As early voting is only a week away, I realized that some of my readers (if not the entire world) was probably waiting breathlessly for my endorsements in the criminal courthouse races.
This will be a shock to most of you loyal readers, but I strongly recommend Kelly Siegler for D.A. I think a lot of Jim Leitner, but frankly, I think he does the community more of a service as a defense attorney, zealously and skillfully advocating for those accused of crimes. Kelly has taken a lot of lumps in the six weeks that she's been a candidate here. She knows the problems the Office has gone through. She knows what needs to be changed, and she will change it. I think that those people both prosecution and defense who know her personally know that she is the best candidate for the job. Even if the Chronicle is afraid that she'll be just too damn good at the job.
Now, once you've picked yourselves up off the floor after that shocker, let me move on.
In the 174th Judicial Race between John Jocher, Bill Moore, Kevin Keating, Terrance Windham . . . I'm not picking.
These four guys have got so much honor and class amongst them that I wouldn't dare insult three of them by saying that one was better. This primary between the four candidates is what all political races should be. They are all extremely qualified and any one of them would make this community proud. I wish they had "fanned out" a little bit into some other races, rather than running against each other. This is truly a case of "may the best man win". Good luck to all of you.
(NOTE: I do find it wildly amusing that the Chronicle will have no choice but to recommend an Assistant D.A. in this primary race. I'm sure that the editorial staff is beside themselves.)
In the 176th Judical Race, there is no issue in picking who I recommend.
The race is between Michele Saterelli Oncken and incumbent Brian Rains.
Judge Rains has been on the bench ever since I've been a lawyer. And ever since I've been a lawyer he has had the reputation of being one of the rudest and most unkind judges on the bench since . . . well, Pat Lykos.
He claims that Michele Oncken is running against him "because I made her husband mad."
If only it was that simple, Judge Rains. The fact is that you've upset everybody.
The rudeness from this bench has gone well beyond the boundaries of being a "tough judge", and into the range of just absurd vindictiveness. The fact that a person is a jerk to both sides of the bar doesn't make that person any less of a jerk.
Throughout the years, Rains has steadfastly refused to put people on probation. When probations were agreed to, he would passive-aggressively agree to the probation, but throw in 180 days in the Harris County Jail as a condition (thus nullifying the point of giving probation). He has sworn he considers the full range of punishment on any PSI hearing, but all attorneys know that it just isn't true.
Rains' refusal to consider the full range of punishment has led to more recusal hearings than any other judge that I'm personally aware of. One hearing even had the unlikely alliance of the District Attorney's Office and Dick DeGuerin.
His questionable bond decisions have led to at least two tragic murders committed by people out on bond in his court. His impatience with the pace of a trial has led to at least one capital murder conviction being reversed.
Michele Oncken was the Chief in his court for a year or two. Normally, the Chief/Judge relationship is one of some sort of fondness (or at least mutual respect). The fact that she is running against a Judge where she was previously a chief says a lot, in and of itself. She's been a Chief prosecutor for at least five years now, including stints in Capital Writs, District Court, and now in Juvenile. She certainly has the background for the job.
Sorry, Judge Rains, but its definitely time for you to go. Nobody deserves to be treated the way that you treat people.