Friday, February 12, 2010

The Juvenile Races

Across the street from the Criminal Justice Center is the Juvenile Justice Center, which houses the 313th, 314th, and 315th District Courts of Harris County, Texas.

I don't go over there much if I can help it.

Although I'm glad that there are folks more qualified than me to handle juvenile matters, I'd just as soon not go over there. If you can take all the drama and tragedy that you find in the CJC and then apply it to children, you get the juvenile system. I spent about four months there in 2000 as a rookie prosecutor, and that was about the extent of my experience there.

I say this as a caveat that I don't know that much about the candidates running for election or re-election other than (mostly) just reputation. That's why I'm lumping all the races into one blog post and inviting those of you who know more about the candidates to chime in.

So, here's what little I do know.

The 313th District Court

Current Judge Pat Shelton has decided not to run for re-election this year, leading to multiple candidates from both the Republican and Democratic side. On the Republican side we have long-time defense attorney Glenn Devlin running against former prosecutor Fred Wilson.

I don't know Fred Wilson, personally, although we have spoken via e-mail a couple of times, but I do know that he had an outstanding reputation with the District Attorney's Office. I have never heard a bad thing about him. From all accounts, he's a great guy and would make a good judge. He has been out of the D.A.'s Office since before I started there, but when he was there he was involved extensively with the juvenile system.

I do know Glenn Devlin personally, and I like Glenn a lot. I think Glenn is a great guy and he spends the vast amount of his practice doing juvenile criminal law. He knows the law and he works hard for his clients. He's also got an easy-going demeanor that I think would translate well into a good judicial temperament. I know that when newer attorneys begin working juvenile criminal defense that Glenn is one of the first to take them under his wing and help show them the ropes. He was kind to me when I was a baby prosecutor, and I appreciate that and I will always appreciate it.

But dammit, Glenn went and got Terry Lowry's endorsement, and I really wish he hadn't. You didn't need to get in on that Low Life's bandwagon, my friend. I made a vow that I wouldn't endorse anyone that sought that Ferret's endorsement, and I have to stand by that.

The winner of the Wilson/Devlin battle will face off against the winner of a three way race for the Democratic nomination featuring attorneys J. Anthony Referente, Natalie Oakes, and Marc Isenberg.

I can make my analysis of them very short and sweet: I don't know any of them.

I just don't do juvenile law, so I'm going to refer you to their websites and let the commenters have their say. I don't know enough to say a thing (either good or bad) about them.

The 314th District Court

Republican Incumbent Judge John Phillips faces off against one of two of the Democratic challengers for the 314th. Attorneys David Longoria and John Stephen Liles (NOTE: Liles doesn't have a website listed on the Democratic Candidate web page) are vying for the spot.

Again, I don't know these guys, either.

The 315th District Court

Republican Incumbent Judge Mike Schneider will face off against the winner of a two person race for the Democrats as Keith Branch and Bill Thursland face off against each other. Neither of these candidates have websites listed, either, and I'm not familiar with them.

I'm sorry not to have a lot of info on your Juvenile judges, but I hope my commenters will help out here. I think it was still necessary to do the post because they are dealing with criminal law though.

Y'all help me fill in the blanks here.


Anonymous said...

Fred Wilson would make an excellent judge. He is humble in demeanor, smart, fair, and even-tempered. Everyone who knows Fred loves him.

Glenn Devlin is a nice guy, too, very knowledgeable in juvenile law and a longtime insider over there. I like Glenn a lot, but there is just something a bit too slick and political about him for me to trust him. I'm sure APC supports him unreservedly.

BLACK INK said...

Anon 1:06,
Excellent and accurate summation.

As for APC, he is pathognomonic of what is wrong with the Harris County Republican Party leadership generally.

APC is not the only clueless pct chair. I would submit that most of the pct chairs are more concerned with petty party loyalties than what is actually beneficial to the Republican Party or to Harris County.

