Tuesday, December 11, 2012

The New First Assistant

In a move that had been rumored about the CJC for several weeks, Judge Belinda Hill of the 230th District Court has officially agreed to be the 1st Assistant of the Harris County District Attorney's Office in the Mike Anderson Administration.

I can't think of a better choice.

Unlike her predecessor at First Assistant, Judge Hill is a highly respected District Court Judge who has served on the bench since 1997.  During her tenure as Judge, she had the reputation as a hard-working, yet fair judge who called balls and strikes based solely on the law.  She is most well-known for presiding over both capital murder trials of Andrea Yates, in which she handled an absolute media circus with class and respect for the law.  Prior to becoming a Judge, she was a highly respected Division Chief within the District Attorney's Office under Johnny Holmes.

I first met Judge Hill (although I highly doubt she remembers it) when she was a prosecutor trying the Alex Gonzalez/Ida Lee Delaney case on a change of venue to Brazos County.  I was an academic intern at the Brazos County District Attorney's Office and my boss (a former HPD Homicide Sergeant) told me I should go watch how Houston prosecutors tried cases.  I took his advice and was mesmerized.  It was prosecuting at a whole new level.  Ultimately, Judge Hill and Joe Owmby would secure a 7-year-sentence against Gonzalez.

I was thrilled three years later to have Judge Hill as one of my Trial Advocacy professors (along with David Cunningham and George Murphy) at the University of Houston.  She was a judge by then and I appreciated that she would take time out of her schedule to come and teach law students how to try cases.  It was very clear that she had a passion and commitment to teaching effective litigation skills to upcoming lawyers.

After becoming a defense attorney, one of the first cases I took to a jury trial was in Judge Hill's court.  My client was charged with Aggravated Robbery and Aggravated Assault on a Public Servant after a little misunderstanding at a bank where he was accused of exchanging gunshots with HPD.  Judge Hill could not have given me a more fair trial on a case that had some very unpopular facts.  Every motion hearing I requested, she heard me out completely before ruling and she carefully considered every point I made.

After the trial was over, I remarked to someone that Judge Hill was so consistently fair that I knew what her ruling would be every time I stood up to make an objection.  Her ruling would just be the legally correct one.

It was a pleasure to try a case in front of her.

My only disappointment in Judge Hill taking the position with the Anderson Administration is that she won't be on the bench.  (NOTE:  My understanding is there is actually a fairly complicated process that she will have to go to before officially resigning and being able to take a new position.)

However, the benefit of having Judge Hill working with the District Attorney's Office far outweighs any sadness about her leaving.  She has the respect of attorneys on both sides of the bench for her work ethic, intelligence and fairness.

Her agreeing to join the Anderson Administration is a tremendous step in the right direction.

37 comments:

Jigmeister said...

Great choice Mike

Anonymous said...

From Hooper posting anonymously on his own blog:

"Anonymous on November 8, 2012 at 5:24 pm said:
There will be a keg on every floor."

Hoop got it wrong again. There was NEVER a more "By the book" Prosecutor or Judge than Belinda Hill. Well done Mike Anderson!

Let's hear it for a return to professionalism and an end to the Lykos circus.

Anonymous said...

Is Joe Bailey really going to be the new Trial Bureau Chief? Wow. Didn't see that one coming.

Anonymous said...

LOL on the Joe Bailey comment

Anonymous said...

We're not hearing good rumors about who the new Chief Investigator will be.

A Harris County Lawyer said...

The new Chief Investigator is going to be former HPD Homicide Captain Richard Holland. That is also an outstanding hire.

You'd have to be dumber than Leon to think that isn't good news.

A Harris County Lawyer said...

The new Chief Investigator is going to be former HPD Homicide Captain Richard Holland. That is also an outstanding hire.

You'd have to be dumber than Leon to think that isn't good news.

Anonymous said...

Who would ever have thought that not only would the scourge of Pat Lykos and her troup of flying monkeys be ended in 2012, but we have actually lived through her four years of mismanagement and have seen quality folks step up willing to work and put a professional DA's Office back together.

Thank you Mike Anderson, Belinda Hill, and all those employees who persevered and helped Mike get elected!

Anonymous said...

Murray, your double post was appropriate because of this good news. Richard will bring real experience to HCDA with balanced judgement and professionalism that matches Mike's and Belinda's.

Hope they fumigate Leon's office before 01/01/2013. What an embarrassment that has been. Joe the investigator would have been better than that.8

Anonymous said...

We were hearing precinct constables captains names and other county playas. THATS not good.

Hope you are right.

Anonymous said...

An outstanding choice! I first met Belinda when I was chief prosecutor in the 248th in 1985 and she was assigned as the number 3 prosecutor. I was impressed with her ability even back then. Mike Anderson was the number 2 in my court at the time as well.. Like old home week for me..lol
Sid Crowley

Anonymous said...

Anon 5:15-
It's a done deal on the new Chief.

Anonymous said...

But when are notices going out to those who won't be back? Some of us may be needing to make plans!!!

If someone has some inside info, please post sooner rather than later!

Anonymous said...

Anon 5:15,clearly you are just making shit up. Who the hell are you anyway? Maybe little Jimmy.

Diana E. Sims said...

Absolutely could not have a better choice! Judge Hill makes us all want to be better lawyers. This is a great direction for the HCDA's office!

Anonymous said...

While this is great news for the office this has the unfortunate consequence of virtually guaranteeing Bridgwater an appointment to a bench.

The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away.

Anonymous said...

Murray,

Hopefully Mike and team see that Lykos and Chow are trying to hide one of their hires: Virgilee Reynolds. She's making $66,000 and they hid her on 4 somewhere, hoping Mike doesn't notice.

