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?!?!
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.