Thursday, February 25, 2010

REMINDER: Friday is Your Last Day to Early Vote

Get out there and vote, folks. You'll be kicking yourself down the road if you don't.

Remember, only YOU can prevent bad elected officials.

It's Not Just the Republicans . . .

Lisa Falkenberg is back from maternity leave with a good column this morning covering a couple of the judicial candidates that the the Democrats have put forward this year, despite the fact that they have no criminal experience.

Lisa's article focuses on candidate Brandon Dudley, who at least was very candid about his lack of experience, and has some things in his background that at least tie to criminal law. He's running against Judge Jeannine Barr in November.

And then there is Kathy Cheng, who has made the decision to run against one of the most highly esteemed and the most senior judge on the bench, the 209th's Judge Michael McSpadden.

Both Judge McSpadden and Judge Barr are well regarded judges with years and years of experience. It would be pretty sad to see them lose to people who never tried a case, wouldn't it?

But, the Democratic Party seems to be working its ugly back-room deals just like the Republicans. At least the Democrats aren't standing behind a hate-mongering rodent like Terry Lowry, though.

There is a heartwarming quote from other criminal law rookie, Sharolyn Wood, that she is running because she just really really likes jury trials.

Hmm.

Well, I still really really like football, and nobody has made me quarterback of the Texans yet.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

The Chronicle Endorsements

Jeff Cohen and Crew finally got off their lazy butts and published their list of endorsements for the County Courts today.

I agreed with a little over half of their decisions, which is better than usual for the Chronicle.

But, in a move that guarantees that they are still sucking up to Pat Lykos, they endorsed Rachel Palmer over Don Smyth.

Seriously. A seven year lawyer who generates nothing but controversy within her own office as opposed to a veteran of over 30 years who has an immaculate record.

Wow.

Don't even know where to begin with that one.

Have You Voted Yet?

Sorry to be a pain in the butt, but you are running out of time on early voting if you haven't done it already.

Here are just a couple of random thoughts to help get you motivated:

1. Most of the folks who read this work Downtown at the CJC (or at least go to the CJC pretty much daily). All you have to do is walk two blocks over to the Administration Building at some point. It's a convenient location.

2. You don't have to clock out to go vote!

3. On March 2nd, you'll have to go through the pain in the butt of figuring out where your polling location is near your home, drive there and figure out where to park. And you'll probably have 50 million other things that you need to be doing on that day anyway.

4. This being a non-presidential election will cause a much lower voter turnout than usual. Your vote counts more now than ever.

5. Remember for you folks voting in the Republican Party that if your candidate isn't the darling of the older voters who live to send in their mail-in ballots, you've got to get out there to put a dent in their voting block!

6. Vote now and maybe your candidate won't have to be in a run-off!

7. Apathy leads to elected leaders like Pat Lykos.

Get out there and vote. Call your families and tell them to do the same.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

The Vileness of Terry Lowry

In case you haven't noticed by now, I'm not a fan of Terry Lowry.

In the Harris County political system filled with people you love to hate, Lowry has distinguished himself as an almost cartoonish caricature of all that is wrong with the system, and the Republican Party seems to have no qualms about embracing him as their own.

Lowry publishes his FOR PROFIT crappy little LINKLetter that goes out to all Republican voters and he also buys time on a radio slot where he can spew out his "values" on a program called "What's UP".

And of course, under the 1st Amendment, I support his right to do so, even though I recognize the fact that he is a schmuck.

Lowry sprinkles in "articles" in his endorsement-laden "LINKLetter" which should offend even the most conservative of Republicans.

In his latest issue, he opens up addressing Pat Robertson's idiotic statement last month that the Haitian Earthquake was "the manifestation of God's punishment".

Does Lowry condemn what Robertson said?

Nope. He discusses it though, pointing out that "Back in 1791 some Haitians banded together and made a 'pack with the Devil' promising him their souls if he would help drive out the French". He never disagrees with it.

Are there really Republicans out there that believe publishing this crap is somehow helpful to their Party?

But the more amusing part of the LINKLetter is Lowry's article on "How are Endorsements Made?". The reality on how Lowry's endorsements are made is that Lowry opens a bidding war for ads in the mailer. Whoever buys the biggest ad wins his endorsement (for what it's worth).

