Gov. Greg Abbott announced Wednesday that he had selected Andy Kahan, Crime Stoppers of Houton’s director of victim services, to serve a five-year term on the State Commission on Judicial Conduct (SCJC).
Prior to joining Crime Stoppers in 2018, Kahan served as a victim advocate with the City of Houston under five mayoral administrations, and then another eight years with the Houston Police Department.
Prompted by a noticeable rise in crime in 2019, Kahan told The Texan that in 2020 he began to track bail bond trends in the region along with the number of victims allegedly murdered by suspects out on bond.
“There have now been 185 victims in Harris County allegedly murdered by a suspect out on multiple felony bonds, personal recognizance (PR) bond, or bond forfeiture,” said Kahan.
While sounding the alarm on the impact of what he calls a “bond pandemic,” Kahan has frequently clashed with local leaders who champion a more lenient approach to setting bonds for violent offenders.
After Kahan presented some of his findings to the Harris County Commissioners Court during a 2020 meeting, Commissioner Rodney Ellis (D-Pct. 2) accused him of fearmongering and County Judge Lina Hidalgo rejected a proposal to collaborate with Crime Stoppers, saying she preferred to work with groups that did not “have an ax to grind.”
Kahan dismissed the criticism, saying, “Yes, I will agree that I do have an ax to grind for the … people that have been killed by defendants released on a multitude of bonds in Harris County.”
Since then, Kahan has frequently testified before Texas legislative committees on how bond policies may contribute to rising violent crime. More recently, he has spoken on criminal court judges releasing suspects charged with Felon in Possession of a Weapon on PR bonds, which Kahan calls a “get out of jail free card” because suspects pay nothing prior to release.
Kahan also appears on the FOX 26 “Breaking Bond” series each week, during which he highlights habitual violent suspects repeatedly released on bond by Harris County judges.
He also serves as a board member of Parents of Murdered Children and Surviving Families Members of Homicide.
Kahan said he did not seek the appointment, but was pleasantly surprised when contacted by the governor’s office last month about the role.
“I readily accept this new challenge, but I will be continuing my advocacy work at Crime Stoppers on behalf of victims,” said Kahan.
SCJC consists of 13 members, including six judges appointed by the Supreme Court of Texas, two attorneys appointed by the State Bar of Texas who are specifically not judges, and five citizen members appointed by the governor who are neither attorneys nor judges. All appointees must be confirmed by the Texas Senate.
Tasked with reviewing complaints on judicial conduct, SCJC has authority to issue public reprimands, order public or private sanctions, and in some cases suspend judges or refer a judge to the Supreme Court of Texas for suspension or removal from office.
Earlier this year, SCJC referred Harris County Criminal Court Judge Franklin Bynum to the Texas Supreme Court for possible removal, although he lost his primary election in March 2022 and will not return to the bench in January. Complaints from the Harris County District Attorney’s Office allege that Bynum ordered the sheriff’s office not to collect DNA samples from defendants and demonstrated bias against victims of domestic assaults.
Disclosure: Unlike almost every other media outlet, The Texan is not beholden to any special interests, does not apply for any type of state or federal funding, and relies exclusively on its readers for financial support. If you’d like to become one of the people we’re financially accountable to, click here to subscribe.
Holly Hansen is a regional reporter for The Texan living in Harris County. Her former column, “All In Perspective” ran in The Georgetown Advocate, Jarrell Star Ledger, and The Hill Country News, and she has contributed to a variety of Texas digital media outlets. She graduated summa cum laude from the University of Central Florida with a degree in History, and in addition to writing about politics and policy, also writes about faith and culture.