Thursday, December 14, 2017

The 2018 Finalized Election Field

As many of you know, the filing deadline for candidates running for office in the 2018 Election ended at 6 p.m. on Monday, December 11th.

Without commentary from me (at this point),  below is the finalized field of candidates running for Harris County judgeships.  It is complete to the best of my knowledge, after looking at the Harris County Democrat and Republican websites, the Secretary of State's website, and running it by candidates on both sides.  If I inadvertently left anyone off, it is unintentional and I'll fix it if you let me know.  Also, if you are missing a link to your campaign website, let me know and I'll add it.

The 180th District Court
REP:  Catherine Evans (I)         
DEM:  DaSean Jones

182nd Distrct Court
REP:  Jesse McClure                 
DEM:  Danilo "Danny" Lacayo

183rd District Court
REP:  Vanessa Velasquez (I)     
DEM:  Chuck Silverman

184th District Court
REP:  Renee Magee  vs. Antonio Benavides               
DEM:  Abigail Anastasio
185th District Court
REP:  Stacey Bond vs. Maritza Antu             
DEM:  Jason Luong vs. Brennen Dunn

208th District Court
REP:  Denise Collins (I)              
DEM:  Greg Glass

209th District Court
REP:  Michael McSpadden (I)   
DEM:  Brian Warren

228th District Court
REP:  Marc Carter  (I)               
DEM:  Frank Aguilar     

230th  District Court
REP:  Brad Hart (I)                   
DEM:   Chris Morton

232nd District Court
REP:  Kristin Guiney  (I)           
DEM:  Josh Hill

248th District Court
REP:  Katherine Cabaniss (I)   
DEM:  Hilary Unger

262nd District Court
REP:  Tammy Thomas             
DEM:  Lori Chambers Gray

263rd District Court
REP:  Justin Keiter vs. Charles Johnson             
DEM:  Amy Martin
313th District Court (Juvenile)
REP:  Glenn Devlin (I)           
DEM:  John Stephen Liles vs. Natalia Oakes vs. Tracy D. Good

314th District Court (Juvenile)
REP:  John Phillips (I)                 
DEM:  Michelle Moore

315th District Court (Juvenile)
REP:  Mike Schneider (I)       
DEM:  Leah Shapiro

County Court at Law # 1
REP:  Paula Goodhart (I)             
DEM:  Alex Salgado

County Court at Law # 2
REP:  Bill Harmon (I)                 
DEM:  Harold Landreneau vs. Ronnisha Bowman

County Court at Law # 3
REP:  Natalie Flemming (I)           
DEM:  Erica Hughes

County Court at Law # 4
REP:  John Clinton (I)                 
DEM:  Shannon Baldwin

County Court at Law # 5
REP:  Xavier Alfaro                   
DEM:    David Fleischer vs. Armen Merjanian vs. Aaron Saldana

County Court at Law # 6
REP:  Linda Garcia                     
DEM:  KelleyAndrews

County Court at Law # 7
REP:  Pam Derbyshire (I)           
DEM:  Andrew A. Wright vs. Danval Scarbrough

County Court at Law # 8
REP:   Jay Karahan  (I) vs. Dan Simon         
DEM:  Franklin Bynum

County Court at Law # 9
REP:  John Wakefield                 
DEM:  Toria Finch

County Court at Law # 10
REP:  Dan Spjut (I)                     
DEM:  Lee Harper Wilson

County Court at Law # 11
REP:  Aaron Burdette vs.  Lori Botello                 
DEM:  Gus Saper vs. Sedrick T Walker II 

County Court at Law # 12
REP:  John Spjut                         
DEM:  Juan Aguirre vs. Cassandra Y. Holleman

County Court at Law # 13
REP:  Jessica Padilla                   
DEM:  Raul Rodriguez vs. Mike Renfro

County Court at Law # 14
REP:  Mike Fields                       
DEM:  David Singer

County Court at Law # 15
REP:  Roger Bridgewater           
DEM:  Kris Ougrah vs. Tonya Jones

Additionally, I wanted to point out that there are a few races involving some Harris County folks who are running for some other additional benches.

339th District Court Judge Maria T. Jackson is running as a Democrat for Presiding Judge of the Court of Criminal Appeals. (Statewide Race)

338th District Court Judge Ramona Franklin is running as a Democrat for the Court of Criminal Appeals, Place 7. (Statewide Race)

Assistant District Attorney Lauren Reeder is running as a Democrat for the 234th District Court (Civil Bench).

Former Assistant Public Defender Frances Bourliot is running as a Democrat for the 14th Court of Appeals.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

A Couple of Blog Awards

I was very pleasantly surprised over the past couple of weeks to be notified that Life at the Harris County Criminal Justice Center had won a couple of legal blog awards.

The American Bar Association Journal named the blog as a Top 100 Legal Blog at the end of November with this write up.

And, as if that wasn't enough of a huge honor, it was followed up with an award from Feedspot as a Top 60 Criminal Justice Blog.

