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Posts under ‘Crime and Punishment’

Bail practices lawsuit wraps up

It’s up to the judge now. The call by two civil rights groups for an immediate fix to Harris County’s bail system is now in the hands of a federal judge after high-stakes arguments over whether poor people should remain in jail on misdemeanor offenses because they can’t afford to post bail. Key criminal justice […]

More on the Stockman arrest

I’m just going to leave this here. Former U.S. Rep. Steve Stockman, a Republican whose district stretched from Houston to Beaumont, allegedly conspired with two staffers to bilk conservative foundations out of at least $775,000 in donations meant for charitable purposes or voter education, according to federal court records. Details of the alleged scam are […]

Steve Stockman gets busted

Well, lookie here. Former U.S. Rep. Steve Stockman, R-Texas, has been charged with violating federal election law. Stockman conspired with former congressional employees to funnel money intended for a charity to his campaign, according to a sworn statement from an FBI agent unsealed Thursday. He is also accused of making false statements to the Federal […]

County will use public defenders at bail hearings

Good. Harris County commissioners on Tuesday approved a pilot program to make public defenders available at bail hearings, a step aimed at retooling a criminal justice system that has increasingly drawn criticism for jailing thousands of poor, low-risk offenders. Within months, county officials anticipate that two public defenders will be present at bail hearings for […]

Paxton prosecutors ask for delay

Delay for pay, as it were. The special prosecutors handling the securities fraud case against Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton are asking to put off his trial until they can get paid. On Thursday, the prosecutors proposed moving the trial, currently set for May 1, to 60 days after a Dallas appeals court settles the […]

Back to Buzbee

Looks like we’re not done with this yet. Prominent Houston lawyer Tony Buzbee on Monday accused Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg of “playing politics,” saying prosecutors are trying to revive a DWI case against him that has already been expunged. Buzbee said Ogg’s office has filed a sealed motion seeking to reopen the criminal […]

Bail practices lawsuit gets going

The first day in court for this lawsuit was Monday. Neal S. Manne, a managing partner at Susman Godfrey, told Chief U.S. District Judge Lee H. Rosenthal in his opening statement Monday that ODonnell and hundreds of other poor people charged with minor crimes do not get a fair chance to win pretrial release here […]

County approves defense attorneys for bail hearings

Long overdue. Harris County commissioners voted unanimously Tuesday to develop a pilot program that would make public defenders present at bail hearings, a move aimed at reducing what officials say is the unnecessary jailing of thousands of defendants because they can’t afford bail or are unfamiliar with the legal process. The pilot could lead to […]

Paxton beats SEC rap again

Not a surprise. A federal judge has again thrown out securities fraud charges against Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, effectively ending one of two legal battles that have dogged Paxton for close to a year. U.S. District Judge Amos Mazzant on Thursday dismissed the case “with prejudice,” making a final judgment on the charges that […]

No decision yet in the Temple case

Give it two more months. Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg said Monday it will be at least another 60 days before a decision is made on whether to re-try the murder case against former Katy football star and Alief coach David Temple. Temple’s conviction was tossed out last year after the state’s highest court […]

Cutting ICE

Another campaign promise gets fulfilled. Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez has ended a controversial partnership with federal immigration authorities that trained a team of county deputies to determine the immigration status of jailed suspects and hold those selected for deportation. Gonzalez, a Democrat who took office in January, said he will reassign 10 deputies trained […]

Ogg launches her pot prosecution reform program

We’ve been waiting for this. The Harris County district attorney’s plan to decriminalize small amounts of marijuana drew reactions swift and strong Thursday from both sides of the debate. District Attorney Kim Ogg made the announced Thursday backed by a bevy of local officials, including Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner, Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo, Sheriff […]

Paxton prosecutors want change of venue

At this point, who can blame them? The prosecutors in Attorney General Ken Paxton’s securities fraud case are asking for a change of venue, arguing they cannot get a fair trial in Collin County. The prosecutors say Judge George Gallagher should move the case out of Paxton’s home county because he and his associates have […]

Whose career would you like him to destroy?

Because that’s the kind of casual offer Dear Leader makes. President Donald Trump invited a wave of speculation Tuesday when he volunteered to “destroy” the career of a unnamed Texas state senator in response to a state sheriff’s complaint about the lawmaker. Trump’s remark came during a meeting with sheriffs at the White House that […]

Dukes indicted

Boom. A grand jury has indicted state Rep. Dawnna Dukes, D-Austin, on abuse-of-office charges, the Travis County District Attorney’s office said Wednesday. She could face up to 28 years in jail and fines of up to $138,000. The first indictment charges 13 counts of tampering with a governmental record, a felony punishable by up to […]

Professional Integrity

I like this. Former judge David Mendoza has been tapped to lead the newly created division of professional integrity for the Harris County District Attorney’s Office. He will be advising the 700 employees in the district attorney’s office – including prosecutors, investigators and other staff – on ethics and professionalism, District Attorney Kim Ogg announced […]

Paxton’s trial date set

Mark your calendars, and stock up on the popcorn. Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton’s trial on criminal securities fraud charges is set to begin May 1. Jury selection will be held April 20-21 and April 27-28, according to a recent order by George Gallagher, the judge presiding over Paxton’s case. He also scheduled a hearing […]