However, rather than taunting and engaging APC in a confrontational manner we need to reach out as many times as it takes to understand his kind in order to develop a teaching tool to educate them.
If not, the precinct chairs, along with Lowry, Hotze, the C Club, etc.,will lead the voters like lemmings to their demise.

The collapse of the Harris County DA's office is a prime example of why this disinformation propaganda needs to be reigned in and a truly objective forum be established.

Our goal, as responsible citizens of Harris County, ought to be to promote appropriate quality candidates to leadership positions.

Anonymous said...

Once again, Black Ink, I could not agree more, on all issues.

Taunting and calling APC names is not going to help anyone. It just confirms his believe that if you disgree on the blog you get called names. He is a die hard Republican and I am ok with that. It is the blind loyalty to party reguardless of qualifications that disturbs us, or me at least. He made statements on here at times that seemed like he was coming around somewhat, regarding Palmer and Wood. I hope so. I hope he truly is educating himself and helping to educate his pct.

Regarding Pct. Chairs, the majority of them are concerned only with party loyalty. They certainly have no idea what goes on in the CJC or who would be a good, qualified judge. So, they look at who they know in the party and go with them. I know a couple of them that honestly try to educate themselves on all candidates but that's it. I have a friend who is a good friend of "an influencial Pct Chair." This friend has talked until she is blue in the face to the Pct. Chair about not supporting a particular candidate because they have no business being a criminal ct judge. The Pct Chair will not listen because that candidate is " a long time, good republican", qualifications be damned.

Wood is a perfect example of who you know in the party. They all know her and appear to fawn over her as she talks about being a judge and fighting the Democrats for years. She recently sent out an email to the Pct Chairs that basically says every time a police officer is shot, the suspect had a misdemeanor record, and because Natalie has been retired for over a decade and Cary and Joe are criminal defense attorneys, those things will continue to happen if they are elected and not her. She compares herself to a Federal Judge that handles both civil and criminal cases, therefore she is qualified. She goes on to basically say the CJC needs a perspective from the civil side and there is no real difference between civil and criminal law. Oh, and since she was a muni judge in the early '80's and sat as a visiting JP last year, she is good to go as far as criminal experience. I am sure most of the Pct Chairs bought it hook, line and sinker.

Didn't mean to get off on a rant on Wood but to me it is insulting to every one of us, judges, defense attorneys and prosecutors.

So, Black Ink is right. We can sit by and watch the uneducated party loyalists decide who will be in the CJC or we can do what we do best, advocate and educate the APC's of the world and get every person we know to go VOTE.

Aggie Pct Chair said...

I received the email from Wood and was insulted by it. Being active on this blog really gets you in touch with what goes on in the criminal practice. Wood is not going to win. You can count on that. Cary Hart is going to win that race.

Aggie Pct Chair said...

Also, some of you people are so egocentric that you believe that because you live in this particular world, everybody else should know about it. This such a small percentage of the Harris County population that most people don't know because they don't have time to know or haven't been a victim of a crime.

People try to learn and just get attacked. I am willfull and stubborn and I will learn despite the petty, childish, and nit witted attacks I receive.

If you want to know about the price of oil and where to drill, I can tell you.

Anonymous said...

I will be voting for Marc Eisenburg (sp?) for the 313th. He has been doing juvenile work for a long time. He refused to play the political games that were played for appointments in that bizarro world over there.

I feel like a vote for Devlin would be a vote for that old system of recipricol back scratching. Wilson may be a great guy but I would prefer he had more time over in juvenile court before presiding over it

Anonymous said...


Please just keep your mind open to the fact that just because someone is a party loyalist, they may not be a qualified candidate. See, for example, Lykos. Every policy she has implemented has been an effort to appease the defense bar. Frankly, if you and your fellow republicans looked at what changes she has actually made, you would see that the vast majority of her policies lean far more toward the liberal democrats than most republicans. But because she is tight with others in the party, the party adores her.

Anonymous said...

Delvin is more than qualified to be a judge in a juvenile court. Over the last 5 years, hasn't he been paid almost a $1 million for juvenile court appointments?

