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Showing posts from December, 2011

Lykos 2011: A Year in Review

JANUARY January 12 th – An Amber Alert for Clint Greenwood is cancelled after he is found safely in his office on the 6 th floor.  The alert had been issued on January 2 nd when he left for work and then was not heard from.  Greenwood explained that it always takes him 10 days to get to work. FEBRUARY February 10 th - An infuriated Pat Lykos denounces the release of a video of HPD officers beating a handcuffed and surrendering teenager, Chad Holley, to local media.  Although having campaigned on the platform of “transparency,” she declares that there are some things that the public should never get to see – kind of like they should never get to see her ever actually going to trial, having integrity, etc. February 16 th – An attempted morale boosting exercise on the part of Misdemeanor Chief John Jordan goes horribly awry when local media learn of a reward system for guilty verdicts secured from misdemeanor prosecutors.  The reward of an afternoon of bowling meets with little c

Rachel Palmer moved to Appellate

So, after spending her first three years in the Lykos Administration at the reward position of Deputy Dawg of the Misdemeanor Division, Rachel Palmer has finally been unseated from her throne.  I guess the Lykos Administration finally decided to "punish" her for making the Office look bad by pleading the 5th. Today, according to the Office's moves memo, Rachel is being moved to the Appellate Division. She won't have to pull a docket or try a case.  She can have relatively flexible hours.  I wonder if they will be more flexible for Rachel than they were for Shirley Cornelius. Perhaps she can do some legal research on when the 5th Amendment applies and when it doesn't and the admissibility of polygraph evidence. Oh, and I've got $5 that says they use her move to Appellate as justification to give her Chief's salary in the weeks to come.

Want to see something funny?

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When a person comments in on this blog, Life at the Harris County Criminal Justice Center, they can be as anonymous as they want to be.  I don't require an e-mail address or a verified identity before you can say what you want to say.  On the Chronicle Blog , however, I don't have a say in what information must be left by commenters.  When they leave a comment, they must attach an e-mail address.  It also will show their IP address to me. As you all know, I will publish comments that I don't agree with and even those that are criticizing me.  I think that is only fair.  And, often, funny. But I was pretty amused when I got this comment on the Chronicle blog yesterday. Obviously, I don't agree with it and the spelling and grammar are atrocious, but I published old TJ's comment, anyway.  Note, the e-mail address, IP address, and the time. So, I thought it was even funnier when I got this next post (which I didn't publish). Again, note the e-mail address

New Post on the Chronicle Blog

Yes, I do still write on the Chronicle blog occasionally.   Here is my latest post.

Thoughts from a Guest Poster

I got the following comments from a previous poster who goes by the street name of "Spunk."  The points in the comment are excellent, so I decided to make it a post on its own rather than put it in the comments section.  This is the comment in its entirety: Before we get too far away from that matter of Rachel Palmer taking the 5th, I would like to address Rachel directly regarding her commentary, behavior and specifically her appearance with her attorneys on Channel 11 after having taken the 5th. Let us review and reflect upon the following: 1.  Rachel Palmer, this is not "about" you! In your testimony and selective interview with channel 11 you continually reference yourself, how long you have endured attacks from people on the blogs and Murray Newman himself and how tired you are of it, and blah blah blah-- it's all about you, you, you.  Do not flatter yourself, Rachel, the only reason anyone pays attention to you is because you have continued to inject yo

Big Jolly and Me

Before I get into explaining how very wrong my friend, Dave Jennings AKA Big Jolly, is about some of the things he has posted over on his blog , I want to make something very clear. David Jennings is a good man who is doing more than 99.999% of the population when it comes to educating himself on who he votes for and whom he recommends that others vote for.  I may not always agree with his decisions [see below], but I respect him and the rules that he plays by.  In a comment on my last post, he pointed out that he hated personal attacks on candidates and he had done more than the readers know to stop Terry Lowry's personal attacks on Kelly Siegler.  That is the truth, folks. And just because I disagree with him doesn't change that. Now, let me tell you [and him] how wrong he is. 1.  To start out with, Dave, you need to work a little bit on not being so sensitive.  When I posted this article about the Other 95% , I was trying to point out the simple fact that those of us

Merry Christmas

I want to take a day off from politics and Grand Juries and wish everyone in my little CJC family a very Merry Christmas!

It's That Time Again!

You know what to do . . . On the First Day of Lykos, Snookems gave to me . . .

Anthony Graves and Nicole Casarez on Reasonable Doubt

Several people have asked me to post the Reasonable Doubt video with Anthony Graves and Nicole Casarez on the blog.  Special thanks to Kelly Siegler for putting us in touch with Anthony and Nicole.  Additional special thanks to Franklin Bynum for putting the show on the Net. Reasonable Doubt, December 15, 2011, Anthony Graves and Nicole Casarez from HCCLA on Vimeo .

