Sunday, December 22, 2013

Top 10 Tips for the Texans to Boost Attendance Next Season

As my son and I get ready to our final home Texans game of the season (mercifully), I noticed on the ticket that today is "Fan Appreciation Day" at Reliant Stadium.  Every year for the last game, they call out a few rows around the stadium at random and those folks win a prize.

So, it got me to thinking about what exactly the Texans will need to do to show enough fan appreciation for people to want to buy tickets for next year.  So, I came up with this:

Top 10 Tips for the Texans to Boost Attendance Next Season

10.  New head coach:  Ryan Secrest

9.  Player of the Game gets the Game Ball.  Worst player of the game must enter Thunderdome.

8.  Two Words:  Open Bar

7.  J.J. Watt continues his involvement with schools by doing every kid in H.I.S.D.'s homework all year.

6.  Team members valet park all season ticket holders' cars.

5.  Every halftime show involves a member of the coaching staff being voted off the island.

4.  Show newly released movies on the Jumbo-Tron while the game is on.

3.  For every game, a lucky will fan will be selected to be Offensive Coordinator.

2.  Arian Foster leads pre-game yoga class to help deal with the stress of upcoming game.

1.  First Round Draft Choice:  Miley Cyrus

In the meantime, I just wanted to thank Luke for being a good sport and going to all the games with me this season!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

The Dedication of the Mike Anderson Memorial Courtroom

As I mentioned a while back in this post, the Harris County Commissioners' Court unanimously voted to name the Drug Court's courtroom after late District Attorney Mike Anderson.

Today (December 17th) at 2 p.m., the official celebration of the dedication of the Mike Anderson Memorial Courtroom will be held in Room 14144 on the 14th Floor of the Harris County Criminal Justice Center.

Mike Anderson devoted a lot of heart and soul into the STAR Court program and I'm so glad to see that the Commissioners are honoring and recognizing all that he did.

Please come by for the ceremony if you can.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Judge Catherine Evans Investiture

The formal investiture of Judge Catherine Evans will be held on Monday, December 16th.

The ceremony begins at 2:00 p.m. in the 180th District Court on the 18th floor of the CJC.  Everyone is invited to attend.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Victor Blaine

I was very sorry to hear of the passing of defense attorney Victor Blaine today.

He was an extremely distinguished lawyer that I had the honor of knowing since I was a baby prosecutor in 1999.  He had been around just a little longer than I had.  According to the State Bar website, he graduated from the University of Mississippi in 1952 and had been practicing in Texas since 1955.

I don't have any specific war stories about the man that I always called "Mr. Blaine."  He was a constant presence around the CJC and was always the model of a true Southern Gentleman.

He embodied all that was honorable about the legal profession.  He was polite, knowledgeable, and professional at all times.  There was nothing flashy about him, yet his presence conveyed a formidable opponent through the entirety of his career.  When I was a prosecutor, setting a case for trial against Mr. Blaine was not something I took lightly.

Up until a few weeks ago, Mr. Blaine was still a regular at the courthouse, and I had no idea that he was ailing.  Despite his age, he moved easily and comfortably.  His mind was as sharp as ever.  He was friendly and always had a smile on his face.

Victor Blaine was a reminder of attorneys from the past and a sterling example to attorneys of the present and the future.

Rest in peace, Mr. Blaine.

The 2014 Election Field

NOTE:  I believe this is a complete listing of the candidates on the Republican side.  I'm not 100% positive that the Democratic website is fully up-to-date at this writing.  I have linked those websites that are readily available on the Republican Party website.  Unfortunately, the Dems didn't link to anyone.  I will add links if you send them in.

Yesterday, December 9th, at 6:00 p.m. was the filing deadline for all candidates wanting to be on the ballot in 2014.  There were a couple of minor surprises here and there, but for the most part it looks like primary season will be relatively quiet in 2014.

Here is what we've got:

Harris County District Attorney

Republican Devon Anderson- for the first time since 2004, the Republican nomination for District Attorney is uncontested.

