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Ogg’s second ask

We’ll see how this goes.

Kim Ogg

Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg is planning to head back to county leaders with another request for more prosecutors in light of the massive case review sparked by fallout from last month’s botched Houston police drug raid.

The renewed push for additional positions comes just after a failed bid to get funding for 102 new prosecutors, a hefty $21 million budget request slapped down by the Harris County Commissioners Court earlier this month. At the time, Ogg argued that her office’s overwhelming caseloads were likely among the highest in the country, and that the understaffing at all levels could prevent prosecutors from evaluating cases eligible for diversion.

But now, her new push to expand hinges on the need to review the more than 1,400 cases handled by Officer Gerald Goines, the case agent suspected of giving false information to justify the no-knock raid that left two civilians dead, officials said. In some of the cases, the 34-year officer was a witness, while in others he signed the affidavits underlying warrants, Ogg said Thursday. Of those up for review, 27 are active and at least five involve defendants currently in jail.

“These are individual cases; justice has to be meted out in every one. It takes time, we need some more investigators,” Ogg said. “We can get there with the understaffing that we have, it’s just going to take longer.”

It’s not clear how many new positions Ogg would ask for, but she stressed that the case reviews will happen regardless.

“This review is not contingent on funding, we’re going to do it,” she said. “It’ll just take a lot longer with the few people that we’ve got assigned to our Conviction Integrity Division.”

Because the jobs would go to “trusted, trained” prosecutors, Ogg said, the idea would be to promote from within and hire new positions at a lower level. The review of the 27 active cases can be handled by current staff.

See here for some background. I’ve not gotten any press releases in my inbox from groups that had opposed the previous request, as I had at that time, but that may just be a function of timing. It’s not fully clear to me from this story if what Ogg is requesting is more prosecutors or more investigators, the latter of which may perhaps be less controversial. The reason prompting this request is unimpeachable, but there may be more to it than what is apparent now. If she’s going to make this request at Tuesday’s Commissioners Court meeting, we should know pretty quickly what kind of a reaction this will get.

As for the larger issue, I have not blogged about the HPD no-knock raid mess, as there’s only so much I can keep up with. I fully support the effort to review and revise the department’s policy on no-knock raids, and will note that there has been advocacy in favor of this, here and nationally, for a long time. As is so often the case, it takes a tragedy to focus a sufficient amount of attention on the issue to make anything happen. Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez is making similar changes, though that will have a much smaller effect than what HPD does since the Sheriff’s office rarely conducts such raids. There are also bills in the Legislature, with Rep. Harold Dutton being one of the main authors, to impose restrictions and more stringent processes on all law enforcement agencies. As with bail reform, this is something that has been needed for a long time, and maybe, just maybe, the time is right for it to happen.

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8 Comments

  1. Bill Daniels says:

    The frightening thing about the storming of the Tuttle house is the premeditation involved. It really looks like this was Philando Castille level criminality by HPD, but it’s even worse. A cop shooting someone in a random encounter, like the Castille traffic stop, or the Somali cop who shot the Australian woman is bad, but this was premeditated. It was a hit. Why? Why were the Tuttles left to bleed out with no help? Witnesses are bad?

    The sad thing is, I definitely don’t trust the FBI to investigate this. The Texas Rangers need to be the ones investigating this, not the FBI, who has their own documented problems with truthfulness in warrant applications, and use of excessive force.

    We need the Rangers.

  2. Paul Kubosh says:

    Agree with Bill. The show training day comes to mind.

  3. C.L. says:

    Who’s going to patrol the border as members of the Texas Ranger’s Border Security – Ranger Reconnaissance Teams, to safeguard us against the migrant horde if they’re, instead, picking up shell casings over at the Tuttle house ?

  4. Manny says:

    Paul and Bill, like El Gordo y Flaco.

  5. Bill Daniels says:

    Which one of us is the fat one?

  6. Ahhhhhhhhhh that would be me.

  7. Manny Barrera says:

    Sorry guys, saw your comments and it reminded me of a comedy show.

  8. Jason Hochman says:

    The positive that could come from this is that perhaps this will end Acevedo’s political aspirations and hopefully stop the re-election of Turner. I kind of doubt it though.