Tuesday, November 5, 2019

The Implosion of Kim Ogg

Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg is having a rough year.

It started back in February when she incurred the wrath of the Texas Criminal Justice Commission by having the audacity to ask for funding for more prosecutors at the Office.  As it turns out, Ogg's progressive supporters don't want money spent on more prosecutors, because they believe it only leads to more prosecuting.  They preferred that any extra money received by the D.A.'s Office be spent on rehabilitative programs instead.  Ogg defended her request by pointing out that overworked prosecutors were no gift to Justice either, and she repeated her request several more times throughout the year.

As it turns out, she was using some seriously fuzzy math when making her non-progressive plea for prosecutors.  In June, Houston Chronicle reporter Keri Blakinger called out Ogg for using misleading stats to inflate the number of cases each individual prosecutor supposedly carried.  So, not only did Ogg violate the progressive spirit in asking for more prosecutors, she kinda sorta lied to the Commissioners' Court in doing so.  Oops.

Even though things were rough with her Progressive base, Ogg could at least rely on some stability in her upper Administration, right?  Not quite.  In April, Blakinger wrote an article noting that 140 prosecutors had left the Office since Ogg took over the reins.  Ogg and her supporters dismissed this as "normal" and blamed the departures on Hurricane Harvey and prosecutors not willing to embrace her awesome progressiveness.  The following month, Ogg fired her own 1st Assistant, Tom Berg.

The firing of Berg was probably one of the most telling moments of the Ogg Administration.  As I noted in this post, Berg was (and now is again) a highly respected defense attorney and military veteran.  He was handpicked by Kim Ogg when she became District Attorney and he lent credibility to her tenure.  Although all of the details have never been clearly established, Ogg fired Berg because he disagreed with her.  In doing so, she clearly demonstrated that advice from a respected colleague did not stand a chance in the face of Ogg's ego.

By the end of the summer, Ogg had two of her former employees, Audia Jones and Lori DeAngelo, announcing that they would run against their former boss for D.A. in 2020.

With Ogg's support waning with her progressive base, Ogg seemed to shamelessly shift into a new "tough on crime" campaign.

On October 11th, Ogg posted a photograph on her Twitter account that showed her walking with Cassidy Stay, the surviving victim of a rampage that left Stay's entire family dead.

In this clearly staged photo, Ogg takes implied credit for the jury delivering the death penalty to Ronald Haskell for the murders. In addition to this sending a decidedly unprogressive message about Ogg's willingness to seek death on some cases, it was also insanely disingenuous.  Ogg had absolutely nothing to do with Haskell's trial.  Her post neglected to mention that prosecutors Samantha Knecht, Lauren Bard, and Kaylynn Williford actually tried the case.  

Personally, I find this egregious on so many levels.  First of all, rolling out the victim of a horrific crime for your own personal photo shoot is mortifying.  I mean, beyond words mortifying.  The fact that Ogg did it on a case she didn't have anything to do with is a level of shamelessness that I don't know that I've ever encountered before.  The true prosecutors didn't publish any photos with Cassidy.  They just did their jobs.  

Ogg wouldn't understand that.  She's not a prosecutor.  She's a politician.

Moving on . . .

In October, Ogg napalmed the last bridge between her and her progressive base with an abrupt about-face on her feelings towards the notorious "Bail Bond Settlement."  Asserting herself into a lawsuit settlement (to which she was not a party), Ogg invited "about 100 police chiefs" to come to court with her and oppose the settlement.  My, how far we have traveled since the days when we were cutting off HPD's access to criminal databases!  

I just have this visual image of how this news was received at Progressive Prosecution headquarters:  Kim is doing what?!?!  And she invited who?!?!

If Ogg was hoping that the month of November would be better for her, she was sadly mistaken.  Late last week, Bureau Chief Carvana Cloud announced her resignation from the District Attorney's Office, effective immediately.   The ramifications of this development cannot be overstated.

To begin with, Cloud is immensely popular with both prosecutors and the defense bar.  She is highly regarded as smart, honest, and kind.  She was initially hired as a prosecutor during the Rosenthal Administration and rose quickly through the ranks.  She supported 2008 Democratic candidate Clarence Bradford for D.A. and was retaliated against when Pat Lykos prevailed in the election.  She left the Office in July of 2009.