Anonymous said...

I agree with your last post APC, re: the small perctage that know about what goes on the life of the CJC. It is important to us because it is our world and so many people have no idea about our world yet will have such a huge part in shaping it. They should all learn about it though because it is such an important part of the society as a whole. The great thing about this blog is it does give those on the outside a glimps into the CJC. You are here. That is a start. It is one that I appreciate. Like another poster said, keep and open mind. It looks like you are or at least trying to and really, that is what we ask.

And as far as the name calling goes, every person who posts on any sort of regular basis gets attacked in some way at some point. It's almost like you are not one of the gang until you get called a name or two. Don't sweat it. Keep your mind open, learn about "our world", decide for yourself what is right and go from there.

Anonymous said...

Can't go wrong in the 314th with Phillips, Liles or Longoria.

Anonymous said...

313th - Glenn Devlin is clearly the MOST qualified candidate. His Juvenile and CPS experience cannot be touched by Fred Wilson. Just because Fred is a nice guy does not make him qualified for this bench. I am really disappointed to see that Murray is not endorsing the most QUALIFIED candidate for this bench. Just because Lowry endorsed Glenn does not mean that we should vote for an unqualified candidate. That would be irresponsible as voters. I personally do not care who gets endorsed by Lowry or any other group. I base my votes on qualifications.

315th - I hope Judge Schneider wins re-election. He is a well respected judge. He knows the Juvenile and CPS laws, and he really cares about his role in the juvenile justice system. He has a very professional demeanor, and I have only heard good things about him as a judge.

314th - I need to read about the other candidates before I decide.

Anonymous said...

For the sake of all the children in CPS care and for all the children who may come into CPS care, I hope that the readers ignore Murray on his recommendation regarding the 313th Juvenile Bench.

The CPS cases are an entirely different entity. They are complicated, delicate and very important. Children's lives are involved.

Please vote for Glenn Devlin. He has the experience that is required to handle these important cases. The other candidate had no exposure to CPS cases at the DA's office nor at the Railroad.

Aggie Pct Chair said...

I was told that the juvenile sysyem is a lucrative system whereby a few lawyers get all of the appointments. I was also told that Glen Devlin is very close with Pat Shelton?

Any truth to the rumors?

Anonymous said...


Both rumors are true. A vote for Devlin is an endorsement of a good ol' boy system that you wont see happening in Schneider's court. The most responsible thing a voter can do is to research a little about the democratic candidates and break from party lines in this particular race.

Anonymous said...

Here is a thought. Why don't you talk to the Assistant County Attorneys who handle the CPS dockets, and talk to the CPS supervisors and court liaisons who work in the juvenile courts during the CPS dockets. Ask them what they think about having an unexperienced judge handling the CPS cases. Do some research.

Anonymous said...

I never worked in Juvenile, but I did work as an ADA for almost 8 years. I tried a case against Glenn and he's very good (he won and he should've won -- it was a weak, no test-no accident DWI case). But I think the same thing others do: he's a little too slick for his own good.

I have no doubt he knows the Juvenile system well. He and Phillips used to work together and when Phillips became Judge, he gave Glenn a TON of work -- some would say too much. There was a Chronicle story about chronism -- Phillips giving nearly all his appointments to Devlin and making him rich (I think the article said that in one year Devlin made $166,000 off of Phillips' appointments alone). Meanwhile, Judge Shelton and Phillips voted against appointing lawyers like Joanne Musick, who is board certified and a former president of the HCCLA, from getting appointments because a relative of hers was involved in a controversial juvenile case. The story featured three attorneys like Joanne -- those with higher qualifications than the majority of appointed attorneys but who had run-ins with one juvenile judge and so all banded together to keep them from getting any appointments. I think this was before Schneider took the bench, but I'm not sure. I looked for the story by researching the Chronicle's website, but couldn't find it. I know this could be confirmed through Joanne, though.

