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.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Judge A.D. Azios Passes Away

For those of you who have been doing criminal work in Harris County a little longer than I have, the news is reporting that retired Judge A.D. Azios passed away on Friday. 

I never had the pleasure of trying a case in front of him, but have heard all kinds of war stories that seemed to indicate Judge Azios was a good judge with a good sense of humor.  As the news noted, he was the first elected Hispanic Judge in Harris County.

Although I don't have any war stories of my own, I invite you all to share yours here, if you would like.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Pat Lykos Escapes Indictment . . . Again

In a move that should be absolutely surprising to no one, former-Harris County District Attorney Pat Lykos added to her legacy of avoiding indictment again yesterday.  As reported by Brian Rogers in this Chronicle article, the 263rd Grand Jury declined to indict Lykos for her role in investigating members of the 185th Grand Jury who were, um, also investigating her.

I had assumed that the 263rd's investigation into Pat had ended quite some time ago.  I had heard at the first part of the year that they had requested to have their term extended, but I didn't know it was still ongoing.  On Wednesday, I had heard that she had retained Dick DeGuerin to represent her and she was rumored to have asked her church congregation to pray for her.

It appears that her prayers were answered.

Unlike the previous media swarm that Lykos unleashed at the close of the 185th Grand Jury's investigation, she was uncharacteristically quiet this time.  Perhaps her silence was because she requested that this particular investigation (according to her) be performed by the Texas Rangers and could no longer claim it to be "politically motivated."

District Attorney Pro Tem Eric Nichols and DeGuerin were also silent about the investigation.  Perhaps that was because neither of them wanted to acknowledge that Nichols inexplicably allowed DeGuerin to appear in front of the Grand Jury to argue on Lykos' behalf.  For those of you who aren't familiar with how a Grand Jury works, the defense attorney is never allowed in before them to argue.  If anyone out there thinks that Lykos and DeGuerin didn't get special treatment, they would be very sadly mistaken.

Although the decision not to indict Lykos (or Leitner for that matter) for using county funded equipment to research her perceived political enemies on the 185th Grand Jury seems to defy logic, I'm not losing any sleep over it.  Regardless of whether or not she was indicted, the fact that she and her Administration had three separate Grand Juries investigate becomes the true defining moments of her legacy.  Her single term in the Office would be easily forgotten if it weren't for all the trouble she caused feeding her paranoia and her ego.

Hopefully she will use this opportunity to finally just go away.

On a side note, it was amusing to see the return of everybody's favorite lovable lunatic who was back to posting under the name of Dinkit in the comments section of the Chronicle article.  He's been relatively quiet since December.  I was beginning to worry that he didn't love me anymore.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Tonight's Reasonable Doubt (3/14/13)

Please join me and your host Todd Dupont for tonight's Reasonable Doubt at 8:00 p.m.  Our guest this week will be defense attorney Tom Moran.  We are long overdue in having Tom on the show and his background as a reporter, prosecutor, and defense attorney make him a very fascinating person to talk to.  Also, I just learned that he's also an occasional blogger!

So tune in with your questions tonight.  You can watch it live streaming by clicking here.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Tonight's Reasonable Doubt (3/7/13)

Please join me and our host Todd Dupont for tonight's Reasonable Doubt where our guest will be defense attorney Dee McWilliams.  We'll be talking about everything from prosecutorial ethics, reciprocal discovery and mental health.

As always you can catch us live streaming by clicking here at 8:00 p.m.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Found Dog in Houston

I realize the likelihood of this being successful is pretty much zero, but it is worth a shot.


Yesterday morning on the way to court, I rescued this male dog off the exit ramp from I-10 east on McKee leading into Downtown.  He was running up the ramp with his leash on and I was able to get him into my car.

He obviously has an owner of some sort.  He's very friendly but not hyper.

I've already listed him on Petharbor.com.  Any other tips on finding his owner or an adopter would be greatly appreciated.  E-mail me at murray@murraynewman.com