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More on the Buzbee DUI saga

This just keeps getting weirder.

Devon Anderson

“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 the judge presiding over the case.

[…]

A request to the district attorney’s office for a copy of the pretrial diversion contract, which outlines conditions and consequences of failing to meet those conditions, was sent to the office’s general counsel, who said lawyers for Buzbee have objected to its release. Such contracts generally are publicly available. The office of general counsel said Buzbee’s lawyers have informed it that they will seek an order from the Texas Attorney General’s Office forcing the district attorney to withhold the contract.

[…]

Another reason this case and its resolution is unusual is that the judge presiding over it is the only jurist in Harris County who does not allow pretrial diversions for DWI cases. County Court-at-Law Judge Bill Harmon is opposed to any DWI pretrial diversion program and often cites Harris County’s record number of drunken-driving fatalities as the reason.

When a DWI case eligible for the pretrial diversion program lands in his court, it is often transferred to a different court. That did not happen in Buzbee’s case.

Earlier this week, Harmon acknowledged that he signed the dismissal forms and said he had not approved any diversion for DWI suspects. He said he would continue to refuse to participate in the program.

It’s those inconsistencies that bother Flood and other members of the Harris County Criminal Lawyers Association.

“Our target is not Tony Buzbee. That’s not what HCCLA is about. He hired good lawyers and got a good result,” Flood said. “Our problem is the appearance of impropriety between the district attorney and the judge.”

The deal Buzbee was able to obtain from Anderson was extraordinary, Flood said.

“He’s the only person in the whole county who is not excluded from filing for an expunction immediately after his case is dismissed on a DWI on a pretrial intervention.”

See here for the background. It’s weird enough that any of this happened, but it’s possible to imagine that there’s nothing untoward about any of it, it was just maybe handled in a clumsy fashion. But for Buzbee’s attorney to then file to keep the normally-public pretrial diversion contract under wraps, I mean that’s like putting up a giant blinking neon sign saying “THERE IS SOMETHING SUSPICIOUS HERE THAT WE DON’T WANT YOU TO SEE”. Under no circumstances should that file be withheld from public scrutiny. Let’s make the facts known, and then we can see if there’s something that requires a response.

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5 Comments

  1. John says:

    Anderson’s ethics are equivalent to the people her office is prosecuting. She is more interested in doing favors for others and hanging out with the society women. This is yet another reason why I am glad Ogg won.

  2. Tom says:

    Aside from all this, there’s the issue of timing. The case was dismissed and the motion for expunction were filed before Kim Ogg takes office. It seems pretty obvious that the real concern was the possibility that Ogg would not honor whatever handshake deal was made here.

  3. Bill Daniels says:

    @Tom:

    I think you are spot on.

    I am in favor of the diversion program for first time DWI offenders who didn’t have an accident, but the rules ought to be the same for all who receive it, the connected and the Average Joe alike. I assume the bulk of the punishment is a fine, community service, and showing up for probation appointments. A guy like Buzbee could easily pay any fine, and being an otherwise successful person, probably completed whatever community service requirement was demanded early on, leaving just that matter of making probation appointments, not having any further incidents, and running out the clock. If others in the program similarly situated can get off early and automatically expunged, then OK, but if not, I want to know why Buzbee got that deal. It certainly sounds like that isn’t commonly done, if at all, for others.

  4. matx says:

    I support the DUI diversion program as a way to correct the behavior of drivers who made a potentially disastrous decision – but if money and power will make even the comparably slight inconveniences the program imposes (to a jail term especially) those who abuse it are learning nothing at the expense of drivers who could benefit from the program and anyone driving, biking or walking the streets of Houston.

    If Buzbee got a special deal those who approved of it and Buzbee should have to answer for it just like anyone else – since the judge, DA and Buzbee are all lawyers I assume they are well aware of what course of action should have been taken or they could easily have found out. When a driver has received multiple moving violations or DUI and not had the real possibility of losing his or her driving privilege they have no reason to moderate their driving habits or stop driving under the influence.

  5. paul a kubosh says:

    I am all for a pre-trial diversion program. We ALL KNOW that the first time offender gets caught because that was the first time he/she drove drunk.