But Lowry's "explanation" of how he makes his endorsements gives him a real chance to shine as the hate-mongering biggot that he is. He begins the article by lamenting how it more difficult to make endorsements now than it was 20 years ago when all you had to do was figure out if a candidates was "Pro-life vs. Pro-choice, Pro-family vs. Pro-homosexual, and liberal vs. conservative".

He continues on:

"Some candidates even sought and received endorsements from gay and lesbian organizations. This cycle has a practicing gay seeking to represent the Republican Party. He has even brought his partner to various functions. I will defend his right to run, but I will never endorse him nor encourage you to vote for him."

And his definition of a "Wise" candidate? "They avoid even answering Pro-homosexual questionnaires."

He also is kind enough to publish his suggestions for resolutions to take to your Precinct Chairman such as "We support the definition of marriage as a God-ordained, legal and moral commitment only between a natural man and natural woman."

Okey dokey, then. Are y'all getting the picture on why I said I wouldn't be endorsing anyone who bought advertising with Lowry?

So congratulations to Rachel Palmer, Danny Dexter, Glenn Devlin, Natalie Flemming, Jared Woodfill and others for your full page ads and your financial support to a rodent like Lowry and his hateful beliefs. (NOTE: And don't forget Pat Lykos' ad from 2008!) I didn't give any money to any of your campaigns, but if I had, I'd be demanding it back right about now.

And by the way, members of the Harris County Republican Party, you might want to be taking note of the fact that you got slammed in November 2008 because the Democrats schooled you on Public Relations and the Power of Inclusion.

If you want to make a significant step in the right direction for your party and keep some excellent candidates on the bench in the future, you could make a great statement by disavowing Terry Lowry and all that he stands for.

Just a thought.

C'mon Chronicle

I've been sitting around, patiently waiting for the Chronicle to finish up its endorsements of the Judicial Candidates, but damn, they are taking their sweet time over there.

So far, they've only covered the District Court (recommending Marc Brown, Lori Gooch, and Trent Gaither in their respective races) and the Juvenile Courts (recommending Fred Wilson, Marc Isenberg, David Longoria and Keith Branch in theirs.)

As of this morning (Sunday, February 21st), we're still waiting on the County Court recommendations. The District Court and Juvenile Courts only came out yesterday. You can check out their endorsements here.

But c'mon guys, you are a newspaper and early voting started LAST TUESDAY. Aren't you supposed to be giving people information or something? I just do this freaking blog as a hobby, and even I got my homework done.

I mean it isn't like the political primaries snuck up on you or something. I'm pretty sure they've been scheduled for this time of year for quite some time.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

The Houston Bar Association Judicial Candidate Poll

The Houston Bar Association released its Judicial Candidate Qualification Poll today. You can check them out for yourself here.

Those attorneys who took the poll were given four options of rating the candidates:
-Not Rated
-Not Qualified
-Qualified; OR
-Well Qualified

To me, the results weren't surprising.

Although you can read them for yourself, I thought it was worth noting a couple of things:

-180th District Court Candidate Danny Dexter had 220 voters say he was "Not Qualified", while 57 said he was "Qualified" and 56 said he was "Well Qualified". I understand that Danny has been trying to play off his bad evaluations on the campaign trail by saying he just wasn't "popular". Actually, Danny was fairly popular at the Office. He just wasn't good at his job. This poll result shows that.

-by contrast, 180th District Court Candidate Marc Brown had only 108 voters say he was "Not Qualified" (hmm, anybody else notice that's right around the same number of total voters that thought Danny Dexter was?), with 86 voters labeling him as "Qualified" and 266 saying he was "Well Qualified".

-former Civil Court Judge Sharolyn Wood seems to have a polarizing effect, having gotten more votes in general than most other candidates. That's directly attributable to the fact that more civil attorneys vote in this Bar Poll than criminal attorneys. The good news for Wood? She got 277 votes for "Well Qualified". The bad news? She got 671 saying she wasn't. Cary Hart's numbers put her in second place on the "Well Qualified" front, and she had the least number of "Not Qualified" votes.

-in the County Court at Law # 4 race, former Judge Janice Law had 436 attorneys say she was "Not Qualified", as opposed to 73 saying she was "Qualified" and 42 saying she was "Well Qualified". I don't know of anyone who would actually say she was "Well Qualified" other than Gary Polland who inexplicably co-endorsed her in his mail out this week. Good Lord, Gary, what were you thinking?

