The Texas Tribune v. Caldwell County
Altered version of longhorn photo by greg westfall, licensed under CC BY 2.0,

The Texas Tribune v. Caldwell County

A case challenging the exclusion of the press and public from bail hearings in Caldwell County, Texas.

On August 3, 2023, The Texas Tribune, the Caldwell/Hays Examiner, and Mano Amiga filed a lawsuit challenging Caldwell County’s policy of holding all bail-setting proceedings behind closed doors. The Knight Institute represents all three plaintiffs; the Texas Fair Defense Project represents the Caldwell/Hays Examiner and Mano Amiga. 

The lawsuit alleges that Caldwell County, its magistrates, and its sheriff are violating the First Amendment by barring the plaintiffs—and the press and public generally—from attending bail hearings, which play a critically important role in the criminal legal system. The closure of these bail hearings undermines the societal interests in open courts that the First Amendment protects and inhibits the plaintiffs from accomplishing their organizational goals. The lawsuit asks the court to order Caldwell County to open bail hearings to the public, with the closure of a specific hearing permitted only if the County first complies with all constitutional requirements.

Status: On February 5, 2024, the court granted Plaintiffs' Preliminary Injunction and denied Defendants' Motion to Dismiss.

Case Information: The Tex. Tribune v. Caldwell Cnty., No. 1:23-cv-910 (W.D. Tex.).

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