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Showing posts from September, 2008

The 176th District Court Judicial Race

Okay, I got a little sidetracked on my election profiles by some dude named Ike. But, I'm back again. Back in January, I posted an article making note of the fact that if it weren't for the Rosenthal e-mail scandal (and subsequent D.A. Race), that the race for the 176 th District Court would have probably been the spotlighted race for this election season in Harris County. (NOTE: When I said that it was before the Obama phenomenon had occurred). I'm sure that every large county has it's judge that everyone dreads appearing before. In Harris County, that judge would be Republican Judge Brian Rains of the 176 th District Court, and in November, he will be challenged for his bench by Democratic Candidate and Defense Attorney Shawna Reagin . In my January article, I pointed out that Rains' short temper, angry outbursts, and overall rudeness to attorneys were some of his major flaws. In reality, those things are just the tip of the iceberg. I think most voters

Bernstein's Article on the D.A. Debate

Alan Bernstein wrote an article today recapping a debate between D.A. Candidates Pat Lykos and Clarence Bradford. (NOTE: Thanks for the head's up on that, Muck.) We are rapidly approaching the election, and I was glad to see that the candidates were finally getting down to some substantive issues, and they argued their positions on them. Issue # 1-The Selection of Grand Jurors -Bradford's position was that the method of selecting grand jurors should be done like it is on the Federal side, where there is actually a true jury selection. I tend to agree with Bradford's position that this method of selecting the grand jurors would assist in restoring faith in the grand jury system, as I pointed out a while back . That being said, I continue to believe that the issue of time will always be an issue in the selection of Grand Jurors who are willing and able to serve. I would also like to point out that I think our grand jurors who serve under the current method of selection a

For those Who Need Help . . .

In addition to the mind-numbingly short-sighted policy regarding the Administrative Assistants, the employees of the CJC also got a warning today not to utilize county e-mails as a way of soliciting help for any person or cause that might need it in the wake of Hurricane Ike. Apparently, somewhere in a government code or something similar, that's prohibited, regardless of how stupid the policy is. So, that being said, I would like to cordially welcome anyone who wants to post something asking for help (or just pointing us in the direction of someone who might need help) to post it here in the comments. I'm not looking for a blasting of the policy to not allow the e-mails (I think that policy pretty much speaks for itself). Let's just use the comments here as a message board for anyone who needs help. Fire away --

Catch-22 and the Administrative Assistants

One of the often overlooked positions within the Harris County District Attorney's Office (absurdly) is the position of the Administrative Assistant (aka the Secretary). Sadly, the Administrative Assistant is often underappreciated in most offices across the world, when those of us who rely on them all know that we could not function without them. At the District Attorney's Office, the Administrative Assistants have to deal with the overbearing egos of the prosecutors they assist, the overbearing egos of the attorneys that call to speak with said prosecutors, annoyed and often clueless witnesses, angry defendants, and bereaved victims. In between, they keep their fingers on the location of every file handled by their prosecutors, arrange meetings, type grand jury agendas, and basically play the parent role to everyone in their court. In a word, they are all priceless in the positions in which they hold. In return, they get paid what you might expect that a county employed ad

Update on the CJC - Tuesday 9/16/08

Sorry I haven't been updating regularly. I've been having trouble getting a wireless connection which is kind of necessary when you've got no power or cable. Here's the deal for tomorrow for those of you who work at the CJC. Everyone is expected back tomorrow and it is requested that you arrive early for a massive docket pulling festival. There will be four days worth of cases to pull the docket for. In addition, Marie Munier sent out the following e-mail: Intake will be pulling each court's new PIA/PACA docket and dividing them by courts for tomorrow. Each court will get the cases filed since last Thursday. The volume is not as much as one would expect because during the storm, nothing was filed and only essential cases have been filed since then. An issue for the courts tomorrow will be getting the bodies from the jail to the courts because some elevator in the jail is not working at this time, and the inmate walk can't be used, so they will need to use

