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Posts Tagged ‘John Whitmire’

The Public Integrity Unit probably won’t have to worry about a veto next year

They’ll have bigger things to worry about. With Republican partisans campaigning loudly to strip Travis County District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg of her control of the unit, chances of getting the funding restored under her by the GOP-dominated Legislature that convenes in January do not look good. Senate Finance Committee Chair Jane Nelson, R-Flower Mound, said […]

Charles Sebesta may finally have to face responsibility for his actions against Anthony Graves

Very good news. It’s been eight years since the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals found that the DA who prosecuted Anthony Graves for capital murder had done something unconscionable : withheld favorable evidence and used false testimony to secure a conviction—a conviction that sent Graves to death row. Since that federal ruling came down in […]

How much will science advance in the courts?

It’s up to the CCA to decide. Texas’ highest criminal court will hear arguments Wednesday in a case that could affect how evolving scientific evidence is used in courtrooms across the state. For Neal H. Robbins, the high court’s decision will determine whether he gets another shot at arguing his innocence. In 1999, a jury […]

HPD crime lab update

The man who wrote the report detailing all of the HPD crime lab’s problems was back to give a progress report on how things look now. Houston police managers at the once-shuttered crime lab have failed to re-examine tests on DNA, blood and most other forensic evidence on a random basis to ensure the results […]

State Bar investigating Charles Sebesta

Good. The State Bar of Texas has opened an investigation into Charles Sebesta, the former Burleson County District Attorney who prosecuted death row exoneree Anthony Graves. The organization that oversees lawyers is investigating alleged professional misconduct by Sebesta, which, if proven, could result in his disbarment. The investigation was prompted by a complaint that Graves […]

Primary results: Harris County

The big news here is that there were no surprises on the Democratic side, in particular no unpleasant surprises. By far the best news was that Kim Ogg easily bested Lloyd Oliver in the primary for DA, with over 70% of the vote. I doubt we’ve seen the last of this particular plague on our […]

Endorsement watch: Belatedly for Whitmire

The Chronicle makes its recommendations for the State Senate. Senate District 15 (D) In 1973, a 23-year-old college dropout named John Whitmire hopped aboard a wave of voter disgust with ethically challenged incumbents and won a seat in the Texas House. More than four decades later, that same Houston lawmaker is still in the Legislature, […]

We still need to reduce inmate headcount

The Harris County jail’s population is down from historic highs, but with the usual summer uptick coming, Sheriff Adrian Garcia has asked for a waiver to make some more beds available. State officials have rejected a request from Sheriff Adrian Garcia to increase the capacity of the Harris County Jail and said local leaders have […]

If we must have voter ID, let’s make sure people know about it

The Democratic Senators from Harris County write a letter to County Clerk Stan Stanart. Three Houston state senators are asking Harris County officials to emulate Dallas County’s voter outreach efforts tied to Texas’ new voter identification law. State Sens. Rodney Ellis, Sylvia Garcia and John Whitmire — all Democrats — wrote a letter on Monday […]

January campaign finance reports for Harris County legislative candidates

This could take awhile, and that’s with me limiting myself to contested races. First, the Senate. SD04 Brandon Creighton Steven Toth SD07 Paul Bettencourt James Wilson Jim Davis SD15 John Whitmire Damian LaCroix Ron Hale SD17 Joan Huffman Derek Anthony Rita Lucido Here’s a summary chart. For the record, Davis, Whitmire, LaCroix, and Lucido are […]

Charles Sebesta needs to be held accountable

Amen to this. Former Texas death row inmate Anthony Graves, who spent 18 years behind bars before he was exonerated in the bloody 1992 slaying of a Somerville grandmother, her daughter and four grandchildren, is seeking justice against the man who put him there. In 2006, the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals overturned Graves’ […]

How Greg Abbott enabled the payday lenders

The Lone Star Project kicks it off: Abbott’s Green Light to Predatory Lenders Key AG document provided payday lenders a loophole to bilk Texans Greg Abbott’s office issued the key document that has allowed payday lenders to operate outside of Texas usury laws and exploit Texans across our state. A letter issued from the office of the Attorney General carefully […]

Interview with Sen. John Whitmire

There’s never much of an offseason for campaigns. The city elections are finally behind us, and believe it or not we’re six weeks out from the start of early voting for the 2014 primary elections in Texas. I was busy over the holidays getting started with interviews for various contested primaries, and while I don’t […]

Who are these people on our ballot?

The filing deadline is long past, and campaigning for the primary and general election is well underway. Democrats in Harris County have a fairly full complement of legislative candidates this fall, some of whom are better known than others. I thought I’d take a moment to look over the primary ballot list and see what […]

LaCroix files in SD15

As of the Monday candidate filing update from the HCDP, Damian LaCroix has made official his primary challenge to Sen. John Whitmire in SD15. He announced his challenge in August, and what I said at that time still holds true for me as a voter in SD15 – I’m not interested in making a change […]

Who watches the private police departments?

