Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Kim Ogg's War with HPD

I'm really beginning to think that Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg skipped the day they taught diplomacy at politician school.  KPRC Channel Two is reporting this evening that the D.A.'s Office suddenly revoked the City of Houston Police Department's access to the Consolidated Criminal History Database (CCHD) without warning.

The database is an extremely handy website available to all prosecutors and apparently, all (but one, now) law enforcement agencies in Harris County.  The way it works is that it gives the user the ability to enter the name of person and that person's entire Harris County criminal history pops up.  It shows every case the person was ever charged with, as well as the outcome of those cases.  That information is something that is readily available via a standard NCIC/TCIC criminal history check, but the CCHD gives much more detailed information.

Each listing of a criminal case provides links to a tremendous amount of additional information.  In most cases, each case is linked to the offense report.  It may also link to all the persons involved.  It can provide information on where the crime happened and past known addresses of a suspect.  In many cases, it even has digital downloads of audio and video recordings.  It is a valuable asset for prosecutors and police agencies.  Here's why.

Let's say that the Houston Police Department is working on a case and they are looking for a suspect.  They enter his name into the CCHD and it shows that he's had several cases filed on him by the Harris County Sheriff's Office, the Constables, or Pasadena.  The CCHD provides an easy click to read the offense reports from those other agencies.

It allows the multiple police agencies within Harris County to quickly access each other's relevant information, without having to go through the (sometimes painfully slow) process of reaching out to each other and asking for that same information to be shared.  It puts local criminal history at an officer's fingertips.

Defense attorneys even have (a very limited) access to it for their clients.  When I have signed on as attorney of record to a case, I can use the CCHD to look up my client's criminal history and have access to all of the old offense reports related to it.  It is an amazing website that makes my job so much easier.  I can see the related offense reports, get interviews, and see evidence on cases where my client was charged.  It saves the prosecutors an immeasurable amount of time because they don't have to make copies of everything and provide it to me.

But the irony is that now I have access to something that the freaking City of Houston Police Department does not.  HPD.  The biggest law enforcement agency in the county.

It's hard to decide where to begin with this, but I'll give it a shot.

When Kim Ogg fired decided not to renew the contracts of approximately 40 senior prosecutors in her new regime, she sent a very loud message that she was not to be trifled with.  She clearly had her own vision of the direction she wanted to take the Office and she wasn't really too bothered by the opinions of those who disagreed with her.

Ogg was more than happy to take on the ire of the police agencies when she decided to stop taking felony charges on residue or "trace cases" or small amounts of marijuana.  Those criticisms were to be expected for a "progressive" District Attorney.

But recent public complaints from HPD to the media have apparently pushed Ogg over the edge.  Some members of HPD have been complaining of prosecutors pleading out cases for too little punishment.  Ogg's way of dealing with the criticism was to simply ban her prosecutors from talking to the police about what was happening.


This memo in and of itself is pretty telling about the deteriorating relationship between the Ogg Administration and surrounding police agencies.  The very idea that police officers who worked on cases aren't allowed to speak to the prosecutors who handled those cases is absurd.

I'm not saying that a police officer's opinion of a case should be the controlling factor on how that case is handled -- prosecutors are trained to spot issues and make judgment calls on cases that a police officer may not see -- but that doesn't mean officers should get the silent treatment on the cases they work on.  Imagine a scenario like this:

OFFICER:  Hey, are you the prosecutor that handled that Agg Assault on a Public Servant case where the suspect shot at me?

ADA:  I'm sorry, sir.  I can neither confirm nor deny that.

OFFICER:  He got probation.  What the hell happened?

ADA:  Sir, you may speak to my supervisor if you are displeased.

OFFICER:  Aren't you the prosecutor who handled it?

ADA:  I can neither confirm nor deny that.  Would you like my supervisor's name and number?

But even that pales in comparison to the idea of shutting the county's largest police force out of a shared database.  In essence, Ogg has responded to the criticisms by withdrawing access to an investigative tool.   That could be construed as a declaration of war.

And that probably wasn't the best decision she could have made.  This war is not one that Ogg can win.

Suppose HPD decides to retaliate by blocking access to their databases to all HCDA personnel?  Prosecutors who want an offense report will have to request a printed version that is copied and turned over to them.  What would happen if every name an HCDA investigator wanted to look up was no longer available at the push of a button?  

