brooke, Southern Poverty Law Center, Immigrant Justice Project, Montgomery, AL, for Amici Curiae American Civil Liberties Union Foundation, American Civil Liberties Union of Texas, Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, Southern Poverty Law Center.

Before CLEMENT, PRADO, and HAYNES, Circuit Judges.



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Maranda ODonnell and other plaintiffs (collectively, " ODonnell" ) brought a class action suit against Harris County, Texas, and a number of its officials— including County Judges,1 Hearing Officers, and the

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Sheriff (collectively, the " County" )— under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. ODonnell alleged the County’s system of setting bail for indigent misdemeanor arrestees violated Texas statutory and constitutional law, as well as the equal protection and due process clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment. ODonnell moved for a preliminary injunction, and the County moved for summary judgment. After eight days of hearings, at which the parties presented numerous fact and expert witnesses and voluminous written evidence, the district court denied the County’s summary judgment motion and granted ODonnell’s motion for a preliminary injunction. The County then applied to this court for a stay of the injunction pending appeal, but the motion was denied, and the injunction went into effect. Before this court now is the County’s appeal, seeking vacatur of the injunction and raising numerous legal challenges.

For the reasons set forth, we affirm most of the district court’s rulings, including its conclusion that ODonnell established a likelihood of success on the merits of its claims that the County’s policies violate procedural due process and equal protection. We disagree, however, with the district court’s analysis in three respects: First, its definition of ODonnell’s liberty interest under due process was too broad, and the procedures it required to protect that interest were too onerous. Second, it erred by concluding that the County Sheriff can be sued under § 1983. Finally, the district court’s injunction was overbroad. As a result, we will dismiss the Sheriff from the suit, vacate the injunction, and order the district court to modify its terms in a manner consistent with this opinion.


We need not conduct an exhaustive review of the facts. The district court’s account is expansive: It comprised over 120 pages of factual findings, including not only the specific details of the County’s bail-setting procedures, but also the history of bail and recent reform attempts nationwide.

Bail in Texas is either secured or unsecured. Secured bail requires the arrestee to post bond either out of the arrestee’s pocket or from a third-party surety (often bail bondsmen, who generally require a 10% non-refundable premium in exchange for posting bond). Unsecured bail, by contrast, allows the arrestee to be released without posting bond, but if he fails to attend his court date and/or comply with any nonfinancial bail conditions, he becomes liable to the County for the bail amount. Both secured and unsecured bail may also include nonfinancial conditions to assure the detainee’s attendance at future hearings.

The basic procedural framework governing the administration of bail in Harris County is set by the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure and local rules promulgated by County Judges. See Tex. Gov’t Code § 75.403(f). When a misdemeanor defendant is arrested, the prosecutor submits a secured bail amount according to a bond schedule established by County Judges. See Harris County Criminal Courts at Law Rule 9 (hereinafter, " Local Rule" ). Bonds are then formally set by Hearing Officers and County Judges. Tex. Code. Crim. Pro. art. 2.09, 17.15. Hearing Officers are generally responsible for setting bail amounts in the first instance. This often occurs during the arrestee’s initial probable cause hearing, which must be held within 24 hours of arrest. Tex. Code Crim. Pro. art. 17.033; Local Rule County Judges review the Hearing Officers’ determinations and can adjust bail amounts at a " Next Business Day" hearing. Local Rule 4.3.1.

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The Hearing Officers and County Judges are legally proscribed from mechanically applying the bail schedule to a given arrestee. Instead, the Texas Code requires officials to conduct an individualized review based on five enumerated factors, which include the defendant’s ability to pay, the charge, and community safety. Tex. Code of Crim. Pro. art. 17.15. The Local Rules explicitly state the...

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