Saturday, February 6, 2010

The Race for the 180th District Court (Republican)

The announcement of long-time 180th District Court Judge Debbie Stricklin that she would not be seeking re-election this year has brought out five candidates to replace her, with 3 on the Republican side and 2 on the Democratic side. On the Republican side, we have Harris County District Attorney's Office Division Chief Marc Brown, defense attorney Emily Munoz, and Danny Dexter vying for the spot.

In this race, I know all three candidates. Two of them are very good candidates. The other one absolutely flabbergasts the mind as to why anyone would consider voting for him.

Danny Dexter is a former Assistant District Attorney who was fired from the Office in 2004 because he was incompetent of doing the job. Since 2004, nobody has seen him around the CJC and he certainly hasn't been practicing as a defense attorney at the State level. For some reason, he has been able to garner the endorsements of some high level Republicans, which just absolutely astounds me, because Danny has absolutely no clue on earth as to what he is doing.

I don't mean to be cruel about Danny. I worked with him and he was a very nice person, but being a nice person doesn't mean that you are cut out for a job. I consider myself to be a swell guy, but that doesn't mean that I deserve to be the quarterback for the Texans, for example.

Danny was a terrible prosecutor and he didn't do his job.

At all.

When I started at the D.A.'s Office, he was a misdemeanor chief. He was still at the same level when I became a Felony Two three years later. The Office tried to take a gamble on him and promote him to the level of Felony Two, but he absolutely cratered within months and had to be fired.

Back then, the Office was extremely cautious in their firings and there was careful documentation before a person got terminated. And although Danny fought the release of the evaluations that ultimately led to his termination, they are now making the rounds of the political circles.

Some of the highlights from his evaluations include these criticisms from one Chief:

-"[his]preparation has become increasingly disappointing."
-"making offers on trial day that are well below what has previously been offered, including the reduction of cases for the simple purpose of pleading it."
-"Danny has been less than truthful with me on several of his cases"
-"Danny is too quick dismiss on some cases and too hard line on others."
-"it has not been unusual to have cases reset multiple times for Danny to complete one task"
-"Danny no longer appears to have enthusiasm for his job".
-"Danny is currently doing the bare minimum on his cases."
-"Danny's uninspired trial skills and lackadaisical attitude have made it clear to me that he is not ready to handle the more serious cases."
-"I have counseled with Danny on several occasions regarding this decrease and have seen no improvement."

Another Chief had this to say:

-"on occasion [he] misstates the law and confuses the jurors".
-"He sometimes pouts when the judge rules against him."
-"Danny's knowledge of some basic areas of the law is weak."
-"his [trial preparation] was woefully lacking."
-"Too often Danny does not exercise good judgment."
-"deficiencies in Danny's judgment, case evaluation, case preparation, and people skills suggest he would not make a good chief."
-"there have been instances where he has done exactly as he pleases despite being told otherwise."

This same chief also detailed at length about how Danny had been sent to Career Prosecutor School and left the vast majority of his extremely serious cases unprepared and uncovered for trial. He also took days off after being expressly told that he couldn't.

I'm sorry, Danny. You were a nice guy, but you were no prosecutor. You aren't a practicing attorney in the CJC now, and you've got absolutely no business sitting on the bench handling such incredibly important matters in the future.

In an election year where we've already identified several bad choices running for Office, Danny may just be the Crown Jewel of Bad Decisions.

My friend, Emily Munoz, on the other hand, is a former prosecutor and has now had a successful defense practice for about ten years. Prior to working at the District Attorney's Office, she worked as a Briefing Attorney for the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals. She is also Board Certified in Criminal Law.

Emily is a very vocal and active member of the defense bar who doesn't shy away from going to trial on even the toughest cases. She is an admirable advocate for her clients, combining her intelligence and trial presence to help them.

One of the things that impresses me the most about Emily is her desire to win the 180th bench is based on a duty to serve the public. She wants good candidates in good positions, and she has conducted her campaign accordingly.

But as much as I like Emily and think she would do a good job as judge, my support in this race goes to Marc Brown.

Marc is a 21 year veteran of the District Attorney's Office who has tried every type of case from DWI to a death penalty capital murder. During the time I was with the Office, he (along with Ted Wilson) were the foremost authorities on Search and Seizure law, and he was a walking law library on the latest case law. When Marc was promoted to Division Chief, he became the head of the Misdemeanor Division, where he found himself enjoying the opportunity to teach the Baby Prosecutor's on the basics of how to do their job.

