Showing posts from 2015

An Interview With Scott Greenfield

My friend (as well as the Great Grandfather of Criminal Blogging) Scott Greenfield interviewed me for the Fault Lines blog that we work on together.  You can read it by clicking here .

Note to Candidates

In the past I have linked campaign websites to each name of the candidates.  I didn't do that this year when I wrote the post on the election but only because it is a time consuming process. I am more than happy to link up the websites if you send me the links.  I have already been contacted by one candidate to do that, and I was glad to accommodate him. Just let me know.

Linda Garcia Appointed to County Court at Law # 16

The Harris County Commissioners appointed Assistant District Attorney Linda Garcia to be the Judge of the newly created County Court at Law # 16. Linda is a great choice.  She worked for a long time as an Assistant District Attorney before being appointed to the Parole Board.  After her term wrapped up there, she returned to the D.A.'s Office, where she has been ever since.  She has great experience and compassion and will do an awesome job. Congratulations Judge Garcia!

The 2016 Election Field

Polling for the 2016 Election closed yesterday at 6 p.m. and we now know the election field for the March 1st primary.  There were a couple of surprises and last minute filings.  Although I'm no Charles Kuffner , I'm thinking that 2016 is probably going to be a very good year for the Republican candidates locally.  I don't think either Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders will bring people to the polls in Harris County like Barack Obama.  We shall see. The Democratic Party is going to be hurting in this department as well, because two out of the three incumbent Dems in CJC positions are not running for re-election. As for the primaries, here you go . . . Harris County District Attorney Republicans --  Unsurprisingly, District Attorney Devon Anderson drew no challengers in the Republican primary, which is hopefully a good indicator that some stability has returned to the Party.  Although I haven't always agreed with some of the personnel and policy decisions t

Jim Leitner Returns! [Updated]

I received word today that former Harris County District Attorney's Office 1st Assistant Jim Leitner had signed up to run for Harris County Attorney. We haven't heard much from Big Jim since his testimony in the David Temple hearing, where he repeatedly claimed that I wrote untrue things about him, and then subsequently admitting that all the things I had written about him were, um, completely accurate .  When we last checked in with him, his employment had been terminated by Harris County Sheriff Ron Hickman and he was working as a contract attorney in the 208th District Court. Jim's return to politics is interesting for a couple of reasons.  First and foremost, he never seems to win anything.  He's made a couple of tries to be District Attorney that haven't panned out too well for him.  More interestingly, however, is the fact that he seems to be having a bit of an identity crisis on what political party he belongs to.  Jim has been very public in his sup

6th Annual Feast of Fashion

On November 20th from 11:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., the 6th Annual Feast of Fashion will be held at the JW Marriott Hotel at 806 Main Street, Houston, TX 77002. This annual event, organized by Julie Jones, raises money for the Jeanette Williams Foundation   which raises money to send children with cancer and other serious illnesses to camp.  It is a great cause and involves a tremendous effort by a lot of people -- especially Julie. Tickets are $55.00 each (or $550.00 for a table for ten) and can be purchased online at

Morris Overstreet Joins the Race for Harris County District Attorney

In a somewhat unanticipated move, former Court of Criminal Appeals Judge Morris Overstreet has announced his candidacy for Harris County District Attorney on the Democratic ticket. He will be running against defense attorney Kim Ogg in the primary. I only know Judge Overstreet in passing, but he's always been very nice to me.  To be honest, I was unaware of all of his credentials.  I didn't realize he was a former-prosecutor and I certainly didn't know he was formerly on the Court of Criminal Appeals.  He has an extremely impressive resume and a very interesting background . I was anticipating the primary season to be kind of quiet in 2016.  Looks like I was wrong.  Kim Ogg should be very concerned.

Has Batson gone as far as it can go?

I've written a post over at Fault Lines  on the Timothy Tyrone Foster case that the Supreme Court case heard yesterday.  If you haven't been following it, prosecutors on a 1986 case were pretty blatant in writing down and singling out the African-American members of a jury panel and then striking them with peremptory challenges. Although the case is egregious, what more can the Supreme Court do to enforce Batson ?  I wrote more about it here .  I hope you will check it out.