I'm not real sure how I got nominated or who is actually voting on these awards, but I'm extremely honored and grateful for the awards.  It's easy to write when you are surrounded by interesting things happening all around you.  Under normal circumstances, the Harris County Criminal Justice System is an fascinating place to be.  In the post-Harvey World, it has been taken to a whole new level.  

I started this thing back in 2008 with the expectation that it would probably last a couple of weeks and then I'd be so embarrassed about it that I'd take it down.  Those of you who have read it (and more importantly, commented on it) have truly given it a life of its own.  I'm keenly aware of the fact that the majority of y'all read it strictly for the comments!

For whatever reason you check in on this blog, I appreciate it. 

Monday, December 4, 2017

Vice News Appearance

A couple of weeks ago, I had the opportunity to be interviewed by Vice News on HBO about Life in the Harris County Criminal Justice world in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey.  If you missed the segment when it aired, you can catch it by clicking here.

They also added a little bit of bonus content on their website that wasn't included in the original.

Monday, November 27, 2017

Fun with the Houston Chronicle Billing Department

As I was totaling up my end-of-month bills this afternoon, I couldn't help but notice that our esteemed city newspaper, the Houston Chronicle, had taken the liberty of billing me three separate times in the past thirty days.  Now, I'm not proud to admit that I subscribe to the Chronicle on most days, but in my defense, I only get the paper on Sundays.

For a "Sunday Only" subscription, I pay the sum of $14 a month -- in theory.  Assuming there are four Sundays in a month, that comes to $3.50 a paper.  That's not really all that great of a deal for something I can usually work through in the space of ten minutes on the average Sunday.  Not to mention, the newspaper lady routinely forgets to deliver the paper about once a month.

As with most of my bills, I have it on a credit card with autopay.

I noticed today that the Chron had billed me $14 on October 31st, $19 on November 3rd, and another $14 on November 24th.   This seemed to boost my average bill to $11.75 per newspaper, which seemed a tad hefty.

So, I called in to question my bill.  After being on hold for about fifteen minutes, I finally spoke to an actual living person!  The explanation went a little something like this.
Chronicle Lady:  Well, that bill on October 31st was supposed to be on October 15th, but we charged you late.  Don't worry, we did not charge you extra for the late fee.
Charge me extra for a late fee on something that auto-drafts?  Huh?
Chronicle Lady:  The bill on November 3rd is because we bill ten days before your subscription expires and it was going to expire on November 15th.
Wait.  What?
Chronicle Lady:  The bill on November 24 is because your subscription was going to expire on December 10th, so we billed you for it.
I'm completely confused at this point.
ME:  So, why was the November 3rd bill for $19 instead of $14?
Chronicle Lady:  That was because you receive a special Christmas edition paper which is an additional $5.  Oh, wait, I mean, you receive a special Thanksgiving edition paper which is an additional $5.
ME:  Wait, you charge me an extra five dollars because you put extra advertisements in it?
Chronicle Lady:  Yes sir.
ME:  You know, nevermind.  Just cancel my subscription.
Chronicle Lady:  That will be another department.  Let me transfer you.
She then hung up on me.

And they wonder why the newspaper industry is dying.

Monday, November 20, 2017

Ira Jones

This evening, I was contact by former District Attorney Chuck Rosenthal, who wanted to let me know that retired Assistant D.A. Ira Jones passed away over the weekend.

Ira was a senior narcotics prosecutor in Special Crimes when I started at the Office in 1999.  I can't say that I knew him very well, but he had a reputation as a no-nonsense, hard-nosed prosecutor.  In all honesty, I was kind of scared of him the first couple of years I worked there. 

Somewhere around 2002 or so, I ran into Ira at Fogo de Chao and I stopped by his table to say hello.  He had never been there before and he was really enthusiastic about it.  Every time I would see him around the Office after that, he would always stop and talk about Fogo.  Apparently it was a life changing experience for him.  But I always enjoyed talking to him.  As it turned out, that scary, hard-nosed prosecutor was actually a pretty nice guy when you got to know him.

I can't say that I ever got to know Ira well, but every time I would see him, he would always come over and say hello.  It doesn't really seem like it was all that long ago when I last saw him.

But Ira was an icon at the Office.  He was a throwback to the old school prosecutors of eras gone by and everyone knew him as such.

I remember one time being in court and bantering back and forth with the late, great Rayford Carter, who wanted a deferred on a burglary of a building case.  I told Rayford if he could remember the names of five prosecutors, I would give him the deferred.  He immediately named Chuck Rosenthal, but then stalled out on naming another.

After thinking it over for a minute, he made winced and then slowly said: "Ira Jones," as if speaking of his prosecutorial nemesis physically pained him.  I told Ira that story once and he thought it was pretty funny.

Ira had a bout with cancer during his time at the Office, but I don't recall him missing much work.  He lost all of his hair, but it looked good on him.  We bonded over our hair cuts there for a bit, too.

Unfortunately, it looks like his cancer came back.  According to his friends' posting on Facebook, Ira passed away at MD Anderson over the weekend.  Although I wasn't close to him, I find myself very sad to hear the news. 

He was a true character of the Harris County Criminal Justice System.