Friday, August 28, 2009

The Judges' Club

The Houston Chronicle is reporting this afternoon in this article that all charges have been dismissed against Texas Supreme Court Justice David Medina's wife, Francisca Medina, in relation to arson charges which she was indicted on last year.

Now for those of you who don't recall, the indictment against Mrs. Medina stemmed out of the "Runaway Grand Jury" that had indicted both Mrs. Medina and Justice Medina despite the fact that prosecutors were not seeking an indictment at that time. If you recall, then-prosecutor Vic Wisner got lambasted (extremely unfairly) over the actions of the Grand Jurors (whom he could not control). I still believe that Vic's association with the Medina case (and the fact that Medina is a Republican) is what got him his walking papers from "rock solid" Republican "standard bearer" Pat Lykos when she took over in January.

Vic Wisner has got more integrity and trial talent in his little finger than the entirety of the Gang Who Couldn't Shoot Straight put together, so I can't see any other reason why Snookems and the Davidians wouldn't have kept him.

But I digress.

I'm not writing about the merits of Mrs. Medina's case, because I don't know anything about them. Cases get dismissed every day in Harris County with no newsworthy ramifications. I find nothing unusual about that whatsoever.

What I do find unusual, however, is the fact that Lykos and the Gang tried to slide one past the media and do the dismissal as quietly as possible. Charges against Mrs. Medina were dismissed yesterday, but it took the media until today to find out after somebody, somewhere apparently leaked the information.

Now, keep in mind that the Lykos Administration is so enthusiastic about tooting their own horn that they make Louis Armstrong look like a tone-deaf asthmatic. If past behavior were to be any indicator, it would seem that this would be a prime opportunity to the Republicans' favorite Golden Girl to be proudly announcing how she had "righted yet another wrong of the Rosenthal Administration".

But not so with this case. Perhaps Lykos wanted to keep it quiet so that there wouldn't be too much attention to the fact that she was dismissing a case against a fellow Republican judge's wife. Whether the dismissal be completely justified or complete cronyism, it certainly would violate Prong One of the Office's motto of "Look Good, Think Smart, and Win".

Lykos' fondness for judges and doing them solids is nothing unusual. Hell, just from her upper echelons of former-judges Hannah Chow and Roger Bridgwater, you could tell that she was fostering her own de facto Judicial Retirement system for herself and her buddies.

Additionally, she has been showing some extreme deference to the cases of judges accused of crimes under her Administration.

Again, while I'm not commenting on the facts of either the case against Judges Woody Densen or Don Jackson, I again find it interesting that the Gang didn't file charges on either one of them directly -- they presented the cases to Grand Juries to make them do the dirty work.

NOTE: For those of you out of the Criminal Justice System, the vast vast vast majority of all criminal cases in Harris County are filed when the crimes are alleged to have been committed. A person can be charged with the finding of Probable Cause by a Magistrate. It is only a very rare minority of cases that are actually taken "Direct to Grand Jury". Sometimes it is because of the fact that cases need some research with witnesses brought before them. Other times, it is because the case is such a toss up that prosecutors really aren't sure if the case would survive at trial.

But other times it is because a prosecutor (or elected D.A.) doesn't want to be the one directly responsible for the Indictment, or lack thereof. It's kind of the legal equivalent of avoiding getting any blood on your hands.

In the case of Judge Densen, my understanding is that the complaint of Criminal Mischief had been made against him a long time before there was any action on the case. It was only after the Complainants in the case had turned over their surveillance video of the crime to the media that Lykos had her prosecutors take the case into Grand Jury.

Republicans have often been accused of being the champions of the Good Old Boy Network, and Lykos has certainly lived up to that billing in her eight months at the helm.

But apparently, there's something even better than being a member of the Good Old Boy Network when it comes to Patsy.

That's being a member of Pat Lykos' Judges' Club.


Anonymous said...

Oh my, if this isn't cronyism, I don't know what is. Typical republican move. I want some answers.

Anonymous said...

Several judges are under investigation according to media source.7 is the number we heard.Rumors are about conflicts among judges,improper e-mails,and more serious charges. There is an investigative reporter working on nothing but complaints involving sitting judges.Stay Tuned

Anonymous said...

