Showing posts from October, 2008

The Race for Harris County District Attorney

It's been over six months now since Judge Pat Lykos defeated Kelly Siegler in the Republican Primary for the District Attorney's race, leaving her to face Democratic candidate and former Houston Police Chief Clarence Bradford in the November election. The last time I wrote anything definitive on the race was immediately on the heels of the run-off vote. Many things have changed over the past six months. Time has passed and life has settled back down to a large degree -- just in time for everything to get all stirred up again for November! In the meantime, I'll try to take a little less emotional look at what is probably the most important race affecting those of us in and around the Criminal Justice Center. In the wake of the Republican run-off, I, along with several other prosecutors had a sit-down meeting with Chief Bradford. I was impressed by his easy-going demeanor and his very apparent earnestness at explaining the direction he wanted to take the Office. He was v

The Chronicle's Judicial Endorsements

The Chronicle made its judicial endorsements in today's newspaper on the 9 races up for grabs in the CJC . I disagree with them on their endorsement of Reuben Guerrero over Bill Moore for reasons I've stated here , but other than that, I was kind of amused to see that we agreed on eight of the nine races. I'm glad to see that the Chronicle editorial board has some sense. But on the other hand, I feel like I've totally lost my street cred.

Happy Birthday to My Best Friend

On a personal note, today is my little boy's third birthday. In a world that is often very dark, he is truly a Bringer of Light. I wish a very Happy Birthday to my Reason for Being, my Best Friend, and, pretty much, just my Everything. I love you with all my heart, Little Man.

The 351st District Court Judicial Race

The race for the 351st District Court has Republican incumbent Judge Mark Kent Ellis facing Democratic candidate and defense attorney Mekisha Walker Murray . In this instance, my personal knowledge of Judge Ellis is only in passing, but Mekisha is a former prosecutor and a personal friend of mine. Judge Ellis is an 8-year veteran of the District Attorney's Office, which he followed with 3 years of private practice. He has been on the bench since 1997. He has handled numerous death penalty Capital Murder trials and brings to the table eleven years of experience on the Bench. He is known as a very capable and intelligent judge who truly loves the law. If anything, it could be said he might actually love the law a bit too much , as he is well known for spending upwards of about four hours during his portion of voir dire educating the jury panel on the "ins and outs" of how criminal law works. Now, this is often times rather aggravating to the prosecutors and defense att

The 339th District Court Judicial Race

In all of the political contests involving the Harris County Criminal Justice Center, there is probably no greater disparity between the candidates' qualifications and ability than there are between Republican Incumbent Judge Caprice Cosper and her Democratic opponent, Municipal Court Judge Maria Jackson . As I've written before and my friend, Mark Bennett has written , Judge Cosper is the best Judge in the Criminal Courthouse. Please keep in mind that although Mark is one of my very good friends, he and I seem to disagree on damn near everything. But we are in agreement here that Judge Cosper is an amazing Judge and the thought of her losing her bench to a judge that tries only traffic cases is both nauseating and sad. I've mentioned previously that there are four judges who comprise the supervision of the STAR Court Program . All of their roles are equally important in the success of the program, but (call me biased) I would describe Judge Cosper as the heart and s

The 338th District Court Judicial Race

The 338 th District Court Judicial Race has two candidates that I can actually say were still working as prosecutors back when I started at the Office. The Republican candidate is incumbent Judge Brock Thomas and the Democratic Candidate is former prosecutor (on both the State and Federal levels) Hazel Jones . (And, as a side note, I have to commend both candidates for having extremely well-done websites!). Although I worked in the Office with both candidates, and was just a lowly Misdemeanor Three, they were both extremely nice and helpful to everyone in the entire Office. Hazel was much more quiet while Judge Thomas was more of a leader. They were both very kind to me as a young prosecutor, Judge Thomas has presided over the 338 th District Court since 2002, and in my opinion, has done an exemplary job. He has presided over tough, and at times, tedious cases (such as the Priscilla Slade trial) and he has done so efficiently and in a professional manner. Although I have not pract

The Chronicle Endorses Pat Lykos

I got an e-mail bright and early this morning from my old friend/arch- Nemesis ( kidding! )Alan Bernstein checking to make sure I had seen that the Chronicle had endorsed Pat Lykos for District Attorney . Alan was bringing to my attention my comments earlier this year (under one of my more conspiratorial days) where I predicted that the Chronicle folks were supporting Lykos during the primary so that they could turn around and endorse Bradford in November. He wanted to make sure that I knew I was wrong! Well, this whole "being wrong" thing isn't something that is all that new to me, but I am more than willing to address the topic for old times' sake. I'm still thinking out the D.A.'s race and I plan on addressing it in the next day or so, once I'm done with my analysis of all the Judicial Races. But there were a couple of things that I found interesting about the Chronicle's endorsement. Although endorsing Lykos , the article seems to give

The Magidson Editorial

District Attorney Ken Magidson provided an editorial piece to the Chronicle in today's Sunday Edition, which outlines the positive changes made in the D.A.'s Office during his short tenure. One of the things that Magidson doesn't list, but I wish he would, is the leadership job he has provided to those he has supervised. This year, without question, has been the most tumultuous year the Office has ever experienced, and Ken has provided cool leadership in the Storm. For those of us that were initially concerned about him as an "Outsider" taking over the Office, he won us over in about the period of two weeks. He saw us through both Hurricane Ike and Hurricane Chuck. Whoever wins the D.A.'s race has got some really big shoes to fill.

