Sunday, March 31, 2013

Kaufman County

I'm sure by now that you have learned of the horrifying murders of Kaufman County District Attorney Mike McLelland and his wife, Cynthia, in their home yesterday.  This follows on the heels of the January 31st murder of Kaufman County Assistant District Attorney Mark Hasse and according to the Dallas Morning News, the murder of Colorado prison official Tom Clements may also be related.

I was in trial when Mark Hasse was murdered.  I was saddened to hear about it, but I didn't give a lot of thought to his death being part of a larger scheme.  The media rumbled about the possible involvement of the Aryan Brotherhood, but I don't pay much attention to what the media's preliminary accusations lead to.  I still recall vividly all the news reels of April19, 1995 when the news wanted to first blame the Oklahoma City bombing on Al-Queda.

As the news comes in about yesterday's murders, the idea of Aryan Brotherhood involvement seems to become much more credible.

I've been involved in Texas criminal justice in some form or another since 1994 and I have never seen anything like this.  The murder of prosecutors in retaliation for the jobs that they do is something you would expect from the Zetas in Mexico -- not the United States.  The fact that it could happen in such a small county as Kaufman brings to light that it can happen anywhere.

I never considered the job of being a prosecutor to be a dangerous one.  In the nine years I spent at that job, I had a concealed handgun license, but I never carried a gun.  I never felt the need to.  I locked my doors at night and kept a gun in the nightstand, but that was because I lived in Houston.  I didn't feel that being a prosecutor put me at more of a risk of being a target.  Quite frankly, I've angered many more defendants in my role as their defense attorney than I ever did as a prosecutor.  Defendants become more angry at the defense attorney who delivers the news that the prosecutor won't dismiss their case than they do at the actual prosecutor.

And don't get me started on the animosity that a divorce attorney can inspire in even the most law-abiding of citizens.

Yes, there have been incidents of violence against prosecutors in Texas.  No one has forgotten about the defendant who attacked then-prosecutor-now-Judge Marc Brown in the middle of a trial.  Nor have we forgotten the murder of Gil Epstein in 1996.  However, those were isolated incidents.

The murders of the Kaufman County prosecutors is a declaration of war.

And like with all wars, nothing good will come of it.

I wish I had something more profound to write.  I wish I could say something that could possibly provide some sort of reason or sense to the tragedy of Kaufman County, but I can't.  I've said before that the world is a dark place and it is becoming increasingly darker.

My thoughts and prayers are with the McLelland, Hasse and Clements families.  I hope that all of those responsible for these murders are swiftly brought to justice.


Lee said...

You angered more defendants as their defense attorney than you did as a prosecutor? That is an incredible statement to make....

A Harris County Lawyer said...

Not really. Prosecutors don't go back in the holdover and talk to the defendants usually. Defense attorneys have to be the bearer of bad news frequently. Defendants who aren't told what they want to hear get frustrated and angry quickly.

It may be the prosecutors who make the decisions which anger the defendants, but we are the ones who deliver the message.

Anonymous said...

As much as the killing of anyone or anything is horrific (venegence or sport), it does bring up an interesting question. Since Garcia will be providing Mike a security detail until all is presumed safe, will he be naming Jim Leitner head of security?

Just Sayin' said...

Anon 7:46,

Hunting and justifiable homicide aside; we can agree that Jim Leitner is a total joke in and out of the court house. However, to trivialize a real and significant threat to the safety of our elected DA and his family is very inappropriate.

Just Sayin'

Anonymous said...

There's no threat t our DA, 1:11. You think the beginning of any hit list by the Aryan Brotherhood begins in Kaufman County and ends in Harris County?

What happened was tragic. Doesn't mean anything is going down here, though.

Anonymous said...

Murray is right. The last death penalty capital case I prosecuted in Harris County, the defendant and myself got along well, chatting and joking. He hated one of his defense attorneys though. I've had defendants I was prosecuting share their Bologna sandwiches with me. As a defense attorney I've had a lot more angry ones, the "you ain't done shit" for me type.

