Wednesday, July 29, 2009

A Meeting Today

Today's going to be a big day for Lykos and the Davidians, as Roger Bridgwater will actually face the Defense Bar and talk to them about the new Pre-Trial Diversion Program for DWI first offenders.

The show is taking place at noon on the 7th Floor of the CJC, and when I say "show", I mean it. Expect Roger to finally be getting some tough questions that needed to be asked before they decided to "accidentally" announce their program during a press conference. Oh, and this time, Rog, you can't complain to the Disciplinary Committee on anybody for questioning you for a dumb plan.

Some of the questions that I have that are immediately coming to mind are:

1. What are you going to do when a County Court judge doesn't want to follow your policy and won't allow the case to be reset for a year?

2. Who is going to decide what infractions are worthy of getting a Defendant's Pre-Trial diversion yanked?

3. Are there going to be any lesser sanctions for lesser violations? If the Judge of the Court can't be doing admonishments for some of your customers, who will?

4. Have you thought about the effect of indigency on your Pre-Trial Diversion customers? What if somebody can't afford the Interlock Device, or they don't have a car at all? Do they get their Diversion yanked?

5. What happened to your initial policy of saying that the Pre-Trial Diversion would only be used in "appropriate cases"? Since, the alternative, under your new policy is 30 days in the Harris County Jail, how can you claim with a straight face that the program isn't an "across the board" treatment for DWIs. Also, how are you going to argue that you aren't coercing pleas?

Those are just a few thoughts I have before I run to court. I'm sure Troy McKinney and Robert Fickman will have a couple of more for you, Rog.

By the way, the Over and Under is 10 minutes before Roger storms out of the meeting.

40 comments:

Jack & Coke said...

Will the Houston Chronicle's Brian Rogers and/or any other media be in attendance?
I'm bringing popcorn!

Rage Judicata said...

I actually look forward to your post mortem of the meeting. I'm in favor of the diversion program and think it's a good idea. The obvious DWI's plead out, most of the rest are acquittals or dismissals.

The ones who would have gotten an acquittal or dismissal are the only ones at risk here. I bet the internet DWI lawyers still advise their clients not to plead, even to the diversion program.

My only real question is whether or not they will play hard ball by having a policy of no longer dismissing cases. If they want cases to either go to trial or enter diversion, they're going to have to stop dismissing quite a few cases. And that's going to be a pissing match that defense attorneys will probably win.

Anonymous said...

You'll be doing minute by minute updates I hope!

Anonymous said...

"I'm in favor of the diversion program and think it's a good idea."

Why?

Anonymous said...

We do not even know what the program is and we work here.Confused at Courthouse

Anonymous said...

anon 11:58,
neither does the troll so don't be so hard on yourself

Anonymous said...

More people leaving. Hiding out on 5

Anonymous said...

This is way off topic, but has anyone else noticed that Leitner seems a lot shorter lately? WTF's up with that?

Anonymous said...

This is going to be very bad for defense attorneys who depend on dwi's to pay the bills. As if the economy had not affected those who don't take court appointments enough...

By the way, those defense lawyers who criticize prosecutors for being on the government teat, well, aren't defense attorneys who take fed or state court appointment on the gubment teat as well?

Anonymous said...

anon 1:11:
defense attorneys who get court appointments suckle the hind teat of gubment. they'll be hollering when that nipple drys up.
wait until ptd offerings extend to other offenses as the quality of adas deteriorate and trial dodgers proliferate. bidness doesn't look promising for the big bad bennett ilk. ha!
before you know even rage sissycata might be able to win a pissing match with a scared baby ada.

Anonymous said...

Public Defender system is going to discussed again with comissioners court very soon. They think to much money being paid for lawyers. This comes up all the time. Money is no object to them when they need something.

Anonymous said...

Bra 159er, Little Jimmy Leitner would be perfect to run a Public Defender's Office after completing his internship year at HCDAO.

