Thursday, May 11, 2017

Bail Insurance Company “Experts” in Harris County

In my last blog, I showed how the bail insurance companies didn’t even know what the word “bail” meant. That’s a big deal – the amicus in which they screwed up in Houston was written for the case in Georgia by some big shot appellate lawyer. They paid him big money – so they got a big mistake.

Now let’s see how the bail insurance companies fared with their “expert” witnesses in Harris County. They had two. The first is pretty easy to dismiss. The court found that even though he might have known a bit about the history of the Harris County Court back when he worked there, he’d been retired for six years and so his testimony was given “substantially less weight” than contradictory testimony.

The second “expert” really requires a bit of an explanation, but I’ll save that explanation just in case the bail insurance dudes decide (unwisely) to use him again. Suffice it to say that this second guy is a bail insurance lackey (he’s been one since 2010) apparently with an incredible bias toward making sure those companies look good at any cost. But don’t trust me – just read what the court said about him. As you do, remember that when we legal types say something “isn’t credible,” it means we don’t believe it.

“His method for arriving at that number is not clear . . . [therefore, the other expert’s] calculation . . . is the more reliable figure.”

“[His] criticism is not credible . . . [and is] particularly weak given his own analytical shortcomings in studying Harris County’s data.”

“The defendants dispute these numbers, but their expert . . . provided no alternative figures.”

“The defendant’s expert . . . attempted a different method of counting. His study is critically flawed in at least two ways.”

“An even more basic flaw in [his] study was his exclusion of all misdemeanor defendants who had ‘moderate’ or ‘high’ risk scores from the population he considered. In sum, [he] excluded indigent defendants from his survey to conclude that, of the misdemeanor defendants surveyed, none was detained because of indigence. [This] conclusion is not entitled to any weight.”

“These critical flaws undermine his credibility and diminishes the court’s confidence in the reliability of the opinions he expressed, whether deriving from his own research or criticizing the analytic methods and conclusions of others.”


“[His] attempt to salvage his report is not successful.”  

“[His] decision to disaggregate his findings by gender and provide no overall failure rates is puzzling, to say the least. His decision to disaggregate his findings had the effect of inflating the slight difference in failure rates . . . and made it appear greater than the overall rate of failure, which [he] did not provide.”

“His [Dallas Study] is entitled to substantially less weight than the published, peer-reviewed articles in the record.”

Wow. Enough already. Do you get it? He doesn’t know what he’s talking about when he talks about other research, and he doesn’t know what he’s talking about when he’s talking about his own research. And that stuff about inflating the rates? That’s his incredible bias to try to find some conclusion that supports the insurance companies.

I can’t blame this so-called expert for falling under the spell of the bail insurance companies. They offer people boatloads of money and fame – a weird kind of bail fame that comes from having your work immediately thrust into the national spotlight. Other people fall for that, too.  The problem is that now that he’s been ridiculed in court, the bail insurance companies will just go hunt for some other patsy willing to say anything for all that money and bail fame.  

Once again, bail agents, you need to unshackle yourselves from the bail insurance companies. Yeah, they got the county to appeal, but that’s just to buy time to settle. The appeal on this single motion (this is not the trial – it’s just an incredibly huge motion hearing before the trial) will cost a ton more money in just legal fees, and then, even if they win, they’ll just end up in trial with the same judge, the same evidence, and the same expert.

You bail agents in America have to consider removing that word “agent” from your title. You’ve got to find someone who understands how the insurance companies’ protracted “fight everything” strategy won’t work – especially when what they did in Harris County is the best they can do. When you find that person, tell him or her that you want to remain in business, but that you know that might mean changing your business practices. The insurance companies are on their way out in American bail. Your choice is between letting them go down on their own, or letting them take you down with them.