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Showing posts from May, 2008

Conference in Austin

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I got the chance to sit down and grab a few drinks with regular posters and fellow-bloggers, Michael and Grits for Breakfast while I was in Austin yesterday. Its always nice to sit down and have an intelligent discussion with folks over a beer or three. We had good talk over everthing from FLDS to CPS to politics. It was a lot fun, guys. Let's do it again, soon.

Okay, I Can't Resist Either

Okay, I have to admit that I'm inspired by Leviathan's comments , and an earlier off-blog e-mail from Michael stating (in response to this Chronicle article ) that he wasn't aware that Pat Lykos had already taken office. I've decided to assist the Chronicle and re-write the Rat Snake Article for them. Here we go: In a predictable move today, local attorney Lloyd Kelley filed suit against the Harris County Sheriff's Office, the District Attorney's Office, the Harris County Sanitation Department, and an unnamed Rat Snake for various and sundry civil rights violations committed against his clients, the Ibarra brothers. "This snake is very similar to one that Sean and Erik saw in their front yard last Wednesday, when they were busy praying on their lawn for the FLDS kids as well as the victims of the Myanmar earthquake," Kelley stated. "Clearly, the snake is a sophisticated surveillance tool utilized by the Sheriff's Department to spy o

Guess Who is Back

In his continuing effort to sue all of Law Enforcement into oblivion , Lloyd Kelley has filed yet another law suit today. At the moment, only the television media seems to have articles up and running about it, and their coverage on the Web leaves a lot of questions. The Chronicle website, as we speak, doesn't have anything on the lawsuit yet, which leads me to believe that Jeff Cohen is still in euphoric ecstasy over the Quintero verdict to the degree that he isn't paying attention to what else is going on. Apparently, Lloyd and Quannel X are calling for the Feds to take over the Sheriff's Office because they don't like the way HCSO is doing it's job. Had I known that Lloyd and Crew had the power to dictate who could take over an elected office when they were displeased with job performance, I would have gladly joined his anti- Rosenthal bandwagon earlier, if they had only demanded Chuck be replaced with Angelina Jolie . More on this as it develops.

Yet Another Reason Being a Criminal Lawyer in Texas is Awesome

Where else but Texas, in the midst of everything else, could you get an awesome story like this? http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/front/5808490.html Honestly, there are so many lawyer jokes or Rosenthal jokes that can come out of this, that I truly don't know where to begin.

Poll Results

Well the polls closed over the weekend, scientifically answering the questions of who will win the D.A.'s race, who should win the D.A.'s race, and what would the candidacy of Ken Magidson do to the race? In the poll for who will win the race, former- HPD Police Chief Clarence Bradford edged out Pat Lykos by 55% to 44%. I think with the enthusiasm generated behind Barack Obama's candidacy getting stronger as he gets closer to locking in the Democratic nomination for President, that this number is actually pretty damn likely. In the poll for who should win the race, Pat Lykos beat Bradford 57% to 42%, which also makes senses given her more extensive experience in the legal system from within a courtroom. But once the potential of Ken Magidson as a candidate was thrown into the mix, the numbers get thrown completely to the wind. Magidson took home 70% of the vote, with Lykos getting 20% and Bradford getting 9%. Now, I'm not a political scientist, and I&

Which is Worse?

In the wake of the Quintero verdict, there has been much discussion over the appropriateness of the punishment. Clearly, a Life sentence was not punishment enough for the State or for the family and friends of Officer Rodney Johnson. Of course, Life without the Possibility of Parole ( LWOP ) is a punishment, and a significant one at that. I certainly don't disagree with that principle and I don't think anyone else does either. What I do disagree with is the theory set out by some that Life in Prison is a worse punishment than receiving the Death Penalty. Although a person may be spending the rest of their natural life in prison, that doesn't mean that they won't learn to adapt. They will develop a new routine and social structure. They will go on. There are many plus sides to being alive as opposed to dead -- even in prison. A long time ago, I had the rare experience to be back in the holdover with a young kid who had been convicted of capital murder. He wa

Of Babies and Bathwater

With the certainty of Barack Obama being the Democratic Nominee for President of the United States becoming clearer and clearer every day, the biggest underlying theme of political discussion around the CJC is "will there be a Democratic sweep in Harris County come November?". I'm too young to have been around when the "Republican Sweep" of the 1980s occurred, but I've heard the stories of some (not all) good judges losing their benches in Reagan-era fervor. To me, the idea of a sweep illustrates why I really and truly wish that the words "Republican" or "Democrat" didn't have to appear next to a candidate for a position involving criminal justice. Honestly, I think it is fundamentally inappropriate that it happens that way. The statue of Lady Justice shows a lady with a blindfold, holding the Scales of Justice. If our judges are to be politically partisan, than how can we really claim that Justice is still truly blind to anyt

R.I.P. DA Blog

It is with great sadness that I must inform you all that the much more humorous "DA Blog" which I had previously linked to, has abruptly ended it's brief and brilliant career. The DA Blog, if you never got a chance to read it, did an excellent job of pointing out the humor in the dark world that prosecutors live in. It was much more edgy than my blog, and I enjoyed it immensely. I can only hope that DA Texan will find another entertaining and enlightening mechanism to channel his considerable writing talents.