THE NEW TEXAS INJUSTICE SYSTEM for 2010:
*The Troll as Texas Attorney General;
*Girly Boy as Harris County DA;
*Little Jimmy as The Harris County Public Defender
*Mark "I wish I was Relevant" Bennett as 2nd asst. Deputy Public Defender (Quanell 10 being the 1st asst.)
Rage Judicunta as the County Jail monitor.
Dallas ain't got shit on us, homie.

Anonymous said...

It's gonna be funny to watch bennett and his ilksters when the public defender comes to town. There will be lots of defense attorneys not making money.

So if bennett becomes a public defender, does that mean he will actually try a case?

Anonymous said...

So wha' happen at the meeting?

I swear the word verification was duchi...

Anonymous said...

More courageous people are leaving within the next few weeks. The underlings who thought they were on a gravy train are going to be in for a big surprise because their behavior is being monitored and they are to naive to know. Their time off and overtime is being monitored.Big Brother is Watching

Rage Judicata said...

Why?

The US is over-incarcerated in general, but Texas in particular. We have more people in our jails than Alaska has residents. Or Montana. Or a couple of other states.

Crime rates are dropping and so are prison populations, meaning that it is increasingly difficult to justify increasing jail populations as necessary to reduce crime rates. At a time when we spend millions to incarcerate people for minor non-violent crimes, even pre-trial, and continue to put people in jail when jail is proven not to reduce recidivism in some areas (most often drug and alcohol cases), we should look for alternatives that will educate and treat the problem. We know incarceration won't always work. So let's find something that will.

Unfortunately, the administration isn't doing this for the right reasons. They will insist on jail if not diversion, when they should be making treatment and education more important.

I think a main reason for it is also trying to reduce the number of dismissals and acquittals in an attempt to improve their disposition rates. Yet another reason their heart isn't in the right place and they aren't being the defense attorneys many ADAs claim they are being. They're trying to take cases that are won by Defendants and convert them to the diversion program.

I know a lot of you people think treatment doesn't work, and it won't work for the hard core folks. Those are the ones that will be convicted. It's the lightweights that will get diversion. They're the ones that are most likely to respond to treatment or just be scared straight, because there but for the grace of God go you or I. If you don't think it could happen to you, read Jeremy's McRae post, or basically anything written by Life After Esquire. You can't tell me she didn't drive impaired from time to time.

What we're doing isn't preventing some of these crimes. We need to do something different.

Anonymous said...

Rage, you don't know your ass from a hole in the ground. If you reallyl think the DA's office never wins a DWI trial, then you've never been in a county court. It happens daily. DA's win and lose daily. If you ever tried a case, then you would know that the great gamble with a trial is that anything can happen. I have won and lost DWIs as a prosecutor. Most have. You, on the other hand, talk a big game but talk is all you are.

For the 100th time I will ask a question that I know you are too much of a pussy to answer: how many criminal cases above a Class C have you tried? Because I anticipate that you will lie, why don't you also include the cause number.

This is all for nothing, because you are simply a douche bag who likes to type shit.

Rage Judicata said...

Rage, you don't know your ass from a hole in the ground.

Jesus, I can't even make a reasonable post without you people getting your panties in a wad.

If you reallyl think the DA's office never wins a DWI trial,

Not once did I ever say that. honestly, learn to respond to what has been said, not what you think I said. don;t you tell your witnesses to answer the question that's been asked, not the one they want to answer? Seriously, you're a lawyer, and your reading is that poor?

Statistically, first time DWI's that do not plead out result in dismissal or acquittal 94% of the time, according to disposition rates. That's not me making shit up.

A 94% lose/dismiss rate looks bad for the office, so if Lykos can convert some of those to the diversion program by making it worth the risk, she improves her disposition rates without increasing trials. In fact, she will decrease the trials and dismissals with this program.

She will use that statistic to say she's tough on crime because she's dismissing and losing fewer DWI trials. Mark my words.

If you ever tried a case, then you would know that the great gamble with a trial is that anything can happen.