It would bring the D.A.'s Office to a standstill.  What would the D.A.'s Office do then?  Stop filing all HPD cases?  Good luck with that.  What Ogg is withholding from HPD will inconvenience them.  If they retaliate, they could devastate a D.A.'s Office that is already reeling from the side effects of Hurricane Harvey.

I'm sure there is more to the story than is currently in the media.  Ogg giving a comment might help enlighten us.  The fact that she isn't in front of a camera, sharing her side of things is telling.  It will be interesting to see how this all plays out.  If we know nothing else about Kim Ogg, we know that she doesn't back down from challenges very often. 

No matter how devastating the repercussions.   

43 comments:

Lee said...

Murray,
As far as I am aware noting the skit above, police are not supposed to have any stake in cases. Administration of cases is handled by a different branch of government. Perhaps you remember the separation of powers doctrine that you were taught in high school government. The police officer need only to come into the courtroom and testify accurately in the case as to what they saw and then leave the courtroom back to their duties on the street. It is irrelevant to them the outcome of the case just as irrelevant the occupation of the victim.

Murray Newman said...

Lee,
I'm pretty sure that that the Separation of Powers you are referring to wasn't talking about police and prosecutors. Even if it did, however, I think you are missing the point.

At no part of this post did I say that police got to dictate the outcome of a case. As a matter of fact, I'm pretty sure I said just the opposite of that. However, that doesn't mean that they deserve to be cut out of the loop when the case is discussed. The D.A.'s Office wouldn't do that to a person who had their home burglarized, nor would they do it to the family of a murder victim. Why should a police officer be singled out as the one category of witness that is owed no discussion or explanation?

That's a position that only an over-zealous defense attorney might take, but it is hardly one that you would expect to come from the elected District Attorney who deals with officers day in and day out.

Anonymous said...

Lee, outcomes are relevant to LEOs. I spent 15 years as a police officer before my last 15 years as a prosecutor. LEO's that care about their job, care about the community they serve, and put time and effort into their cases also care about the outcomes and have a right to know how the DA's office is handling their cases. If they are good officers, they will accept the decisions of trained, well qualified trial prosecutors. If their efforts are for not because overworked and inexperienced trial prosecutors kowtow to defense attorneys out of fear of over zealous defense attorneys now in charge of the HCDAO, do not be surprised when policing devolves to that found in Baltimore

Gritsforbreakfast said...

Few things:

1) Conflating HPD with the union doesn't help your argument, Murray. Makes it look like you're intentionally misrepresenting the dispute. "Union" != "Police"

2) Separation of powers does apply, both in the constitutional sense (DAs in the TX Constitution are part of the judiciary) and in the practical sense of separating out unrelated duties. No requirement or need for officers to be updated on every case unless they're needed as a witness (which is rare bc of a 97% plea bargain rate, etc.).

3) Crime victims, much less other witnesses, aren't read into every aspect of an investigation and are often shut out. Your characterizations of police as the "one category of witness that is owed no discussion or explanation" is a red herring.

4) Several thing are going on here which are likely unrelated (dispute with the union, new policy on talking to officers, alleged restrictions on database access). You're stirring them altogether hoping to suggest blaming your political enemy as the appropriate response to all of it. But the connections are all implied in your head, not proven by your arguments. So it comes off to someone without all your biases as simply whining that your candidate lost the election.

Murray Newman said...

Actually, Scott, if you bothered to check in a little more often, you would know that I voted for Ogg, so my candidate did actually win the election. She's just been doing some crazy shit ever since. I still don't consider her to be a political enemy, or an enemy enemy, for that matter.

And you, amigo, are putting words in my mouth. I said that they didn't deserve to be cut out. Again, I was quite clear that they didn't get to decide the outcome. Additionally, I didn't say that Ogg was breaking the law, now did I? I said that she was starting shit over a personal vendetta that would have a detrimental effect on the relationship between the two agencies.

Your insistence that this is no big deal seems to be much more illustrative of your bias.

Stephanie said...

I worked for the DA's office and now have been with HPD for 8 years. This hiding information or locking us out, which has never been a practice, is a tyrant's retaliation and has no business in the justice system. I also realize that when we took to the news, bringing said tyrant to the carpet so to speak, we surely realized there would be repercussions- unethical actions but to be expected from the unethical in power.