Murray,remember the elections are coming up soon and a lot of republican judges may lose their jobs.All this bad publicity is going to hurt them. The democratics will be running ads showing some of this bad behavior . This latest indictment will not help the republican jurists who are up for reelection.Another sweep may be on the way according to the pollsters.

Anonymous said...

Let's not lack integrity for the sake of public appeal. Medina's wife and he burned the house down but the state can't prove the case. There was no electrical fire, that is a flat out lie. People can yell and scream that it was an inside deal but the fact is that it was the right result. It was a poorly investigated case that the state can't prove. Funny that the unkept manwoman Pat didn't comment on this. She must have been getting worked by her boy Jim.....YUCKEE

Anonymous said...

I don't see how taking cases against elected officials (or their spice) to the grand jury is such a bad idea. Also, it seems ironic to be blasting her for shirking her responsibility by dismissing the case against the judge's wife when she's still prosecuting two other judges. Who ever did the "dirty work" on the charging decision, she's still got the cases.

However, it's equally ironic that Vic gets let go (or at least that's the implication) for doing basically what her office just did. That does seem wrong.

Rage Judicata said...

Cronyism? Right after they arrested another judge?

The fact is that arson "science" as has been used by prosecutors for years is complete bullshit. New studies have trend everything prosecutors have used in the past on its ear. This was justifiable based on improved science alone.

I know everyone here loves to accuse Lykos of cronyism, but give it a rest.

Hell, I bet most of you were bitching about when she was indicted in the first place, and now you bitch because charges were dismissed?

Part of the initial reprimand surrounded the fact that the proper grand jury paperwork wasn't filed in time, rendering who knows how many indictments invalid. But Rosenthal's cronies only played that card when the runaway grand jury kept indicting the judge's wife. In other words, he didn't care that they were improperly meeting without paperwork until he had to use it to keep them from going after Medina, again.

This isn't a Lykos issue.

Anonymous said...

If any of this stuff we are hearing about some of the sitting judges is true, we will all be shocked.It is bad.We dont know if it is just politics or has truth to it.Remember Judge Garth Bates?

Rage Judicata said...

It's part politics and part truth. With another hard fight in the polls coming up, the Republican Party needs to be viewed as open to reform and willing to clean the place up. So they'll get rid of old Republicans in an attempt to put in place new ones that Democrats can't impeach so easily.

In other words, it's political because they didn't care about the truth until a political defeat was on the horizon.

Anonymous said...

Given that prosecutors are notorious for their ability to get Grand Juries to indict "a ham sandwich," Vic's failure was completely noticible. And didn't this happen on the Mag's watch?

Anonymous said...

Rumor has it Clint Greenwood was in trial for the state. As far as I know, he is the first of the cronies to actually try a case.

Can anyone guess the result?

Hint: He rarely received this verdict as a defense attorney....

Anonymous said...

Does this mean you'll stop taking appointments from judges?

Anonymous said...

Does the word "libel" mean anything to any of you people? Just because some of these people that you continually disparage and make accusations against are public figures doesn't totally isolate you from responsibility for your words. Its going to be funny as hell if any of them decide to go after you and you are forced to prove any of what you have been claiming. Just a note, you might want to do some research on how many bloggers are being held accountable for what is posted on their blogs lately. And before you say the usual, oh you are a Lykos fan, nooo, I am not. I am just someone that is stunned to watch so many lawyers, who presumably know better, set themselves up to take a big fall.

Murray Newman said...

Anon 10:25 a.m.,
The indictment actually occurred right before Rosenthal left Office, which was about a month or so before Ken took over. And it wasn't noticeable because Vic failed to get an indictment. It was noticeable because he had not asked for one and the Runaway Grand Jury indicted anyway.

Anon 11:36 a.m.,
I fail to see your logic. Are you sure you have any?

Anon 12:24 p.m.,
I think you have a different reading of libel than the rest of us. Libel doesn't apply to opinions, and truth is a defense when it comes to the facts.

The bottom line is that this post isn't an indictment against the judges of Harris County. It's a comment on the fact that the Lykos Administration treats public officials (specifically judges) differently from the rest of the citizenry when they are actually charged with a crime. I think you would have to be pretty dense not to have gotten that message.

Anonymous said...