A New Voir Dire Question

One of the things that we should be thankful to Rachel Palmer for (as well as the Lykos Administration for not firing or demoting her) is the gift of a very strong and effective way to voir dire potential jurors on the issue of the 5th Amendment. For instance, you could pose the questions as follows: DEFENSE ATTORNEY:  There could be a lot of reasons that my client does not take the stand during this Aggravated Sexual Assault of a Child case.  What are some of the reasons? JUROR # 1:  His attorney told him not to? DEFENSE ATTORNEY:  Yes, or perhaps he works for Pat Lykos' Harris County District Attorney's Office. JUROR # 2:  He's a bad speaker? DEFENSE ATTORNEY:  Yes, or perhaps he works for Pat Lykos' Harris County District Attorney's Office. JUROR # 3:  He would really screw up on the stand if faced with cross-examination? DEFENSE ATTORNEY:  Yes, or perhaps he works for Pat Lykos' Harris County District Attorney's Office. JUROR #4:  He ha

The Other 95% and the Origins of a "Conspiracy"

APOLOGIES IN ADVANCE - This one is long and rambling.  There should be a point in there somewhere: When it comes to politics in Harris County (and perhaps any county), I've always considered the races affecting the Criminal Justice Center to be somewhat of an oddity.  Let's face it, as a wise Homicide Investigator once told me, we deal with probably less than 5% of the population (if that much).  The President, the Governor, or the Legislature can enact laws that affect us all, yet most citizens' involvement with the criminal justice system comes from jury duty. For those of us regularly involved in the System, whether it be as a lawyer, a judge or a police officer, it can easily become 95% of our lives (if that little).  We know each other.  We work with each other.  We socialize with each other.  Sometimes, we even marry each other.  Whether we like it or not, we know the way the cogs and wheels within the Harris County Criminal Justice turn and how the System works.

Rachel Palmer talks . . . to the Media

Fresh on the heels of being told that she can invoke her Fifth Amendment Right not to testify in front of the Grand Jury, Rachel Palmer and her defense team wasted no time in getting themselves in front of a camera to do some of that thinking smart, looking good and winning that she goes on and on about.  In an interview with Channel 11 , Rachel noted that there was "nothing wrong" with her as a person or a prosecutor. To me, the fact that she did so pretty much crystalizes what the Harris County District Attorney's Office is now all about. After days of trying to stall out a Grand Jury investigation and refusing to talk to Grand Jurors, all the Gang Who Couldn't Shoot Straight seems to care about is their image.  We ignore those folks provided for under the Rule of Law and prefer to just go do a little on-air campaigning for the boss. One of the things I failed to mention from Monday's hearing was a new face in the D.A.'s Roster -- David Benzion, former

A Tale of Two Hearings

As you should all know by now, Judge Al Bennett overruled Rachel Palmer's Motion to Recuse Judge Susan Brown from a hearing on a Motion to Compel Testimony before the 185th District Court Grand Jury this morning.  The lawyers then all proceeded back to the 185th District Court where Judge Brown ultimately overruled the Special Prosecutors' Motion to Compel. Judge Brown (in my opinion, wisely) stated that the questions proffered by the Special Prosecutors could have answers that "went either way" as to whether or not they were incriminating.  She made the safe call. She also pretty much showed that the entire hearing on the Motion to Recuse was silly. (NOTE:  For more on that, read Lisa Falkenberg's excellent column here .)  Stephen St. Martin and Jim Mount now have the option of offering Rachel Palmer immunity and compel her testimony that way. But let's go back and talk about the hearing from yesterday and the things we learned from it. The hearing was

A "Must Read" from Mark Bennett

Anyone with even a passing interest in the hearing on the Motion to Compel Rachel Palmer's testimony today in the 185th really needs to read Bennett's post today.   Go there by clicking here . This means you media types, too.

