Dallas working to standardize court fee waivers

DALLAS (AP) — As other courts around the country are being accused of creating debtors’ prisons by sending defendants to jail for not paying court fines and fees, officials say Dallas municipal court judges are more likely to waive those fees.

Administrative Judge Daniel Solis told a Dallas City Council committee Tuesday that the state’s Office of Court Administration contacted the court in early 2015 about the judges waiving fees without holding indigency hearings required by the state.

In fiscal year 2015, Solis says Dallas municipal judges were five times more likely to waive fees than judges in other cities such as Houston or Austin.

Dallas municipal judges have reduced the waivers by about two-thirds this year, and Solis says the court is working to create a standardized procedure for indigency hearings.