Cloud was recruited to return to the Office by Kim Ogg in 2016 as the head of the Family Criminal Law Division -- a move that I was very excited to learn about.  Earlier this year, she was promoted to Bureau Chief by Ogg.  Given her history with Ogg, her abrupt departure last week speaks volumes.  Although she has yet to confirm anything officially, it is all but certain that she plans to challenge Ogg in the Democratic primary in March.

Ogg should be afraid.  Very afraid.  Cloud is charismatic, experienced, and respected.  Unlike Ogg, she is not at all controversial.  She's a stellar candidate.

And, as if all of that weren't enough to make Kim Ogg want to just hibernate until 2020, we have this late-breaking news.  Today, the Houston Police Officer's Union issued a statement blasting the Harris County District Attorney's Office for refusing attempted sexual assault charges at intake.  It reads, in part:
Our officer contacted Assistant District Attorney John Denholm and relayed the details of the attempted sexual assault, a 3rd degree felony.  Denholm asked the officer whether the complainant was "illegal."  The officer advised that he did not ask and did not think it was relevant.  Denholm then advised the officer that the officer should know if the complainant is illegal or not and futher inquired whether the complainant had a driver's license.  The officer advised Denholm that the complainant had a "Mexican Consulate ID card."  Denholm then stated that he would not touch that case since the complainant is "illegal" and declined any charges.
Now, anyone who reads this blog knows of my opinion that John Denholm has been an unethical idiot and suck up.  He once filed a grievance with the State Bar because I did a negative blog post about the ludicrous warrant that he and (now Chief Investigator) Steve Clappart drafted in their defense of David Temple.  That being said, I knew that Denholm was stupid when he tried to draft a Capital Murder warrant against an innocent kid, but I never knew he would be so dumb as to do something like deny charges on someone because they were potentially in the country illegally.

Some might call Denholm's response somewhat . . . insanely racist?

Inexplicably, rather than firing Denholm, the Ogg Administration just chose to "reassign" him.  They moved him from the Intake Division to the Gangs Unit which I believe still falls under the umbrella of Special Crimes.  Maybe things have changed drastically since I left the Office in 2008, but when I was there, Intake was a punishment (or starter) position and Special Crimes was a reward position for talented and senior prosecutors.

So, the Ogg Administration more or less just rewarded a numbskull prosecutor who was rejecting charges at Intake based on the status of the victim?   In what world does that make any sense?

Kim Ogg's repeated implosions make the scandals that rocked the Lykos Administration seem tame by comparison. It will be interesting to see if Ogg makes any attempt to start making things right, or if she will just continue to double down on disaster.  If things continue the way they have been going, Ogg seems destined to suffer the same fate that Lykos did in her own primary back in 2012.

44 comments:

Anonymous said...

I'm curious. When she lied to Commissioner's Court, wouldn't she have followed that up with written documents? You know, Government Records - that may have been - falsified?

Nathan Hennigan said...

It takes a supremely incompetent person to be roundly rejected by left wing criminal justice reformers, average people who want a functional criminal justice system, and also right wing cop unions. Congrats Kim on you unprecedented ability to foster unity across the aisle.

Anonymous said...

Denholm would fail to obtain an indictment against a ham sandwich.

Anonymous said...

The things that pct 6 constable trevino gets away with under Kim Oggs watch. Now they have their son running for a J.P. position in the same pct where is mom is constable. Convicted felon Victor Trevino who is on 10 years felony probation out of the 185th district court allows him to help with running both campaigns. He is allowed to attend fundraisers and tell people he is running for office. Talk to the Kim , she will tell you its girl power in pct 6 and the felon use to be the constable.

Anonymous said...

I’m dying!!!! Hahahahaaa

Anonymous said...

Kim (H)ogg is absolutely worthless. Continuously cutting sweetheart deals with the turds of Harris County. It has become a sanctuary county for criminals. She needs to be voted out just like all the liberal judges that like to give $1 and $100 bonds. Make Harris County great again!

Anonymous said...

Denholm? Talk about a megalomaniac... just another fat bully in a longer line of incompotent bully's...

Anonymous said...

Denholm? Talk about a megalomaniac... just another fat bully in a longer line of incompotent bully's...

Anonymous said...

I find myself baffled that some are arguing that we are not overworked as prosecutors in Harris County. The first thing prosecutors from other jurisdictions who move to Harris County will tell you when you ask them how our County is different is that the massive caseload has shocked them. The average caseload of a misdemeanor court is rising and some are getting close to 2000 cases per court, and there are felony courts with over 1600 cases and also rising. Yes, bond forfeitures are a thing, but the point remains.

