In an effort to slash $4 million in Houston police overtime, officers have been ordered to ignore subpoenas for morning appearances in municipal court, a policy change that has infuriated citizens, riled defense attorneys, and angered police union officials, according to the Houston Chronicle. Police were ordered by Chief Charles McClelland to appear in court at 1 p.m., even if they have been subpoenaed to a trial at 8 a.m. or 10:30 a.m. by the seven municipal courts that hear jury trials.
Citizens who show up for their trials are not allowed to leave the courtroom – except for restroom breaks or to put money in parking meters – resulting in a wait of up to five hours before their cases begin. “The city wants to save on (overtime) money they pay officers, and they want to force citizens into pleading guilty by having them sit on these hard benches,” said attorney Paul Kubosh. The head of the Houston Police Officers Union said the new policy will lead to massive gridlock of the municipal court system, as well as exposing officers to possible arrest for ignoring a lawful subpoena. Each of the seven courts typically has 200 cases set for trial each day.