Marc is a very laid back prosecutor who was never afraid to show compassion in his job when compassion was warranted. But on the other hand, Marc also never shied away from a jury trial and putting the hammer down on violent criminals. In 2004, Marc was trying an extremely violent defendant who had tried to rob an undercover police officer at gunpoint, when the Defendant attacked him in open court. Marc never let that scare him off of trying cases or helping make suggestions about courtroom security.

He's tried high profile cases, including the murder of an off duty police officer, and he is a nationally recognized authority on major narcotics trafficking cases.

He's also a guy I admire a lot and think would make a great judge.

53 comments:

Anonymous said...

Marc is the best candidate hands down. And if you didn't need a reason to ignore Hotze, the fact that he endorsed Dexter is reason enough to do so now. Dexter is a joke. To be blunt, he just isn't that bright.

Anonymous said...

Mr Dexter was always fair and honest as a prosecutor. Sounds like he was not one of Chucks gang,so he evaluations were not fairly given. He has real world experience and the other 2 do not. Dexter is the best. There is a reason he has the support from the community.

Anonymous said...

Anon 5:18 your comment indicates that you never worked with Dexter down at the CJC. If you did, you would know that Rosenthal actually liked Dexter and pushed him for promotion beyond his capability. You would also know he is just goofy. As for Dexter's community support, he got it the fashioned way, he bought it with cold hard cash.

Anonymous said...

I have know both Marc and Danny since they were interns in the DA's office. I was impressed with the legal growth of Marc. He became a great trial attorney but perhaps more important, he obtained a degree of maturity in handling cases beyond his years of experience. He has shown an incredible knowledge of the law. Unfortunately, Danny reached his zenith as an intern.

Anonymous said...

Murray, Which one would be the best judge to follow the law and be fair?

A Harris County Lawyer said...

Anon 5:18 a.m.,
I'm thinking it might be YOU that needs to get some real world experience. Doesn't sound like any amount of evidence that can be provided would sway you. If I recall correctly, Danny was a HUGE contributor to Chuck's campaign . . .

Anon 9:23 a.m.,
I believe that would be Marc Brown.

Anonymous said...

Agree about Marc, Murray.... But to copy the comments verbatim from his file was a bit overboard and unprofessional.

A Harris County Lawyer said...

Unprofessional how exactly, 9:46 a.m.?

His evaluations are public record and I wanted to make clear that these comments and criticisms came about him from a professional level. He's a big boy and if he's running for an office where he will be presiding over death penalty cases, those comments are incredibly relevant.


It isn't as if they were name-calling. These are legitimate statements that voters who aren't informed about the CJC need to know about.

Anonymous said...

it would have been a better course of action to tell the voters where to go read the information in the file if they were inclined to do so. I understand it's public record, but a lot of things that are public record need not be published.

I agree with you about the fact that the criticism is warranted and relevant, but the same effect could have been made without having to print the tags verbatim.

I wasnt suggesting that you were name calling. I feel the same way you do about this, and a lot of the other races. I even value your opinion because I think you are pretty much a straight shooter.

Just my opinion that was bit too far.

Anonymous said...

Anon 10:04 I would point out APC as a typical voter, you have to beat them over the head with facts to get them to make a decision. They rely on their "leaders" to tell them how to vote. Their leaders can't be trusted to make decisions based on qualifications. Murray did not go over the top and was not unprofessional in posting the evaluation remarks. I have suggested that people read the evaluation of those who have worked at the DA's office. (I understand the DA's office will make it difficult for you to see these files) You might learn something about the people you elect. No one paid any attention to Kevin Fine and the voters have reaped what they have sown.

Anonymous said...

Anon 10:04 I would point out APC as a typical voter, you have to beat them over the head with facts to get them to make a decision. They rely on their "leaders" to tell them how to vote. Their leaders can't be trusted to make decisions based on qualifications. Murray did not go over the top and was not unprofessional in posting the evaluation remarks. I have suggested that people read the evaluation of those who have worked at the DA's office. (I understand the DA's office will make it difficult for you to see these files) You might learn something about the people you elect. No one paid any attention to Kevin Fine and the voters have reaped what they have sown.

Anonymous said...

I also was a liitle taken aback by the printing word for word from Danny Dexter's personnel file. I was around when Danny practiced as a prosecutor. I agree with Murray he may not be the best candidate.

However, the way things worked with the old regime was if it was decided someone wasn't fitting in, the supervisors were to document enough dirt on the person to cover the ass of the office. It was a common chicken shit practice and should not be used in choosing your candidate.

