Friday, July 15, 2011

Life at the Galveston County Criminal Justice Center

Yesterday, I headed down to Galveston for their morning docket.

I had a pleasant drive down, going against the flow of traffic.

I was running a little late for docket, and my client called me on the drive down to say that he was running even later than I was -- a mortal sin in Harris County.

I pulled into the parking lot of the Galveston Courthouse, where there was ample (and completely free) parking within fifty yards of the front door of the building.

There were no lines to get in the building and going through the metal detectors and security probably took less than a minute.  The security screeners were polite and friendly.

There were no lines at the elevator, which was open and waiting the second I cleared security.

I went up to court and learned that they had already called docket.  I explained to the court coordinator that my client was running late.  She didn't even ask why.  She just told me to let me know when my client got there and it wouldn't be any problem.

I talked to the prosecutor and told her my client was running late.  No problem.  She made me an offer and handed me his file to review.  She just wanted me to let her know when he got there.

The court was hearing a civil jury trial, so we got shuffled out of the courtroom and to the back hallway, outside of chambers to finish the morning business.  A few minutes later, the coordinator let me know my client had shown up and was kind enough to escort him back to where I was so we could discuss the case with the prosecutor.

The prosecutor was very nice and listened to my version of events and told me she agreed that we needed to listen to a 911 tape before deciding what an appropriate punishment recommendation might be.  She even pointed out some potential weaknesses in the case that she saw, before I brought them to her attention.  My client explained a side fact of the case to her, and she was polite and friendly to him as she listened.

We agreed that the case needed to be reset, so I talked to the coordinator again.  She suggested a day and asked if it worked for me.  I told her it did and she said "Okay, see you then."

"Do I need to sign a reset?" I asked.

"Nope," she smiled.  "We're all grown ups around here.  We figure you can remember."

My client and I walked out the front door, no more than thirty minutes after my arrival.

All I can say is "Wow".  I love Galveston.

I loved it even more when I came back to the Harris County CJC elevator bank and was greeted with this:


Anonymous said...

I always like doing business in Galveston, too. Even more now that the juries are getting more conservative (i.e.: educated) what with the Houston suburbs creeping over the county line.


Michael said...

That's pretty much the way of small counties, in my experience. See also Belton (Bell County); Llano; Burnet...

Anonymous said...

How many actual ADAs now work in HC? How many resets does the average case go through? What is the average amount of time that a defendant must sit and wait for an actual trial in HC? I'm thinking of moving to the island.

Jim Bell said...

Are you absolutely certain you didn't just dream you had a case in Galveston? Your story reads like a fantasy.

Anonymous said...

5 million vs. 240,000.

And your right, none of those Harris County DAs listen to defense attorneys, especially the ones you trained.

A Harris County Lawyer said...

Aw, Anon 9:57 a.m.,

Don't get your feelings hurt.

Just because I'm complimenting Galveston County, doesn't mean that I don't love you too.

Anonymous said...

I have to say that this was one of the most useless blogs I have ever read from you, Murray. Have you never been to Galveston? I know you've been to the Harris County CJC. Of course things will be different here. Speaking with a particular man who is in a "chief"ly position in Galveston County, he says it felt like he got put back 40 years in technology! No thank you! I appreciate working at the Harris County CJC with all the up-to-date gadgets we have here. It sucks we have so many turds, however. Without them, you wouldn't have the traffic, parking, over-crowding, or clients. Be careful what you fantasize about.

Anonymous said...

I believe the CJC elevator bank was the brain child of Arthur L. Storey, Jr.

Anonymous said...

Part of the problem in Harris County now is the attitude of certain TB Chiefs and the trickle-down effect that has. If you don't treat your troops with respect and offer some simple courtesies, unfortunately, that same sort of lack of respect and failure to lend some simple courtesy is visited on defense counsel by the troops. There is very little leadership left at the HCDA's Office. Certainly none from the likes of TB Chiefs like the Honey Badger.

Anonymous said...

Anon. 4:21

The same Art Storey who is the highest paid employee of Harris County. Over $200K per year. Father of Judge Storey too.

Anonymous said...

I worked as an ADA in Houston for years and then became a defense attorney in Galveston. It's a different world. Not all of it is good from a prosecutor or defense attorney standpoint. But you can get in and out very easily and much more cheaply.

Anonymous said...

All defense attorneys love Galveston. The Prosecutors there have learned that if the Defense bar is happy, everyone else is happy. Judges, Sheriffs and D.A.s don't get elected by Prosecutors. The police force hate the D.A.'s office so any opportunity to ditch a case is quickly taken. Deny it if you like, but I speak the truth.