ACLU Sues Canadian County District Court Over Bail System, Treatment Of Inmates

Wednesday, December 11th 2019, 7:12 pm
By: Caleigh Bourgeois

The American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit Tuesday against the Canadian County District Court. 

The lawsuit against numerous judges claims their pre-trial methods are unconstitutional.

While the allegations focus on Canadian County, the ACLU attorneys said they are aiming for a statewide impact.

In the 56-page document, concerns are brought up over the bail system, treatment of inmates and arraignment proceedings within Canadian County.

“Our lawsuit is focused on the fact that money should not be a consideration and a factor whether or not a person is in jail,” Senior Staff Attorney at the ACLU, Twyla Carter said.

Carter filed the lawsuit on behalf of seven plaintiffs, the NAACP and six people who have recently been arrested in Canadian County.

The plaintiffs alleged they struggled to pay bail amounts or have a speedy, public arraignment.

Some claimed their disabilities went untreated in the jail.

Carter said she’s hoping the lawsuit makes waves throughout the Western District of Oklahoma, changing bail practices in several Oklahoma counties.

“Every single county in this state is on notice. I have been personally to nine counties. We chose Canadian County. I could have gone anywhere. We could have gone anywhere and filed this case,” Carter said.

In a statement, Judge Paul Hesse of Canadian County, who is mentioned in the lawsuit, addressed the allegations:

“The federal complaint filed yesterday by the ACLU and others criminally charged as defendants in Canadian County does not fully and accurately describe the bail procedures that currently exists in Canadian County.  Also, many of their factual assertions are patently false.  The judges of this judicial district follow regular procedures and administrative orders that are designed to protect the rights of all arrestees and accused.  For example, bail reform measures implemented in 2018 by District Court Judge Paul Hesse have resulted in a significant decline in the jail population and the routine release of inmates on personal recognizance.  A review by the federal court of the bail procedures in Canadian County is welcomed.”


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