Posts

Kim Ogg blames the Judges . . . yet again

Image
It's just so damn hard being a prosecutor these days.   At least, it is in Harris County. It was so much easier back when I was there.  Our judges were almost ALL former prosecutors.  The rulings all went our way.  We had people who trained us on how to try cases.  We went to trial a lot.  We won a lot.  It was crazy!  When I asked my old division chief researched what the win/loss ratio was during our tenure at the Office back in the day, she told me I learned that it was somewhere in the low to mid-90% win rate. These days, those stats are a bit different.  My friend, Jeff Ross, at his Show Me the Justice  blog keeps a running tab of the win/loss column.  Here are the current stats for 2022 as of this writing: That translates into a little better than 67% win rate for the State.  If this was a report card, it would be a failing grade. A quick glance at the wins and losses for last week over at Show Me the Justice profile five guilty verdicts for the State and seven not guilty

Judge Renee Magee

 As most of you know, Judge Renee Magee passed away last week.  It is my understanding that she had been sick for some time, but wished to keep that private. Although I don't post here as much as I used to, Renee played a significant role in my life and career and I am very sad to hear of her passing.  She was a lovely and kind person and I would not be in Harris County if it weren't for her. As I've mentioned here several times, my first introduction to working at the Harris County District Attorney's Office was in the Summer of 1998 when I had an academic internship in the 209th District Court.  Elsa Alcala was the chief and Renee was the Two in the court.   I did a lot of work for Renee that summer as she got ready on trial cases.  She was a very devoted and hardworking prosecutor and I learned a lot from her.  She was also incredibly kind and great to work for. She and Elsa both wrote letters of recommendation for me when I applied to be a pre-commit with the office

Uvalde

Image
Ten years ago, the day of the Sandy Hook shooting happened to coincide with the day of my oldest son's Christmas pageant at his elementary school.  He was in kindergarten. As I recall, the early reports that came in that afternoon had reported a shooting at a school with two dead -- maybe one of them was the shooter.  Sadly, a shooting at a school was not an unusual report -- at least, not initially.  Shortly before my wife and I left our house to go to the pageant, there was an update.  Twenty-six people were killed -- the majority of them young children. The pageant was filled with elementary school kids, filled with excitement to be doing a play but in all honesty, probably more excited about the impending break.  It was impossible not  to compare their ages to the ages of the children of Sandy Hook.  The parents in the auditorium had forced smiles as their kids ran around, oblivious to the tragedies of the world.   Before the program began, the principal spoke and asked for a m

Fun in Misdemeanor Court

E-Mail # 1 dated May 5th -- Me to Prosecutors, CLO and Court Coordinator:  Hello.  My client is on the docket for a (6 month) PTI completion on May 16th.  I believe she is in full compliance.  Would it be possible to dismiss her case prior to that date so that she does not have to miss work?  Thanks. CRICKETS CHIRPING E-Mail # 2 dated May 12th --   Me to Prosecutors, CLO, and Court Coordinator:  Hello.  Just following up here.  My client is on the docket for a (6 month) PTI completion on May 16th.  I believe she is in full compliance.  Would it be possible to dismiss her case prior to that date so that she does not have to miss work?  Thanks. E-Mail Response from Chief on May 12th --   Reply to all -- Hello.  Not sure if you e-mailed certificates of completion (of required courses) to another chief, but I do not have them.  Could you forward them to me and I will dismiss? E-Mail # 3 on May 12th --  Reply to all -- My client said she gave them to her supervision officer, but if you don

Gil Schultz

Image
Retired Houston Homicide Sergeant and Brazos County District Attorney Investigator Gil Schultz passed away this morning.  He had been in ill health for some time, and I had been dreading this day for a solid three years now, it seems.  It is strange how no matter how expected bad news may be, there is no adequate defense you can build against being heartbroken when it finally comes. It is without any level of hyperbole that I can say that Gil Schultz changed my life to such a degree that I honestly would not be where I am today had it not been for him.  The influence he had on my life was leaps and bounds more profound than any other human being on earth outside of my biological family.  From my career path to where I live to very basic parts of my personality, the effect that he had on my life can not be overstated.  He was like a second father to me, and he, his wife Gay, and his sons Ron and Rick all treated me like family from the beginning. I first met Gil in April of 1994.  I was

The 2022 Primary Elections

Image
It's hard to believe that we're already two weeks into February of 2022.  It seems like New Year's Day was last week.  I'm losing track of time, and the Early Voting is starting Monday, February 14th for the 2022 Primaries (with Election Day being Tuesday, March 1st). The Republican Primary is a pretty easy write-up -- nothing is contested.  The GOP is in a rebuilding phase at the moment, and they consider it an accomplishment to have had a candidate running in all the positions.  As far as I can tell, most of them are pretty much running to see whether or not the tide has turned back to red in Harris County.  We'll see.  I think it will be closer this year than in years past, but I still think Harris County is firmly blue.  As always, I'll defer to my friend Charles Kuffner at Off the Kuff for a more adept analysis of the big picture.  If you aren't reading him, you should be. The Democratic Primary is a different story, with a great many contested races. 

Dane Schiller: Kim Ogg's Minister of Misinformation

Image
I have to admit that I don't remember Dane Schiller from the days before he took the job as Kim Ogg's Director of Communication at the D.A.'s Office.  Maybe our paths never crossed.  If they did, I don't recall it.  I hear from my friends in the journalism business that he was a pretty good reporter. When he took the job for the incoming Ogg Administration back in the beginning, his was not a name that I was familiar with, and I certainly had no beef with him.  Then again, other than that small matter of her firing almost forty potential political enemies experienced prosecutors right off the bat, I didn't really have that big of an issue with Kim Ogg herself back then.  I was supportive of Ogg's platform when she ran for District Attorney the first time and I voted for her -- a mistake I've regretted since early on in her administration. But, I digress.  The point I'm trying to make here is that I never had a personal beef with Dane.  As a matter of f

Boss Ogg's Slate

Image
  In a meeting with the judges a year or so ago, Harris County District Attorney's Office First Assistant David Mitcham expressed his frustration with the judges and bond reform, giving them a warning that those who didn't share District Attorney Kim Ogg's "vision" would face "consequences."   Those who were present for the meeting (at least the ones that I spoke with) indicated that the implication was that the Office intended to field candidates to run against those judges who weren't bending to the District Attorney's will.  At least, that's how they interpreted Mitcham's words. Now that the filing deadline has passed, it is abundantly clear that Mitcham's veiled threat was not an empty one as a significant number  almost every  of judicial races now has a prosecutorial candidate running as either a Democrat or Republican.  Some are great candidates.  Others . . . not so much.  A few are royal disasters, but we will talk about that