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Posts Tagged ‘Harris County’

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 […]

UH Hobby School (Harris County only): Clinton 43, Trump 34

I have many thoughts about this. Between September 1 and September 20, 2016, the University of Houston Hobby School of Public Affairs conducted a telephone survey of 550 Harris County registered voters as part of a larger Hobby School study on voter participation and engagement under the direction of Mark P. Jones, Renée Cross, and […]

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 […]

Endorsement watch: Bail matters

For only the second time this cycle, the Chron endorses a challenger to a sitting judge. Harris County’s criminal courts at law are currently defendants in a lawsuit alleging that pretrial bail policies violate the U.S. Constitution. It is a serious charge, and those misdemeanor-level courts are undeniably crowded more with the poor than with […]

Two more Clinton campaign offices opened in Texas

In Austin: The Democratic National Committee opened its Austin headquarters on Sunday. The move comes amid a surprisingly narrowing gap (given the longtime deep-red status of the state) between Clinton and her GOP rival, Donald Trump, for the presidency. The office is located at 61 N. Interstate 35 at Holly Street, serving as the base […]

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 […]

Endorsement watch: A bit of a surprise

The Chron endorses Ann Harris Bennett for Harris County Tax Assessor. When Mike Sullivan first ran for Harris County Tax Assessor-Collector, he promised that he would: “Bring the office into the 21st century by embracing new technology.” By Sullivan’s standard, we look forward to Apple releasing the Post Card 7, complete with four easy-to-handle sides […]

Let’s cooperate on animal welfare

Yes to this. Harris County Judge Ed Emmett called Tuesday for a summit of county and Houston city leaders, along with animal welfare organizations, to address the region’s “outrageous” problem with stray animals. While the details are still being developed, Emmett said one focus would be better collaboration between Harris County, which focuses primarily on […]

Hearing on voter ID outreach set for Monday

Once more into the breech, to see if the state needs to get slapped down again. Texas officials will be back in federal court next week to defend the state’s voter ID law, this time against accusations that they have failed to comply with judge-ordered changes for the November election. Monday’s hearing comes at the […]

Endorsement watch: The one Family Court race

The 507th Family Court is one of the two new courts in operation in Harris County, and thus one of the two spots on the ballot for which Democrats had to choose nominees this summer. In keeping with its Civil Court endorsements, the Chron recommends the incumbent for a full term. Alyssa Lemkuil is the […]

More on the ground game here

A few days ago I wrote about the opening of a national Democratic campaign office here in Harris County. I had the opportunity to pose a few questions to the campaign over the weekend about this office and their larger plans. Here’s what we discussed: – The office is part of the coordinated campaign between […]

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 […]

Endorsement watch: Time for a change, part 2

The Chron endorses Ed Gonzalez for Sheriff, after indicting incumbent Sheriff Ron Hickman for a litany of failures. At the beginning of this campaign we believed that Sheriff Ron Hickman should get the benefit of a doubt on his challenging task. The longtime Precinct 4 constable was appointed to his position by Commissioners Court when […]

Wanted: Poll workers

Multi-language ability a plus. Presiding election judges hire their Election Day staff, working largely from a list compiled from online applications. Hector de Leon is with the Harris County Clerk’s office. “We’re going to have approximately 5,845 people working on Election Day. We have 765 polling locations.” There’s a particular need for bilingual poll workers. […]

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 […]

Endorsement watch: Civil incumbents, part 2

The Chron continues a theme. 151st Civil District Court: Mike Engelhart If you commute along the Southwest Freeway, then you probably know Judge Mike Engelhart from his big red billboard at Greenbriar Drive, which informs drivers that the two-term Democratic incumbent was voted trial judge of the year by the Texas Association of Civil Trial […]

The ground game in Texas

The Chron looks at the Trump campaign in Texas, such as it is. Just over two months before the November general election, Bryant typifies the Trump campaign in Texas, a mostly invisible but active network of supporters that Republican Party officials hope will yield a double-digit victory in the Lone Star State, even as polls […]

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 […]

Washington Post: Clinton 46, Trump 45

Whoa. With nine weeks until Election Day, Donald Trump is within striking distance in the Upper Midwest, but Hillary Clinton’s strength in many battlegrounds and some traditional Republican strongholds gives her a big electoral college advantage, according to a 50-state Washington Post-SurveyMonkey poll. The survey of all 50 states is the largest sample ever undertaken […]

