Thursday, August 21, 2008

Texas Bondsman Suing County

A long-simmering dispute between bail bondsmen and counties across Texas has resulted in a lawsuit against Wichita County.

Longtime bail bondsman Ken Knowles sued for reimbursement for what he sees as overcharges on fees his company and others must pay the county when a criminal suspect doesn’t show up for a court date.

“Over the years, we’ve paid tens of thousands of dollars,” Knowles said. “Wichita County has been unfair.”

The suit is styled as a class action on behalf of all bondsmen in the county.

Tyler attorney Ken Good, who represents Knowles, said most counties have been charging bondsmen between $250 and $400 in civil fees when a suspect jumps bail. But he said a recent opinion from the state attorney general indicates the fees should only be about $8.

Knowles’ suit seeks to stop the overcharging and get reimbursement for past overcharges. Good said the overcharges have been occurring across the state for about 25 years. He has filed similar suits in Moore, Potter and Randall counties, where Knowles also has offices, and is looking to file suits in all counties where he perceives overcharges occurring.

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