News from the CJC - Monday (9/15/08)

Since there's no official site that appears to be updating CJC employees on what's going on, I will keep posting what I know. Hopefully it will be of some help to somebody. This morning, about 15 to 20 District Court Chiefs reported for duty at the request of Judge Don Stricklin in the hopes of moving some of the more minor cases that would be on the docket the morning. Apparently, some members of the Defense Bar have also volunteered their time to help out, as well. The big problem with the plan is where in the hell to run these dockets. The CJC building at the moment is considered to be a health hazard, and all non-essential personnel have been ordered to leave. If you are saying to yourself "Hey, wait a second! I thought we were ordered into work!", you would be correct in your interpretation. We've got a full blown Catch-22 here. My optimistic side is hoping that the County (once it is done doing search and rescue) will start issuing some Floating Hol

Bert's E-mail Regarding Work Tomorrow

For those of you who can't access your work e-mail or don't have a BlackBerry (c'mon and join the 21st Century folks), Bert Graham sent the following e-mail out to all DA Employees: Regarding tomorrow (Monday), Ken asked me to tell you : If you are essential employee (Ken has designated as Intake and the 10 prosecutors who have already volunteered to handle Judge Stricklin’s general docket for all courts, and some IST people) you must come to work at the CJC. All others may take vacation , comp, or if you have none of those you can be docked OR you can work at home only under the following conditions: If you already have office work at home you may work on it at home. If you have no work at home you may come to the office Monday morning and gather work and take it home and work at home. Dress code: Those at CJC who are working a docket should wear Court attire; others can wear “Casual Friday” attire. Any questions, call Intake. Thanks – Bert.

Notice to D.A. Employees (UPDATED)

Apparently Judge Don Stricklin is asking for 10 felony District Court Chiefs (or above) to report to intake tomorrow at 8 a.m. dressed for court (NOTE: Not real excited about the "dressed for court" part). They are needed to do emergency PIA. Alma Martinez is currently at intake trying to get volunteers to comply with Judge Stricklin's request. If you read this and can help, give her a call at Intake. The official word at the moment is that no one is required to be there tomorrow if they don't have to be, but unless something changes, you will need to take comp time or vacation time if you do not go in. This may change, but the Commissioners keep acting like there are other important things going on and haven't really discussed this particular issue. The bottom line is that the Commissioners and other higher up county officials are up to their eyeballs in disaster relief, and probably the last thing on their minds at the moment is whether or not to give count

Well, that was No Fun (AKA The CJC in the Aftermath of Ike)

Hurricane Ike has come and gone now. As a trained speaker and communicator, I would like to issue my following description of the experience in two words: Holy crap. I'm from a nice little landlocked county over 100 miles from any coastline, so this was my first hurricane rideout, and I've never seen anything like that before. I've never seen anything so frightening, depressing, and mesmerizing at the same time. Good Lord, that was just mind-blowing. As I write this, there is not even really an initial count of the total lives or property lost. I know that those numbers are about to rise to probably an astronomical and horrifying figure. The damage to Downtown was crazy. The damage to the CJC, in the big picture of things, was relatively minimal. Two of the front doors shattered in the early hours of the storm. Of course, that led to resulting water in the front lobby. At some point, there was a sewage back up, that led to additional water on the ground in the back o

Well, of course there's a Freaking Hurricane . . .

Okay, let's just put it all out on the table here -- the year 2008 has freaking sucked. From the Rosenthal scandal on down, there hasn't been a dull moment for those of us whose lives tend to center around the good old CJC . And sadly, most of those damn "non-dull" moments have been bad ones. It only stands to reason that 2008 wouldn't have been a completely disastrous year without a full blown Hurricane coming up the freaking Ship Channel. Consider it Mother Nature's way of putting her Stamp of Approval on a horrible year. Well, Hurricane Ike, come on down, I suppose. I think we've all been through worse. We ain't scared. Bring it on. You guys all be careful out there. I look forward to seeing everybody back at the CJC next week, hopefully none the worse for wear. And Ike, don't let the door hit you on the ass on your way out.