Democrat Attorney Kim Ogg will be facing semi-lovable goofball Lloyd Oliver in the battle to be on November's ballot.

NOTE:  Nobody should be surprised by Lloyd running again for District Attorney after he stunned us all in 2012 by getting the Democratic nomination over the vastly more qualified Zack Fertitta.  Lloyd, who likes hopping from party to party between elections, may have finally decided to stick with the Dems since he got so much love from them last year.  I did note that the Dems' website has added Lloyd's middle name of "Wayne" to his official listing.  He's now "Lloyd Wayne Oliver" on the ballot -- kind of like John Wayne Gacy.

In all seriousness, Kim Ogg is the clear choice in the primary.  This contest is a referendum on whether or not Democratic voters pay attention.

The District Courts

With the exception of the 263rd District Court Republican race (see below), none of the primaries for Criminal District Court Judge are contested on either side of the ballot.

180th District Court Incumbent Republican Judge Catherine Evans will be facing off against Democratic candidate and former-Judge Randy Roll.

182nd District Court Incumbent Republican Judge Jeannine Barr currently does not have a listed opponent according to the Harris County Democrats' website.  I don't know if that is accurate or not.  I'll keep you posted.

183rd District Court Incumbent Republican Judge Vanessa Velasquez also does not have a listed Democratic opponent.

184th District Court Incumbent Republican Judge Jan Krocker will be running against Democratic candidate, defense attorney, and all-around good guy, Mark Thering.

185th District Court Incumbent Republican Judge Susan Brown will be running against Democratic candidate Garland "Mack" McInnis, who ran as a Dem for the 351st District Court in 2012.

208th District Court Incumbent Republican Judge Denise Collins will be running against Democratic candidate Chuck Silverman.  I had never heard of Silverman and so I did a little research.  He appears to be a civil attorney who ran for a civil court bench in 2010.  I don't know why in the world he's running for a criminal bench.

209th District Court Incumbent Republican Judge Michael McSpadden also does not have a listed Democratic opponent.

228th District Court Incumbent Republican Judge Marc Carter also does not have a listed Democratic opponent.

230th District Court Incumbent Republican Judge Brad Hart will be running against Democratic opponent and defense attorney Greg Glass.

232nd District Court Incumbent Republican Judge Mary Lou Keel also does not have a listed Democratic opponent.

248th District Court Incumbent Republican Judge Katherine Cabaniss will be running against Democratic candidate and former Judge Shawna Reagin.

262nd District Court Incumbent Republican Judge Denise Bradley will be running against Democratic candidate and defense attorney with the Public Defenders' Office, Jules Johnson.

263rd District Court The only contested District Court primary is between Republican Incumbent Judge Jim Wallace, who has drawn a primary challenger with defense attorney Robert Summerlin.  The winner of the primary will face off against Democratic opponent and former Judge Herb Ritchie in November.

The County Courts at Law

The County Courts are also going to be relatively quiet during the primary season, with the exception of County Court at Law # 10, where longtime Republican Judge Sherman Ross has chosen not to run again.

County Court at Law # 1 Incumbent Republican Judge Paula Goodhart does not appear to have a Democratic opponent according to the Harris County Democrats' website.

County Court at Law # 2 Incumbent Republican Judge Bill Harmon has drawn a challenger in Democratic candidate and defense attorney Harold J. Landreneau.

County Court at Law # 3 Incumbent Republican Judge Natalie Fleming also does not appear to have a challenger.

County Court at Law # 4 Incumbent Republican Judge John Clinton will be facing off against Democratic candidate Nikita "Niki" Harmon.  I'm not familiar with Ms. Harmon, but it appears that she is a City of Houston Municipal Judge from what I can tell from the Web.

County Court at Law # 5 Incumbent Republican Judge Margaret Harris will be running against Democratic challenger and defense attorney Ramona Franklin.