-and finally, Rachel Palmer took a big hit on the "Not Qualified" portion of the test, getting 193 votes (more than any other candidate from either party) and only got 93 "Well Qualified" votes.

-Don Smyth, on the other hand, received only 129 votes for "Not Qualified" (which is the least of any candidate in the race from either party), and 227 votes for "Well Qualified" (the most from either party).

At least the lawyers seem to be getting it right when gauging the Judicial Elections. One can only hope that the voters will follow suit.

For a Good Cause

I don't normally send out notices for things that are non-CJC related, but I figured y'all might excuse me for posting this notice for a good cause.

A friend of mine in NYC (no, not my Editor) is running her first marathon to raise research funds for The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. It's a cause that is near and dear to many of us and I think it's awesome that she's actually going through the process of training to do something as rigorous as a marathon (especially seeing how the furthest I run anymore is to the refrigerator to get a Bud Lite).

So, anyway, if you want to show my friend a little Texas hospitality and donate to a good cause, please click on this link and donate what you can.

Thanks in advance for your consideration.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Pachyderm Club Meeting

Just FYI - tomorrow (Thursday, February 18th) at noon, the Pachyderm Club will be hosting an event that will feature the Republican Candidates who are running for criminal benches.

It's at Spaghetti Warehouse. I don't know any more about the event as far as whether or not there is an admission fee or anything like that. If anyone has more info, please let me know.

And if there are any other events coming up from either the Democratic or Republican side, let me know and I'll post it.

Oh, and if you haven't voted already, HURRY UP AND VOTE!!!!

Monday, February 15, 2010

Early Voting Begins Today

Okay boys and girls, Early Voting begins today!

Go vote.

Get your family and make them vote!

Get your neighbors and make them go vote!

There are a lot of good candidates out there who deserve your votes and there are some really bad candidates out there that really need to be voted AGAINST.

For those of you in and around the CJC, you can vote at the Administration Building.

Here were my suggestions on the best folks in the individual races. I've also included the winners of the polls. No candidate gave me any money, so my suggestions for who is deserving of your vote is based on their qualifications.


REPUBLICANS
County Court at Law # 1 - Peyton Peebles
-Poll Result -- Paula Goodhart
County Court at Law # 3 -- Cary Hart
- Poll Results -- Cary Hart
County Court at Law # 4 -- John Clinton
- Poll Results -- Jackie Gifford
County Court at Law # 13 -- Don Smyth
- Poll Results -- Don Smyth (by a landslide)
180th District Court -- Marc Brown
- Poll Results -- March Brown (by a landslide)

DEMOCRATS
County Court at Law # 1 -- Beverly Melontree
- Poll Results -- Anthony Limitone
County Court at Law # 2 -- Mary Acosta
- Poll Results -- Mary Acosta
County Court at Law # 3 -- Judith Snively
- Poll Results -- Judith Snively
County Court at Law # 9 -- Juanita Barner
- Poll Results -- Juanita Barner
County Court at Law # 10 -- No Recommendation
- Poll Results -- Grant Hardeway
County Court at Law # 12 -- Robert Cardenas
- Poll Results -- Robert Cardenas
County Court at Law # 13 -- Dennis Slate
- Poll Results -- Dennis Slate
180th District Court -- Lori Gooch
- Poll Results -- Lori Gooch (by a landslide)
248th District Court -- No Recommendation
- Poll Results -- Trent Gaither (currently leading)

The Witch Hunt

So, I just got back from a much needed vacation for a couple of days in the arctic tundra known as New York City.

I don't even get off the plane before my cell phone starts lighting up with questions over me being called into Lykos' office to answer questions about where I got the offense report dealing with the Rachel Palmer/Don Hooper incident.

Now, first of all, let's explore the idiocy of this rumor:

1. I don't work for the Old Goat, so the idea of her "calling me in" to her office is beyond silly.

2. Under the Journalist Shield Law that she supported in her sucking up to the Chronicle, my sources would be protected.

AND

3. I've never seen the offense report.

So, this rumor that I'm hearing apparently traces back to none other than Don Hooper, himself, and his new best friend, Danny Dexter. (NOTE: This shows that Danny lacks judgment, just FYI).