What the Harris County Clerk is saying about voter ID requirements

From the inbox: Harris County Clerk Stan Stanart reminds Texas voters who cannot obtain one of the seven forms of approved photo ID that they now have additional options when voting in person. “My office is working to make sure all voters in Harris County are ready to cast a ballot,” said Stanart. “These new options for […]

Endorsement watch: Time for a change

The Chron gives a ringing endorsement to Kim Ogg for District Attorney, but not before delivering a stern rebuke to incumbent DA Devon Anderson. Harris County cannot take four more years of a prosecutor’s office that pursues convictions at any cost. It is a mentality that risks putting the innocent behind bars while the real […]

Three updates on county-related lawsuits

Update #1: Judges sued as part of Harris County federal court bail challenge. Attorneys challenging the constitutionality of Harris County’s pretrial bail policies have added all 16 of Harris County’s misdemeanor court judges as defendants in a federal civil rights lawsuit this week after mediation aimed at settling the dispute broke down after only two […]

Endorsement watch: The one man term limits debate

Here’s one of the more interesting endorsements so far. Steve Radack is at once an argument for and against term limits. The Precinct 3 county commissioner and former Precinct 5 constable, who will turn 67 before Election Day, has been in his seat for 28 years and wants voters to sign him up for 32. […]

Stuck in the MUD

Tricky things, these municipal utility districts. MUD 187 came to be when a Houston developer arranged for two people to move their trailer onto a 519-acre site on the edge of Richmond in Fort Bend County, which at the time was an empty field. As the only “residents” within the municipal utility district’s boundaries, the […]

Harris County to fix some Houston roads

Some good news from the inbox: As part of an agreement approved by Houston City Council today, Harris County Precinct 1 will pay for additional street improvements worth millions of dollars within the Houston city limits by year’s end. This is a continuation of an arrangement Mayor Sylvester Turner and outgoing Commissioner Gene Locke negotiated […]

Endorsement watch: Stay the course

Harris County Democrats have one incumbent up for re-election: County Attorney Vince Ryan. The Chron gives their approval for another term. [Ryan] said that he actively pursues pollution enforcement lawsuits against big companies – such as Volkswagen after it lied about emissions tests, or the corporations responsible for the San Jacinto waste pits. But in […]

Precinct analysis: HISD Trustee district VII in a Presidential year

As you know, we have a special election for HISD Trustee in district VII on the ballot this November. There’s one Democratic candidate in that race and three Republicans. These races are normally held in odd-numbered years, in which turnout is considerably lower than in Presidential years. Overall turnout in Harris County in 2013 was […]

What’s that definition of insanity again?

How many times are we going to find ourselves in this same situation before we finally accept that we need to do something different? The Harris County Sheriff’s Office has cut funding for law enforcement operations to cover exploding overtime costs at the department’s understaffed jail, a move critics say could harm public safety while […]

Field set for HISD special election

Four candidates have filed, so no one else got in since my last post. Four candidates have applied to run in a special election to be a trustee for the Houston Independent School District. The filing deadline was Aug. 25. The District VII seat is open because Trustee Harvin Moore is resigning a year before […]

Endorsement watch: Civil court incumbents

Keeping up with the weekly endorsement schedule, we have round one of Civil Court endorsements, as there are many Civil Court races this year. 11th Civil District Court: Kevin Fulton The candidates in this race to replace outgoing Judge Mike Miller are both living proof of the American Dream. Republican Kevin Fulton, our choice for […]

Getting ready for the new voter ID universe

It’s a scramble. With roughly two months before early voting starts, Texas election officials are facing the difficult task of training thousands of poll workers and educating the public about court-ordered changes to a voter ID law – all while under an intense microscope. That process is expected to be exacerbated by the sheer size […]

More focus on bail practices

Something needs to be done, whether via the ongoing lawsuit or other means. Sandra Thompson, a University of Houston law professor, has spent hundreds of dollars bailing her cousin out of jail for minor offenses. “I get steamed under the collar when I think about this issue,” Thompson said. “I’m really mad and I’m ready […]

Bail practices lawsuit update

There was a hearing in court this week, and the judge was skeptical. U.S. District Judge Lee Rosenthal declined Thursday to rule on whether Harris County should be dismissed from a lawsuit intended to force officials to reform a tough bail system in which more than 70 percent of jail inmates are being held pretrial. […]

More on the latest voting rights lawsuit ruling

Coverage from the Chron: In contrast to the discourse over the voter ID law, it’s not clear there are many political stakes over the law [Judge Robert] Pitman tossed out Friday. There are enough Hispanic and Latino voters in every county in Texas to mandate Spanish-language assistance at polls across the state, so Friday’s ruling […]