Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Random Question

Every once in a while, a random thought crosses my mind that I decide I would like to share with the unsuspecting masses.  The easy way to ask the question would be to ask, "What is your favorite book?"

My question is what book have you read the most times over?

Mine is probably Lonesome Dove, which I guess I've read cover to cover about four or five times,  closely followed by The Cop Who Wouldn't Quit, which I've read three or four times.

Yes, I know it has nothing to do with criminal law or the CJC, and I'm sure that somebody will find something rude to say about me going off topic, but I'm genuinely curious.

Seeing as how this isn't exactly a controversial question, if you'd like to sign your name to the answer, I'd like to know that, too.

Reasonable Doubt Archives

For those of you who have asked about catching archived Reasonable Doubt episodes on the web (Really, I swear, there have been people who have asked.  I'm not just making that up), there is now a website where HCCLA is starting to put old episodes.

You can find the website by clicking here.

Special thanks to Assistant Public Defender, technological whiz kid, and President of the Lee Greenwood Fan Club, Franklin Bynum for organizing the website.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

New Chronicle Blog Post

I did a new blog post on Judge Guerrero's ruling on the change of venue in the Chad Holley beating case.  You can check it out by clicking here.

Tonight's Reasonable Doubt (8/25/11)

Plean join me and Todd Dupont for tonight's Reasonable Doubt, where our guest will be the mildly opinionated former Assistant District Attorney Sean Teare.  Look for an entertaining show, which will doubtlessly feature call ins from Hollywood entertainment attorney Dodge Rosen.

As always, you can tune in tonight at 8:00 p.m. to catch it live by clicking here.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

In Case of Emergency

Based on some recent events that have occurred around the CJC over the past few weeks, Mark Bennett and I came up with an idea that we wanted to share with our friends and family members of the courthouse. Two weeks ago, a member of the defense bar passed away from natural causes at her home.  Court coordinators knew that she had missed her cases on the docket that day, but had no one to contact to check on her welfare.  The efforts to check on her welfare and notify a relative were made difficult because there was no central location that had that information.

Unlike prosecutors who have the benefit of co-workers and supervisors that will notice almost immediately if they don't come to work without explanation, many members of the defense bar are solo practitioners.  Some don't even have a receptionist or office aide that can be contacted in case of emergency.

In an effort to respond in a "worst case scenario," Mark has created a data base that all courthouse personnel are welcome to utilize if they want.  The list will be completely confidential and at this point, only Mark and I will have access to it.  If you want to sign up for it, you can rest assured that it is not going to be added to an e-mail list for marketing purposes.  It will also not be something that is created so that a coordinator can call and find out why you haven't shown up for docket by 10:30.

The list will be maintained solely for the purposes of having a safety net in place for people in case of emergency.  If you have any questions about it, feel free to ask them.  If you have any suggestions, we'd love to hear them as well.

Thanks to Mark's work, the database is now up and running.  If you would like to put your information in it, you can do it whenever you want.

The link to get there is here.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

I Love My Hometown News

As I've mentioned frequently on this blog, I love being from Bryan, Texas.  I loved growing up there.  I love the people there.  I love to go back there when I can.

I also love watching the news there.  Every local commercial features either a) somebody I know or b) somebody I grew up watching on commercials.

The weatherman and the sports guy have been the same since I was in junior high school, and to this day, when you see one of them at the grocery store, you kind of feel like you just saw a celebrity.

And then there are the news stories themselves . . .

Like tonight's headline.

I love that a minor accident made the TV news when it wasn't even a hit and run and nobody was seriously injured.

I also enjoy that instead of giving the location with a cross-street, the description of the location read:
It happened around 9 o'clock Friday night on East 29th Street in Bryan near the Dairy Queen.
Sometimes, it is just nice to know that there are still some small towns where a minor accident is the worst thing that happens on a Friday night.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Before They Were Stars

Okay, we all are aware of the tragic E! True Hollywood Story of child star Will Womble, but I was recently made aware that we have another aspiring star in our midst.

Check out this video and see if you can spot who it is.  (NOTE:  This video usually won't play on a portable device, so you'll have to check it out on your desktop or laptop).

Special thanks to the anonymous prosecutor who forwarded this gem.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Tonight's Reasonable Doubt (8/18/11)

Tune into tonight's Reasonable Doubt with me and Todd Dupont at 8:00 p.m.  Our guest will be our friend and fellow criminal defense attorney, Fox Curl.  We'll be talking about domestic violence.