The rumor is apparently that I got "called in" to see Cruella de Vil herself, and I named who had given me the offense report and I've agreed not to write anything about the Court 13 race until after the election.

So, where to begin?

First of all, although I have heard about the offense report from multiple, multiple, multiple sources who HAVE seen it, I will swear on a stack of Bibles that I have never seen it with my own eyes. If you would like to go back and review the blog, you will quickly see that I have never purported to have seen the offense report, either. I will admit that the thought crossed my mind to ask someone for a copy, but then I thought that there might be the slight chance that a mean and vindictive elected official such as Pat Lykos might just conduct a witch hunt for whoever might have given me said offense report.

So, imagine my shock when I heard that Pat Lykos was conducting a witch hunt to find out who ran the offense report about her darling Rachel.

Dammit, Patsy, I thought you were busy crunching the stats to figure out why there were so many murders last weekend. Was it an anomally or was it organized crime? Inquiring minds want to know.

But, alas, although the KGB side of Rachel Palmer's campaign is actively searching to see who might have leaked information to the enemy, there was no such leak. No person has provided me with any type of written material on the incident.

But I am glad to see our tax dollars at work, Snooks.

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.

Sam Gentry

I was saddened to read in the Chronicle this week that former long-time Grand Jury Bailiff, Sam Gentry, passed away this week.

He may have been before the time of some the younger CJC folks, but he was a fixture of Grand Jury for many years. He loved grumbling about the ADA's and making fun of anyone he possibly could, but you always knew that Sam liked you and he liked his job. He was a good guy and (although he would shudder to hear it) a pretty sweet guy, too.

My sympathy goes out to his family. He will be missed.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

The Race for the 248th District Court (Democrat)

The final contested matter in the Felony District Courts of the CJC for the primary season is the Democratic Primary for the 248th to see who will challenge incumbent Republican Judge Joan Campbell in November. Defense attorneys Jim Sullivan and Trent Gaither are competing for the nomination.

And unfortunately, I'm not going to have a whole lot to say on this particular race. Although I know Jim Sullivan in passing, I don't recall ever dealing with him on a case or having seen him in trial. I also don't know much about his reputation as an attorney. He has always seemed to me to be a nice and pleasant person, but I'm really don't know enough to say anything about him otherwise.

And, unfortunately, I was even less familiar with Trent. I also never had any dealings or trial with him, and it wasn't until I looked at his website that I actually put a face with the name.

Clearly, I need to get out more.

I wish I had some more information on this particular race. The bottom line is that both guys are regulars at the courthouse who do primarily criminal law work. I've never heard anything bad about either of them, so I can't really make a call on this race.

So, I'll just wish them both good luck and see what the commenters have to say.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

The Race for the 180th District Court (Democrat) [Updated]

[NOTE: I received an e-mail from Darrell Jordan this morning (2/12/10) pointing out some things he disputed in the post I did on him regarding his dealings with Sylvia Escobedo. I have made those changes and noted where they are within the post. If these edits and additions change your mind about Mr. Jordan, then I apologize for their initial omissions.]

Some of the recommendations in the Judicial Races are very difficult to make.

This isn't one of those difficult ones.

The race on the Democratic side of the 180th District Court race is between former-prosecutor and now defense attorney Lori Gooch and defense attorney Darrell Jordan.

In case any of you are dying in suspense, the clear choice for this race is Lori.

Lori graduated from law school in 2001 and came to work at the Harris County D.A.'s Office that year, which is where I first met her. There are some people that walked in the door of that Office that were just instantly adored by everyone that they worked with, and Lori was one of those people. She quickly earned a reputation as a tough, no-nonsense prosecutor with excellent trial ability and excellent judgment. She had an uncanny ability to read the people she dealt with on a daily basis and use that in trial.

I'm not exaggerating when I say that Lori ranks near the top as one of the Office Favorites during the time I was there. She certainly was one of my favorite people.

I was sad to see her leave the Office around 2004, but stunned at the same time to see how quickly she made the transition to a very skilled defense attorney. She jumped headfirst into the defense side of the law, and soon had a reputation as a tough lawyer who could handle the toughest murder case on down. Lori has also demonstrated an amazing level of "client control", as I've watched her stand up to even the most hardened criminal who tried to be disrespectful to her. She genuinely cares about her clients and tries to get the best result for them, but she definitely doesn't put up with their B.S., either.

