Unlike Denholm, Andrew Smith was a longtime prosecutor from within the Office who actually earned his position as Section Chief through years of hard work, intelligence, and honesty. Unlike Denholm, he wasn't fired for anything improper or racist. Unlike Denholm, Kim Ogg didn't spend eight days deliberating over whether or not she was going to fire Andrew. She decided to fire him on Thursday evening. The only reason he wasn't fired on Friday was that he had taken a sick day. When he returned to work on Monday morning, he was promptly given the opportunity to resign or be fired.
On principle, he chose the latter option. As a result, the highly respected Section Chief Writs Prosecutor was ushered out of the Harris County District Attorney's Office under escort.
The grounds for his immediate termination? He had contradicted Kim Ogg on the record in a Writ Hearing.
The lengthy details are in this article written by the Houston Chronicle's Keri Blakinger, published this evening. If you are not able to access the story, here is the most condensed version I can muster:
Shortly after taking Office, Ogg had a conversation with Andrew regarding former HCDA prosecutor Gretchen Flader. Flader had been one of 38 prosecutors that Ogg had fired/not renewed their employment contracts when she took Office in January of 2017. In this conversation, Ogg mentioned that she had felt compelled to not renew Flader's contract of employment due to Flader's romantic relationship with another prosecutor, Nick Socias (whom Flader subsequently married). Ogg was terminating Socias' contact because of the notorious "Jenny Scandal" that was an issue during the 2016 D.A. Race.
NOTE: Again, for the record, I would like to point out that Nick got a really bad rap on that, but I'm not going to argue that point here.
There were at least three people Ogg terminated on "Bloody Friday" that lost their jobs because of whom they were married to or in a relationship with. When Ogg told Andrew that Flader was terminated because of her relationship with Socias, that seemed to make sense.
After Flader's termination, she filed for unemployment. Inexplicably, Ogg decided to fight Flader on the issue and the Office hired attorney Katherine Mize (who coincidentally was a large donor to Ogg's campaign) to litigate the issue. Mize argued, on behalf of the Office, that Flader had been non-renewed for prosecutorial misconduct -- a direct contradiction of what Ogg had said to Andrew.
NOTE: The amount Flader sought in unemployment was roughly $1500. I'm not sure how much Mize was paid to fight the case.
Fast forward to last year. Andrew finds himself in the middle of a Writ hearing against prominent Writ Attorney Randy Schaffer in the State of Texas vs. Feanyichi Uvukansi, a case that Flader had prosecuted at trial. During the hearing, Schaffer asserted on the record that Flader had been fired for prosecutorial misconduct. Andrew, recalling his earlier conversation with Ogg, responded on the record by saying:
"Ms. Ogg told me the reason she let go of Ms. Flader is because she was sleeping with the man who was dealing with the Jenny case."It seemed like a rather innocuous comment at the time it was uttered. He simply recalled an earlier conversation with Ogg where she said something contrary to what Schaffer was claiming on the record. In the big scheme of the Writ Hearing, the grounds for Flader's termination were tangential at best.
But if you're Kim Ogg and you've hired
On Thursday, she called Andrew into her Office and told him that he must have "misremembered" and that he needed to fix the error. Andrew told her that he recalled the conversation distinctly, noting it was the first time he had a one-on-one meeting with Ogg. He noted that he still had the meeting on his calendar, so he could even specify the date, as well. Nevertheless, she insisted he "correct the record" and he refused.
As noted above, Andrew was encouraged to resign on Monday. When he refused, he was fired.
Take a moment to fully appreciate the courage of Andrew's actions.
He loved his job at the D.A.'s Office. He loved it a lot. He had extremely close friends there and he was good at what he did. All he had to do to keep his job was to say that he made a mistake on the record.
Except, Andrew knew he didn't make a mistake so he refused. It would have been so easy to have just said "maybe I was wrong" and get to keep his job.
But he knew he wasn't.
He wasn't going to be bullied into lying, no matter how much the angry elected District Attorney was screaming at him. Not a lot of people would have had the intestinal fortitude to stand and deliver like Andrew did.
So, in front of his colleagues, he was marched out of the Office.
Yesterday Kim Ogg took it upon herself to file a "Correction of Record" in the State of Texas vs. Feanyichi Uvukansi, which said Andrew had made a "false statement." The "correction of record" makes no mention of why exactly Andrew would have been motivated to make such a statement.
That's probably because Andrew didn't make a false statement. And if that's the case, it would seem to me that Kim's sworn statement to correct the record might be construed by some as aggravated perjury.
In an amusing side note, Ogg claims in the "Correction of Record" that she only learned of Andrew's statement last week. Ironically, Randy Schaffer attacked Ogg's credibility for entirely different reasons. He pointed out that he had emailed Ogg about Andrew's statements in August. Confronted with this easily provable point, Ogg noted that she would be filing a Motion to Correct the Correction of Record.
For the unofficial record, I don't know of anyone in the CJC that would put Ogg's credibility ahead of Andrew's.
On a personal note, I would like to specifically tell Andrew how much I admire the stand he made against our elected District Attorney. He lost a lot in the process.
The world could use more people like Andrew Smith.