In the eyes of a minor judicial officer Joe Licata, who is classified as a public servant, poor people who can’t afford the ton of bricks being stacked upon them and continuously get thrown in a cage for victim-less traffic violations is simply nothing more than job security. Harmless infractions that lead to the draining of personal incomes are common place in Texas. With the choice to give up money to the state and bypass your necessities such as food, shelter or transportation, the selection is clear, disregard the gestapoesque State and keep your income for more pressing priorities. Robin Clearey, who presented herself in front of Magistrate Licata because she was travelling without paying the state a fee and getting a permission slip. She also couldn’t cough up the money for decal that lets her use her vehicle on public roads.
This was nothing new to Cleary, she explained to the servant behind the hickory podium that she was currently in a criminal case at the moment for operating her car with an invalid license. This would keep her behind bars unless she could pad the tyrants coffers with more money in the total of $3500. Licata dictated that if she didn’t pay all the fines for the citations and “get her license straightened out” after also paying a surcharge penalty for up to five years he said, “you’re gonna get arrested every time you get pulled over.”
Clearey shrugged her shoulders and replied that it was nothing to her, due to her acclimation of constant incarcerations for failure to give them any money. The power abusing Licata then said “It’s nothing to me either, it’s job security.”
Job security to this tyrant is poor people who can’t afford to pay traffic tickets and ridiculous surcharges with DPS. These failure to pay situations lead to thousands of people being locked up and being slapped with even more fines. The Texas Organizing Project compiled a report on dozens of these types of hearings. The cruelty and complete lack of tact can be seen far to frequently. One example is from Magistrate Eric Hagstette, who increased a woman’s bail from $1,000 to $2,000 because she responded, “yeah” instead of “yes” when the almighty Hagstette asked if she needed a court-appointed attorney.
The anointed and black-robed Hagstette belittled his fellow human by saying, “I asked a question that calls for a yes or a no. I don’t expect anything but a yes or a no. Not a ‘mhmm,’ ‘maybe so,’ or a yell or anything else.” The defendant responded, “I said yeah,” So Hagstette used his faux royalty to expedite his power, “I heard what you said. Your bond just went up to $2,000.”
The Texas Organizing Project gathered a large lot of these cases and made a video showing the dictatorial attitudes of these public servants. One depicts a defendant who is mentally ill and is denied a personal bond and to me seems to have no clue about what is going on.
Hagstette, Licata and three other magistrates have been taken to federal court for disregarding low-income and the indigent public’s ability to come up with such sums of money. The Texas and U.S. Constitution are supposed to shield these folks from outrageous fines and fees but once again these documents are ignored for the steady flow of cash. The Civil Rights Corps, (who filed these suits) are using these videos as an argument to show that these low-level bail hearing judges have a common pattern of prejudice toward some defendants’ inability to pay. While standing at the mercy of these authoritarians, some verbal floggings can have a duration of 30 seconds up to several minutes, and these dates with the devil can result in disastrous consequences on people’s lives. If bail is un-affordable, even for the harmless petty offenses, it can cause people to lose their job, their car, and sometimes their homes. The videos clearly show that the moo-moo donning magistrates are highly unlikely to even consider lowering people’s bail or granting a personal bond even if they ask nicely. Sometimes they just cut them off in the middle of their plea for and shooing them away like animals.
Another case in point is Mr. Willie Love Watson a gentleman with no prior criminal history who was detained and incarcerated for travelling with an invalid license. Hagstette the sets his bail at $1,000. Mr. Watson pleads very politely for a personal bond because his wife, who was in the car with him at the time was also locked up, so he was concerned about who will take care of their kids. Watson cried, “If I could get a PR bond, if it pleases the court, it would really make me happy and my family happy, we’re trying my hardest to get my family back together.”
Hagstette paid no mind to his request and with no emotion exclaimed, “It would make me happy if you could get out of jail on your own.” and said that $1,000 is the lowest that he could go and denied Mr. Watson a personal bond.
Mr. Watson bemoaned, “Well, my father and my mother passed away, and I have no one in the world, sir, but I promise you with everything in the world that I would be in court.” Hagstette brashly concluded the argument and with no sympathy barked, “Bond is set at $1,000.” The Harris County Attorney’s Office, who obviously represents the harsh magistrates in the lawsuits declined to give any comments because of pending litigation.
The Harris County director of the Texas Organizing Project, Tarsha Jackson stated that the way the magistrates’ treated some of the defendants in the videos were “inhumane,” comparing their treatment to that of a “herd of cattle.” The nonprofit organization has been fighting for bail reform for years, sadly, Jackson mentioned that if these are the people who are in charge of that reform, then it may be impossible.
Jackson said, “There has to be a total culture shift, having like-minded elected officials that see the need to change the culture of our criminal justice system, we would be successful in bail reform. But with these individuals? I don’t think it’s possible at all.” The county officials have come out with just words about bail reform, Sheriff-elect Ed Gonzales, District Attorney Devon Anderson, and District Attorney-Elect Kim Ogg have expressed their concerns about reforming the bail system, but so far nothing has happened.
The ACLU of Texas have recently released a report finding that thousands of low-income Texans are incarcerated every year simply for their inability to pay their victim-less citations that continuously mount up to so much money that it’s impossible to afford. The ACLU has asked that the Texas criminal code be amended to abolish locking people up for these minuscule acts. Unfortunately these absolutists like Joe Licata, Eric Hagstette, and their cronies will put up blockades to any reforms because it would not be good for their pocketbooks or their careers.
By Andre’ Gabriel Esparza – DontComply.com
A Pro Liberty, Pro Freedom, Human Rights Activist, very involved in a wide variety of Activism and Exposing the Truth at all costs.
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