She would make a great judge.

Before I proceed on Darrell Jordan, I am going to acknowledge that a lot of my criticisms of him are based on a personal level, although I do think the story is relevant. You can discount it if you want. I'll understand.

Darrell Jordan does have an impressive background in his schooling and his military JAG service. However, he hasn't even been a licensed attorney for 5 years, and prior to the middle of last year, I'd never even heard of the guy. My understanding is that you have to have been a lawyer for 5 years before you can even become a judge. He will cross the five year thresh hold in June, but do we really want someone with the bare minimum credentials sitting on the bench?

My bigger issue with Darrell is the way he treated my ex-wife last summer when she was hired to take family pictures for him.

As many of you know, my ex-wife, Sylvia Escobedo also dabbles as a photographer, which is something she is very talented at. Last year, Darrell asked her to photograph him and his family, which she gladly did.

When the pictures were ready, she turned them over to Darrell, which left the only thing remaining on his order a large canvass photograph that was still being processed. Prior to turning over the canvass to Darrell, Sylvia asked him to pay for the pictures.

And that's when it got ugly.

[ADDITION: Darrell came and picked up all the initial prints from Sylvia and she told him that the bill for those pictures was going to be $1500. At that time, Darrell only had $500 on him, which he gave to Sylvia and said he would pay her the rest the following week. Sylvia agreed and gave him the pictures at that time. On August 25, 2009, he sent her an e-mail saying (among other things) "I am not a confrontational person so I tried to tell you in a nice way that I am not going to pay $1500 for pictures. I have never agreed to do so."] Darrell announced he wasn't going to pay Sylvia's bill because he thought it was too expensive.

After Sylvia had explained to him that the prices were listed on her website, he angrily accused her of changing the prices since the photo shoot. (NOTE: She didn't). [ADDITION: In the August 25th e-mail, Darrell also wrote: "I had no idea you would go from affordable photographer to photographer for the rich and famous. I think it was very clear when I came to pick up the pictures I had no idea how much they were and I told you so." Yet, he was told on that date what the price was, and he said he would pay the rest later and took the pictures.]

In the meantime, Sylvia had an out-of-pocket expense for the canvass that she had to pay.

And although I was encouraging her to sue Darrell, she ultimately made the agreement that if he would just pay her for the price of the canvass, she would call it even -- just so that she could cover the price of its out-of-pocket expense. [ADDITION: Darrell agreed to pay the $549 price for the cost of the canvass, but required Sylvia to deliver it to his wife's office.]

Darrell got all those photos for the [EDIT: $500 and the] cost of a canvass, and Sylvia operated at a loss. [ADDITION: Sylvia had already discounted her website prices about 50% since Darrell had placed such a very large order and she still lost $500 due to Darrell's refusal to pay the remainder of the tab.]

And the follow up was that Darrell had the audacity to later ask Sylvia for permission to use the photographs for his campaign. She told him if he would like to pay her the remainder of his bill that would be fine. She hasn't heard back from him since.

[ADDITION: When I initially wrote this post, I was not aware that Darrell had paid Sylvia $500 on the day he took possession of the pictures. However, in my opinion, he still placed an order for something, received that which he ordered, dictated that he was not going to pay more than what he wished, and basically got what he wanted. That wouldn't work at a store or in a restaurant, but apparently works in the world of photography.]

So, due to the way he treated the mother of my child, I've got some issues with Darrell Jordan's character. Maybe I'm just biased, but you can make that decision yourself.

But, as for Lori Gooch, I've got absolutely no reservation.

Lori has the experience, the ethics, the toughness, the guts, and the integrity to be a great judge.

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.

Commissioner Gordon, Turn on the Pat Signal!

Looks like the past 24 hours have been busy ones for the fine men and women that investigate homicides in Harris County.

According to this article in the Chronicle this morning, there were ten homicides in a 24 hour period, which is an unusually high amount. Normally, an article like this isn't something that I would put in the blog, except for the fact that Pat Lykos decided to come to the rescue in figuring out the murders!

District Attorney Pat Lykos said her office is studying the surge in violence that included two double homicides, two murder-suicides, a police-involved death and a shooting in which a mother allegedly killed her son.

“We are conducting an analysis to determine whether this is a tragic anomaly or if it portends an alarming trend,” Lykos said in a statement released Friday.


