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Showing posts from August, 2010

Shirley Cornelius

Shirley Cornelius turned in her letter of resignation to the Harris County District Attorney's Office on Wednesday. In light of the massive exodus of long term prosecutors that has occurred over the past year and eight months, facially, it would seem that Shirley's resignation was no more nor less significant than those who have resigned before her (or the ones who will be resigning in the months to come). But a closer look at Shirley's departure is actually very telling on many levels about the Pat Lykos administration and the way they treat their employees. Shirley leaves after a 27 year career with the District Attorney's Office that began under Johnny Holmes. Both of her brothers, Skip and Terry had served distinguished careers with the Office and are now highly respected members of the Defense Bar. Working for the D.A.'s Office was something of a Family Tradition for the Cornelius family, and they all did their family name proud during their tenure. Most

Um, did he escape?

One of the more interesting aspects of being a defense attorney is when you finally talk yourself into walking through the grueling Houston heat to actually walk over to the Harris County Jail to see a client, only to be told that he or she isn't there. Now, keep in mind that going to the jail is really one of the most unpleasant experiences of being a defense attorney. The parking is bad. You have to go through security. The place smells. You have to wait for what seems like forever to have your client brought to the booth. You have to scream to be able to be heard between the partition. I'll usually tell my clients very early on that I'll come to the jail when we have something that we need to discuss about their case, but not just to hang out. As it turns out, jail isn't much fun. Who knew? But I digress. When an attorney actually gets themselves motivated to hike over to either 701 N. San Jacinto or 1200 Baker Street, the one expectation that we have is

Marc Brown takes the Bench

Big Congratulations to Marc Brown who took the bench in the 180 th District Court today. I wasn't at the CJC today for the swearing in ceremony, but I was there in spirit. I know Judge Brown is going to do a great job on the bench, and I look forward to trying cases in front of him for many years to come!

The Houston Press Poll

As one of the commenters pointed out below, the new poll is out for the Houston Press Best of the Bayou City. You can vote on your favorite on everything, including blog. So go vote either for me or against this blog, but vote. It's kind of fun. You can get there by clicking here .

KHOU's Take on the CJC Mess

KHOU's Christine Haas did a news piece on the crowds at the CJC that has some good footage of what it looks like. You can view it by clicking here . For those of you who would say that I posted the link because I'm in the story . . . well, you're probably right for the most part. See if you can spot the part in the story where I start laughing because Womble is taunting me off camera.

Action on the Elevators?

There's an article in today's Chronicle by Brian Rogers about the condition of the CJC and how poorly constructed it is. The accompanying photograph shows the line outside the CJC and the article is entitled "The Long Line of the Law", which I have to admit is a pretty good title. The article itself is hopeful since it looks like somebody might finally be taking he complaints about the building and safety seriously for a change. Of course, it wouldn't be a Chronicle article without first thanking Pat Lykos for her merciful bounty that she bestows upon us all. Lykos, who was clearly the first person to discover that there might be a problem with the CJC and its elevators some time last week, notes the CJC is "the most poorly designed criminal justice center in the United States of America." Funny, I was just saying that about her upper-Administration. Sorry, that one was just too easy to pass up. The article goes on to address problems that thos

Dude, Where's My Prosecutor?

Defense attorneys and accused citizens on the docket in the District Courts today (Friday, August 20 th ) shouldn't be expecting to get too much done on their cases. Lykos and the Gang decided to have a mandatory CLE (that's Continuing Legal Education) this morning for all Felony Chiefs and Twos. That leaves the Three Man in charge of the District Courts all by his or her lonesome self. Don't be looking for the Threes to be cutting any awesome deals this morning. Once again, Lykos and crew does something I just don't get. I mean, it isn't the end of the world or anything, but is it really a good idea to be doing mandatory CLEs in the middle of a regular docket? You virtually guarantee that nobody is going to be able to get anything done on their cases, and you are wasting time and money. Today's topic for the mandatory CLE for the prosecutors is prosecuting Capital Murder cases. At least that's a good topic. The last time Lykos called everybod

