Showing posts from October, 2018

Other Related Races on the 2018 Ballot

In addition to the District and County Court races in Harris County, there are some other races, both Countywide and Statewide, that have ties to Harris County.  I'm not going to spend as much time writing about these races, but I did want to bring them to your attention. Harris County District Clerk  -- Republican Chris Daniel (I) vs. Democrat Marilyn Burgess  As readers of this blog know, I was a big fan of Chris Daniel's predecessor at District Clerk and I was slow to warm up to Daniel initially.  It didn't take long to figure out that Daniel was an enthusiastic and effective District Clerk.  Over his tenure, he has successfully switched Harris County to the eSubpoena and eFiling systems, which he has done with only relatively minor difficulty.  He's also kept things up and running through Hurricane Harvey and beyond. His opponent, Marilyn Burgess is a CPA who isn't a lawyer or involved in the Harris County Criminal Justice World.  The Chronicle states she i

The 2018 County Court at Law Races

For those unfamiliar with the Criminal Justice System, the County Courts handle Misdemeanor cases such as Driving While Intoxicated, smaller thefts, Assaults that don't involve weapons or serious bodily injuries, and Possession of Marijuana (if the D.A. filed those kinds of cases).  As most of you already know, there are sixteen Criminal County Courts at Law in Harris County and fifteen of those are on the ballot in November.  The one exception is County Court at Law # 16, which is a relatively new Court, which comes up for election during the Presidential election cycle.  County Court at Law # 16 also has the distinction of being the only one of the County Courts currently held by a Democrat (Judge Darrell Jordan).  All fifteen of the Courts on the ballot in November are held by Republicans. Most of the judges who sit on County Court benches have been there for many years -- several of them since before I came to Harris County.  Almost all of the judges are former prosecutors fr

The 2018 Criminal District Court Races

Of the 22 Criminal District Courts in Harris County, approximately half of them are on the ballot during the Gubernatorial Election cycle.  The other half runs with the Presidential cycle which has been anything but certain since the Democratic near-sweep in 2008.  As most of you know, all but one incumbent Republican judge lost the Bench in 2008.  However, in 2012, many Republicans won back benches. In 2016, Harris County had a massive Democratic sweep, and Dem straight ticket voting outpaced Republican voters by 71,000 votes (8 percentage points).  All of the Republican judges lost their benches by margins ranging from roughly 24,000 votes to 100,000. Gubernatorial years have usually favored the Republicans in Harris County, Texas.  In 2014, all of the Republican candidates for Judge won their benches.  The straight-ticket voting difference favored the Republicans by 44,000 votes.  In 2010, the Republicans won straight-ticket by 50,000.  In recent history, a Republican holding a

An Eye Towards November

We are now officially one month away from Election Day, and people have been asking me when I'm planning on making my endorsements in the Criminal Justice Races for 2018. Quite frankly, I've been dreading it.  The reason that I've been dreading is that in almost every race this year, I have two friends (in some cases, close friends) running against each other.  Making recommendations under these circumstances is kind of like when my 4-year-old asked me at my birthday dinner whether I liked him or his brother better.  Not to mention that who I endorse in these elections has absolutely no effect on the outcome.  What happens on November 6th will be dictated by National politics and the Beto O'Rourke/Ted Cruz election -- not me. So, basically, I've viewed writing my endorsements as a fantastic opportunity to alienate literally half of my friends who are running, while effecting absolutely no change.  But, I do want people who do bother to read this blog to kn

More Musickal Micromanagement

For as long as anyone can remember, there has been a written policy in the Harris County District Attorney's Office regarding the handling of criminal cases involving fatalities.  Cases such as Murder, Manslaughter, Criminally Negligent Homicide, Intoxication Manslaughter, etc. all fell under the umbrella of what we called "Dead Body Cases" back in the days when I was there. Although a prosecutor with the rank of Felony Two or higher was allowed to take a fatality case to trial, some decisions could only be decided by more senior prosecutors.  For instance, when a murder case was first filed, charges could only be accepted by the acting Chief who was working Intake at the time.  Although the Chief could file a murder charge, only a Division Chief could make the recommendation for what term of years could be made as part of a plea bargain offer. Capital Murders, obviously, had a higher level of scrutiny because there were more decisions to be made.  Decisions like &quo

Client Communications

Like most attorneys, I'm heavily reliant on my cell phone for pretty much everything I do in the course of my job.  From my calendar to my contact list to my case management software, I have everything I need on my cell phone. I've also found that text messaging with my clients is the fastest and most efficient way to deal with quick questions that don't require full-length conversations.   If my client is out on bond, I make sure that they have my cell phone number and I tell them that the fastest way to get an answer from me about something is to just shoot me a text message. Obviously, there can be some pitfalls with letting clients have your cell number.  Clients and their family members sometimes don't respect the fact that you might not appreciate a phone call at 5:30 a.m., for instance.  Sometimes clients give your number to "prospective clients" who don't have any intention of hiring you, but would love some free legal advice since they have yo