An analysis?

Um, yeah. Considering the fact that Lykos and the Gang Who Couldn't Shoot Straight couldn't find their ass with both hands and a flashlight, I'm not feeling really confident that Snookems is going to crack the statistical reason these murders occurred.

Are we examining the possibility that perhaps the Joker put some sort of homicidal-rage-inducing-agent in the city's water supply?

Holy catfish, Hannah Chow! Well, at least Lykos was able to correctly use the word "portends" in a sentence. That's more credit than I would have given her, quite frankly.

In the meantime, I think as a citizen and a voter, I'm pretty much satisfied when HPD and HCSO says the homicides were all unrelated domestic violence situations. It is certainly a tragic series of events, but I'm hoping Lykos doesn't spend a whole lot of time and money trying to relate the killings.

She should be saving the money to polish her hardwood floors and finish out the conference room.

The Ghost of Bernstein Lingers

Okay, so apparently the offense report regarding Rachel Palmer's fiancee, Don Hooper, and Rachel's badge is out and about, now. The question now becomes is the media going to ask Lykos and crew why something wasn't done about Hooper and/or Palmer following the incident. Is it because Hooper is a big Republican backer and buddy of Lykos?

I'm hoping that one of the journalists (hint, hint Brian Rogers) is going to step up with the story and not follow in the footsteps of journalistic hack Alan Bernstein who hid from the Pat Lykos yarmulke story like a scared kitten for months and months.

At least we can't blame Bernstein for not doing this story -- he finally stepped down from pretending to be a journalist so that he could go work for the HCSO as Chief Apologist.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

The Race for County Court at Law # 13 (Democrat)

The final contested primary at the Misdemeanor level is that of County Court at Law # 13, where Dennis Slate and John V. O'Sullivan are competing on the Democratic ticket to replace retiring Judge Mark Atkinson.

Unfortunately, I'm not familiar with John V. O'Sullivan, or at least, I'm not putting a face with a name. He also doesn't have a website up for me to do an unofficial photo array. His name sounds extremely familiar and I've been told I would know who he was if I saw him. But, right now, I've got nothing. I have heard that he's a nice guy.

I do know Dennis Slate, however, and I've got to say that his resume is an impressive one. As you can see from his website, he's been in the military since he graduated from high school, and in addition to his law practice, he has also been serving as a municipal associate judge in both Pearland and Houston.

Someone had previously written on the blog that Dennis didn't do criminal law, but that's not true. I have seen him working on criminal cases at the CJC on numerous occasions. It's true that he doesn't do all his work here, but he isn't someone who has never walked in the door of the place.

On a personal level, Dennis is a good guy. He and I have a group of mutual friends so we run into each other every once in a while. He's clearly a very intelligent attorney with a good and balanced demeanor who would make a good judge.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

A New Houston Press Article

This week's Houston Press is out with a great article on the D.A.'s Office's handling of vehicular fatalities written by John Lomax.

The article is somewhat stunning because it has me agreeing with Mark Bennett on several issues -- although I do think that Bennett is trying to recreate his High School Senior Photo with his pose in the article's picture. (That will teach Mark to insult my couch.)

I think Catherine Evans should be commended for finally articulating some of the criteria the D.A.'s Office is looking at in filing the charges. See how she did that Jim? You don't have to run out of the interview when you actually know what in the hell you are talking about.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

The Race for County Court at Law # 13 (Republican)

Unquestionably the most heated primary race this Spring is the Republican Primary in County Court at Law # 13 to replace Judge Mark Atkinson, who is not running for re-election. Before the field was even finalized, there was mass confusion as Felony Division Chief Denise Bradley (who was originally in the CCL # 13 race) switched to the 262nd race, leaving controversial Deputy Misdemeanor Chief Rachel Palmer seemingly unopposed in the primary.

That changed on December 23rd, when Division Chief Don Smyth announced his candidacy. Don's decision to run was a principled and gutsy call considering the fact that Palmer had about a year headstart on him in campaigning. Nevertheless, Don and his supporters were able to raise over 700 signatures in slightly over a week (when only 250 were required) and Don is now at the top of the ballot.

The differences between the two candidates could not be more pronounced.

Rachel has been practicing law less than 7 years. Don has been doing criminal law for over 32.

