Three report series from TCJE and our partners shine a light on the justice system in Harris County. Individualized judicial scorecards show the percentages of Black, Hispanic white, and non-Hispanic white people jailed by each judge prior to trial, while reports on pretrial detention highlight the number of legally innocent people who are jailed every week in the county. Both report series are part of our Harris County team's advocacy for bail reform, which also includes support for ongoing litigation against the city and county. A third series explores indigent defense appointment rates to evaluate the use of the Harris County Public Defender's Office.
Holding Local Judges Accountable
Harris County Judicial Accountability Scorecards
In September 2020, TCJE and researchers at Harvard University began producing individualized scorecards for some of Harris County’s felony judges. The scorecards include the percentages of Black, Hispanic white, and non-Hispanic white defendants each judge detained prior to trial on their docket. The scorecards also compare each judge to other Harris County felony judges in terms of racial and ethnic disparities in detention rates and bond amounts. The reports rely on jail population data provided by Harris County. Note: Reports published prior to the week of January 24, 2021, have been re-uploaded with edited language for clarity.
Frank Aguilar, 228th District Court
Abigail Anastasio, 184th District Court
Te’iva Bell, 339th District Court
Lori Chambers Gray, 262nd District Court
Ramona Franklin, 338th District Court
Nikita Harmon, 176th District Court
Josh Hill, 232nd District Court
Amy Martin, 263rd District Court
Ana Martinez, 179th District Court
Jesse McClure III, 339th District Court
Herb Ritchie, 337th District Court
Randy Roll, 179th District Court
Brian Warren, 209th District Court
Harris County Pretrial Detention Report Series
A weekly report series from TCJE and the Texas Organizing Project reveals that Harris County’s felony judges are illegally jailing thousands of people prior to trial simply because they cannot afford the money bail required for their release. The reports rely on jail population data provided by Harris County to rank each judge by the daily average number of people detained prior to trial on their docket. The reports also highlight the hefty cost of pretrial detention to Harris County’s taxpayers.
Harris County Indigent Appointments Report Series
TCJE is partnering with Restoring Justice on a monthly report series showing the rates at which Harris County district judges are assigning indigent defendants to the Public Defender’s Office (PDO), which has the capacity to receive up to 20% of all district court indigent defendants. While an increasing number of judges are relying on the PDO, many judges are still opting to appoint private attorneys to such cases – despite research showing that private attorneys are less effective than the PDO, and that they exceed maximum recommended caseload limits. The reports draw from Harris County’s Indigent Defense dashboard. NOTE: Read our February 2023 blog post that shares more on these reports, including increased transparency around indigent defense appointments, and how those appointments have climbed since the release of our first report.