Tried over 100 of them. But if I know going into a trial that there's a 94% chance that I'll win, I'm going to advise my client to go to trial. That's just playing the numbers.

For the 100th time I will ask a question that I know you are too much of a pussy to answer: how many criminal cases above a Class C have you tried? Because I anticipate that you will lie, why don't you also include the cause number.

I have said several times that I have not tried a single criminal case. If you must know, the three times that I have represented criminal defendants resulted in dismissals. Twice because I flat out outworked the ADA, and once because the witness no-showed at trial. Even the ADA knew the witness was a liar but were going to prosecute anyway, claiming they
"had to" because they had a witness. Which is total bullshit.


This is all for nothing, because you are simply a douche bag who likes to type shit.

Shit. Shit. Shit. Shit. Shit. Shit. Shit.

You're right.

Anonymous said...

Sorry 8:12.

Rage probably isn't as stupid as he seems. If he gives you a cause number, you will be able to figure out his name by looking in JIMS. It is much harder to insult people when they know who you are.

Anonymous said...

"What we're doing isn't preventing some of these crimes. We need to do something different."

How, exactly, does a pre-trial diversion after a crime is committed prevent crime? There isn't one thing that can happen at the courthouse that can prevent a crime. Not one.

Rage Judicata said...

It is much harder to insult people when they know who you are.

The converse is why the ADA's around here stay anonymous. They know they'd get fired, and all this "leaving on 4" and "hiding out on 5" bullshit would be unnecessary because they'd be fired.

Seriously, y'all could learn who I am and it will never ever hurt my career because I don't intend to be a criminal lawyer, ever. But y'all can't say the same. You aren't men enough to say something and stick with it like Murray did, knowing that you'd rather be right than work in that office. You're scared little punks.

We'll be better off when immature punks like you aren't in charge of the life and liberty of ordinary citizens.

Anonymous said...

"Statistically, first time DWI's that do not plead out result in dismissal or acquittal 94% of the time, according to disposition rates. That's not me making shit up."

Actually that was Bennett using a skewed data set. Look at the numbers--they don't add up to that.

Anonymous said...

Rage-

If your statement about the number of criminal cases you've handled is true (three), then you have more experience trying criminal cases than the current elected District Attorney. You could run for the office in 2012 and tout the extensive insight you have in the criminal justice system based on outworking a Baby Prosecutor on a Urinating in Public case.

I would vote for you. You would have to use your real name, though.

A Harris County Lawyer said...

Rage,
I was curious as to whether or not you are a member of HCCLA or have been following any of the logistical arguments against the Pre-Trial Diversion.
I'm going to try to talk Troy or Rob or Trichter or somebody into doing a guest post here that outlines how bad the execution of the diversion plan actually is for the accused.

Anonymous said...

Rather than respond to Rage I suggest reading the dictionary: Rage-a violent uncontrollable anger. Understanding the definition should give you the appropriate value of his opinions.

Rage Judicata said...

AHCL:

I'm not a member of any criminal defense organization, but I have been keeping up with the pros and cons. I would like to have been at the meeting today.

I will agree though, that the plan is bad for the accused. Like I mention above, why would they take it, unless coerced by refusing to dismiss, if they had such a good shot at acquittal or dismissal?

They'd take it if it was either that or trial, no matter what, because many of these people would rather live straight for two years than risk a trial. Most of the borderline cases would be people who may have had something to drink, but were not truly impaired even though a cop looked in their eyes and didn't like they way they moved. They're generally good people, and will not do it again--or didn't really the first time. The ones who were falling down drunk or got in a wreck will plead out, they won't be affected one way or the other.

The HCDAO uses its prosecutorial discretion so infrequently as it is, I'd hate to see it reigned in even further by refusing to plead any DWI that declined diversion, when they already have such a low success rate for the prosecution.