Murray, I love you man. But isn't your blog titled "Life at the Harris County Criminal Justice Center?" Doesn't that place encompass more than just Pat and her "Gang?" I know you recently ran an article about the cruddy things Andy Nolen did. And I know you've occasionally saluted retired DA folks. But don't you think you might get more credibility if you didn't spend 85% of your time tearing up Lykos? Give us some variety already!

Anonymous said...

So the question is, who is going to handle these cases against the judges? Pat, is it time to step up to the front and lead from the front. I think Pat should handle the cases so the public will get to know their elected DA's ability to look at how a prosecutor tries a case. Clint tried a case? I thought these people were hired for their administrative ability. Surely the office suffered having Clint in trial and not administrating.

Anonymous said...

The defendant didn't suffer with Clint in trial.....

I agree, let's see Pat try a case. She needs to set the tone and take the lead.

Anonymous said...

Since we have been through this time and time again, let me give an answer to those who say the focus should be on other things rather than an 85% focus on Lykos and the DA's office: This is the author's blog and he determines what appears here. If you don't like what's here you can (a) stop reading this blog or (b) start your own blog. Variety is a good thing.

Anonymous said...

Was Clint really in trial? If so, would that trial be the first trial by one of Lykos' inner circle?

I am assuming the trial was posted because clint lost but is there truth to that or will the poster be subject to a libel suit?

Anonymous said...

Murray, this is your blog and you can write what you want,but I am glad you are giving some attention to the judiciary. There are some major problems there. Looks like some of their secrets are about to be exposed.Please continue to keep us informed and hopefully the readers will let us hear about some judicial antics.THANKS

BLACK INK said...

Jared Woodill has convinced this life long Republican to vote Democrat for most Harris County positions in 2010.
We need fresh Republican blood in Harris County that is both qualified and accountable rather than merely Republican and arrogant.

Hannah Chow said...

Murray,I try to understand your blog;which confuses me as if you know nothing. I am a strong supporter of Judge Lykos and she is going a great job.

Harris County Citizen said...

Hannah Chow,
I try to understand your job description; which confuses me since you appear to know nothing.
I am a strong supporter of justice and therefore think Pat Lykos is doing a terrible job.
Harris County Citizen

Anonymous said...


I too am a citizen of Harris County. I would like to know how many trials you have first chaired; which confuses me as you seem not to be involved with that function of the HCDA Office?

Furthermore, besides calling everyone who disagrees with you a sore loser; which confuses me as you work for a loser; I don't get why you pretend to work?

Anonymous said...

Hanna the banana,

Please tell us why you are "strong" supporter of Lykos; which will not confuse me since it is obvious; which confuse me when I wonder why you posted on this blog as you bring nothing to the table other than your "strong support" purrrrrrrrrr, of Pat?


Anonymous said...

I can tell you, those people at the HCDA's office don't do their jobs according to the Code of Criminal Procedure, Chapter 2. My brother was prosecuted strictly on perjured testimony. I have PROVEN this by the transcripts and police reports. Five letters and 6 phone calls to Pat Lykos has produced NOTHING. I have gotten virtually NOTHING from Jim Leitner. Then of course, there is ALL the ADA's that this case has been in front of and I got "I'm not convinced they lied.", or "There is nothing that supports your allegations." Even AFTER I outlined all the discrepancies in testimony. How is "he had a gun", "he didn't have a gun" not contradictory or fit the Texas Penal Code Chapter 37? What are we paying these people for? They can't tell someone lied when their statements (of the state's witnesses) are completely opposite!!??!! That is because they prosecute at all costs. I had some belief when Pat Lykos said that "sunshine is the best disinfectant", but I realize that is all just crap. It is a campaign slogan, that's all. Those people in that HCDA's office don't care that they destroy people's lives, only that they get another notch in their belt. They violate the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment of the Constitution. I don't ever want to hear that you can trust one of those people in that office, BECAUSE YOU CAN'T. They need to clean that office out. They need to prosecute those prosecutors who prosecute people when it is so blatant that their own state's witnesses lied. They should subject them to the highest degree of punishment (prison)of the crime for which they prosecute an innocent person. If the crime begets 20 years in prison, and they are caught red handed prosecuting an innocent man, then the prosecutor should get 20 years in prison. Bet this would stop some prosecutorial misconduct.