Rachel hasn't risen to the level of Felony Chief in the Office, although she claims (in an extremely misleading manner) to be the Deputy Chief of the Office. Don is a Division Chief and Former Bureau Chief.

Don has tried every type of case that the District Attorney's Office has handled, while Rachel seems to be cooling her heels as a Lykos loyalist in Misdemeanor.

Don is loved by the prosecutors working under him, while Rachel's misdemeanor prosecutors have complained about feeling pressured to support her when they have found her campaign literature placed on their desks. Don is also known for backing up his people when they need it, while Palmer is more known for her willingness to tattle to Lykos.

Rachel's knowledge of the law has been questionable as her judgment during her history with the Office. During an Aggravated Sexual Assault of a Child case, she caused a mistrial by asking the police officer whether or not the defendant had refused to take a polygraph exam -- a very basic question that even a regular viewer of Law and Order would recognize as inadmissible. Because the mistrial had been based on the prosecution's question, the Defense argued the case was barred from retrial due to prosecutorial misconduct. Fortunately, the Court ultimately ruled against prosecutorial misconduct and the case was allowed to proceed. Prosecutor Brent Mayr ultimately retried it and the Defendant went to prison. (NOTE: For more information, check out State of Texas v. Daniel Lee Sandifer.)

In addition, Rachel's attitude both in and away from the Office has been very off-putting for many. She is clearly a Lykos Insider who enjoys her position of power, but word of her exerting her influence as Deputy Dawg of Misdemeanor and a prosecutor, in general, are concerning. She is known as a bully to those people that aren't in HER inner circle.

Don, on the other hand, has never been accused of playing favorites. He is, quite literally, a Boy Scout -- having been active in the Organization since 1986 as a Scout Master and Scout Master Emeritus. He served for years and years as the Division Chief of the Civil Rights Division before becoming the Bureau Chief of the Governmental Affairs Bureau (which encompassed the Civil Rights and Public Integrity Divisions). He had to take the unpopular job of being the prosecutor that investigated police officers accused of wrong-doing. It may not have made him entirely popular with some police officers, but it takes a man of high integrity to hold the position for as long as he did.

He held the position of Bureau Chief until the Lykos Circus came to town and demoted him to Division Chief (because apparently in a Lykos world, they need more Rachel Palmers and less Don Smyths -- go figure.)

Don is unquestionably more qualified and would be the better judge, but he has an uphill battle due to Rachel's head start. She has the support of wealthy benefactor Carolyn Farb (has she ever even been to the CJC?) and Pat Lykos. Don's campaign is more of a Grassroots Movement from people who know the difference between a good candidate and a bad one. He needs all the help he can to win this campaign.

That being said, there is a Fundraiser for Don Smyth tomorrow (Wednesday, February 3rd) from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the Armadillo Palace on Kirby in the Rice Village Area.

For those of us interested in good government, it's a "Can't Miss" Event.

Don Smyth is far and away the best candidate in this race.

Monday, February 1, 2010

This Has Absolutely Nothing to Do with the CJC . . .

. . . but the History major in me couldn't keep from posting this article off of CNN.com.

It is very thought-provoking that out of the entirety of World War I, we only have one single veteran from such a massive conflict left in the United States. It is amazing to me how quickly the "present" can transform into "history" without so many of us ever fully appreciating it.

Take a minute to recognize and ask questions of the Veterans in your family and circle of friends. They were a part of a history that seems to escape all too quickly.

The Race for County Court at Law # 12 (Democrat)

There are two attorneys running in the Democratic primary to face off against incumbent Judge Robin Brown for Court 12 in November. Robert Cardenas and Cheryl Harris-Diggs both practice criminal law, but I'm only familiar with Robert. Neither candidate appears to have an available website for their campaigns that I could find.

I recognize Ms. Diggs' name, but I don't believe that we've ever dealt with each other on a case. Maybe one of the commenters will be able to provide some information on her.

Robert and I tried a case against each other back when I was a Baby Prosecutor, and I recall him as being a very ethical and pleasant person to try a case against. He was fairly quiet, but he was thorough in his defense. We tried a DWI case against each other and I do remember that he cultivated a defense indicating his client had diabetes. Although the defense ultimately did not work, Robert had done a thorough job of presenting the case and establishing his defense.

He was above-board throughout the trial and I never knew of anyone ever having a problem with the way he handles his business.