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Posts under ‘Crime and Punishment’

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 […]

Off to trial for Paxton

No more appeals, so a trial is in the works. Lawyers for Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton are no longer asking to have a state securities fraud case against him dismissed, moving him closer to a trial on the criminal charges. Paxton’s legal team confirmed Tuesday that it was getting ready for a trial, five […]

Collin County won’t fight its special prosecutor bill

For now, anyway. The Collin County Commissioners Court on Monday voted to take “a careful review” of the cost of prosecuting Attorney General Ken Paxton, while appealing to residents to set aside emotions and avoid attacking the court’s future decisions. “Regardless of how any vote comes down today, or future votes come down, one thing […]

CCA declines to take Paxton off the hook

Sorry, Kenny. The highest criminal court in Texas said Wednesday it will not hear Ken Paxton’s appeal of securities fraud charges, putting the attorney general on a path to facing a trial in the coming months. “Today’s ruling marks an end to Mr. Paxton’s almost year-long attempt to avoid being judged by a jury of […]

John Bradley to leave Palau

He’s coming home. Former Williamson County District Attorney John Bradley is resigning from his job as attorney general in the Republic of Palau. Bradley sent a letter to the president of Palau on Sept. 13 announcing his plans to quit his job Nov. 30 due to family reasons. […] The president of Palau, Tommy Remengesau, […]

More lawyers for the bail practices lawsuit

I’m still not thrilled about this. Harris County commissioners voted unanimously Tuesday to add another law firm to the county’s court fight against bail reform, a group whose job will be representing 16 county criminal judges who were recently added to a pending federal civil rights lawsuit. […] Records show Harris County already has paid […]

It’s not just Precinct 4

There are problems with evidence rooms in other Constable precincts as well. With Harris County’s Precinct 4 Constable’s Office mired in scandal over the improper destruction of 21,000 pieces of evidence, serious evidence cataloging and control problems also have been uncovered in the constables’ offices in Precincts 3,6 and 7, according to interviews and audits […]

Internal report on Precinct 4 evidence destruction

The more you look, the worse it appears. One of the first hints of anything awry in the Precinct 4 property room came in an email from evidence manager Christopher T. Hess. Harris County District Attorney “Investigator Kerry Gillie called today about the evidence for case 13-50054,” he wrote in the Feb. 29 email to […]

More on the Precinct 4 evidence destruction scandal

Lots of cases have been compromised. District Attorney Devon Anderson’s office first learned in April that the mistaken destruction of evidence in Harris County’s Precinct 4 had likely compromised more than a thousand criminal cases, including more than 400 in which defendants had already been convicted, records released Tuesday show. Anderson immediately launched a criminal […]

Miller avoids charges for his questionable trips

Can’t catch ’em all. Travis County prosecutors will not press criminal charges against Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller for tapping taxpayer funds for two trips that involved personal activities — including an appearance in a Mississippi rodeo and the receipt of a medical injection in Oklahoma called the “Jesus Shot.” “We have decided to close […]

Spending money to defend our terrible bail practices

Ugh. About $170,000 in tax money has been paid to outside attorneys to defend Harris Country officials from a federal civil rights lawsuit alleging that the bail bond system discriminates against poor people, records show. That’s more than the cost of a six-month pilot project that would have provided attorneys for indigent misdemeanor offenders at […]

Family of Sandra Bland settles its lawsuit

I hope this brings them some peace, but more importantly I hope it leads to fewer inmate deaths, in Waller County and elsewhere. The family of Sandra Bland — who died last year in a Waller County Jail cell — has reached a settlement with Texas officials in a wrongful death lawsuit, a lawyer for […]

The bigger debtors’ prison problem

It’s not just Harris County. Last week, an Amarillo attorney released documents that he said showed the city jailed disabled people simply because they were unable to pay municipal fines. According to the Amarillo Globe-News, the victims of this apparent debtors’ prison system include “a disabled veteran on social security who owed $539; a woman living on $490 […]

The Precinct 4 evidence destruction debacle

What the heck is going on here? The Harris County Precinct 4 deputy who was fired after destroying evidence in hundreds of pending criminal cases this year has been wrongfully tossing evidence without following department protocol since 2007, Constable Mark Herman announced Tuesday. Herman’s announcement comes just after Houston defense attorney Paul Morgan wrote a […]

Reducing pot prosecutions one county at a time

Some Texas cities are taking direct action to dial back the drug wars and reduce their jail population. As lawmakers have wrestled in recent years with easing restrictions on marijuana use – an issue they likely will confront again when they convene in January – prosecutors in the state’s most populated areas are relaxing their […]