Murray is a smart, attractive and charismatic guy but somewhat predictable in his endorsements. You will see him endorse the candidate in each race who has had the most time with the DA's office. You want people who are bright compassionate and well rounded as Judges. Sometimes that means not having all of his or her experience coming from the District Attorney's Office.

Anonymous said...

P.S. Murray would have endorsed Paula over Peyton had Paula not changed horses at the last minute. Peyton is clearly the better candidate though.

Anonymous said...

You people don't get it. Dexter is going to win. It is inevitable. I can hear it now, "Good morning Judge Dexter, how are you today?" The same folks that brought you Johnny Kolenda, Al Pruett, Norman Lanford, Jim Barr, Lon Harper, Werner Voigt, Janice Law, Don Jackson, Regan Helm and Pat Lykos are now bringing you Judge Danny Dexter. It is all about who you know. It always has been. Won't the dems have a field day with Dexter's personel file for the general. Hey APC put that in your pipe and smoke it.

A Harris County Lawyer said...

Anon 10:04 a.m.,
I understand your opinion, but still disagree.

Anon 11:28 a.m.,
Me attractive? I'm blushing. Clearly you've never seen me in person! Yes, my opinions on the candidates are based on my experiences with them throughout the years, but that's why I provide the open forum for people to disagree with me as they choose. Yes, I know that I recommend pretty heavily based on people I served with as prosecutors, but I also thought a lot of the people I worked with.
My criteria is pretty simple in making my recommendations -- I make my recommendations as a tax payer and citizen.
I want a judge who has good ethics and will follow the law. If I've got a legitimate issue on a bad search, I want a judge that is going to have the knowledge and the courage to recognize that and throw out the fruits of that search. Yes, as a defense attorney, I suppose my job would be much easier if I was before a judge who ignored victims rights and was anti-police.
But I don't get paid to have an easy job.
Give me a smart and fair judge and an honest prosecutor, and the rest of the results are my responsibility.

Anonymous said...

I always liked dealing with Danny because he was pretty easygoing. But I also got the distinct sense he was often not so well prepared and that sometimes made him even easier to deal with when you wanted to work something out in favor of your client. I think that fellow defense attorneys that think an unprepared and eager to please judge is a good thing might want to think again. I wish the best for Danny as he was always a gentleman to me, but he might not be the best for the bench. With Marc you couldn't ask for someone that knows the law better and has a more even keel. With Danny you get surprises. That ain't never good.

-Eric M-

Anonymous said...

I worked with Danny for years in the office. I was not a member of "Chuck's gang" as someone else said -- I did my job and didn't get involved with the politics of the office; in fact I went toe to toe with a few of the higher ups. Regardless, I agree with Murray: Danny was a nice guy but lacked the abilities and professionalism that he needed to do the job effectively. Anyone who says differently is Danny Dexter writing into this blog anonymously.

Danny stalled for a long time in misdemeanor while people who came in years after him got promoted over him. I find it funny he's running for a felony bench when he spent very little time there before being fired. Worse, he held a grudge against a younger prosecutor who beat him at trial when Danny was a City Prosecutor and this ADA was still a law student. Danny wouldn't even talk to him. Judges need to be neutral. A person who holds that kind of silly grudge against a coworker is not the kind of judge I want to elect.

Finally, while there are some who don't "fit in" as an ADA in Harris County, they leave to do defense work or go to another county and do quite well for themselves. Danny has been MIA for 6 years. If you take even a year off, you quickly fall behind. Someone who's been gone for six is WAY behind. If he's so qualified, surely he could tell us what the heck he's done since 2004. If he's been back in traffic court, he should run for a traffic court bench, not the 180th! In sum, he does not have the qualifications for the bench he is running for.

Anonymous said...

Murray,
Out of fairness to all, will you be posting quotes from Sylvia's and Marc's personnel file? It may give insight as to the superior qualificationst hey have. As a side note, you could put some of Luci's comemnts in those assessmetns, too.

jigmeister said...

I’ll pipe in on this race: I confess that Marc Brown and I have been friends for a long time and worked together in special crimes, when it was still a special place to work. He is a real person who has always worked hard, studied the law for the purpose of both teaching and using it on a daily basis. I can honestly say that I can never remember a negative comment about him. I think it might be fairer (though probably less fair to Danny) to post Marc’s evaluations so that you might get a better idea of how qualified both are. Danny will have far fewer as he lasted far less time, so a random sampling of Marc’s would suffice. I doubt he would object.