I can only imagine that people suggesting that we are not overworked are either very ignorant of the current state of things in the office or are being driven to lie by political motivations. It is so clear from working at HCDAO that we are ludicrously overworked that I can't help but wonder at both the credibility and the motivations of people who try to say otherwise.

Anonymous said...

When I first heard of the Denholm transfer I had the same reaction. That's a promotion. I sense an underlying factor preventing Ogg from dumping Denholm.

Anonymous said...

As a former HCDAO prosecutor who recently left and went to another DA office I can say that Harris County prosecutors are overworked. I fact in my new office I find myself feeling like I’m not doing enough work. And when I look up and see all of my co-workers leaving the office at 4:30 everyday it makes me a little nervous. Like how are they getting all their work done? Then I remember they don’t have the case load Harris County does.

Anonymous said...

Your typical pithy and factual take on the ever-lurching Harris County District Attorney’s Office leaves me, a veteran of that once-great office, wanting to either throw my head back and laugh at this opera buffo or cry for all the damage it has wrought in both case work and careers.

Will someone - anyone - please step forward and quickly lance this boil before it infects the entire body of Harris County Criminal Justice?

Anonymous said...

Ogg has her problems and she certainly has brought all this criticism on herself through some really ridiculous decision making. But the criminal justice system in Harris County is broken due to the Commissioner's court (Rodney Ellis) interference and the sitting Judges in both felony and misdemeanor courts. Yeah, criminal justice reform is needed...but in a responsible manner, not by the way it's being shoved down the citizen's throats these days. Those who break the law are the ones most benefitting from "criminal justice reform"...the biggest loser? The citizens who are being victimized, first by the law-breaker, then by the "system."

Anonymous said...

The criminal Justice system wasn't great under the prior judges. You had some very good ones and several that were past their prime if they indeed ever had one. Similar situation stands today with a different letter behind the name. True, Ellis is trying to put his stamp on things and he has Jordan (nice guy but sub par attorney and judge) running his errands in misdemeanor.

Are the prosecutors overworked? Yes. Does that mean they automatically need 102 more of them? No. Some of the problems are lack of discretion by prosecutors on their cases causing the cases to stay on the docket longer and not requiring law enforcement to provide a finished product. Police provide a poorly written OR in most cases, don't document all the witnesses, don't get good contact information and don't collect the evidence. Now, you have a prosecutor who is acting as an attorney and investigator because the investigators they have brought in at DAO are dead weight. For that matter, so are most of the prosecutors that Ogg has brought in (talking about you Denholm and Joanne).

Does anyone remember when Kimbra requested to reclassify the 22 prosecutors approved by Commissioner's Court under Devon and Belinda because she didn't need them? Somehow her fuzzy math told her that minus 22 is equivalent to plus 102

Anonymous said...

Anon 9;46, who do you have in mind? No Republican candidate cam win the general. No Democrat who would stand up to Rodney can win the primary. We are supremely hosed!

Anonymous said...

Murray, Murray, Murray, C'mon now son! The HCDAO you worked at is long gone and it will take decades to restore, if then.
Even if a true Rock Star prosecutor took the helm at 1201 Franklin, who will train the new batch of baby prosecutors? Actually, who will train the existing prosecutors? The average law-abiding Harris County citizen has absolutely no idea how inept the current HCADAs are, no fault of their own, mind you---after all, who are their mentors? The entire Harris County Criminal Justice System is in shambles. Ask any police officer. In the rare instance when intake accepts charges on serious crime that actually goes to trial what is the typical result? It will take a cartel-like crime spree with local law enforcement wearing ski masks before Harris County voters are aware of the totality of corruption and incompetence that now defines the HCDAO.

Anonymous said...

@ November 6, 2019 at 7:15 AM

I think those who don't fully understand the system are given the impression that ADAs are underworked because when Ogg took over it seemed like no one was going to trial anymore. Plea bargains exploded. Outright dismissals exploded. And idiots like Denholm at intake continually refuse to take good charges. Doesn't help when Ogg goes before Commissioner's Court and brags about letting a gazillion criminals go free. Right or wrong the impression that leaves is, "If they're letting everyone go, how can they be overworked?" A lot of us still remember back when everyone was prosecuted. Far fewer plea deals and a lot more trials. There may have been more prosecutors back then or a lesser case per ADA ratio, but there were a lot more trials. And trial prep is where the work is

Anonymous said...

So, is it safe to assume that now "Big Daddy" Denholm is in the Gang Unit, he will not be taking charges on any MS-13 gansters because they are "illegal"?

