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Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
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Case Name Lomas v. Harris County CJ-TX-0020
Docket / Court 4:16-cv-03745 ( S.D. Tex. )
State/Territory Texas
Case Type(s) Criminal Justice (Other)
Special Collection Fines/Fees/Bail Reform (Criminalization of poverty)
Attorney Organization Civil Rights Corps
Case Summary
This is a case about Harris County's practice of arresting people without warrants by finding probable cause based on unsworn statements. On December 28, 2016, two individuals arrested without warrants filed this putative class action lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of ... read more >
This is a case about Harris County's practice of arresting people without warrants by finding probable cause based on unsworn statements. On December 28, 2016, two individuals arrested without warrants filed this putative class action lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas. The plaintiffs sued Harris County under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and under provisions of the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure. Represented by the Civil Rights Corps and the Texas Fair Defense Project, the plaintiffs sought declaratory judgment, an injunction, and attorneys' fees. The plaintiffs alleged that the defendant's practices violated their Fourth Amendment rights to probable cause determinations and their Fourteenth Amendment rights to procedural due process.

The plaintiffs sought to certify a class for those arrested without a warrant "who are currently detained, or will be detained, by Harris County and who have not been provided, or will not be provided, a prompt, neutral determination of probable cause supported by oath or affirmation." They also sought to certify a subclass for those arrested for misdemeanors without a warrant "who are currently detained, or will be detained, by Harris County and who have not been provided, or will not be provided, a neutral determination of probable cause supported by oath or affirmation within 24 hours of arrest." The plaintiffs claimed that keeping people in custody after a warrantless arrest on account of probable cause based on unsworn statements violated the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments of the U.S. Constitution. Similarly, they also claimed that keeping people in custody after a warrantless misdemeanor arrest without offering bond when eligible for release violated Tex. Code Crim. P. Ann. § 17.033(a)–(b). The same day the plaintiffs filed their complaint they also moved the court for a preliminary injunction to cease this practice.

The case was initially assigned to Judge Kenneth M. Hoyt. It was transferred to Chief Judge Lee H. Rosenthal following an agreement between the judges. The defendant filed an answer on May 18, 2017.

On November 1, 2017, the parties settled. The District Attorney agreed to change the process of presenting probable cause statements for warrantless arrests so that an officer now swears to the facts inputted into the District Attorney Intake System (DIMS). The defendants paid the plaintiffs $75,000 in attorneys' fees, but did not admit liability or that they engaged in the practices alleged by the plaintiffs. The court ordered for the settlement to be monitored for three years by an independent monitor to ensure the District Attorney made the promised changes to DIMS. The monitoring is ongoing.

Lauren Yu - 10/05/2020


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Constitutional Clause
Due Process: Procedural Due Process
Unreasonable search and seizure
Content of Injunction
Monitor/Master
Monitoring
Recordkeeping
Warrant/order for search or seizure
Defendant-type
Jurisdiction-wide
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 1983
State law
Defendant(s) Harris County
Plaintiff Description All warrantless arrestees who are currently detained, or will be detained, by Harris County and who have not been provided, or will not be provided, a prompt, neutral determination of probable cause supported by oath or affirmation, including all warrantless misdemeanor arrestees who have not been provided a neutral determination of probable cause within 24 hours of arrest.
Indexed Lawyer Organizations Civil Rights Corps
Class action status sought Yes
Class action status outcome Denied
Filed Pro Se No
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief Attorneys fees
Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief Settlement
Form of Settlement Court Approved Settlement or Consent Decree
Order Duration 2017 - 2020
Filed 12/28/2016
Case Ongoing Yes
Case Listing CJ-TX-0019 : Hernandez v. Houston (S.D. Tex.)
Additional Resources
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  See this case at CourtListener.com (May provide additional documents and, for active cases, real-time alerts)
  Houston, TX: Probable Cause
Civil Rights Corps
Date: Dec. 30, 2018
By: Civil Rights Corps
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

  Legal Attacks Mount on Crowded Houston Jails
Courthouse News Service
Date: Dec. 29, 2016
By: Cameron Langford
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

Court Docket(s)
S.D. Tex.
11/01/2017
4:16-cv-03745
CJ-TX-0020-9000.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
S.D. Tex.
12/28/2016
Class Action Complaint [ECF# 1]
CJ-TX-0020-0001.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
S.D. Tex.
11/01/2017
Final Consent Judgment and Settlement Agreement [ECF# 41-1]
CJ-TX-0020-0002.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
show all people docs
Judges Rosenthal, Lee Hyman (S.D. Tex.) show/hide docs
CJ-TX-0020-9000
Plaintiff's Lawyers Bernhardt, Rebecca (Texas) show/hide docs
CJ-TX-0020-0001
Gerstein, Charles L. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
CJ-TX-0020-0001 | CJ-TX-0020-0002 | CJ-TX-0020-9000
Karakatsanis, Alec (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
CJ-TX-0020-0001 | CJ-TX-0020-9000
Pringle, Susanne Ashley (Texas) show/hide docs
CJ-TX-0020-0001 | CJ-TX-0020-9000
Rossi, Elizabeth Anne (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
CJ-TX-0020-0001 | CJ-TX-0020-9000
Defendant's Lawyers David, Katharine Davenport (Texas) show/hide docs
CJ-TX-0020-9000
Morgan, Philip James (Texas) show/hide docs
CJ-TX-0020-9000
Ogg, Kimbra Kathryn (Texas) show/hide docs
CJ-TX-0020-0002

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