This issue that HPD has brought to the media is not against the district attorney's office, but the Ogg administration. We have worked well together with the DA's office at least for as long as I have been on. With patrol experience and investigative experience, I have always kept a good relationship with those DA's- they work hard for justice. I don't always agree with them and frankly they haven't always given me the charges I seek- but I know that they have a different specialty than I do and I accept and respect that. That being said, I also have respect for and treat the defense attorney's who work my cases well and with respect. That's just because I'm a professional.

@Gristsforbreakfast- it is Ogg who is conflating HPD with the Union. The union has taken her on in the media, and she is punishing all officers who work for HPD.

@MurrayNewman- thanks again for your unbiased review of this situation.

Lee said...

Thanks Scott,

Points 2 & 3 are on target.

Lee said...

Murray,
Police should not get to weigh in at all in any cases. They are only there to inform the court of what they saw (not their feelings) in the same manner as a survalence camera would. Surely survalence cameras do not have emotions at stake that need consolation or handling as they provide factual information only. The only reason that the police officer should be in the courtroom is to provide information in response to questions from legal counsel and leave. The officers just like the survalence camera are there to strictly provide legal counsel with information and the leave the courtroom.

What happens in the case is determined not by the police but by the legislative provisions that are in place at the time. Again, this is the separation of powers. The court consisting of defense counsel, prosecutors, judge and jury determine the fate of each case per the statutes without any consideration from the police.

David said...

Lee, I disagree. The police are part of the community. There are many reasons why a prosecutor may give consideration to the police of how to dispose of a case. The officer is the victim, the defendant ran from the officer, the officer has been called to the scene of the assault many times and has input on the relationship between the parties, the defendant was courteous and cordial while being detained and arrested and the officer wants to make sure the prosecutor takes that into account, or the officer may ask the prosecutor if the prosecutor has any feedback on what he could have done differently - constructive criticism.

While none of the above should be the end all/be all of what the offer should be, it is something that may be appropriate to consider in any given case. There may not be a duty, but the policy doesn't appear to even allow the opportunity.

Anonymous said...

I don't like the cops or the DA,but even I can see why the cops should be able to get into a local database and run quick background checks on people.

If it's a separation of powers issue and Ogg is all of a sudden so concerned with doing things right, why hasn't she cut every agency in the county out of they database? Even if there is a separation issue, that's sure as hell not why she did it, or she would have cut them all off, not just the one she's having a public spat with.

Tom said...

I don't know what is going on and neither does anyone else commenting here. If the DA did something to cripple the police by cutting HPD off from necessary or valuable information, why is the HPPU and not the police chief and mayor raising hell?
Whatever you may think of Ogg and her top staff, they aren't crazies. If they took the action the HPPU is complaining about and only against HPD, there has to be a reason.
What conceivable reason would there be for the district attorney to deliberately hinder the largest law enforcement agency in the county just for spite? There isn't a rational possible reason.

Anonymous said...

The reason is simple. She doesn't want to be "seen" as being soft on crime while all the while being soft on crime.

Ted Oberg did a story and said he requested records for the dispositions of criminal cases so the statistics could be analyzed to see if she actually is soft on crime. That was in November. In his latest report a couple of weeks ago, he said she has still refused to release the records.

Now, she has banned prosecutors from communicating dispositions with police officers because she doesn't want those statistics released.

They're public records. So for those who say Kim Ogg isn't "crazy" you might want to re-think that. She has some serious mental issues in my humble opinion.

And to those who say the police shouldn't care about case dispositions or even have a right to that information, what about cases like the scenario Murray offered? When an officer is the victim of a crime?

They're not supposed to care about being assaulted or being shot at or suffer an attempt to take their life?

That's asinine and you're asinine for thinking it

Anonymous said...

https://www.themaven.net/bluelivesmatter/news/da-retaliates-after-houston-cops-expose-her-for-letting-criminals-go-GAogZtfeXES-j0MgPbEDcg?full=1

Murray Newman said...

I agree with Anon 3:50 that those views are asinine. Lee and Scott are certainly entitled to their views on the role that law enforcement should play within a case, but I don't think those views really resonate with the general public.

Or as I like to call them, "jurors."

And as Kim should call them, "voters."