Michael Simpson said...

Even funnier the second time.

Anonymous said...

Anon 9:46 - Todd Overstreet has the lance!

Anonymous said...

The shit show continues. And I can't imagine why anyone with experience would go back. I know I never would consider it. I would move to another county long before working at HCDAO again. Baltimore here we come. Thank you Kim.

Anonymous said...

Part of the problem AGAIN goes back to intake and the recent influx bullshit cases accepted that have no business making it past intake. In addition to some prosecutors not being able to properly evaluate the strength and weaknesses of a case leading them to cling tight to a crappy case that they will later dismiss on trial day. For example, I had a misdemeanor prosecutor attempt to send a petty theft case to organized crime bc there were 3 codefendants allegedly stealing together at Target.

Another part of the problem is the crazy amount of time it takes to get discovery. The docket is clogged up bc attorneys cant even get started bc we're waiting on an offense report or bodycam and the prosecutors are prohibited from even requesting a bodycam until 6 months have passed (what a prosecutor told me). In the meantime people are missing work and reset multiple times while more cases are coming in. On top of the wait for a prosecutor to run a case up the chain, bc they are not trusted to use their "discretion" to make a decision about a shitty case that they themselves will ultimately be trying.

As a former prosecutor, yes I agree yall are overworked. But some (not all) of these issues are self inflicted.

Anonymous said...

Well just to add top to the slap in the face at police, Ogg along with Tony Rose and Fox Curl chose to pursue charges on a reserve officer that was working pedestrian traffic control. Even after they were provided evidence clearly showing that it was within the scope of a reserve ability nonetheless they lied to the grand jury to get a true bill cause of their hate for any police.

Tom Zakes said...

I have no information about your "inside baseball" info, but I was under the impression that all cases where the death penalty was sought had to be personally approved by the DA him or herself. So under that and the theory that "the buck stops here" I think that Ogg could logically say that the death penalty happened on her watch, so she gets the credit for same, for whatever it's worth.

I'm Tom Zakes and I approve this message.

PS: I'm one person that hasn't written off the Harris County Republican Party as dead. I think a viable Republican can win in 2020.

Anonymous said...

Re. Audia Jones: Surely she realizes that her husband, the current Judge of the 180th would have to resign if she became DA. She would be the defacto plaintiff in every case. Clearly the canons would prohibit Judge Jones from handling any case that falls in the 180th if Audia is DA. He cannot recuse on every case because then he would have no cases to handle. Every case filed at Intake would be filed in her name so even with a pro tem on every case, he could not handle the case because the charging decision was made in her name. He could not even impanel a grand jury for her ADA's to present cases to. Judicial Conduct would remove Judge Jones and or the County would file suit to remove Audia as DA if they held the positions simultaneously.

Heck, maybe Judge Jones has a gig lined up with Rodney if Audia wins.

Anonymous said...

On the plus side, you have LULAC, HPOU, the Harris County Deputies Organization, all of the declared candidates running for office, left-wing liberals and right-wing conservatives all repulsed by Denholm and Ogg.

See! She's unified the county!!!

Anonymous said...

Morale is as low as it was during the Lykos BAT van era. Kim has lost the office.

Anonymous said...

What case was that?

Anonymous said...

Not disagreeing with any of your facts here, but still not sure that means she gets any of the credit. All she did was approve the punishment sought as part of a group process; she did none of the work.

Your comment did bring to mind Devon's (fulfilled) campaign promise to try every death case herself. While that was also a political promise as well in some respects, it was a much better example of "the buck stops here." It's beyond Ogg's abilities to do the same.

Anonymous said...

Re: Tom Zakes
Did you not see the last election? Even the rosiest Republican has to admit Harris has flipped to solid Dem. It has nothing to do with the quality of the candidates. This is just team sports. *Maybe* losing the straight ticket options will make a dent, but I wouldn’t hold my breath. Don’t forget that Trump is lining areas like Houston up for huge D turnout again.

Audio doesn’t care and who would push the issue if he didn’t? At best it would be defense attorneys who get a rare ruling against them and don’t care how it such a tiff might burn them with him later. Alternately he has a prearranged gig as suggested.