I think it would be good to get one of the main DWI lawyers to put their perspectives out there. I'm surprised their own blogs/websites are mostly silent on the plan, other than to say "it sucks." But hey, it has the defense and prosecution in agreement for at least one thing...

I would also like to see the perspective of a defense lawyer whose practice isn't almost entirely DWI cases though.

Anonymous said...

To lump acquittals in with dismissals is just ridiculous and your bullshit statistic (even if it is true) doesn't make you sound smart. Dismissing a case is often times one of the most responsible things a prosecutor can do. Each prosecutor takes an oath to see that justice is done and just because there is probable cause doesn't necessarily mean that there is enough evidence to convict them. If an officer reasonably believed a person was too intoxicated to drive, that person should be taken off the road for the night. Never mind the fact that if they blow under the limit they get released, we'll focus on the refusals. If they refuse a breath test a Judge is going to find PC, but a prosecutor may not believe there is anything more than PC and they will dismiss the case. That's hardly the same as an acquittal and should therefore not be lumped into the same stat category. A good prosecutor evaluates cases and tries cases she can win. The better the lawyer the harder the cases they can get a conviction in and that trend is obvious to the "higher-ups" over time. If you can't get a conviction, plead it or nolle it depending on what justice requires.

Throw out your stat on acquittals only and then you can possibly speak intelligently on the subject. Then compare that stat pre-PTD to the post-PTD figure and we'll see its effect.

Rage Judicata said...

Also, I've said several times that I'm going to start ignoring the cry baby personal attacks that detract from the subject. And I'll start doing it again.

Hopefully these public servants will start reading and responding like adults, instead of ranting and raving with more vitriol than any definition of my name will provide.

Rage Judicata said...

9:35, 42% is the number of outright acquittals. So, if you have a 42% chance of getting no punishment, 58% of getting basically probation or minimal time (or even time served), why would you agree to two years of supervision?

Your average unemployed, single, etc., defendant can do 30 days and be done with it, or live for two years with an interlock and supervision?

If that's the only issue (30 days or 42% chance of acquittal), I bet about half of them refuse and go to trial and half take the 30 days (which will increase incarceration and expenses in Harris County).

But you can't completely divorce the dismissals statistically. Sure, they're done for different reasons and you have no argument from me that sometimes it's the right thing to do (in fact, such an alarmingly high rate of dismissals tells me that the cops are poorly trained to either detect or properly document the impairment level of a driver), but if you have a huge shot at getting dismissed and a decent chance of getting acquitted, against a slight shot at a conviction, you'll take trial. I would, every single time.

Anonymous said...

Actually, the number of dismissals and acquitals in DWI cases have to do with the inherent nature of DWI cases. If you don't do the SFST's or refuse to blow, generally the officer's word and the SOAB (strong order of alcoholic beverage) is all he has to take to trial. No video and the case is even weaker.

I don't try many DWI cases, but the few that I have were really weak.

How do the CCL judges feel about this program?

Anonymous said...

anon 9:50 pm said: "But you can't completely divorce the dismissals statistically. Sure, they're done for different reasons and you have no argument from me that sometimes it's the right thing to do (in fact, such an alarmingly high rate of dismissals tells me that the cops are poorly trained to either detect or properly document the impairment level of a driver), but if you have a huge shot at getting dismissed and a decent chance of getting acquitted, against a slight shot at a conviction, you'll take trial. I would, every single time."

That's assuming they can pay a king's ransom for a dwi defense lawyer or they luck out and get one of the few appointed lawyers (hind gubment teat sucking variety) that can actually litigate a dwi case successfully.

Too Old To Change said...

All this bandying about of statistics reminds me of what a law professor told me decades ago; "You try cases on the unique set of facts presented, not statistical likelihoods of winning." Suggesting a blanket statistic means anything at all proves a lack of knowledge on how statistics work, most of them based on a random sample. If your client took one of the tests, blood/breath, and did poorly, his chances of winning just dropped considerably.