Anonymous said...

Kim doesn't like a paper trail tying her to anything, which should worry current prosecutors. It is just a matter of time before she pulls a Lykos and throws a prosecutor under the bus to draw the attention away from her. It's a scary time to work at the DA's office. It's good to see that HPOU is taking a stand. I anticipate that people who comment blindly on here have never worked at the DA's office or have ever worked as an ADA.

Anonymous said...

To you idiots who do not want officers involved in the case post arrest: Did it ever occur to your pea brain that sometimes cops want to know why a case was dismissed or sold cheaply because they want to make sure they did not do something wrong on the arrest or investigation? Perhaps you cannot conceive of "government employee" namely a lazy cop wanting to do a good job. Guess what ass clown?. Most cops just want to do a good job. No I am not saying that all cops walk on water or are even hard working. Law enforcement is like most professions. Like doctors, lawyers and judges, there are good ones, bad ones and mediocre ones.

It is easy to bad mouth the popo until your loved one is raped, robbed or murdered. Then you want to rely on those men and women you "mother fuck." I pity you when you make that realization.

Anonymous said...

Since we are on the topic or concern for maintaining a "Separation of Powers" then I believe the time has come to no longer consult with an Assistant District Attorney in order to have charges accepted.

Anonymous said...

Ogg is a petty, little person who has shown herself over and over to make poor, emotionally charged decisions.

But what really amazes me in this whole debacle,is Art Acevedo. The man who tweets his opinion on EVERYTHING from his favorite ice cream to gun control. The man who never shied from a camera/interview. The man who Constantine arrangees for interviews so he can tell everyone how smart he is has been completely silent on this issue.

David said...

I remember when Johnny Holmes first took office and repeatedly told officers if they had a question about or a problem with an ADAs decision to give him a call directly. I had charges refused based on a prosecutor misreading the law I called the man and explained it to him. Within 24 hours he personally called back and told me to represent my case because he agreed with me. That’s accountability and leadership, things Kim Ogg seems to be lacking.

Anonymous said...

As a 40 year veteran defense attorney I'd hope there was a little animosity between the DA and law enforcement agencies. District attorneys need to view officers with a jaundiced eye so that a reasonable amount of impartiality exists when it's a he-said, he-said case. How many times have officers filed charges of assault on a public servant only for us to find that no assault occurred or that our client was the victim so the officer filed CYA charges? That has become an almost automatic charge for dozens of HPD officers. I saw three from the same officer on different clients arising from different incidents all in the same week. I think I speak for the bar when I say Ogg is doing a real decent job and most of us feel our clients are treated fairer now than in the past. DJJ

Anonymous said...

I think it's against the law for non law enforcement to view TCIC/NCIC records without a court order.

Murray Newman said...

Anon 5:30 p.m.,

I don't know the exact specifics about the requirements regarding TCIC/NCIC, but I believe you are correct over who has access to running those records. I know that you have to have an authorized ID to do so.

The general procedure (at least when I was there) was investigators ran the records and added a print out to the file. I believe that prosecutors have access, as well. The database that the D.A.'s office is running is technically not TCIC/NCIC.

Anonymous said...

To 1:15
Of course your criminally accused clients are being treated better by Ogg. She is a defense attorney in a DA position and has maintained her defense philosophy and culture as she fills the position of a prosecutor. She should be called DDA (District Defense Attorney) instead of DA.

Anonymous said...

Can't you just look up names o the District Clerk website for criminal charges?

Anonymous said...

At some point someone will figure out that us police usually aren’t personally hurt by these issues. We can usually defend ourselves effectively (me: 2 Glocks, shotgun, AR-15, TASER, and baton). The ones Egg Nogg is hurting are the common folks, including the bleating liberals who have always been at more risk of getting shot or bent over something than the red necks. What this DA has done is a travesty and is constructively aiding and abetting the criminal element. When those charges get refused it isn’t me that is victimized it is the citizen. For me it is cleared report (if that)and on to the next one. Once enough police get fed up and decide to lay down or retire (like over 1/3 of HCSO can) all the King’s horses and men will not be able to put the pieces back together in enough quantities to restore our power and the emboldened criminals will truly show the people of Harris County what Hell looks like. Think Chicago.

Anonymous said...