The 174th District Court Judicial Race

The race for the 174 th is the one race in this year's round of Judicial Elections that doesn't have an incumbent involved. Judge George Godwin is retiring from the bench after a long and distinguished career. If you've read this blog for awhile, you know I'm a big fan of Judge Godwin's, and whoever ends up taking the bench will have some mighty big shoes to fill, in my opinion. The Republican candidate for the 174 th is Assistant District Attorney Bill Moore , a 20 year veteran of the D.A.'s Office, and the current District Court Chief of the 232 nd District Court (Judge Mary Lou Keel). Bill spent a large amount of his career in the elite Special Crimes Division of the Office before returning to the Trial Bureau a few years ago. Bill won the Republican nomination out of a field of four other Assistant D.A.'s who were vying for the job. I have to admit that I don't know Bill very well on a personal level, but I've always considered him to be an

Before I Begin . . .

Before I start off on my court by court previews of the Judicial races in Harris County, Texas, I think it only fair that I go ahead and admit some of my biases on the front side. I've been working in and around the CJC for over ten years now, and I've had the opportunity to work with a lot of the judges and people running for the benches. I have to say that I think that the vast majority of the judges on the bench as we speak range from good to outstanding. I like them personally and I like them professionally. Recognizing my own biases, I've sought out some opinions of members of the Defense Bar (whom, at their request won't be named in the posts) and gotten their perspectives, too. I also have added the links to each candidate's web site (where I can find them). I welcome your input in the comments section.

CrimeStoppers Happy Hour

Recently, I've gotten two requests from friends to do a notification to our little Criminal Law community, which I'm more than happy to do! If anyone has a event or something big that affects us and we're all invited too, please feel free to let me know. My good friend Amy Smith e-mailed me yesterday wanting folks from both the Defense Bar and the State to know that they were cordially invited to the CrimeStoppers Happy Hour on Wednesday, September 10, 2008 at the Post Oak Grill Midtown (located at 3017 Milam , Houston, Texas 77006) between 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. There will be appetizers, drinks, and live entertainment. A $20 donation also includes Crime Stoppers Membership. Sounds like a good time for a great cause. (NOTE: Regarding the other announcement I have, it's a really cool event that Jolanda Jones is putting together in October. There's a big attachment and application that comes with it, and I'm still trying to figure out how to post it within the b

My Hometown

Over the long Labor Day weekend, I had the opportunity to go back to my hometown and spend some quality time with my family -- both extended, nuclear, and otherwise. Now, I've always considered myself to be an amateur philosopher, albeit, an incredibly poor one. I've yet to come up with that snappy phrase that will ever end up in a quotes book. But, there is something about going back to your hometown that makes you philosophical. You can't help it. I'm from a small town in Texas (I won't name it, on the off chance that you are one of the three people who still haven't figured out who I am). It's a great town, and it is one that I'm glad that I grew up in. But, it's an extremely innocent town, and in turn, growing up in it, I was a very innocent kid. It was a town that revered it's law enforcement officials. I can remember a police shooting where the local paper ran an article talking about how there was no controversy over the shooting

Perhaps Some Just For Men would Help

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Ah, poor Mark Bennett. The polls closed on the "Guess the Age" vote I did in honor of his birthday last week, and the majority of you (29%) guessed that my friend was older than 46 years of age, while only a solitary vote thought he was 35 years old (for which, Mark would probably like to thank his lovely wife, Jennifer). Well, folks, the gray hair actually disguises the fact that Mark is a relatively youthful 38 years of age. Yes, I was a little shocked, myself. Here I was considering Mark to be some sort of aged speaker of wisdom (much like Yoda), and I find out he's barely two years older than I am! Somehow, I'm thinking Mark needs to incorporate his age into the portion of his voir dire on Reasonable Doubt, for future reference. In the meantime, Happy Birthday Mark!