You can watch it live streaming at 8:00 p.m. by clicking here.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

More Humor from the Holdover

An exchange between me and a shoplifting client in the holdover:

ME: Good morning, Ms. _________.

HER:  Are you my new attorney?

ME:  Um, no.  I've always been your attorney.

HER:  You're the same guy from last time?

ME:  Yes.

HER:  I just remember you being a lot younger last time.

ME:  That was only three weeks ago!

HER:  Maybe you had more hair back then.

ME:  Trust me, I didn't.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

The People We Know

It has been a brutally rough two weeks for the Defense Bar in Harris County.

The weekend before last, we lost John Denninger to cancer.

Days later, we learned of the deaths of Phil Jenkins and Rosemary Garza.

Last night, we learned that Marguerite Hudig passed away.

It seems lately that we've been losing a lot of fine people long before their time on this Earth should have been up.

Last week, I was up in Brazos County, talking to my friend, David Hilburn, and we talked about how it seemed that the frequency of hearing tragic news seemed to be increasing as we got older.

When we were all children, losing a friend or a family member was a much more rare, yet tragic occasion.

Now, it seems that every month or so, we learn that someone we know (at least, someone we know in passing) has died.

Maybe it's just the harsh reality of growing older that brings this to light.  To me, that's the sad way to observe this phenomena.

The other way to look at it is that as we've grown older, we've expanded our boundaries and have gotten to know so many more people than we did when we were children.  If you look at the circle of friends and acquaintances that we all had when we were smaller, it vastly pales in comparison to the number of people we get to know as adults.

We grew from children and met more people.  The more people we meet, the more people we ultimately have to say goodbye to.  The more goodbyes we say, the sadder we become.

The loss of a friend, a family member, a co-worker, or even just a familiar face that you were accustomed to seeing in the hallways of the courthouse is always sad.

But the reason for the feeling of sadness is the loss of that familiarity that we once had.

For some reason, learning of Marguerite's passing has made me particularly sad.

I can't articulate why.  I didn't know her well at all.  I had a few cases against her as a prosecutor, but none that ever went to trial.

But, I suppose I was used to her.  She was a regular face around the CJC.  Just like John Denninger, Phil Jenkins, and Rosemary Garza -- not to mention all of those other attorneys that I've had the honor to know and subsequently say goodbye to over the years.

I'm sorry that I won't be seeing those faces around the CJC again.  They will be missed.

But I'm glad that I had the opportunity to meet them.  Glad to have gotten to know them -- some better than others.

I'm happy to have expanded my circle of friends and co-workers as I've gotten older, because the people that we get to know along the way are the ones that make all of our lives so much richer and so much more interesting for having known them.

Even if it is so sad to ultimately have to say goodbye to them.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

. . . And Now You Don't

The turnout for the Veterans Court graduation today was outstanding, as a packed courtroom filled the 228th.  Here are a couple of photos from the big event.

Judge Carter hosted the ceremony.

Deputy Walker keeps his pants up like the Good Lord intended . . . 

Connie Williams gave a very moving speech.

Craig Still and I spend our last moments with Greg Allman.

Halfway through Pat McCann honoring his deal.

Brothers in baldness.

Like I said in my last post . . .

With all the fun of Pat McCann honoring his bet, it is easy to lose sight of the fact that today's ceremony was a very important and moving moment in the CJC.  A big congratulations goes out to Judge Carter, Pat, Shannon Davis, Staci Biggar, and (most importantly) the graduates of Veterans Court for a great day today.

Now You See It . . .

There will be a ceremony in the 228th District Court today at 2:00 p.m. as Judge Marc Carter and the dedicated attorneys who have donated their time to the Veterans' Court celebrate the successful completion of pre-trial diversions by fifteen members of its starting class.  As part of the Veteran's Court, defense attorney Pat "Sumo Jesus" McCann challenged the Veterans by swearing he would allow his head to be shaved should they successfully complete their pre-trial diversions.

And they did.

So, a big congratulations to the Veterans who helped make this project a big success, as well as to Judge Carter, Pat, Shannon Davis of the D.A.'s Office and all the other attorneys who have made this project possible.

And on a sad note, we bid a fond farewell to the flowing locks of hair that belong to Mr. McCann for only a few hours more.  As a veteran of hair loss, I will be there to support you in the days to come, my friend.

I, for one, will remember you like this:

Even though, when this is all over, I'm pretty sure you will more closely resemble this.

Monday, August 1, 2011

John Denninger

I was very saddened to learn yesterday that my friend and longtime Defense Attorney John Denninger passed away after a battle with lung cancer.

