Showing posts from September, 2017

Fun with Securus

In the wake of Hurricane Harvey, I sat down and wrote letters to every client that I was representing who was incarcerated in the Harris County Jail.  In my letter, I gave them a brief summary of the current situation with the courthouses, told them of their current court date setting, and I told them that those dates were highly likely to change in the days to come.  I told my clients that due to limited space, there was going to be little opportunity to talk to them during court settings.  It would be far more practical to discuss their cases outside of court, and if it did not appear that anything would be accomplished during an upcoming court setting, we should reset it.  There was no need for them to be inconvenienced by being brought to court, just to sign a reset and leave. In the letter, I also reminded them of my policy of accepting collecting phone calls from my clients.  I gave them my phone number as a reminder and asked them all to call me prior to their next scheduled c

Jury Assembly Room, We Hardly Knew Ye

I was kind of surprised to read that the powers that be in Harris County have already decided that the (relatively new) Harris County Jury Assembly Room cannot be salvaged . Don't get me wrong, I had no doubt that the building got severely damaged in the flooding from Hurricane Harvey.  The geniuses that decided to put a major facility underground in an area that flooded during Tropical Storm Allison basically drew up the plans for the State's largest in-ground jacuzzi.  I'm not surprised at all to learn that the building is a total loss.  I'm just surprised that Harris County is acknowledging the building's lack of salvageability so quickly -- throwing away a 6-year-old structure that cost $13 million is a bitter pill to swallow.  My hope is that while the County is in such an "admitting-we-screwed-up" mood, they might turn their attention to the embattled Harris County Criminal Justice Center.   Under optimal conditions, the building is te

Larry Boucher

I was very saddened to learn earlier this week of the passing of retired Harris County District Attorney's Office Investigator Larry Boucher . Although I never worked with Larry, I got to be friends with him when I was a pretty junior prosecutor with the Office.  He was an investigator in Special Crimes and he couldn't have been any nicer or more inclusive.  He loved the Office and he loved the people that he worked with.  He was the embodiment of the feeling of family and camaraderie that made working at that place so special. After we both left the Office, he had a series of horrible health setbacks that he was way too young to be dealing with.  For a person as full of life as Boucher, it was heartbreaking to hear that he wasn't running full speed.  He had heart problems and won a hard-fought battle against them.  Sadly, it seemed that as soon as he finished that fight, he was diagnosed with an aggressive form of leukemia. Larry's funeral will be on Wed

Speaking of Parties . . . -- UPDATED WITH NEW DATE

There will be a party for everyone in the CJC community on Thursday, September 28th   (NOW Friday, October 6th)  from 5-8 p.m. at the Hotel Icon . The idea was organized by Judge Mike Fields from County Court at Law #14 and is being sponsored by Chip Lewis  and Paul Doyle .  Judge Fields said that he thought it would be a good opportunity for those of us to unwind after all of the confusing, hectic and frustrating events of the past couple of weeks. Hope to see everyone there!

The D.A. Alumni Reunion Party -- UPDATED

Former Harris County Assistant District Attorney (as well as former U.S. Attorney for the Western District) Johnny Sutton is hosting an HCDA Alumni Party on Sunday, October 1st.  Former prosecutors, investigators, and support staff are all invited.  UPDATE:  I have confirmed that current prosecutors and staff are also welcome. The party begins at 3:00 p.m. at the Armadillo Palace (5105 Kirby Drive, Houston, TX 77098) and there is a $25 cover charge to help offset costs.  The cover charge included two drinks and food. Please RSVP in ASAP to .

A Quick Compliment

Last Friday, I was walking out of the stairwell at the Civil Courthouse, just in time to see my friend and fellow defense attorney, Bryan Savoy, attempting to assist a young woman, who was clearly beginning to have a grand mal seizure.  As the seizure began, someone ran down the hall and grabbed the first person in uniform that they could find.  That person ended up being Sgt. K. Rodriguez of the Harris County Constable Office-Precinct Four. Sgt. Rodriguez rushed to the young woman's aid, and took charge as we lowered her off of the bench where she had been sitting onto the floor.   Sgt. Rodriguez positioned her body over the young woman until the seizure stopped and then stayed over her, as the poor lady was sobbing and clearly distraught.  Sgt. Rodriguez was extremely calm and soothing as she told the young lady about her own family members with seizures and how it was nothing to embarrassed about.  She held the young woman and patted her reassuringly and told her that the p