A Legend of Law Enforcement Passes Away

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I was saddened to learn this morning of the passing of one my childhood heroes, former-FBI Agent, Brazos County District Attorney's Investigator, and head of the Texas A&M Police Department, Bob Wiatt. The article about him in my hometown paper can be found here and the Chronicle's article here . To say that Mr. Wiatt (I could never actually get to the point of feeling myself worthy to call him by his first name) had a legendary career would be a massive massive understatement. As a rookie FBI Agent, one of his first cases was doing some of the legwork on the Kennedy Assassination. He later went on to work on the murders of three Civil Rights workers in Philadelphia, Mississippi that was more commonly known as the Mississippi Burning case , and he was there when they discovered the workers' buried car. In 1969, he assisted in the rescue of Texas DPS Trooper Kenneth Crone, who had been kidnapped by Robert Dent and Ila Fae Holiday. He and the local sheriff both fa

Reasonable Doubt - 8/12/10

Please join us for tonight's Reasonable Doubt, where our guest will be Bob Wicoff . Bob is going to talk to us about the mechanics that go behind getting an incarcerated defendant exonerated, and his experiences over the past year as he has devoted his time to undoing wrongful convictions. I'm really excited to have Bob as a guest, and we look forward to your phone calls. As always, you can catch it here on live streaming video tonight at 8 p.m.

Legal History

There were two great articles in the Chronicle this morning about the legal history of Texas that I found to be really interesting. I hope you will, too. In the Opinions section, Baker and Botts ' Bill Kroger, who has been appointed to co-chair the Texas Supreme Court's Historical Records Task Force talks about the efforts being made to preserve historical documents from the judicial system that date all the way back to the days of Sam Houston and Stephen F. Austin. You can read his post here . And although you don't read this statement much on this blog: Rick Casey wrote a great column this morning on the importance of preserving Texas history and how we're losing that battle to time, the elements, and Ebay . If you're interested in the history of the legal system, not to mention the Great State of Texas, these are really good articles and good causes that are worth your time.

Piling On

As prosecutors continue to turn in their Two Weeks' Notice and the county-wide Hiring Freeze remains in place, it has gotten to be a relatively bad time to be a prosecutor over at the Harris County District Attorney's Office. The manpower shortage has resulted in a virtual log-jam of prosecutors who are getting stuck in the same spots for excessive amounts of time. As I've mentioned before , Felony Threes are some of the most overworked lawyers in the legal profession. Back in the Olden Days when I was a prosecutor (yeah, I know I'm starting to sound like Grandpa Walton), a typical first time stint as a Felony Three lasted right around six months. Now there are Felony Threes approaching a year in their respective District Court. I can't even begin to imagine the burnout they are feeling. One would hope that Lykos and the Gang would start rotating these folks back and forth with their Misdemeanor Chiefs. You can do that, ya know, guys? I understand if you

Reasonable Doubt - 8/5/10

As new co-host (riding shotgun with Todd DuPont) for Reasonable Doubt , I'm going to start posting program announcements on the blog for those of you who would like to bypass what NBC, CBS, ABC, Fox, and the Scrapbooking Network have offer on a Thursday night and watch a little cable access instead. Thursday's show (8/5/10) will feature the long awaited return to show business of Will Womble, who'll be talking about starting up a new practice (amongst other things). You can tune in to live streaming video of the show tomorrow at 8 p.m. by clicking here .

They aren't THAT Stupid . . . are they?

Interesting story here on KHOU.com about the mother of a sexual assault of a child victim who found herself charged with Failure to Report Child Abuse after criticizing the handling of her daughter's case. Her allegation is that it was retaliation. I can't imagine Lykos and the Gang being quite so stupid as to charge her just for that. Or can I?

Reception for Don Smyth

Today there will be a reception honoring Don Smyth as he retires from the Harris County District Attorney's Office. It will be held from 1:30 to 3:30 on the 7th floor of the CJC. Come wish Don well in his future career, and thank him for the 33 years of public service that he has given Harris County.

A New Judge in Town

Big congratulations to Marc Brown who was named the acting Judge of the 180 th District Court today, subject to confirmation. Marc, um, I mean, soon-to-be-Judge Brown will be filling the unexpired term of Judge Debbie Stricklin who stepped down in July. The date he will actually assume the bench will be announced once he is able to wrap up his job with the District Attorney's Office. I couldn't be more excited to see such a well-qualified Judge taking the Bench. He's got the brains, the work ethic, and the compassion to be a phenomenal judge. Here's to hoping that the unexpired term is just a preview to many more terms on the Bench to come! Congratulations, Marc!