The Quintero Verdict

As you probably know by now, Juan Leonardo Quintero was sentenced to life in prison today for the murder of decorated Houston Police Officer Rodney Johnson. I will not criticize the decision of the jury, because I wasn't there, and I don't know what they saw or what did or did not factor into their decision. That being said, I think the decision is a travesty. I believe that whenever a person thinks of what the ultimate police officer should be, that they need only to look to the example set by Officer Johnson. A veteran police officer who had stayed in the patrol division like Officer Johnson did is clearly an officer who likes being out and interacting with his community and doing everything in his power to improve it. The stories of his bravery, dedication, and kindness resonated throughout the trial and the media's coverage of it. To put it mildly, the term "a credit to the Force" doesn't seem to have even scratched the surface in describing this fi

Chief Bradford Responds to Rumors

We were glad to have former- HPD Chief and current-District Attorney candidate Clarence Bradford write in, responding to the Rumors in the Air post we did last week. (Quite frankly, we were shocked that anybody important read this blog -- except you, Grits, of course). Below are the question-by-question responses that Chief Bradford gave to the rumors that have been circulating around the CJC for some time now. Here we go: 1. He will dismantle the Special Crimes Division (and maybe the Public Integrity Division) of the Office. No decision has been made regarding existing Divisions. After I am elected, I will complete a review of each Unit and Division. 2. Lloyd Kelley will be his first assistant. Lloyd Kelley will not be working within the DA's Office under my administration. 3. Quannel X and his followers will have free access all over the District Attorney's Office. As DA, I will be visible and accessible to all communities. However, no one will have free access

The Probation Ineligible Defendant Out on Bond

In talking with former- HPD Chief, and current District Attorney Candidate Clarence Bradford to hear his platform, one of his main topics of concern is the bond schedule . Chief Bradford, quite correctly and admirably has stated that he no longer wishes to see an accused person's bond being used as punishment. He's absolutely right about that. A bond amount should be set by taking into account the reasoning set out within Article 17.15 , and if you will note, none of those reasons articulated is to " pre -punish" a person accused. That being said, this post is meant to inform folks of a common phenomena in the plea bargain process in the District Courts. It isn't designed to say that something should be changed or that people shouldn't bond out. It's just to illustrate, folks. One of the more common things that happens in the CJC is for people to make bond, regardless of their criminal history, the seriousness of their charge, or their ability to be

Ken Magidson and the Rosenthal Investigation?

Y'all aren't going to believe this, but I'm irritated with the Chronicle again. In yesterday's edition, Rick Casey ventured back into CJC coverage (after spending a few months in hiding, hoping that Sam Siegler would forget about his earlier articles on him ) with a column blasting District Attorney Kenneth Magidson for refusing to confirm or deny whether or not there was an on-going investigation into any misdeeds that Chuck Rosenthal committed as D.A. I mean, how dare Kenneth Magidson focus on doing his job rather than appeasing Casey's journalistic curiosity? "But . . . but . . ." sputters Casey, " the public has an interest in the decision and the reasons behind it. " Probably true. I'm sure the public has an interest in it. Just like I'm sure "the public" had an interest in what General Eisenhower's invasion plans were for D-Day. But sometimes there are things that the "public" is just going to

New Poll

In case you are one of those people who are so engrossed in what excellent word of wisdom I have recently added to my posts, you may have noticed that I've now placed two new polls on the right side over there, asking 1) Who you think will actually win the District Attorney's Race; and 2) Who do you think would be the best. Obviously, your answer may not necessarily be the same on both questions. I'm putting the poll up there because I'm genuinely interested in what the majority of my readers think. I'm hoping you will only vote once, because I'd like to get a realistic view of it, but obviously, I can't stop people from voting as many times as they can. Have fun.