Yeah, morale sucks and the office is a model of dysfunction. Yet somehow the inexperienced, overworked ADAs trudge on. Well, except the ones that are constantly leaving I guess. Cases get tried, dockets go on, etc. So the average citizen remains oblivious to the problems. The only thing that really matters from a political perspective is who wins the primary. Kim has clearly alienated her former supporters. Her 180 to try to fool the law and order crowd is pure desperation and will almost certainly doom her in the primary. And that’s before you look back at her bafflingly terrible track record on how women and POC are treated in the office. I can’t imagine HC Dems will be lining up to support any of this.

Hopefully, Carvana will offer a viable path to some improvement.

Anonymous said...

Poe 2020

Anonymous said...

This is hilarious. She is so much better at her job than past Harris County DA's. It's just that all the right wing nlsnowflakes are pissed because she is doing a better job than the past DA. Sorry you are butthurt but suck it up and quit whining, she won the election. Live with it.

Anonymous said...

Just read Denholm was fired....

Anonymous said...

Anon of 9:01 AM,

Your discovery point is spot on. More importantly, our discovery is now on-line, electronically available.

So, why are we wasting everyone's time trotting downtown every 30 days for a case that the state and defense both know is not ready?

Think about what that "overworked" prosecutor could do during the time saved going to court for five or six settings when nothing moves?

The only excuse I have heard for not improving the process with tools we have is that some defense attorney's don't move their cases between settings, thus you have to inconvenience the millions of Houston commuters a year because of "some". That is the equivalent of "that is the way we have always done it" and that is unacceptable.

The best way to handle that? The DA portal is electronically logged when accessed. So if the discovery has been available for months and defense counsel wants to reset because they haven't worked it, just access the log.

The answer is right in front of us.

Doug A'Hern

Murray Newman said...

Anon 2:58 p.m.,

You are either a) delusional; b) her spokesperson; or c) both.

Kim has turned out to be a terrible District Attorney. You can claim that this is Republican "butt hurt," but how do you reconcile that with me supporting and voting for her over Devon Anderson?

Kim has turned out to be so bad and so paranoid that she makes Lykos look outstanding by comparison. I'm pretty sure that you are the one who needs to get a grip here, Amigo.

Anonymous said...

Former HCDAO employee and loyal Democrat with a big "D" who agrees with Murray's post 100 percent. I left in part because Ogg's talk of criminal justice reform was all window dressing. Ogg (and Musick, when I was there) don't care about doing what's right - they care about power. A DA should instead be committed to seeking justice even when it's unpopular. (I mean, the real reason I left is because, like so many of my colleagues,I got a better offer to be a prosecutor some place else - Ogg's complete lack of integrity and wild incompetence is what made me look in the first place, and made the ultimate decision to leave real easy).

Anonymous said...

Anon 2:58 is just a Trumpet but Blue Team. A bootlicker that doesn’t bother to see if the person with power is actually doing anything positive if they are the right team. Ogg’s actions have been disgusting and include protecting sexual harassment, covering racial discrimination, and blatant conflicts of interest. Not exactly a great progressive model. We’re she a Repub, Dems would be outraged and calling for her ouster. Never mind- those with half a brain already are!

Anonymous said...

Please let us know what’s she’s done that’s sooooo great. What’s she’s done! Not what was already in place prior to her coming

Anonymous said...

You forgot about her “white collar” consultant Amir Miskendari accepting large sums from the poker room and then the prosecutor who stumbled upon this got reassigned. She then dismantled the money laundering division to make sure no other investigations were linked to Amir.

Anonymous said...

Anon 2:58, we are living with it, but not for very much longer I think. Can you live with that?

Former Foreman said...

Murray, I will go to my grave never being able to reconcile why you voted for Kim Ogg....

Murray Newman said...

Former Foreman,

Your comment is fair.

Kim had a view of the Criminal Justice System that I agreed with. I still do agree with many of the principles that she campaigned on.

I did not foresee the fact that her paranoia and vindictiveness would rage like it did. Prior to this, my interactions with her had all been relatively pleasant. I told me people she wouldn't be like Lykos. I guess I was right about that. Lykos seems like the picture of well-adjusted, rational stability compared to Kim.

You are right to call me out on it. I was wrong. Very very wrong.

And I will own up to that tremendous mistake.

Craig said...

anywhere that Democrats were in charge it's on the verge of bankruptcy if it's not bankrupt it's in disarray it's poorly managed and I suck up tons of money an idiot keep voting for these people. I'm at a loss.these Democrats are not Democrats their left-wing nutjobs and it goes all the way into the prosecutor's office, HCSO AND COUNTY AND CITY GOVERNMENT THE WHOLE THING'S A SHITSHOW

Anonymous said...

Too late.