County Court at Law # 6 Incumbent Republican Judge Larry Standley will be running against Democratic challenger Linda Geffen.  I'm not familiar with Ms. Geffen, but found this interesting story about her when I looked her up on the web.

County Court at Law # 7 Incumbent Republican Judge Pam Derbyshire will be running against Democratic challenger and defense attorney Sheila Acosta.

County Court at Law # 8 Incumbent Republican Judge Jay Karahan will be running against Democratic challenger and District Court Chief Assistant District Attorney Kelli Johnson.

County Court at Law # 9 Incumbent Republican Judge Analia Wilkerson does not appear to have a Democratic challenger.

County Court at Law # 10 As noted above, with the retirement of Judge Ross, there are a host of candidates who will be running to fill an open bench.  On the Republican side, four candidates will be running:  former prosecutor and defense attorney Tonya Rolland McLaughlin, Deputy Constable Ken Wenzel, attorney Dan Spjut and defense attorney Mary Heafner.  On the Democratic side, two candidates will be competing for the nomination:  George Barnstone and John Connolly.

NOTE:  There will be a lot more discussion about this race in the days to come, but I'm going on record early as saying Tonya Rolland McLaughlin is the best candidate here.  She's going to need a lot of help in running against the politically active Spjut, so if you've got the time and the resources, Tonya's campaign is a good one that could use your help!

County Court at Law # 11 Incumbent Republican Judge Diane Bull does not appear to have a Democratic challenger.

County Court at Law # 12 Incumbent Republican Judge Robin Brown also does not appear to have a Democratic challenger.

County Court at Law # 13 Incumbent Republican Judge Don Smyth will be facing off against Democratic challenger, former prosecutor and defense attorney Jason Luong.

County Court at Law # 14 Incumbent Republican Judge Mike Fields has drawn a challenger in Democratic candidate, former prosecutor and defense attorney David Singer.

County Court at Law # 15 Incumbent Republican Judge Jean Spradling Hughes has a challenger in Democratic candidate and defense attorney Raul Rodriguez.

The District Clerk

Over the past several years, the position of District Clerk has become more and more relevant in the daily lives of defense attorneys, prosecutors and judges.  Republican incumbent Chris Daniel will be challenged by Court Koenning, a former Harris County Republican Party Executive Director.  The winner of this battle will face Democratic candidate Judith Snively.

Harris County Republican Party Chairman

Although not directly related to the business of the CJC, the leadership of the Harris County Republican Party under incumbent Jared Woodfill has a huge effect on who runs and wins in Harris County.  In my opinion, Woodfill and his friend Gary Polland have been running it into the ground at an alarming pace.  Challenger Paul Simpson is running against Woodfill, as is Wendy McPherson Berry.  Paul ran a good campaign against Woodfill last time and I'm glad to see him running again.

If Republican voters want to make some positive changes in their party, starting at the top is a good place.  I hope you'll support Paul Simpson if you are voting in the Republican Primary.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Of Chemo and Diapers

So, tomorrow (Monday, December 9th) is the filing deadline for the 2014 elections, and I imagine that things are about to get hopping around the blog again with the different candidates.  Before we get into the grind of that, I thought I would do a quick update on why things have been so quiet here for the past couple of months.

Although I've posted very brief posts here and there on a couple of occasions, I've been pretty neglectful over here.  I've had several outstanding reasons, I promise!

As I posted here back in September, I had a brief and successful battle with leukemia over the summer.  I was officially declared to be in remission when I wrote that post.  However, as part of the complete treatment, I had to do eight follow up weeks of treatment with a drug called Rituxan to help ensure that the leukemia didn't come back.

The follow up treatment was no big deal, whatsoever.  I had about a three hour IV drip that I did on eight consecutive Mondays.  Since Rituxan sometimes causes an allergic reaction, the nurse would administer an IV drip of Benadryl prior to the Rituxan, and the Benadryl would usually put me right to sleep.