I first met John when I became a Felony Two in Judge Michael McSpadden's court around 2006.  He, along with Ken Goode and Chuck Hinton, were the contract attorneys in the court.  I had known Chuck and Ken when I had been an academic intern in the 209th back in 1998, but John wasn't in the court back then.

John took me awhile to figure out, because he had such a deadpan sense of humor.  Where Chuck and Ken were more prone to laughing out loud and telling jokes, John was often quiet and stone-faced by comparison.  It wasn't until I got to know him better that I realized the quiet demeanor actually masked a very very dry wit.

He was a good lawyer who was very dedicated to his clients, and we tried serious cases against each other during the time I spent in Judge McSpadden's court.  His clients were appointed to him, and he fought vigorously for them.  He didn't lose his cool on the high stress cases and he tried them with integrity and the highest level of ethics.

After I left the 209th, I didn't see much of John anymore, except in the hallways of the CJC.  Every time I saw him, he would always smile brightly and ask how I was doing.  He was a very nice man.

The last time I saw him was earlier this year.  He was having dinner with his daughter, and he introduced me to her.  It was very apparent that he was enjoying father/daughter time and he couldn't have been prouder to be there with her.

I didn't even know that John was sick until a few weeks ago.

As a member of HCCLA, I can't talk about those things that are posted on the listserve, but I will say that John is being very fondly remembered today by his peers from the Defense Bar.  He was highly respected as an attorney, a family man, and a friend.

We are all very sad to lose our friend, John Denninger.

Of Raining, Pouring and Writer's Block

I've gotten a bunch of complaints lately that I haven't posted on anything in a while, either on this blog or the Chronicle blog.

Either there just hadn't been much happening of interest lately or I've just been experiencing a bout of writer's block.  Also, I've been very busy with my Little Man's summer activities and my Favorite Editor from New York being in town for an extended visit.

And then last week, several different things happened that were all worthy of writing a blog post (or two or three) on . . .

. . . and I'm at a place for the weekend that has no Internet connection.

Ah the irony.

One of the major things that happened last week was the stunning revelation by former Houston Police Department technical advisor Amanda Culbertson that HPD's mobile "BATmobiles" (used for the on-site testing of a DWI suspect's breath) had some major glitches in their reliability.  It was covered at length by Paul Kennedy with his post here.  (NOTE:  If you aren't reading Kennedy's blog, you should be.  Yes, you'll probably disagree with a lot of it, and he does wear that bola instead of a tie, but he is worth reading.)

Paul focuses in on the ramifications for HPD, but what I find interesting is the ramifications for the D.A.'s Office.  There are a ton of cases that Culbertson's testimony effects and it will be very interesting to see what the Office does with them.

I'm also quite skeptical of the idea that the D.A.'s Office was unaware of Ms. Culbertson's claims that the BATmobiles were faulty.  Why exactly did the prosecutors ask for a continuance on the case rather than dismiss it?  Look for there to be A LOT more to come from this revelation and the key question you'll need to be asking is "Who knew what?  And when?"

In addition to the BATmobile revelations, last week long-term prosecutor Bill Hawkins turned in his letter of resignation to the Lykos Administration.  I say that he turned his resignation into the Lykos Administration, because Bill Hawkins would have never resigned from a District Attorney's Office.  There is a distinction between the two.

Bill was the lead prosecutor on the upcoming retrial of cop killer Carl Buntion, which was set for trial in the next month or so.  His resignation is surprising in its timing, but there were early warnings that Bill was not going to mesh well with the Lykos Administration.

Integrity often causes conflict with those who have none.

Because Bill has integrity, he is not talking about his departure at the moment, but if I had to guess, I would bet it had something to do with the idiotic idea to have him supervised by a prosecutor junior to him as I detailed in this post.  Especially if that junior prosecutor is a darling of the Lykos Administration when Bill certainly was not.

I will be writing a much better post regarding my friend and mentor, Bill Hawkins when he has finished his last day at the Office.

In other news, I did finally get off my butt and write a new blog on the Chronicle.  You can check it out by clicking here.

And finally, on a sad note, my friend and former trial adversary, John Denninger, passed away yesterday after a battle with cancer.

But, I will be writing a separate post on him momentarily.

Episode Seven: The Voters Awaken - A One Act -Sci-Fi Play

SCENE:  The Death Star orbits over Downtown Houston. [INTERIOR] The Imperial Council Chambers. EMPRESS OGG sits at the head of a long table ...