It’s a process that’s supposed to ensure a released criminal defendant shows up for trial, as well as protect the community from dangerous people. But pre-trial bond hearings are becoming the no man’s land of Texas criminal law � producing wildly different rulings based on the most nebulous standards.

A recent case in Dallas is a perfect example of the vagaries of pre-trial bond rulings. During the course of one week in September, the bond set for Patrick Timothy Richardson, who is accused of fatally stabbing his wife in front of their children, went from the original $250,000 set by one judge, to $30,000 by another and back up to $1 million by a third judge.

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