Anonymous said...

Wonder if you'd still feel that way if you were the DA here?

Betting not.

Anonymous said...

Who says Al Qaeda wasn't behind the Oklahoma City bombing?

Anonymous said...

Leitner would be an excellent pick and has what it takes. I hope that one day he decides to replace Anderson

Just Sayin' said...

Anon 4:41,

Mike Anderson specifically asked for police protection and he would not have done so without cause. I'm sure you are not privy to the information Mike has in this regard.

The recent assassinations of the Kaufman DA and his wife sure have the hallmark signs of a Mexican Cartel kill. Time will tell whether the assassinations were ordered by Los Zetas or the Medellin Cartel. The Aryan Brotherhood does not seem to fit the crime.

The Cartels thrive on gruesome intimidation. They do not shy away from executing public officials or law enforcement. Their high profile kills are often publicly displayed as a sick mass marketing strategy.

The Harris County District Attorney's Office is the biggest and toughest in Texas.......what better place for the Cartel to make an impact statement and what better target than the man at the top and his family?

So if Mike Anderson wants police protection for himself and his family I suggest we provide them with the best our county has to offer without reservation.

Just Sayin'

Anonymous said...

Why does Just Sayin' always have a stick up his butt?

Roger Chappell said...

It never ceases to amaze me at how trivial and insensitive some of the posts are that appear on this blog. Sometimes I just shake my head. I'm just a dumb old cop. But, I think that if there are two prosecutors executed within a couple of months of each other, from the same office, none the less, EVERY prosecutor in the state should be more vigilant and pay attention to their surroundings. Report any and all suspicious activity or persons. It is those kinds of calls that solve complicated murders. The vehicle parked on the street that looks out of place, the person walking in the neighborhood at odd hours that appears not to belong, or any number of suspicious events need to be investigated. After a person is murdered, homicide investigators look for those types of calls or seek information from the public. You are a fool if you don't pay attention to the goings on in Kauffman County.

Anonymous said...

Lets leave Leitner out of it. He is just like everyone else, he made some good decisions and he made some bad decisions while he was an ADA. He has zero to do with Mike Anderson and his family's safety, as well as the safety of the other ADA's and the law enforcement folks and what security measures are being taken. Let's do something useful, and say prayers for all the members of the Kaufmann County DA's office and the members of their families as they take measures to ensure their safety. The Harris County DA's office deserves the same prayers. Focus on the issue please.

Anonymous said...

Anon @ 11:21 what exactly is it that you find arrogant or elitist in advocating that a public official and his family be provided with the best security available in the face of serious risk?
Whether you like Just Sayin', Mike Anderson or prosecutors in general; the safety of law enforcement and our families is not a flippant affair.

Anonymous said...

3:06, all I said was that just sayin' has a stick up his butt. I never said a word about anything being arrogant or elitist.

You people need to learn to read.

Anonymous said...

Anon 4:37,

Don't use terms you don't know the meaning of:

Cliché: Have a stick up your ass

Explanation: 1. To be arrogant.
2. Someone who thinks they are better than everyone else.

Country: United States

BTW, your "you people..." comment sure sounds like an elitist term commonly used by Rage.

Anonymous said...

8:02 is the dictionary guy from the Lykos threads? Hilarious. Now we know he's not worthy of being responded to. (If that sounded arrogant or elitist, then you've gotten that correct for once.)

Look. I'm sure all of you folks are so serious about your outpouring of sympathy that you'll be at McLelland's funeral. If so, come say hi. I'll actually be there, instead of feigning sympathy on the internet or praying on Facebook.


Anonymous said...

ABC news is reporting that the wife of a former Kaufman County JP has been charged with the capital murder of McClelland and his wife. Charges are also expected against the former JP. Seems that the DA prosecuted the JP for some theft of county owned monitors.

Anonymous said...

A former cop was the murderer. Typical...