Not good. A veteran state lawmaker said Monday he is outraged by televised images of Rice University police officers striking a suspected bicycle thief with batons and appalled the university can refuse to release details because it is a private institution. “We need to make certain we stop police officers from being able to hide […]

Probation and drug testing update

Sounds like good news. Late last summer, the director of the Harris County Community Supervision and Corrections Department resigned, and the Harris County District Attorney’s office said it would stop using the agency’s drug tests as evidence after revelations that its overburdened drug-testing program had led to the wrongful jailing of some probationers and people […]

We need a Conviction Integrity Unit in Harris County

From the DMN: Dallas County District Attorney Craig Watkins has gained a national reputation for spearheading prisoner exonerations. As he prepares to seek a third term, Watkins said Thursday he wants to expand on that role and add a few others. … Watkins, a Democrat who was first elected in 2006, gained attention for using […]

Moving the focus back to un-crowding the jails

This is a positive development. Newly appointed Harris County District Attorney Devon Anderson on Wednesday pledged to curb the increasing number of low-level felons being sentenced to serve misdemeanor time in the county jail rather than going to prison, known as a “12.44a” sentence, saying she will encourage her prosecutors to push rehabilitation. There has […]

Whitmire weighs in on Harris jail population

State Sen. John Whitmire has pushed back on some of the explanations given for the recent uptick in the Harris County jail population, beginning with the claim that it’s due to state jails taking longer than usual to pick up new inmates. Noting the state prison system has “7,000 empty beds today,” Whitmire said that […]

Whitmire draws a primary opponent

Texpatriate notes that 2010 judicial candidate Damian LaCroix is mounting a challenge to Sen. John Whitmire in SD15. This directly concerns me, as I was redistricted into SD15 in 2011 after having been in SD06 since moving to the Heights. His website is here, his Facebook page is here, and LaCroix did a judicial Q&A […]

Transportation funding advances

Between redistricting and abortion, transportation funding has taken a bit of a back seat in the special session despite being the first additional item on the agenda. The Senate took the first step on that yesterday. Despite concerns raised by both Republicans and Democrats, senators on Tuesday tentatively passed a resolution that aims to solve […]

Improved payday lending bill passes the Senate

Good news, if it goes anywhere. The Texas Senate approved a bill to regulate short-term lenders on Monday night, a milestone some thought the chamber wouldn’t reach after a personal and divisive floor fight on Thursday. But with the measure’s author, state Sen. John Carona, R-Dallas, calling the highly-altered bill an “ugly baby,” it remains […]

Legislative quick hits

This is the time of the session where there’s lots happening, and there isn’t always the time or space to stay on top of it all. So here are a few quick updates on things that are happening in an attempt to at least not be too far behind. A bill to give Tesla Motors […]

Senate committee votes to repeal state sodomy law

About time. The Senate Criminal Justice Committee voted on Wednesday to repeal the state’s anti-gay sodomy law, a decade after the U.S. Supreme Court declared it unconstitutional. Texas, along with Oklahoma and Kansas, will be the only states that still have the law on the books after Montana’s legislature approved its repeal of the measure […]

Division over the payday loan bill

Quite a heated little fight in the Senate yesterday. An ugly scene erupted in the Texas Senate today, with Sen. John Carona (R-Dallas) suggesting that some of his Republican colleagues were “shills” for the payday loan industry and worrying that the GOP would be seen as “the party that is backed and bankrolled by payday […]

Romeo and Romeo and Juliet and Juliet

This is a small step forward, but it’s an important step. In a state where attempts to expand gay rights have hit a wall of conservative Republicans, a Senate committee on Tuesday approved a bill to provide a new legal protection for sexually active gay teens. Under Senate Bill 1316, gay and lesbian teens who […]

Reciprocal discovery

There’s a bit of controversy brewing over one of the criminal justice reforms that have been proposed. The bill at issue was filed on deadline day. Senate Bill 1611 would enact uniform discovery requirements in criminal cases across Texas. It would require prosecutors to give defense lawyers evidence in their files and to include essentially […]

Not so fast on the North Forest charter plan

Not everyone is convinced that the plan to allow a consortium of charter schools to take over North Forest ISD is a good idea. In interviews Monday, state Rep. Senfronia Thompson and Sens. Rodney Ellis and John Whitmire, all Democrats, voiced reservations about the last-ditch attempt to prevent the annexation of North Forest to Houston […]

Treating rather than jailing the mentally ill

Very good news. Harris County Sheriff Adrian Garcia and his medical staff wholeheartedly support a bill filed this week to reduce recidivism by the mentally ill who wind up in the county jail, a $5 million pilot program to transition them into community treatment facilities. “These individuals are principally in our custody because they are […]

Senate committee restores some money to public education

Emphasis on the “some”. Texas public schools would get back a chunk of the $5.4 billion in state funding they lost two years ago under a budget proposal adopted by the Senate Finance Committee on Thursday. But they probably should not expect much more than the $1.5 billion the committee added to the 2014-15 state […]

Here come the craft beer bills

From Brewed and Never Battered. Senator Kevin Eltife (R-District 1) introduced bi-partisan legislation along with Co-Authors, Senators Brian Birdwell (R-District 22), John Carona (R-District 16), Eddie Lucio (D-District 27), Leticia Van de Putte (D-District 26), Kirk Watson (D-District 14), and John Whitmire (D-District 15) to modernize the state’s alcohol regulatory system to make more competitive Texas’s small, […]

How would you pay for extra school security?

Would you be willing to tax yourself for it? Texas school districts could create special taxing districts to fund more security under a proposal unveiled Tuesday by three Houston-area lawmakers. The Texas School District Security Act would allow school boards to hold elections on whether sales or property taxes should be raised to fund more […]

January finance reports for area legislative offices

Just to complete the tour of semiannual finance reports, here’s a look at the cash on hand totals for area legislators. First up, the Harris County House delegation. Patricia Harless, HD126 – $308,221 Dan Huberty, HD127 – $69,058 Wayne Smith, HD128 – $218,425 John Davis, HD129 – $99,962 Allen Fletcher, HD130 – $46,559 Alma Allen, […]