Otherwise, a successful defense in a horse race of a case could prove a LOT more expensive than many people can afford these days because the specialists are deep five figures in costs and the debutantes like yourself who try to outwork the ADA are not as good a bet even if a modicum cheaper.

Anonymous said...

More blood draws = more convictions
Just because someone drinks like a fish and can do well on tests, or refuse them, does not mean that they are not guilty. Many ov the new DA's need to grow some stones and take more cases to trial instead of being scared of the big bad defense lawyers..

Anonymous said...

The acquittal rate is going to drop significantly because they are getting all the cops to take blood from all the drunks all the time. Harris County will be a 100%blood county. I think that is how they are getting the cops and MADD to support the program.

Rage Judicata said...

Suggesting a blanket statistic means anything at all proves a lack of knowledge on how statistics work

Ignoring them shows a lack of perspective, and an inability to properly counsel your client of their risks (or rewards) of going to trial.

five figures in costs and the debutantes like yourself who try to outwork the ADA are not as good a bet even if a modicum cheaper.

If you get five figures deep in costs for a DWI case, you're the worst lawyer in the world. Trust me, if a case called for that much in costs, I'd get them. And I'd still outwork the DA on top of it.

Anonymous said...

"And I'd still outwork the DA on top of it."

And my cock is huge, and I have tons of money, and all the boys and girls weally, weally like me.

Anonymous said...

Rage, I think "Too old to change" isn't a "Green Sheet" lawyer like some that post here and as such, his comments on cost is more common than you might believe. Those comments also limited themselves to the specialists, not the generic representative, in the tough cases; the kind Gary Trichter, Nugent, and a handful of others charge quite a bit for but cling to those stats if it makes you feel better.

Anonymous said...

Here is how blood will work in the real world.

The only ones who draw blood now, and will in the future, will be the traffic units / DWI task force. The average patrolman, confronted with a choice between a 4-hr deal doing mandatory draw, trip to hospital, process the drunk, process the blood, do video and report OR maybe not "detecting" alcohol and going to breakfast at Denny's will take the latter. Nobody minded the headache when somebody was dead or dying, but for a repeat offender? Hell, it's just as easy to do a DWLS or instanter or traffic and be in and out in 30 minutes.

The D.A. talked about 1,500+ people being hurt in DWI crashes last year, yet they probably filed 40-50 intox assaults if they have kept true to form over the years. Why not more? Because the police see it as a big pain in the ass.

Another thing that will greatly increase with the diversion program is officers just putting a drunk on the wrecker in lieu of arresting a person with a clean record. They'll justify it by saying "Nothing is going to happen downtown anyway." It will be owner's request, $250 fine on the spot, and the officer is back in service in 10 minutes.

Don't believe me, hide and watch.

Anonymous said...

I just read the synopsis of the DIVERT court put out by the DA's office. Obviously, those responsible for the conception of this program not only failed to consult their own staff and defense attorneys, it appears they also failed to consult with treatment professionals. As Mark Bennett pointed out in his blog, relapse is part of the recovery process for people who are considered addicted or dependant. The only person who could possibly comply with all the terms of DIVERT, including the zero tolerance towards relapse, would be a social drinker.

Anonymous said...

Anon 11:30,
You and even Mark "I Wish I was Relavent" Bennett, are exactly correct on DIVERT. A social drinker who has no business in rehab will more than likely complete the sham program successfully because he/she never had a drinking problem ab initio. An alcoholic, on the other hand, who is coerced into attending alcohol rehab, will, in all reasonable probability, fail miserably. So what has really been accomplished? Not a fucking thing except for Crazy Pat getting undeserved positive press(I can only hope there were no good old boy inside deals worked out with vendors/rehab facilities). Lykos' goal, therefore, will be to manipulate as many social drinkers into this inappropriate and illegal program as possible to falsely bolster her cause.
What an incredible subterfuge of Texas State law and infringement on the rights of those traveling the roads of Harris County just so Judge Pat can get some press. DISGUSTING!!!!!!!!!!!