Of Offers, Acceptance and Personal Animosity

For the most part, I typically don't write about the day-to-day run-ins that I have with prosecutors.  Disagreements with the State are par for the course in an adversarial system and most of them don't merit a blog post.  As a general rule, I don't write about the particulars of my cases, and I don't write about the particulars of the fights I get in. However, sometimes there are exceptions to that rule.   A few weeks ago, I was handling the case of a friend of a friend of mine in a misdemeanor court.  He had been charged with an assault case and a criminal mischief stemming from the same incident.  At trial, he had been acquitted of the assault, but convicted of the criminal mischief and placed on probation.  By September, a Motion to Revoke had been filed on his probation and I went to court with him. The Motion to Revoke was based largely on delinquent fines and fees, but I knew that a failure to attend anger management allegation was probably not going

Kim Ogg to Run Again

I received an email today from the Kim Ogg for Harris County District Attorney campaign, stating that there would be a campaign announcement tomorrow (September 25th) at 10:00 a.m. across from the CJC. This is not surprising news, since she pretty much confirmed that she was going to run again immediately after she lost the election for the unexpired term in 2014. As I stated when she ran last time, Kim is a qualified candidate.  I was disappointed with some of her antics during her 2014 campaign, and I hope there will be more of a discussion of actual issues this time around. It is worth noting that Kim had a closer margin in her race than most other Harris County Democratic candidates did in 2014.  She is definitely someone that Harris County District Attorney Devon Anderson will need to take seriously on the campaign trail.  However, Devon will now be viewed as a solid incumbent with several years under her belt by November of next year. As usual, my amateur political analys

New Fault Lines Post

Today's new post at Fault Lines deals with a story out of The Atlantic  which talks about the "Victimhood Culture" and how it applies across the board in the Criminal Justice Arena. You can read it here .

Finding 37 and the David Temple Rebuttal

Yesterday afternoon, the Harris County District Attorney's Office filed a response to Judge Larry Gist's Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law on the David Temple case.  The document, entitled Respondent's/State's Objections to the Habeas Court's Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law, is 80 pages long. The lengthy response painstakingly addresses each and every one of Gist's findings and rebuts his findings that prosecutor Kelly Siegler withheld exculpatory Brady information during Temple's 2007 trial.  Unlike Gist's findings from the Habeas hearing, the response actually cites the record (both from the original trial and the hearing) in dismantling the findings. Additionally, the response brings to light a disturbing irregularity that casts even more doubt on Gist's findings -- more on that in a moment. As those following the Temple case know, Judge Gist's findings listed 36 findings (remember that number, it will become important sho

An Interesting California Case

For those of y'all that think California is off its rocker when it comes to criminal law, you should read this post today at Fault Lines .

New Post at Fault Lines

I'm going to start doing better about posting a link over here to the Fault Lines blog whenever I post a new column over there. If you aren't reading the columns over there, you are missing some great insights from some of the best legal bloggers in the country.  Check it out. I did a new post this morning on some controversial opinions about addiction in an Op/Ed piece from Sunday's Washington Post .  You can read it by clicking here .

Clappart's Warrant: Judge for Yourself

While much has been said, about Steve Clappart's warrant for the arrest of Cody Ray Ellis as an alternate suspect in the murder of Belinda Temple, it appears that David Temple's defense team has been reluctant to publish the warrant itself.  Additionally, many of the local media outlets, specifically the Houston Chronicle  have decided not to delve into the details of it. Let's take it page by page -- So, to be clear, in this document, Steve Clappart is attempting to have Capital Murder charges filed against Cody Ray Ellis.  For those of you outside of the legal field, Capital Murder can be punished only by Life in Prison or the Death Penalty.  By signing off on this warrant, Clappart is verifying that he is completely comfortable with this. Clappart then goes on to explain how experienced he is as a police officer.  He also goes on and on about how experienced John Denholm was as a police officer.  This isn't necessarily abnormal, but it is pretty excessiv

The Denholm and Clappart Column

For those of you who have subscriptions to the Houston Chronicle , you may have seen that Lisa Falkenberg had a column yesterday morning praising defense attorney John Denholm and his friend, former Harris County District Attorney's Office investigator, Steve Clappart.  In a moment of very dramatic titling, the headline reads " Former officers saw through evidence, sought truth in Temple case ."   ( NOTE:  Unless you have access to the Chronicle' s premium content, I don't believe you can read the full article online.) I talked to Lisa on Friday about the article and gave her my thoughts about Clappart and Denholm.  Although Lisa is a friend of mine, this was one of those many moments where we agreed to disagree.  I've read her article a couple of times now, and I think she misses the mark on many, many points. To be clear (again), I am very biased on this topic.  John Denholm and I are not friends and we don't care much for each other (to put it mildl

Ed McClees' Going Away Party

My friend and (much skinnier) stunt double, Ed McClees, is leaving the Harris County District Attorney's Office this week to join the private sector.  His departure is a huge loss to the Office.  Ed is one of the most well-liked and highly respected prosecutors they have, as well as being an outstanding trial lawyer.  He's also one of the funniest guys I know, and he seems to have more than a passing knowledge of SEC football. The Office's loss is going to be the Defense Bar's gain. There will be a going away party for Ed on Thursday, July 30th at 5:01 p.m. at the OKRA Charity Saloon at 924 Congress Avenue.  All are invited.