I've often thought that my life seems to play out like a long-running TV series.  I get done with one season of drama and roll straight on into the next one.  This was going to prove to be no exception:  My last scheduled treatment was on Monday, October 28th, which was a good thing since my wife was due to give birth on Wednesday, October 30th.

The week preceding the 28th only added to the drama.  I tried a week-long murder case in the 185th and the jury had found my client guilty that Friday (October 25th).  When we broke for the weekend, my client was testifying on his own behalf under my direct examination.  Judge Susan Brown had told the jury to come back the following Tuesday, so that I could make my Monday afternoon chemotherapy appointment.

My oldest son's birthday was that weekend and we had scheduled a costume party in the backyard at his mom's house.  The party was on Sunday and Luke's grandfather spent a large amount of time setting up tables and decorations outside in the yard all day Saturday.  Everything was set up for an easy start to the party the following day.

Of course, on Sunday morning at 6 a.m., I woke up to the sound of a torrential rain storm that seemed just slightly less ferocious than Hurricane Ike.  In all of our planning for the birthday party, none of us had bothered to check the weather.  That was a really really big oversight.

Miraculously, the rain started to taper off around 10 a.m., and Luke and I went to his mom's house to begin the world's fastest clean-up operation.  By that, I mean he watched television and ignored requests to clean his room while Sylvia and I frantically dried off every item in her backyard and moved it to the dry land of her driveway.

Amazingly, we pulled it together in time for the party and we had a successful celebration.  By Sunday night, I went to sleep exhausted, but proud of the effort.

On Monday morning, I had to be up before the crack of dawn to travel to Brazos County for a quick case setting.  The prosecutor and Judge Travis Bryan were more than accommodating as they let me reset my case quickly and get back on the road to Houston in time for my afternoon chemo.

My wife had a routine check up with her OB/GYN in anticipation of being induced into labor two days later on Wednesday.  Her appointment coincided with my chemo treatment, so I couldn't accompany her.  I went to the Oncology Consultants and started the Benadryl drip.

And that's when things got interesting.

Shortly before zonking out, my wife sent me a text saying that they wanted to move up the induction date to Tuesday and she was not happy about it.  I didn't blame her -- we still had a lot of stuff to do to get ready for a new baby.  I didn't have much time to respond before I fell asleep.

When I woke up two hours later, there were a lot of text messages piled up in my inbox.  That was a bad sign.  As it turned out, her blood pressure was high and the doctors were keeping her for observation.  She was optimistic that she might get released.  I wasn't.  There was no way the doctor was going to send her home when her due date was so close.

By the time I finished the chemo drip, I had marching orders to go straight home, pack our bags and come back to the hospital immediately.

In the space of two hours, I was able to drive home in Houston traffic, pack our bags, text Judge Brown and the prosecutors (telling them that I might not be able to make it to trial in the morning), pick up dinner and get back to the hospital.  Once we ate dinner, they began giving my wife the induction drugs.

We were both up pretty much all night and active labor started around 4 o'clock the next morning.

Right around 8:30 a.m., my wife delivered a healthy 9 pound, 4 ounce boy.  We named him after her late father.

About an hour later, I got a call from the 185th District Court wanting to know when I was going to be there for trial.  In all the excitement, I hadn't confirmed that I wouldn't be coming in.  Oops.

Luckily, everyone understood.

So after a few bumps in the road, it looks like everyone in my family is healthy and happy.  Luke loves his new brother, Smith, and Smith seems relatively content in life.  He's growing exponentially and seems to love sleeping -- as long as it isn't at night.

I don't know if it was the leukemia or just the fact that I'm 8 years and 3 days older than I was when Luke was born, but this parenting stuff is EXHAUSTING!  My energy level was much higher during chemo than it is with our little bundle of insomniac joy.

All in all, however, life is fantastic.  I'm tired but still grateful and happy for all the blessings in my life.

I know this post doesn't have anything to do with the CJC, really, but now you know where I've been lately.

I'm sure the new election season will have me writing much more frequently.

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 ...