Defendants are still waiting for trials after Harvey flooded a Houston courthouse

Hurricane Harvey brought the court system in Harris County, TX — one of the busiest in the nation — to a screeching halt. Hundreds of people are now waiting in jail for indefinitely suspended hearings and trials.
November 22, 2017, 8:16am

HOUSTON, Texas — When Harvey hit, it took Houston’s entire justice system offline.

Months later, the county still hasn’t recovered. The courthouse and a jury assembly center, which were both built right next to the flood-prone Buffalo Bayou, are still completely unusable. They may remain so for months.

This means that countless defendants — some in jail, some not — are left waiting for trials that have been suspended indefinitely.

“Your life is put on hold when you are charged with a crime,” said attorney Murray Newman. He has several clients who have been waiting to appear in court, but without a functioning court system, there is little he can do to help them. Until the system is fully operational, he says, “justice isn’t being done.”

VICE News met with Houston officials — and a man who is still waiting for his day in court — to find out how the county is coping.

This segment originally aired November 22, 2017, on VICE News Tonight on HBO.