As for the idea that Danny was submarined by his supervisors, I can tell you that it never happened. Supervisors were told to watch carefully someone when there were real questions about their ability, not for the purpose of getting rid of them, but deciding whether they were promotable to positions where they would be handling serious cases in which victims were already severely scarred or dead. That’s the same reason everyone was evaluated. There was no change in evaluating instructions from JBH to Rosenthal. Further I doubt either ever read them.

A Harris County Lawyer said...

Anon 2:37 p.m.,
Um, Sylvia isn't running for anything, so no. Did you mean Emily? Wrong Hispanic female, my friend.
As far as publishing the evaluations of the other two candidates in the race, if somebody shows me something that should be of concern in the evaluations, I will gladly publish it.
My understanding is that neither Marc nor Emily fought the release of their personnel files, so I wouldn't hold me breath about there being some sort of smoking gun in them.
But if there is something there that the public needs to be aware of, just let me know.

Anonymous said...

Of course Danny has the support of some high-up Republicans. His wife is Barbie Dexter, heir to the Spindletop fortune. They are very nice people. But that doesn't make him qualified to be a district court judge. But it does go to show you that money is mote important than qualifcations in politics.

Anonymous said...

I'm concerned that Marc could turn out to be as mean as his wife. That women is pure evil.

Danny is an idiot and Emily could get black robe disease quickly.

Who are the Dems running?

Anonymous said...

Will Marc Brown continue to prosecute as a judge like his wife? It's great to be a prosecutor in her court but nothing is fair in the 185th.

Anonymous said...

We heard Mr Dexter has the backing of the Bush family and many others.

A Harris County Lawyer said...

I'm sorry to hear that the Bush family would support Danny, but just because they are a famous political family doesn't mean they can't be uninformed, now does it?

It is absolutely going to take word of mouth to get the vote out that Danny doesn't need to be a judge.

Look, contrary to popular belief, I don't run this blog because I enjoy pissing people off. (Okay, well maybe I do when it comes to Snookems and the Gang Who Couldn't Shoot Straight). I am writing because most people don't know about what is going on at the CJC. I can only write what I know and hope that other people will get around to learning.

Anonymous said...

If the Bush family supports Dexter then it would be on his web. It isn't.

Anonymous said...

Murray,

You are short sighted when it comes to thinking prosecutors are the best people qualified to play referee between the two sides. I am glad you liked the people you worked with but that is simply not the criteria that's important to me. Kevin Fine and Shawna Reagan are excellent judges and you never worked with either at the DA's office. I will not follow your suggestions but I still find you pretty hot, even after seeing you in person.

Anonymous said...

I guess I will have to vote for a Dem on this one. I'm not liking my choices in the Republican arena. Lori Gooch may be a good choice but I'll have to read up a little more about her.

A Harris County Lawyer said...

Anon 5:04 p.m.,
If you go back to 2008, I endorsed Shawna Reagin over Brian Rains, and I've been so excited to see the awesome job she's done on the bench. I also had nothing negative to say about Kevin Fine when I covered the 177th race. I realize that a lot of the ADAs have issues with Judge Fine, but I still like practicing in his court.

Anonymous said...

Who thinks Murray is hot? Is Palmer trying to suck up to you?

Aggie Pct Chair said...

Danny has made inroads into the party but those evaluations sound terrible. You all shouldn't forget that the Brown family is very well respected in Republican circles. I do suspect Dexter wins but my support will get bedhind Mr. Brown. I like the fact that someone is calling his wife mean... must be a defense attorney.

Good for her. We need to be tougher on crime.

basement breakfeast club said...

We at the breakfeast club will be waiting for a retraction on Mr. Dexter or we will discuss a slander suit against you Mr. Murray

A Harris County Lawyer said...

Okee Dokee Basement. You keep waiting on that.

jigmeister said...

To prove a cause of action for defamation, a plaintiff must prove that (1) the defendant
published a statement of fact, (2) the statement was defamatory, (3) the statement was
false, (4) the defendant acted negligently in publishing the false and defamatory
statement, and (5) the plaintiff suffered damages as a result.
Well Basement do you think you can prove element 3, 4, and 5? Lawyers should never make idle threats and the blog should be a vehicle for discussion.

Anonymous said...

Breakfast Basement Club is threatening a lawsuit on the behalf of someone they do not represent? Interesting. Subject to a bar complaint? Probably. Issuing demand letters by an internet blog post. Priceless.

Anonymous said...