The 2018 Election Field (So Far) [Updated-9/27/17]

[Note:  This list is very lengthy and subject to modification.  My intent is to write in more detail about individual races between now and the primary elections next year.  I welcome and encourage comments on the candidates with the knowledge that some comments will be kind while others won't be.  Criticisms are fair.  Below the belt insults aren't and they won't be published.] With this week's announcement from the Governor's Office that Judge Kristin Guiney had been appointed to the long vacant 232nd District Court Bench, a much clearer picture of the 2018 courthouse races came into view.  I've been wanting to write about the upcoming election for a couple of months now, but the landscape has been shifting (especially on the Democratic side of the ballot). The 2018 election is going to be interesting, because there is a very significant number of judges who have elected to retire rather than seek re-election.  Of the thirteen Criminal District Cour

The Judicial Show Down

As I noted in my blog post earlier this week, things have been pretty chaotic in the Harris County Criminal Justice world.  People don't know where to go or what time (or day, for that matter) to go there.  The attorneys are excited about the appointment of Kristin Guiney to the 232nd District Court, so there has been much talk about that. Judge Nikita Harmon                   Judge Jim Wallace But the vast majority of the talk around the Criminal Civil Courthouse this week has centered around a confrontation between two judges that occurred on Monday morning.  The dust-up occurred between Republican Judge Jim Wallace of the 263rd District Court and Democratic Judge Nikita Harmon of the 176th District Court around mid-morning.  As with most courthouse gossip, the original details are a little spotty.   According to witnesses, Judge Harmon had arrived to the courtroom first and had taken the bench.  Later in the morning, there was a lull in the activity in the courtroom

Kristin Guiney Appointed to 232nd Bench

In the midst of all the chaos at the courthouse(s) this week, there was a fantastic piece of news coming from Austin.  Governor Greg Abbott finally made the long-anticipated appointment to the bench of the 232nd District Court of Harris County. Today, Kristin Guiney was formally announced as the Judge who would be filling the bench vacated by Judge Mary Lou Keel , who was elected to the Court of Criminal Appeals in November.  As most of you know, Guiney is a former prosecutor and currently practices criminal defense.  She previously served as judge of the 179th District Court, where she was highly respected by both sides of the bench. Governor Abbott's couldn't have made a better choice!  Everyone from the CJC Community is looking very forward to seeing Judge Guiney back on the bench. Congratulations Guiney!


I have to admit that when the judges said in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey that they would have the courts up and running by September 11th, I was skeptical.  With the CJC wiped out (yet again) by Mother Nature, confusion reigned.  Prosecutors had no idea where their offices were going to be, nor did the Public Defenders.  Additionally, thirty-eight different courts, a Grand Jury meeting place, Pre-Trial services, and a portion of the District Clerk's Office needed to be relocated as well.  My skepticism at getting everything up and going in under two weeks wasn't an insult towards the Powers That Be -- it was just an honest assessment of the task ahead of them. Lo and behold, I was wrong and the Courts did actually start back up again by September 11th.  Sort of. Although dockets are running, things are far from normal.  Instead of all the courts being held in one central location, dockets are spread across five different buildings.  The sixteen County (mi

Justice Displaced

As most of the regulars strongly suspected, we are getting word that the Harris County Criminal Justice Building may be shut down for up to a year due to damage sustained from Hurricane Harvey.  As I wrote in my last post, this was almost exactly what happened in the aftermath of Tropical Storm Allison in 2001. As this is being written, prosecutors are packing up their personal effects from their offices, as we did during Allison.  This will likely be followed with trustees from the Harris County Jail and D.A. personnel boxing up and moving the files, computers, and other government property from the Office.  The same will have to be done for the PD's Office, the Courts and the Clerk's offices.  In 2001, I found myself loading and unloading boxes out of big panel vans, side by side with inmates.  In all actuality, it was kind of fun. But things are much different than sixteen years ago. In May of 2001, the D.A.'s Office moved back to 201 Fannin (where we had all m