Scott, your long standing contempt for police and reading comprehension issues aside, the police union in question, the HPOU, is simply bringing issues to light that the Ogg administration refuses to deal with. When Ogg campaigned for office, she made it clear that she thought she as DA would personally dictate policy and the actions of all police in the county. I don't recall you reminding her of any separation at the time but you really have limited knowledge of Harris County as you don't live here. Since Ogg took office a growing number of issues have arisen with police officers from various agencies but as the agency with the most political pull, HPD's union has fielded hundreds of complaints. It has repeatedly attempted to solve any disputes in reasonable fashion but Queen Ogg wants a one way street. Watch how that translates when she is booted out of office when her term is up.

Tom, Mayor Turner and Art Acevedo are Democrats and both have political aspirations for higher office. They aren't going to publicly feud with Ogg, a fellow Democrat, neither of those two have any idea of this latest slight will mean in their quest to hire more cops. The more difficult a case is, the longer it will take to investigate which means lower clearance rates. Like it or not, when those officers are asked repeatedly by crime victims why their case hasn't been solved or why the DA's office wouldn't take charges, guess what the narrative is going to be regarding the ineffectiveness of the sitting DA?

And Tom, as some have pointed out, Ogg's actions or the actions of her subordinates are grounds for calling Ogg crazy. She wants control and to dictate how the public sees her but she is unwilling to accept that she isn't the sheriff nor the city police chief. So for every reasonable decision she's made comes five questionable or outright bad decisions, hence the growing number of local commentators pointing out her increasingly "crazy" behavior.

TriggerMortis said...

at 2:40 AM

You should audition for a spot on FOX News. Your rhetoric would fit right in with the other fearmongerers on there.

Anonymous said...

@TriggerMortis

The word you're desperately searching for is "fearmongers."

Anonymous said...

She's really REALLY done it now! She's gone public with proof that we framed Alfred Dewayne Brown for murdering one of our own. I don't see how we can be expected to clear cases without framing an innocent now and then. I mean, come on, there isn't an ADA or an officer in this entire county worthy of their badge who hasn't framed a few innocents. And if this wasn't already bad enough, she's notified the bar and Ratso could end up behind bars. That damn Ogg, always being honest and aboveboard. Makes me want to relocate to McLennan or Montgomery county where no one blinks an eye and framing innocents is considered a sport!

https://www.chron.com/news/houston-texas/article/DA-Former-prosecutor-lied-about-exculpatory-12724038.php

Anonymous said...

at 2:40 AM

What do you personally know about Chicago?? Didn't your Momma ever teach you that if you can't say something nice about someone or something, keep your mouth shut?? As a former Cook County State's Attorney (DA in your jurisdiction) and the son of a retired Chicago Police Detective, the State's Attorney's office, CPD, county and local police agencies have always cooperated and shared a common goal with each other to fight crime, and to keep the citizens of Chicago and the surrounding suburbs, safe. In fact, recent statistics show serious felonies, including shootings have been reduced. Can you all.......sorry "Y'all" say the same thing? Good luck and stay safe the next three years!!!

Anonymous said...

Anon 2:23, while I suspect your post is dripping with sarcasm, anyone that thinks that way probably lives in Ogg's fantasy version of the real world. Ogg needed a new distraction from her recent exploits fighting with police, smaller cities that refused to follow her pro-drug efforts, and some of the piss poor policies coming out of her office. In classic Ogg style, she found someone else to throw under the bus by exaggerating to the point of parody in hopes her move would serve as her latest shiny object to mislead voters.

Anon 2:46, Chicago has a lot of fine officers but it earned the reputation it holds for corruption due to decades of problems. And like it or not, most major cities saw large decreases in serious felonies which have very little to do with policing efforts or DA's so much as demographics. So if the windy city is not quite as corrupt as most people think it to be, or as dangerous, it will be a very long time before it sheds that earned reputation.

Anonymous said...

In 2016, 771 people were killed in Chicago, its highest homicide tally since 1996 and the largest number of murder victims by volume of any U.S. city. Per capita, this wasn’t the highest rate in the nation—it ranked ninth among cities with a population of 250,000 or greater. St. Louis officially held the title of most murderous large city in the United States in that year. In 2017, Baltimore—recently declared the most dangerous in America by USA Today and the site of 343 homicides in 2017—is likely to top the FBI’s forthcoming list of most lethal American cities. Baltimore’s police chief was sacked in January due to the rising crime there.