In sum, I think Glenn is qualified. But I can't say I trust that his court is going to be any different from Phillips who runs his courtroom like a frat club. My guess is that Glenn has made so much dang money off of Phillips that now he can "retire" by playing Judge with his best friend.

Anonymous said...

Ok. So the bad things you have can say about Glenn is that he is qualified, a good trial attorney, one who has devoted years to representing juveniles, and that he is well liked among the juvenile judges and those judges give him a lot of work. That makes him "slick"? Whatever.

Have you stopped to think that maybe Glenn does juvenile work because he cares about it? And he will clearly be taking a pay cut if he becomes a judge. That tells me that he cares about the juvenile system.

Anonymous said...

It's almost like you are not one of the gang until you get called a name or two.

I'm one of the gang now!


Anonymous said...

Fred Wilson would be a breath of fresh air in the incestuous world that is the Harris County juvenile court system. The more "outsiders" that are brought into the juvenile district courts the better. The situation there has been allowed to fester for way too long. Fortunately it appears that Wilson has picked up the necessary PAC endorsements to carry the Republican primary in March. We will see if he becomes part of the ongoing problem there as a judge, or rises above it.

Anonymous said...

Hey Murray,

The Lowry "Hate Slate" is out. Looks like if you gave him $10K for a full page ad you are his date for the Primary.

In addition to listing his "Whores", he includes a Pat Robertson piece stating that the Haiti earthquake was God's punishing that nation for past sins.

Way to go Mr. Christian!

Anonymous said...

If you have any questions about how Lowery picks his endorsements, check out Leslie Yates. She bought a half page ad, is incredibly qualified, if you go to any arguments before her court, her questions are always on spot but her opponent bought a full page ad and is not qualified so Lowery endorsed Yates opponent. Really?

Jacked and Coked said...

I think it is unfair to vote against someone merely because Lowry endorsed that individual. However, if the endorsee also gave money to Lowry, directly or indirectly, that is sufficient cause not to vote for the candidate. Whether a full or 1/2 page ad was purchased begs the issue. You don't have to be gang banged to call it rape.

Xi said...

Anon 10:51 Yates was simply outbid.

Anonymous said...

The "honorable" Glen Devlin has not only paid Terry Lowry for his endorsement, but according to the Lone Star Times he has paid this POS more than any other candidate this election cycle with a grand total of $15,000.00. Jared Woodfill, the John in 2nd place, has only shelled out $12,000.00 at "Lowry's House of Ill Repute" and must increase his personal payoff by 3K to catch up with Devlin.
So to all you Devlin supporters out there--this makes your boy sick as well as slick.

Aggie Pct Chair said...

Those of us on the inside laugh at these payments. At one point in time, Hotze had a strong following and could make a difference in the election. He has gradually lost his stroke for a number of reasons. Lowry just doesn't make a difference in elections. These payoffs are absurd but people feel they need to do something and Lowry capitalizes on their fears. Terry and I once laughed about something similar in another state. Now seeing the kind of money he is making I guess he is laughing to the bank. To his credit, at least he doesn't change his beliefs and in my opinion can be crazy at times. I would rather have a die hard far right winger rather than Jesse Jackson or someone from the far left.

Anonymous said...

No ad hominem attacks to unknown individuals, either judges or attoneys, particularly to whom this does not apply. However, to those neophytes that believe that one necessarily reduces one's income by becoming a judge, that reduction for many is necessarily only reflected on one's 1040 return. The un-reported income to some such as bottles of adult beverages,lunch, successful bets at gin rummy games and Texan holdem, seats at Astro, Rocket, and Texans games more than offset that loss of "reportable" income. And let's not forget that until they show up for work, nothing goes forward; but woe it be to the attorney that is late. Also, the visiting judge option gets one out of trials where one might be actually forced to think because of the competency of counsel on both sides of the case. For many, unfortunately what this is all about is an early funded retirement.

Anonymous said...

APC, it seems to me Lowery's principles are dead presidents and you would rather have someone with these principles? What principles?