The Houston Fire Department is Awesome

I was walking to my car from my office this morning when I came across two people standing over a person laying on the sidewalk.  We were at the intersection of Prairie and Fannin, which is a fairly crowded area, yet only two people seemed to have found a person sprawled out on the ground to be a reason to stop. The man on the ground appeared to be in his mid-twenties.  He was laying on his right side, and in the fetal position.  His eyes were open, but not moving nor blinking.  Other than the fact that his rib cage was moving ever so slightly, he appeared to be quite dead. When I walked up, one of the two people who had stopped was just getting off the phone. "Did you call 911?"  I asked. "Yes," he said.  "I was walking right behind him when he just went down." I tried shaking the guy by the shoulder.  He didn't react in the slightest.  He was wearing a medical bracelet of some sort.  I looked at it, but it didn't have a name on it.  I s

That Awkward Moment . . .

. . . when you are complimenting yourself on your own blog post and forget to change your on-screen identity . . .

The Flip Side of the David Temple Findings

While much has been said about the findings of fact in the David Temple hearing, there seems to be a couple of items that haven't been fully explained by mainstream media.  Contrary to some of the early headlines by the Houston Chronicle , the findings by Judge Gist don't automatically mean that David Temple is getting a new trial.  What Gist has basically written is his evaluation of the hearing and the earlier trial as a summary to the Court of Criminal Appeals.  The Court of Criminal Appeals does have the power to overturn the case, but they also have the power to disagree with Judge Gist's findings. It could be several months before the Court of Criminal Appeals reaches that decision. In the meantime, Temple's attorneys, Casie Gotro and Stanley Schneider, have approached District Attorney Devon Anderson and requested that she agree that Temple should be granted bond while awaiting the Court of Criminal Appeals' decision.  Although the law does provide that t

Kelly Siegler and the Temple Decision

Over the past several days, I have been contacted many times by many people -- on the blog and off the blog -- wanting to know when I was going to write something about Kelly Siegler and the David Temple decision.  I have steadfastly declined because I am entirely too biased to write anything. Although the Criminal Justice world is currently bashing Kelly, she remains one of the best friends I've ever had in my life.  She is an altruistic friend whom I've known for eighteen years.  She's been around for some of the worst times and best times of my life.  She is truly like the big sister that I never had. If there is anyone who thinks that I would ever turn my back on a friend who has meant that much to me and my family, they clearly should reevaluate what the meaning of friendship is. For those of us who know and love Kelly, regardless of what anyone else is saying, it is painful to listen to the things being said about her. I'm sure that the mere fact that I da

A New Blogging Opportunity

I was recently invited by my friend, New York attorney and blogger, Scott Greenfield , to become a contributing blogger to a new project he has begun called Fault Lines .  The project incorporates several different attorneys from around the country who write about trending topics and news stories in the Criminal Justice arena.  He invited me because I'm semi-literate and can hopefully draw on my experiences from my prosecutor days for a different type of perspective. Followers of this blog know that I don't normally comment on national news stories here, sticking to what I know best: Harris County Criminal Justice. However, the opportunity to work with Scott on a project is too good to pass up.  He is the preeminent criminal law blogger and I'm honored to be invited. And I'm not just saying that because he bought me a beer once at Char Bar. So, here's my first shot at it .  I hope you'll contribute to the discussion over there.

Hard Core, Right Wing Idiocy

As most of you know by now, former Burleson County District Attorney Charles Sebesta was disbarred last week for hiding exculpatory evidence in his Capital Murder prosecution of Anthony Graves .  For those unfamiliar with this sad story, Anthony Graves spent 18 years on Death Row after being prosecuted by Sebesta.  The 5th Circuit overturned his conviction because Sebesta withheld exculpatory evidence and Kelly Siegler was ultimately appointed as the Special Prosecutor to retry Graves.  After reviewing the evidence, Kelly publicly stated that Graves was an innocent man and dismissed the case against him. The story of Anthony's case is well documented.  It was covered by CBS's 48 Hours and was the subject of several articles (see here and here ) by Texas Monthly 's Pamela Colloff .  Sebesta responded to his earned public bashing by creating his own website , where he simultaneously defended himself while blasting Kelly Siegler and insisting upon Anthony Graves' guilt