Just who is the Basement Breakfast Club. Will you name the members of this "elite" group?

Anonymous said...

Danny Dexter was an intern in a Specialized Divsion, the best he could do was a spread sheet because he had a financial background. Many people were amazed that he was hired as an ADA. I may be mistaken but I think he may have been hired during the Holmes era. And possibly the reason he gave a nice donation to Rosenthal was maybe he thought he could keep his job. They kept giving him a chance but he never rose to the challenge and was dismissed.

He should not be a criminal judge, he is not qualified, he should stay with a financial company. I believe that was his initial background. Not Law.

Anonymous said...

APC, don't confuse tough on crime with being equally evil to both sides.

Anonymous said...

We are way off-track here. Yes, Murray is an incredibly handsome, attractive man. And, yes, he is a fantastically gifted and unselfish lover, as well. But these facts should neither enhance nor diminish his opinions on these weighty topics. Just because he's got a pretty face doesn't mean he can't think.

On a personal note, (you can edit this out during moderation, Murray), I will be waiting for you on the 6th Floor in my Catwoman suit. Julie Newmar ain't got nothin on me!!

P

Anonymous said...

Okay, now you all need to stop. Knowing Murray, the last thing that bald head needs is more hot hair to inflate the follicle-challenged forehead of his. Just stop, my keyboard and monitor can't take any more diet coke and fritos!!!

Anonymous said...

Murray,did Sarah Palin endorse Marc Brown or one of the others?We heard she met with some local people while here with Gov Perry.She is supposed to be in some ads for the county races.

Anonymous said...

What, Palin brings "fair and balance" to local races? Can she see the HCCJ Center from her front door? Can she name a single judge? How about a founding father? How about a news source she reads? Does she read or is she just a cheap cliché?

Anonymous said...

Palin was brought to Houston to help Perry in his campaign and some of the republican candidates.James Baker and Dick Cheney helping Kay Bailey and Dexter and several republican judges. Wait for the ads to start. How can outsiders help in local races? With this group, it appears the Democrats are looking good.

Anonymous said...

If the Palin endorsement is for sale you can bet Dexter bought it. Remember "Spindletop money".

Anonymous said...

Hey when Dexter wins we can call him "Judge Double D".
After all he is a big boob!

Aggie Pct Chair said...

Palin will not be endorsing anyone locally. She would be a huge asset to any campaign. These attacks on Dexter are uncalled for. Expect a shake up in the Palmer campaign management.

Anonymous said...

APC, you really brought it back, Palin a huge asset? Most people recognize what Palin is and is not. The most recent poll indicates 17% of Republicans think Palin is presidential. ONLY 17%. Cutesy and homey does not a leader make. Don't think I am being derogatory to women, Palin is derogatory toward smart, intelligent women when she plays cutesy and homey. Palin could take a few lessons from Clinton. But that would require her to be something she is not.

Aggie Pct Chair said...

From Clinton? You mean smooth and slick as he drops the slick stuff on his interns dress...

No thanks, I would rather down to earth and honest. Polls are whatever you want them to be.

Anonymous said...

APC, you really don't think so I will spell it out and use little words. We were talking about women. Bill Clinton is not a woman. Hillary Clinton is a woman. I will now let you guess who I was talking about. I will give you two guesses, apparently you need them. Hillary Clinton is a smart woman who does not demean herself or other smart women by acting cutesy and homey. She speaks intelligently and with authority.

To answer your false statement concerning honesty, have you read the emails just released-telling her staff how to lie about the cost of the tanning bed-honest? Saying she sold the state airplane on ebay for a profit, not true, not ebay, not at a profit-there is honesty for you. Email indicating find anything that will justify her daughter flying on the state dole-honest and thrifty. And by the way her daughter did not even show up at the event after the taxpayers paid her trip to the event which happened to be close to the first dude's parents home. I am sorry it would take hours to list all the false statements that you accept as true.

Anonymous said...

APC, I forgot to mention the poll I mentioned is endorsed by none other than Bill O'Reily. Surely you are not suggesting Bill is making the polls say something it is not?

Anonymous said...

Palin is an asset?

Now that's what I like to hear--Republicans hanging their hat on Palin. She is the anchor that will drag your party to the bottom. Well, further to the bottom.

Anonymous said...

Focus people! Stay on topic!

laughinguy said...

Hey Anon-

You think Hillary is a smart woman who does not demean herself? She just starts crying when she gets behind in the primary.

If I want to see fake tears, I'll sit in Krocker's court.