Rumors in the Air

One of my commenters on my below post at 6:29 (although waaaaay off topic) brought up a list of "rumors" about the plans that Clarence Bradford had should he take over the District Attorney's Office. Normally, I wouldn't really care about what was said, but some of the rumors that he listed are ones that I've heard as well, and I write this in the hope that former-Chief Bradford will either confirm, deny, or explain them. The anonymous poster lists the following rumors about what Bradford would change: 1. He will dismantle the Special Crimes Division (and maybe the Public Integrity Division) of the Office. Okay, first of all, I think the "maybe the Public Integrity" portion is a complete load of B.S. added by the commenter. No major law enforcement agency doesn't have a Public Integrity unit of some sort. I did hear about the possibility of dismantling Special Crimes, and I would like to hear from Bradford regarding the veracity of the stateme

Cry Me a River

I gotta admit that I thought it was pretty damn funny to read the Chronicle's editorial this morning lamenting Ken Magidson's decision to create a media office. I mean, it just absolutely cracks me up. Let's see, Jeff Cohen and crew have been calling the prosecutors at the Office racists, corrupt, and stupid for quite some time now, and yet they now seem stunned (just, stunned, I tell you!) that perhaps the Office has decided to exercise some "caution" in talking to reporters. Don't get me wrong, I will freely admit that as a prosecutor, I love(d) talking to the media about my cases. It was always great to send a link to a website on one of my cases to the folks back at home. Its a sad day that it can't be done anymore, but I think Mr. Magidson's decision is a reasonable and prudent one. Will it make the jobs of the roving reporters and columnists who work the courthouse more difficult? Yep. Do I feel sorry for them? Well, yes and no. I like B

Kelly Siegler's Resignation

I'm sure by now that all of you have heard that Kelly Siegler resigned, effective immediately from the Harris County District Attorney's Office. I know that death penalty opponents nationwide are rejoicing that the most effective voice for victim's advocacy has retired, but I think that there are many more who fully realize the tremendous loss that Harris County has suffered today. There was probably no person who tried harder to assure that justice was done, regardless of where and when a crime was committed, or who the Defendant was (or who he hired to represent him). The cynics may laugh and say that it's not like she could completely stop crime in Houston. Fair enough, I suppose, but if there were more hours in the day, she just damn well might have. Without Kelly Siegler : -A man who fired a shotgun into the head of his eight-month pregnant wife may still be going to work every day without ever feeling a single repercussion of his actions. -a young man who k

Contempt

Brian Rogers is reporting that Juan Leonardo Quintero's defense attorney, Danalynn Recer was held in contempt this morning. Recer's co-counsel on the case told the Chronicle that the reasoning was that she "forgot a doctor's report at her office this morning, delaying the court about 10 minutes while it was faxed over", although I highly doubt that Judge Joan Campbell would have found her in contempt for something so minor. This is just me arm-chair quarterbacking here, but my guess is that Recer's behavior throughout the case (and perhaps her e-mail to the media ) probably may have had some influence in Judge Campbell's decision. I say good for Judge Campbell. The hearing regarding the contempt will be held after the Quintero trial is over, but Danalynn has been put on notice that the judge is going to make her play by the rules. I know I'm a day late and a dollar short with this topic, because Mark discussed contempt at length in the am

Houston's Newspaper

As much as I like to blast the Houston Chronicle, the irony of the situation is that my grandfather had been a reporter for a newspaper in his younger years. Although he only did it for a few years, it was an experience that he always spoke very fondly of. He went on to a more lucrative career, but I think he was always very wistful of his time reporting the news. I was raised by him telling me that a journalist was a noble profession and one that was there to seek the truth and keep people honest. I suppose that the duty to seek the truth is something that newspapermen and prosecutors have in common, theoretically. But it seems that on a daily basis that Jeff Cohen's Houston Chronicle has more and more turned it's back on it's duty to report the news. Now, I'm not getting overly sensitive -- yet. The editorial that ran in today's edition probably didn't sway a single person on their opinion on the death penalty. For that matter, I don't know that

Ah, Statistics

You just gotta love the Chronicle . What other major city has a newspaper that writes an article and then actually pays a columnist to write her own version of what the article means ? It's cute really. It's kind of like Lisa Falkenberg has the journalistic equivalent of an Easy Bake oven where she writes a little column that corresponds to what the grown-up article is. Today's topic is about a recent study created by Scott Phillips, a University of Denver sociology and criminology professor, which analyzed those cases where Harris County sought the death penalty, broken down by race. (NOTE: I haven't seen the entire report (although I would very much like to), so I'm relying on what was reported in the articles for my article.) An interesting idea? Absolutely. The results? Probably rather disappointing to Mrs. Kase (I mean, Jeff Cohen). Turns out that between the years 1992 and 1999, Harris County sought the death penalty on 27% of white defendants cha