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Showing posts from July, 2010

Don Smyth Retires from HCDA

Career prosecutor Don Smyth retired from the Harris County District Attorney's Office today, putting the end to a 33 year career as a prosecutor. Now, as we all know from articles here and here , that this is by no means the last we've heard of our friend, Don. He's still actively campaigning as the Republican candidate for County Court at Law # 13. And although I hope we are about to see the beginning of Don's "new career" come January 1st, I wanted to tell him congratulations on 33 years at his old job. Don is a man of the highest character. Although he was more than eligible to retire when the Gang Who Couldn't Shoot Straight rode into town, he didn't leave. Even when they demoted him from Bureau Chief to Division Chief, he remained loyal to the people who had served under him and stayed to act as a buffer between them and the folks who knew what they were doing. Unlike some of the other prosecutors (who in Don's position who would sell

Tonight's Reasonable Doubt

Just a programming note about tonight's Reasonable Doubt for those of you addicted to cable access television. Todd DuPont and I will be hosting with special guest Pat McCann . Not sure what the topic is going to be yet, but I have a feeling we'll be talking some about mental health issues in the court.

Closing the Barn Doors

I had a bad day on Friday. I mean I had a really bad day. Back in 2008, when I still wrote with semi-anonymity, I told you all about my friend from high school "Jim" in this post . I re-read that post this morning for the first time since I wrote it, and I was sad to see how accurate I had been in analyzing Jim's chances for some sort of recovery from the mental health issues that he had. Jim has had some good days since I wrote that post. Several months after that encounter at the D.A.'s Office with him and Mark Bennett , I got a phone call from him. He told me that he was taking his medication and back to working for his dad. He thanked me for being his friend and helping him. I passed on the good news to Mark. But sunny days don't last forever. Last fall, I was driving around with my 4-year-old when "Jim" called me on the phone wanting to know if we could meet up. Stupidly, I made the assumption that since he was mentally "well"

Quit Digging

Yesterday's Houston Chronicle had this editorial in it, giving their views of Houston Police Chief Charles McClelland's ill-advised memo forbidding HPD officers from talking to Defense Attorneys without express permission from the prosecutors. As usual, the Chronicle's effort to suck up to the Lykos Administration makes it painfully apparent how little the editorial board knows about the Criminal Justice System. But I'll get back to them in a minute. The first thing that stands out is the response of the Chief, himself. In all honesty, I was kind of excited when Mayor Parker appointed Chief McClelland. I'm a big fan of promoting from within when it comes to law enforcement, because I think it makes for better leadership and respect between the Chief and the rest of the Department. I thought his memo was basically just a brain fart that he would retract when called out on. I was wrong. Apparently the Chief never heard the old adage about the first thing

Judge Debbie Stricklin Resigns

I was a little late to the ballgame with this information, but 180 th District Court Judge Debbie Stricklin did make it official today that she will be resigning her position this week. Her last day on the job will be on Friday. I'm sorry to see her go. Judge Stricklin , and her husband, Judge Don Stricklin are two fantastic public servants, in my opinion, and I think the Harris County Criminal Justice System will miss them both terribly. The 180 th District Court has been a great environment to try cases under Judge Stricklin's tenure. I tried my first two cases as a defense attorney in that court room, and I can say I received a very fair trial both times. Judge Stricklin leaves behind very big shoes to fill on the bench. Her knowledge of the law and her even temper will be very difficult to replace. There is no word, as of yet, on whether or not Governor Perry will replace her for the remainder of the term. Marc Brown is the Republican candidate for the bench

A Troubling Memo

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I was a little surprised when an anonymous friend of mine (not a police officer) sent me a copy of this memo circulated from Houston Police Department Chief Charles A. McClelland , Jr. to all HPD Officers. If the picture is blurry on your computer, the highlighted portion reads: Effective immediately, officers shall have no discussion with criminal defense attorneys regarding any pending criminal case without first obtaining express permission from the federal prosecutor, assistant district attorney or municipal prosecutor assigned to the case. This circular applies to criminal cases pending in any federal, state, county, or municipal court and shall include the prosecution of traffic citations. Now, it doesn't exactly take a rocket scientist to realize that police officers generally don't enjoy talking to defense attorneys about their cases. After all, the defense attorney is usually trying to undo the job a police officer has done on the attorney's case, isn