The 337th District Court Judicial Race

Back to Business today. The race for the 337 th District Court Judicial Race has Republican incumbent Judge Don Stricklin running against Democratic Candidate and defense attorney Herb Ritchie . I checked the Net and could not find a website for either candidate's campaign. Back when I first started at the District Attorney's Office, Don Stricklin was the First Assistant under Johnny Holmes. He was the man who called and offered me the job there, so I will always have a pretty high level of fondness for the man. Apparently, I must have run him off or something, because not too long after my arrival, he was appointed to the 337 th District Court. With me being a brand new Misdemeanor Three and him being First Assistant, I never dealt with him on a professional level. I never served in the 337 th District Court and I've never tried a case in their, either, so my knowledge of how the Judge runs his court is based solely on reputation and word-of-mouth. Judge Strick

The Things You Pick Up Along the Way

Every once in a while, I will sit down and write about things that have absolutely nothing to do with the CJC . Kind of self-indulgent topics, I suppose, that I'm not really thinking are relevant to what I usually write, but I just need to get off my chest. I'm not looking for commentary really and I'm not thinking it has anything to do with our jobs . . . I just want to write them. And so I will. I grew up in a relatively small town. It had it's advantages and it's disadvantages, and it had many small town stereotypes that it lived up to -- some negative and some positive. One of the positive stereotypes that Small Town Life embodied was that it fostered some very close-knit relationships that I have carried with me throughout my life and have been very happy and proud of. My family friends growing up consisted of about five families where all the Dads had gone to high school together and their friendship had carried on into their adult years. They were a

The 179th District Court Judicial Race

The race for the 179 th District Court features 20 year veteran Judge Mike Wilkinson as the Republican Candidate against Democratic challenger Randy Roll . (NOTE: There were some technical difficulties when I tried to link to Judge Wilkinson's website, so I just linked to the District Courts page. I think that stat photo was taken in 1982). I served as a Felony Two in the 179 th District Court for several months, and I got to know both Judge Wilkinson and his court staff. It was a great court to work in. Judge Wilkinson is one of those folks that has such a brilliant intellect that it is almost frightening. He is actually quite amazing in his knowledge of the law and when considering a legal ruling, it seems like you can actually see him going through the data banks in his head for the right answer. Do you know the kind of smarts I'm talking about here? Like one of those types of guys that could play a chess match entirely in his head. During trial, he keeps his own

New Blog Link

I got an e-mail from R.J. MacReady today, mentioning his blog, The Court of Criminal Appeals Blog. I wasn't aware of it until today (some days I'm just a really bad blogger in the Blawgosphere). Here's the link to it: And I've added to my blog roll. I look forward to reading it.

The Brian Coyne Mastercard Commercial

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The 178th District Court Judicial Race

The race for the 178 th District Court has the newest Judge in the CJC , Republican candidate Judge Roger Bridgwater , defending his bench against Democratic attorney David Mendoza, Jr. (who does not have a website listed for him on the Harris County Democratic Party webpage ). I'm at a bit of a disadvantage here, because I don't know the first thing about Mr. Mendoza. I've checked out the internet for information with no luck, and I actually don't recognize him from his picture on the Democratic Party's website. I will say that after having been around that courthouse (in one form or another) since 1996, that it would be somewhat unusual for me to not recognize an attorney who practices there regularly. But, stranger things have happened, and I don't mean to sell Mr. Mendoza short. If you know him and have dealt with him, please let us know your thoughts on him. Judge Bridgwater , on the other, I have known pretty much since I first started working in

Jolanda Jones' Survivor Challenge

City councilwoman, Defense Attorney, and part-time Super Hero Jolanda Jones, along with Houston Mayor Bill White (who after everything he's done through Hurricane Ike is a Super Hero in my book, too) are hosting the Houston Survivor Challenge on Saturday, October 25 th . The event is giving the opportunity to 20 local contestants to compete against real contestants from the TV show "Survivor" in "Survivor- esque " challenges designed to test your mental and physical talents. For those folks who don't quite have the guts to actual compete (which would probably describe me!), the event will give you a chance to cheer on your favorite contestants from the show. For more details, CLICK HERE . The deadline to apply is October 15 th , 2008.

The 177th District Court Judicial Race

Before Hurricane Ike, I had a plan to write one profile a week on the Judicial Races. Unfortunately, I'm in a bit of a time crunch. I'm trying to double up here and cover all of them before the Early Voting starts, so forgive me if the quality of the profiles suffer. The 177th District Court Judicial race pits Republican Incumbent Judge Devon Anderson against Democratic challenger Kevin Fine . This particular race is interesting to me, because I know both candidates, and I like them both very much. I first met Judge Anderson when she was still a prosecutor with the D.A.'s Office, and she was prosecuting the infamous Railcar Killer, Rafael Resendiz Ramirez . She was trying the case along with Lyn McClellan and then-District Attorney, Johnny Homes. In watching that trial, even amongst those "Old Dogs", Judge Anderson was the most impressive attorney in that heart-breaking and terrifying trial. I was thrilled when Judge Anderson was elected to the bench in 2004

A Bit of Good News . . .

In a year that has pretty much roundly stunk, I did get a little bit of good news last weekend when I got an e-mail from my friend, Jim, who I had previously written about here and here. He told me that he had been in lockdown and had, subsequently, "gotten scared straight" and was clean and sober. Being a natural skeptic, I was glad to hear from him, but wondering how much reality was behind it. And then I got an e-mail from Jim's dad, saying that Jim was doing really well and was looking and feeling better than he had seen him in many years. I remain cautiously optimistic about Jim. I'm thankful for all the thoughts and prayers that he received from people that he has never met. And I'm very glad for the fact that Jim has a family that could show him "tough love", without ever losing the "love". There are way too many people out there that don't have that type of support network out there to make this a possibility. I'm hop