Awhile back I finally created an e-mail account that would give readers an opportunity to write in if they didn't want to post something publicly. I am glad I set up the e-mail because it has facilitated a great many conversations and explanations.
Unfortunately, I'm very bad about responding to all the e-mails I get "off blog". I don't mean to be rude by my tardiness, but sometimes other things just get in the way. Every couple of weeks, I go through the inbox and try to answer those questions that I can.
That being said, I also receive several questions that I can't answer for varying reasons, which is why I'm writing this particular post. I hope that people will still write in when they don't feel comfortable posting.
Here are some of the things, however, that I can't answer or do when somebody writes in:
1. Answer a Question about a Federal Case-my realm is the Harris County Criminal Justice Center which deals with the Laws of the State of Texas. If you are asking me about who did what on a Federal case, you might as well be asking me to translate something into Chinese. I have great respect for the Federal system, obviously, but I don't know Federal Procedure, much Federal Law, and very few Federal Prosecutors.
2. Give Legal Advice-let's say in the off-chance that I did happen to be a prosecutor, I can't be giving a person charged with a crime legal advice. Big no no.
3. Recommend an Attorney to Hire-I've got many many friends in the Defense Bar whom I like and respect. Harris County has got some of the best criminal defense attorneys in the universe. I'm not going to pick one and tell you that you should hire them. Also a big no no. I will give the general warning that if you are charged with a criminal case, you would probably be much better off with an actual criminal lawyer than your Uncle Elmo's divorce attorney, however.
4. Try to Get Vic Wisner to Change His Wardrobe-better men and women than me have been trying this for years and have failed. There are some missions that are just too impossible. I would advocate that you try getting in touch with the people who run Extreme Makeover, however.
5. Look Up Information on an Old Case for You-another big no no. If you want to suggest a case for public discussion that would be interesting for the blog, please let me know. But if you want me to find out what ever happened on Uncle Elmo's DWI case from 1992, I'm not going to do that.
6. Give you an E-mail address or Personal Contact Information for a Prosecutor or Defense Attorney-the bottom line is that if you can't find them by Googling them, don't look for me to be your search engine.
7. Predict What a Specific Judge Will Do Given a Certain Set of Facts-first of all, I'm not Nostradamus, or even Karnac, for that matter. As an attorney, I often don't know what a judge is going to do on any given case. I know what I hope they will do, and what I think they should do, but that often is completely unrelated to what they actually will do. I think that making a prediction can occasionally border on legal advice, and there's something about it that just feels fundamentally improper.
8. Send You an Autographed Picture of Myself-okay, so nobody has actually ever asked me to do this, but I can dream, can't I?
9. Answer Questions About Appellate Procedure-I'm a trial lawyer, and as Warren "Prime Time" Diepraam once stated, a trial lawyer is "in sales, not customer satisfaction". Probably the greatest asset to the Harris County District Attorney's Office is the incredible Appellate Division. They know everything you could ever possibly want to know about case law and appellate procedure. Compared to the great legal minds in Appellate, I'm just the fat kid in the school yard who eats paste.
10. Represent You-who knows? Maybe some day down the line. But not right now. :-)
Please keep those e-mails coming, though. I enjoy reading them, even if I can't answer some of them.