The ACLU of Texas, along with the Texas Fair Defense Project, the ACLU’s Criminal Law Reform Project, and the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, filed a lawsuit challenging Governor Abbott’s passage of an executive order, GA-13, which unlawfully attempts to remove discretion from judges about who can receive personal bonds. 

The complaint argues the governor overstepped his authority because the Texas Constitution clearly states that those decisions lie with the judiciary, while the power to suspend laws lies only with the legislature. It also states that GA-13 creates an unconstitutional wealth-based system by banning the use of personal bonds for certain people, putting pre-trial freedom out of reach for those unable to pay cash bail.

The plaintiffs include the Texas Criminal Defense Lawyers Association, Austin Criminal Defense Lawyers Association, and Capital Area Private Defender Service, the Texas State Conference of NAACP Units, and all Harris County misdemeanor judges.

Update (4/11/20): On April 10, the State District Court granted a temporary restraining order (TRO) on behalf of the plaintiffs. Then on April 11, the Texas Supreme Court issued a stay of the TRO. A briefing before the Texas Supreme Court to oppose the stay is forthcoming.

Update (4/23/20): The Texas Supreme Court overturned the district court's temporary restraining order, deciding some of the plaintiffs — the Harris County judges — did not have standing to bring the case. The case continues at the State District Court.

Date filed

April 8, 2020


State District Court, Travis County; Texas Supreme Court



Case number

D-1-GN-20-002034, SCOTEX: 20-0291