Arent Fox Files Amicus Brief in High Profile Civil Rights Case on Behalf of NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund

WASHINGTON, DC — This week, Arent Fox attorneys and staff authored and filed an amicus brief in a high profile federal civil rights case challenging the pre-trial bail system in Harris County, Texas.

The brief was filed March 27 on behalf of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. and Harris County Commissioner Rodney Ellis and in support of the plaintiffs, thousands of indigent misdemeanor pretrial detainees who are held in jail solely because of their inability to post bail. The Court has granted Arent Fox’s motion to file the amicus brief and accepted it for filing in the case.

The underlying case, a class action filed in the US District Court for the Southern District of Texas, challenges the bail system of Harris County, Texas as unconstitutional because it disproportionally affects poor, Black, and disadvantaged residents. The Supreme Court of the United States has previously held in United States v. Salerno that “liberty is the norm, and detention prior to trial or without trial is the carefully limited exception.” The suit is similar to several filed in recent years in various jurisdictions challenging the constitutionality of pre-trial bail systems.

Arent Fox partners James H. Hulme and Darrel S. Gay, associates Douglas E. Hewlett, Jr., Asra Syed, and Justin A. Goldberg, and senior paralegal David Yearwood all contributed to the amicus filing. According to the amicus brief, “Defendants’ wealth-based policy of pretrial detention of poor people charged with misdemeanor offenses violates the Constitution; it disproportionately burdens Black people, the poor and the most vulnerable and disadvantaged residents in Harris County; and it imposes devastating social and economic collateral consequences.”

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