Dawnna Dukes case to go before grand jury

Awesome. Travis County prosecutors and Texas Rangers will present evidence to a grand jury that state Rep. Dawnna Dukes abused the power of her office, Travis County District Attorney Margaret Moore told the American-Statesman. Among possible charges: abuse of official capacity and tampering with public records, Moore said. Dukes was sworn into office for a […]

Ogg to review Temple case

We’ll see how this goes. Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg said Wednesday she will personally lead a review of the case of David Temple, whose conviction of murdering his pregnant wife was overturned by the state’s highest court amid findings of prosecutorial misconduct, before deciding if her office will retry the former Katy football […]

Chron favors a jail administrator

I remain unconvinced. Next month, we’ll have a new sheriff in town. Ed Gonzalez will take command of the largest sheriff’s office in Texas, the third-largest in the nation, with more than 4,600 employees responsible for serving and protecting the estimated 4.5 million people who call Harris County home. It would be nice if our […]

Ogg begins assembling her team

She has a lot of positions to fill, and a lot of work to do. Several well-known defense lawyers will take top posts in the Harris County District Attorney’s Office under incoming DA Kim Ogg, her transition team announced Friday. Vivian King, a prominent attorney who was an accountant for 10 years before becoming a […]

David Temple released on bond

We’ll see what happens next. More than 17 years after the shooting death of his pregnant wife, former football coach David Temple walked out of the Harris County jail Wednesday and into the waiting arms of his family, ready to stand trial again if necessary for a murder he steadfastly maintains he didn’t commit. Wearing […]

Yet another lawsuit filed against Harris County criminal justice

Lawsuit number three. Harris County has been sued in federal court for the third time in less than a year for yet another issue related to the county’s tough arrest and pretrial detention practices. This time, civil rights advocates allege that county officials routinely charge and jail thousands of people each month without a warrant […]

HPD retirements

This is a concern, but I don’t think it’s a big one. A dozen of the Houston Police Department’s top commanders were among 123 officers who filed paperwork this week indicating they plan to retire in the first half of next year, senior City Hall and HPD sources said, a sign that a rumored exodus […]

More on the Buzbee DUI saga

This just keeps getting weirder. “It appears to have been an under-the-table deal with Devon Anderson,” said Tyler Flood, the president of the Harris County Criminal Lawyer’s Association. “I already have clients calling me saying they want the ‘Tony Buzbee deal.’” Flood and other defense lawyers have questioned the treatment Buzbee received from Anderson and […]

More DA drama

I’m not sure yet what to make of this. Incoming Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg accused three prosecutors Tuesday of trying to sabotage criminal cases by telling victims their cases were in jeopardy, and called for an investigation into what she said was “political retribution” for being fired. The allegations came days after Ogg […]

Do the words “appearance of impropriety” mean anything to you?

Seriously? Outgoing Harris County District Attorney Devon Anderson personally has dismissed the drunken-driving case against prominent Houston lawyer Tony Buzbee. Buzbee, who was arrested on March 31, had his case dismissed Dec. 9, after completing “pretrial intervention” a type of informal probation that, if successfully completed, means a case will be tossed. It is common […]

Chief Acevedo’s priorities

They sound good to me. When Houston police officers shot and killed an armed man standing in a street intersection this summer, officers’ body cameras taped the incident – but the recordings didn’t start until after the man had been shot. The video released to the public didn’t convince skeptics that police were telling the […]

Ogg does some housecleaning

I’m sure there will be more of this to come. Harris County’s new district attorney made clear Friday that she will fire dozens of prosecutors in a massive shake-up when she takes office on Jan. 1. Kim Ogg, who was elected in November as the county’s chief prosecutor, notified nearly 50 prosecutors and staffers Friday […]

Whitmire files complaint against bail-denying magistrates

Good. An influential Texas lawmaker on Thursday filed formal complaints against three Harris County magistrate judges after they were captured on videotape rushing misdemeanor defendants to jail without considering no-cost bonds. State Sen. John Whitmire, D-Houston, filed the complaints with the State Commission on Judicial Conduct, citing an article published Thursday in the Houston Chronicle […]

New Sheriff not interested in defending current bail policies

Good. After defeating Sheriff Ron Hickman in the election this month, Sheriff-elect Ed Gonzalez is already sticking his nose in Hickman’s official business — mainly, the lawsuit filed against him. Hickman, along with the county, all the county judges and five bail hearing officers, has been sued for participating in what a national civil rights […]

David Temple granted new trial

Wow. The state’s highest criminal court on Wednesday granted a new trial to David Temple, a former Katy football coach accused of killing his pregnant wife in 1999. In an opinion posted online Wednesday morning, the court of criminal appeals sided with Temple’s lawyers, who argued in state district court in 2015 that Harris County […]

Collin County Commissioners Court are a bunch of jerks

Unbelievable. In an attempt to lay the legal groundwork to quit funding Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton’s prosecution, Collin County is refusing to pay a longtime local attorney for his work defending indigent clients. On Monday, the Commissioners Court voted 3-2 to block payment to J. Matthew Goeller, a McKinney defense attorney who has provided […]

The answer is to always cram more people in the jails

Seriously? Harris County Sheriff Ron Hickman is asking the state jail commission to let nearly 200 inmates sleep on plastic cots on the floor of the already overcrowded county jail system, a request challenged by more than a dozen Houston-area lawmakers. The lawmakers note that county officials have not fully followed the advice of their […]