TYLER, Texas (KETK) – One of the oldest members of the Texas Supreme Court was in Tyler as the keynote speaker for the Smith County Republican Club.
Texas Chief Justice Nathan Hecht spoke to constituents in East Texas, looking to make a difference in 2020. One major issue he is known for fighting is bail bond reform.
Imagine being arrested for driving without a license, and then forced to pay a $2500 bond to be released.
“A lot of times people are being jailed because they can’t make bond they’re just too poor,” said Chief Justice Nathan Hecht.
That’s what happened to one Houston mother who sued after spending two days behind bars, a case that has led the Texas Supreme Court to rethink the law.
“It’s really punishing the taxpayer in way for holding all these people when they could be out with their families and doing their jobs and trying to get their life back together,” explained Chief Justice Nathan Hecht.
It’s something Mary Mergler with the Criminal Justice Project sees all the time, where money determines people’s fate.
“Someone who is dangerous but has enough money to afford their bail will be released from jail pre-trial,” continues Mergler, “on the other hand, someone who is low risk and poses no threat to public safety, but who has no money for bail is going to be held in jail until their trial.”
It’s a controversial subject that is getting heavy media attention in New York and is just one of the issues Chief Justice Hecht is looking at for 2020.
“Our court the Supreme Court has a new task force commission that has been helping us on Mental Health issue,” said Chief Justice Hecht.
Pointing to another issue within the Judiciary system, mental health. When a criminal comes into the courtroom whose crime is linked to mental health issues, Chief Justice Hecht wants there to be a system in place for the offender to get treatment.
“Part of our business is to make sure our system runs correctly and that we do justice meaning in the end we want to do the right thing,” Chief Justice Hecht.
Hecht is hoping both issues will make a difference this year as he continues to make a voice for the unheard.