Daphne Newaz said...

Judge Hill is my far the smartest, fairest, and dare I say coolest judge I have ever practiced in front of (including federal court). This is great news for the DA's office.

Roger Chappell said...

When Richard Holland was the captain of Homicide, there was never higher morale. He is probably the most qualified and most respected former law enforcement officer that Mike Anderson could have ever chosen for Chief Investigator. I would work for him any time, any where. GREAT choice Mike.

I also have the upmost respect for Judge Hill. She is as professional as they come and very unbiased in her decisions. She is one of the judges that I have never heard anything negative about...ever.

It's exciting to hear many attorneys looking forward to the new year with the passion that has been missing for the past four years.

Anonymous said...

Mury,

Youre're an ideot. Eye new that the Judge Mike wood pick a old white man two Be Ferst Assssissstant. Eye waa write. You looooose...

(by the Way, Rachschel still needs a knew job. Put in a Good Word four her. Pleeze)

Ron Pooper

Anonymous said...

While this is great news for the office this has the unfortunate consequence of virtually guaranteeing Bridgwater an appointment to a bench.

Not so fast. I was worried about Perry recycling old judges for the recently vacated 234th Civil District Court, but he went with someone younger and apparently more Republican than the old folks he could have appointed.

You never know, but Bridgewater isn't a done deal.

near the end said...

601If the lineup is Belinda Hill, Joe Bailey, Richard Holland then this is better than winning the Super Bowl. I would not in my wildest dreams been able to think up a better lineup.

This will be an office with a GOLD STAnDARD.

I am speechless. Is there a NOBEL Prize for creating an outstanding District Attorneys Office.

Congatulations MIKE!!!!!!!!!!

Lyn McClellan

Anonymous said...

Joe Bailey is NOT part of the new leadership team. Please quit feeding that one...

Anonymous said...

Mike Anderson, Belinda Hill and Richard Holland - now there's a TRUE TRIFECTA!!

Former GJ Foreman

Anonymous said...

Y'all are going to give Mike Hinton a heart attack if these Joe Bailey rumors continue.

Anonymous said...

Hey, does anybody know what "smooth operator" aka Rachel Ann Palmer Hooper will be doing for work on 1-1-13? She has a profile on Justia.com but it looks like a work in progress.

Anonymous said...

Lyn, your info source is WAY off on Joe Bailey....that just isn't happening. Not that he wouldn't be great but it isn't on the table. Bad rumor.

Anonymous said...

Virgilee at 66K? Well that explains where salaries went to that should have gone to people more qualified.

Anonymous said...

I would imagine Mr. Graham's head spinning like a top at all the salaries for the under qualified individuals.

The real problem lies with trying to bring in and back individuals who are qualified. Without the funds to do so and the need to get approval from the county before hiring at a particular salary, Mike's hands are tied for the immediate future.

Be patient everyone. Its going to take a good 12 months for the office's new face to take shape.

Anonymous said...

Anon 7:59, I am afraid the hole Lykos and crew dug is deeper than most appreciate. I think it will take much longer than a year to repair the office but if it can be done, then Mike, Belinda and Richard are the right start. I can not think of three more capable people. I have worked with all three and know they are clearly the best for the job.

Now Mike and his staff have to clean out those Lykos people who clearly should never have gotten the jobs they have as well as those who were already there and have demonstrated to be of a Lykos nature. It is dangerous to keep those folks around.

Thanks to Bert and Dick for taking on the job they have done so far. I know they have been working very hard on the transition.

Anonymous said...

@ anon 10:13 AM "It is dangerous to keep those folks around."
--------------
That's a bit of a stretch. Dangerous? What are they gonna do, gossip their way into a hostage scenario? Let's not let hyperbole mess with our realities.

Anonymous said...

Anon 11:34-
Dangerous as in:
1. Making poor decisions because of their incompetence
2. Stabbing people in the back to make themselves look good
3. Spying on people for wrong reasons
4. Doing stupid things that cause them to become targets of the Grand Jury
5. Ordering subordinates to do improper or illegal acts

Anonymous said...

11:54 I've got news for you. There are non Lykos' hires that have exhibited the five traits you listed. Top Raman comes to my mind based on very personal experiences. Along with her former division chief. It's funny how adversity like struggling under a regime like Lykos' often exposes cracks in character that have otherwise remained unexposed.
Shirley Cornelius

Anonymous said...

Shirley,

Who in the hell is Top Raman?

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
chris burke said...

Judge Hill heard my case over 8 1/2 years ago. Against everyone's advise, I opted to do a PSI in her court. I received fifty years in T
D.C.J.I-D.
As the sheriff was walking me towards the holdover cell door of no return my attorney screamed out that I had never had help in my entire life with a then drug problem. Judge Hill did something that day that she had never done before. She tore the 50 years up and she gave me my life back.
I speak at tri-county, been to several prisons to speak, almost done with writing a book about my life and drug addiction. What I went through in court was a miracle.
I am now married with three beautiful children. I employ several people and get involved with my community.
Judge Hill is an awesome lady. I still will never really understand how it all happened after a dozen court appearances and 2 district attorneys who wanted me in prison for life.
Life is beautiful. Judge Hill played a major roll in that for me.
Chris Burke.

C. Jacks said...

To Chris Burke
God Bless Judge Hill for letting those words erase the image that had been made and giving you a fair chance at life. However it was, what was within you to make your life what it is today. So to you Mr. Burke I wish you nothing but the best, you are an exceptional individual. Sometimes that one break can result with enough confidence to get a person up and running and so it did. Continue On Sir... Great Job Mr. Burke & Judge Hill.