Anonymous said...


By Chicago Tribune Breaking News and Dataviz desks
In Chicago, 349 people have been shot this year

Anonymous said...

Ha! There are a lot of counties where its considered sport to frame to make a case or secure convictions. Don't kid yourself, just cause she pulled the plug on this one case doesn't mean there aren't ongoing frame-up cases which she's aware of but will never publicly speak of. Anyone whose been in this game more than a couple of years knows the rules.

Anonymous said...

While everyone is commenting about what they don't know about, take a moment to look at the Twitter feed of the sleazy piece of shit running the HPOU. You will find your answers as to why HPD was cut off. He is posting info from the database about cases that he has no involvement in. I wonder how this works in an officer involved shooting where he can research a suspect and provide info to an officer before the officer gives his statement.

Anonymous said...

@Anon 9:09 pm

Yes, because we all know the police are the real bad guys. Moron

Anonymous said...

Pinning on a badge doesn't magically transform someone into a good guy. Only fools believe such nonsense. When you have close to 60,000 police officers convicted on child sex charges in a period of 5 years, you have a serious vetting problem. Not to mention the thousands of others convicted of various other felonies. https://www.facebook.com/PoliceOfficersRapingKids/

Anonymous said...

@Anon 11:22. If the police use information in an unethical our illegal manner, then yes they are the real bad guys. If I recall an officer takes an oath, citizens don't. Like it or not, there are rules that law enforcement must abide. And why resort to name calling?? Is your intellectual capacity to have a conversation that limited?

Anonymous said...

@Anon 9:09

Assuming you are referring to the person who wrote: "look at the Twitter feed of the sleazy piece of shit running the HPOU" regarding the "name calling." Oh, wait...that was you. Calling out someone for something you did first. How very Democrat of you.

Anonymous said...

@Anon 6:21, after taking an extensive look at your Facebook page, it proves no such numbers and includes multiple accounts of the same cases. If you have a peer reviewed journal to cite or credible studies providing numbers anything close to what you've stated, I'm sure many of us would like to see it.

@Anon 9:09, I looked at the feed you provided and there was no illegal disclosure of pending cases, if you can prove otherwise, do us all a favor and refer the matter to the FBI or Texas Rangers. If Ms. Ogg believed such disclosure's took place, she is doing us all a disservice by not referring the matter to a grand jury or other watchdog organization. If he did anything illegal, keeping it quiet makes her complicit but given her recent comments, I can't help but think you're embellishing as much as 6:21 is.

Anonymous said...

They just will not let it die. Now that horrible Lisa Falkenberg is raising a new stink with her article which further publicizes Ratso Rizzo's failed frame job and even pointing out the obvious perjury he committed which could make him personally liable should a civil suit be filed. I don't know about Ratso or any of you, but I've attended a dozen or so TDCAA seminars and courses through the years and if they've taught me one thing it's to eliminate the paper trail when you're working a frame job. Hello! Emails are a part of that paper trail!

What worries me the most is the very real possibility that the next shoe to drop will be evidence that Clark was murdered by a colleague and the frame job was meant to cover that up. The last thing we need is for this case to go national and that will guarantee it does.

https://www.houstonchronicle.com/news/columnists/falkenberg/article/Rizzo-s-defense-in-Alfred-Dewayne-Brown-case-12742618.php?utm_source=chron&utm_medium=linkmodule&utm_campaign=btfpm

Murray Newman said...

Anon 9:35 a.m.,
Your creative writing classes are really paying off for you.

Anonymous said...

Unfreakingbelievable! The latest move by defense attorneys for the man Ratso framed is a push for him to be charged with a litany of felonies including attempted murder. What is our profession coming to when one of us can be held accountable for our criminal actions!?

Now those miscreants have even persuaded Johnny "Frame em all" Holmes in their corner. The one man who always backed his prosecutors when they framed innocents is now calling for a special prosecutor to investigate.

I'm through. I'll be sending my just-updated resume over to Ligon come Monday. Like McClellan, he would never betray one of his ADA's for a frame-up.

https://www.chron.com/news/houston-texas/article/Defense-lawyers-ask-for-investigation-to-consider-12746294.php