Thoughts from Thursday's Events

Although the actual hearing for the Motion to Compel filed by Special Prosecutors Jim Mount and Stephen St. Martin was reset until Monday morning, December 19th, there were some interesting and noteworthy events that happened on Thursday.  Here are a couple of the highlights: 1.  Although Rachel Palmer was escorted from the Grand Jury room up to the 185th for the Motion to Compel, she wasn't in custody.  I heard that rumors were running rampant through the CJC that Rachel had been placed in handcuffs and brought to the 185th.  That was absolutely NOT the case.  At some point, her attorney Clay Rawlings, who was angry with Mount and St. Martin about the Motion to Compel, announced to the court that his client was being mistreated and brought up "in custody."  Rachel appeared mortified at her attorney's assertion and both Mount and St. Martin made a point of letting the court know that wasn't the case. 2.  Over the lunch hour, David Mitcham was apparently added

Motion to Compel

Interesting developments today from the 185th District Court Grand Jury as Assistant District Attorney and Deputy Division Chief of Misdemeanor Rachel Palmer was escorted from the Grand Jury to the 185th District Court in response to a Motion to Compel Testimony. Special Prosecutors Jim Mount and Stephen St. Martin approached the bench with Palmer's defense attorney Clay Rawlins for a hearing on the record where Mount and St. Martin filed a Motion to Compel Testimony from Palmer. Per the conversation at the bench, Palmer invoked her Fifth Amendment right against Self-Incrimination in front of the Grand Jury. The Special Prosecutors' position was that she did not have a right to invoke the 5th, since she was not the target of the investigation and no questions would be asked that would incriminate her. Rawlins had apparently contacted the Special Prosecutors yesterday after Palmer was subpoenaed to testify this morning. Rawlins informed them that Palmer would be taking a &qu

Another Day, Another Grand Jury

Major kudos today for the Pat Lykos Administration for finding itself the subject of not one, but two Grand Jury investigations. Today, Special Prosecutor Chris Downey was appointed to investigate yet another allegation of wrong-doing by the Harris County District Attorney's Office in the 232nd District Court's Grand Jury.  I'm not 100% certain of this, but I believe that this Grand Jury will be investigating allegations surrounding the departure of former Assistant District Attorney Shirley Cornelius that were outlined awhile back on this blog in this post . For those die-hard Pat Lykos supporters conspiracy theorists who have been grumbling about the 185th Grand Jury's investigation being politically motivated, I think it is worth pointing out that the 232nd Grand Jury is selected by Judge Mary Lou Keel, who selects her Grand Jurors from an actual jury pool that is called to service at random. Say what you want to about prior District Attorneys and their failin

This Week's Reasonable Doubt's Special Guests (12/15/11)

Normally I don't write about Thursday's episode of Reasonable Doubt until the morning of the show.  That's because we don't know who our guest is going to be until a day or two before. This week is different, because Todd Dupont and I are bringing you two very special guests that we have been trying to get on the show for quite some time. With the help of Kelly Siegler, we are proud to announce that this week's Reasonable Doubt guests will be Anthony Graves and Nicole Casarez .  Mr. Graves, as you probably know, served 19 years on Death Row for a crime he did not commit.  Ms. Casarez is an attorney and professor at the University of St. Thomas who was instrumental in proving Mr. Graves' innocence. It is going to be a great show, and as always, we will be taking your calls and questions.  You can watch it live on Thursday, December 15 at 8:00 p.m. on television or on the web by clicking here.

I'm Back

For those of you who actually enjoy reading this blog, sorry for the absence over the past week.  I've been in New York visiting my favorite editor and wife-to-be, and appearing on Tru TV's In Session. There are a lot of different things that I've been wanting to write about, and I will try to catch up as fast as possible.  Things are very interesting around the CJC right now. In the meantime, feel free to start a new comments chain here.

The Legality of D.I.V.E.R.T.

There was an interesting ruling out of the 14th Court of Appeals this week that points out what many of us have been saying for awhile -- that Pat Lykos' DIVERT program is not a legal form of punishment for Driving While Intoxicated. In State vs. Rhodes , the Defendant was charged with Driving While Intoxicated and his case landed in County Court at Law # 2 under Judge Bill Harmon.  Followers of the DIVERT controversy know that Judge Harmon has always maintained the position that DIVERT is illegal and he won't do it in his court.  The Defendant wanted to participate in DIVERT, but that wasn't going to happen on Judge Harmon's watch. Rhodes' attorney then filed a Motion to Recuse Judge Harmon in the attempt to get a new judge that would allow him to have DIVERT.  A hearing occurred on the Motion to Recuse and the Administrative Judge chose NOT to remove Judge Harmon from the bench.  The defendant was ultimately found guilty and received 3 days and a $500 fine. He

Johnny Holmes Endorses Mike Anderson

The campaign for Judge Mike Anderson has gotten underway in a big way today with the immediate endorsement of Judge Anderson from former Harris County District Attorney Johnny Holmes. “Mike Anderson has the qualities it will take to restore the leadership and integrity of the District Attorney’s Office.  I’m proud to support Mike," said Mr. Holmes, according to a press release. For more information about Judge Anderson's campaign, check out www.andersonda.com