Of Symptoms and Larger Problems

The Houston Chronicle ran an article this week about local criminal defense attorney Jerome Godnich and the fact that he made over half a million dollars last year in court-appointed fees.  In my current role as president of the Harris County Criminal Lawyers' Association, I was interviewed at length by Neena Satija, the reporter who wrote the article, although a lot of what we talked about didn't end up in the story. The quote of mine that she did use pointed out the fact that I thought Jerome (as well as other lawyers who have recently come under the microscope for taking on too many cases) gets appointed on so many cases because judges know he is a good and competent lawyer.  In typical fashion (in what has become the story of my life since becoming HCCLA president), by 9 a.m., I'd received one e-mail saying I needed to defend Jerome more strongly and another saying I didn't blast him enough.   It's days like these that I really miss smoking. The point that I wa


Man, Kim Ogg had to be missing her some Dudegoggles today.   Ever since former Harris County District Attorney's Office spokesperson Dane Schiller left the Office (and the country!) following his disastrous appearance as a witness in the Guajuardo hearing last year, it looks like Boss Ogg has been managing her own Twitter account. And if today's events are any indicator, suffice it to say that things are not going well. It started off with a seemingly non-Ogg-related tweet from June 6th by a Twitter account called "Urban Reform" that had made note of a recent heated exchange between County Judge Lina Hidalgo and County Commissioner Adrien Garcia.  The original tweet seemed to be more of an observation that the event had happened and did not appear to cast judgment on Hidalgo. However, as we all know, one cannot say the words "Lina Hidalgo" without awakening the hordes of Lina-haters that seem to cruise the waters of Twitter like a killer whale looking for

I'll Take "Things That Aren't Any of the Prosecutor's Damn Business" for $1,000, Alex.

There were a couple of interesting things of note in this article  about the Darius Lewis case by Nicole Hensley in yesterday's Chronicle  that I thought were worth mentioning . . . Spoiler Alert:  it isn't really up to the prosecutor to decide whether or not a client is indigent enough to qualify for appointed counsel unless he or she is doubling as the judge or county auditor.   Also, when did prosecutors start sharing juvenile  criminal history?

Lyn McClellan

I have always said that the best thing about working in the Harris County Criminal Justice World is that it provides us the opportunity to walk amongst giants.  Harris County boasts some of the most famous names in the history of Texas Criminal Justice:  Percy Foreman, Racehorse Haynes, Dick DeGuerin, Rusty Hardin, Kelly Siegler, Johnny Holmes, and Dan Cogdell, to name a few.  As impressive as all of those names are and the large volume of famous cases associated with them all, the name and face that I always though of when I spoke of giants was retired Harris County District Attorney's Office Bureau Chief Lyn McClellan. Lyn passed away this morning after a lengthy illness. Lyn was a career prosecutor who had been at the Harris County District Attorney's Office for at least twenty or twenty-five years before I started there in 1999.  He retired in November 2008, shortly before I headed out the door.  I wrote this post about him back on the occasion of his retirement. He was an

Life at the Harris County Criminal Justice Center: The TikTok Channel

 So, as evidenced by the fact that I haven't written a blog post in several months, I don't have a lot of time to sit down and blog like I used.  That's not a bad thing.  In addition to having a busier work schedule over the past few years, keeping up with my kids' activities pretty much has me on the go all day long. There have been plenty of times that I've seen a topic that I wanted to do a blog post on (like, say for instance, my thoughts on the November elections) but by the time I have time to sit around and actually write  the blog post, its already become old news (like, say for instance, my thoughts on the November elections). I still love talking about the CJC and all of the things going on in it.  I just need to find a way to talk about it that doesn't involve hours of writing. So, I discovered this little-known medium called TikTok that nobody has ever heard of and decided that it really needed a pudgy bald guy to share his thoughts on a relatively o

The 2022 Election: The District Court Races - Part Three of Three

180th District Court -- Judge Dasean Jones (I)(D) vs. Tami Pierce (R) -- There is probably no greater contrast in the type of candidates on either side of the ballot than the one we see in the battle for the 180th District Court.  The Republican challenger, Tami Pierce is a retired police officer and former prosecutor whose campaign website encourages voters to be "Fierce with Pierce."  She apparently was a defense attorney for ten years before becoming a prosecutor in Polk County.  Although it is a cute slogan, I'm not sure that ferocity is something that attorneys look for in a presiding judge.  The ideal judge, as I noted in part one of this election recap , is a neutral one who can call balls and strikes without an agenda -- no ferocity necessary.  Although I will give her credit for being well-versed in criminal law, the fact that her career hasn't been in Harris County bothers me.  Harris County isn't a small county like Polk and I don't know how it coul

The 2022 Election: The County Court at Law Races - Part Two of Three

Okay, let's jump right in.  Hopefully, if you are reading this, you've already read Part One of my sweeping epic on the 2022 Election.  Also, many of these candidates I talked about in more detail during the primary elections earlier this year . County Court at Law # 1 -- Judge Alex Salgado (I)(D) vs. Nathan Moss (R) -- I didn't know Judge Alex Salgado at all prior to him taking the Bench in January of 2019 and my appearances before him during his tenure have been very limited.  I have spoken to him in court and he is an incredibly nice man who runs a very fair and efficient court.  He was a prosecutor for nine years (he mentioned to me that many of those years were in Walker County) before taking the Bench. Nathan Moss is a Felony Division Chief at the Harris County District Attorney's Office and one of the few remaining prosecutors that were there when I was.  He was a baby prosecutor around the time I left.  He's also my neighbor!  Nathan is a personal friend an

The 2022 Election: Overview - Part One of Three

Definitely, my least favorite part of this blog has become the expectation that I do a write-up on the candidates when election time comes around.  Y'all have no idea how much it stresses me out!  The reason it stresses me out is that in the vast majority of the races, I have two friends running against each other.  Usually, those friends are great people and usually, those friends are both very qualified for the office that they seek.  That's a no-win situation for me to write about and that is usually compounded when I don't make a clear choice and get called out for wimping out.  To paraphrase the late, great Ben Parker, with great blogging comes great responsibility, unfortunately. While I will reluctantly acknowledge that I sometimes "wimp out" on making a clear choice between two people that I consider to be friends that are qualified for the Bench, I do want to make it clear that I am completely honest about a person's ability to be an elected official

Mark Herman's Shameless Publicity Stunt

It always seems like an insincere platitude whenever a defense attorney leads off with talking about his or her respect for cops, but bear with me for a moment.   I grew up idolizing the police and wanted to be an FBI agent from about the age of ten.  There wasn't a true crime book or police procedural drama that I didn't watch wanting to be just like those guys .  My biggest professional mentor in my life was HPD and the reverence I have for that department has extended well past my tenure as a prosecutor.  I admire the work they do.  I admire their selflessness.  I admire their bravery. But nobody's perfect. And if I were to have to pick the biggest flaw that I see as a character trait in many of the police officers that I have known and admired over the years, it is that police have a real big stumbling block when it comes to ever admitting that they've done something wrong. And that's a big problem when the decisions that your profession makes can literally dest