Harris County Judge Pleads Guilty to Criminal Mischief - Risks Legal Career

According to the Houston Chronicle, former District Court Judge Woody Densen pled guilty today to a misdemeanor Criminal Mischief case and was fined $1500.  According to that report, Densen was accused of and has now been found guilty of "keying" a neighbor's vehicle.

I don't care who you are, that was an incredibly stupid act.  Risking your law license and the ability to be an attorney makes it that much more stupid.  This is certainly not the type of judge that the citizens want hearing cases down at the courthouse every day.  As a citizen and member of the legal community, I hope that Mr. Densen is not allowed to ever serve as a Judge anywhere again.  What  an embarrassment this is for all lawyers.

Harris County Commissioner's Court Decides Not to Appoint Judges During Executive Session

While the appointment of Harris County Criminal Court Judges was on the agenda this week, apparently Harris County Commissioner's Court decided to wait on the appointments until after the primary elections in March.  Not sure exactly what happened in the executive session with the Commissioners, but it seems they made the correct decision to appoint after the primary election.  This allows the voters to decide who they want on the November ballot.  It seems logical that the Commissioners will then appoint the victor of the primary election to fill the vacancies.

I guess we are going to continue to see Neal Richardson in Harris County Criminal Court at Law No. 1 and Henry Onken in Harris County Criminal Court at Law No. 3 for the near future.

Harris County Criminal Courts - Judicial Appointments on Commisioner's Court Agenda

According to the Harris County Commissioner's Court Agenda, the Commissioners were going to discuss the resignation of Reagan Helm of Harris County Court at Law Number 1 and appointing new Judges for Harris County Criminal Courts at Law 1 and 3.  According to the agenda, the Commissioners were to meet yesterday (February 9, 2010) in Executive Session to discuss the Judicial Appointments for the vacant Harris County Criminal Courts. 

Seems like a strange time for this in light of the upcoming primary election (less than 1 month from now).  Anyone hear if they actually did appoint anyone to these benches or if they are waiting until a later time?  My sources have told me who they thought the Harris County Commissioners were going to appoint, but I have not confirmed yet if they did appoint anyone.

Harris County Judge Sentenced - Judicial Career in Jeopardy

Barring an appeal of his conviction for official oppression for offereing to help a DWI defendant in his court get a dismissal of her DWI case, Judge Donald Jackson's tenure as a Harris County Judge is over.  Judge Jackson was sentenced to probation that includes 30 days in the Harris County jail as a condition of the probation.

For what it is worth, I always liked Judge Jackson and felt like he tried to do the "right thing" in the cases that I handled in his court.  It seems that most of the lawyers that I have spoken to about Judge Jackson have said the same.  Hopefully, Judge Jackson's replacement will have a similar outlook on the law and do the "right thing" with the cases that come before him/her.

Felony DWI Dismissed after Cop Indicted

Remember the Conroe Police Officer that was indicted for falsifying a DWI offense report?  Well good news for our client that was arrested by this officer - his felony DWI case was dismissed yesterday.

Our client had absolutely nothing to drink and looked and sounded absolutely sober on the video.  He was still arrested and charged with Felony DWI, had to make a bond and hire a Texas DWI attorney.  Additionally, he had the ongoing worry of having a felony DWI hanging over his head for several months.

I don't normally write on this blog about our victories.  However, I think it is important to show just how easy it is to be arrested for a DWI / DUI.  All the cops have to do is say they smell alcohol and that you have not passed the field exercises and you as a citizen, are off to jail.  Fortunately in this case, the Montgomery County District Attorney's Office saw through this officer's BS.  Based on our years of experience, this calling the officer on his shenanigan and outright lies is the exception, not the rule. 

You ever caught a cop lying either in his report or on the witness stand?

Should Judicial Candidates Have Experience Before Becoming a Judge?

Mark Bennett wrote about this a while back, but I just looked at the slate of judicial candidates for Harris County Democrats seeking a Misdemeanor Court bench for the 2010 election.  Who the hell are most of these judicial candidates?  I know I don't know everyone that has stepped foot in the criminal courthouse, but I am there just about every day.

I know most of prosecutors and most of the criminal defense lawyers either by name or face or both.  While there are some on the list that I know by either face or name, many I have never heard their names. 

The Harris County Criminal Courts at Law handle Class A and Class B Misdemeanors.  The majority of jury trials that these courts hear are Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) cases, Assaults and Possession of Marijuana cases.  Given that the majority of cases that are tried in these courts are DWIs, Assaults and Marijuana cases, is it too much to ask of these candidates that they have tried a few DWI, Assaults or Marijuana cases before running for the bench?

Conroe Police Officer Indicted for Tampering in DWI Arrest - Is There a Pattern?

Remember the Conroe Police Officer – Mark Goodman - that was indicted for tampering with a government record in a DWI case? Well, as it turns out, Mr. Goodman recently arrested one of our clients for felony DWI.

Through the course of our investigation, we get a copy of the offense report and the video tape from the night of our client’s DWI arrest. Guess what? In spite of what the officer writes in his report about the field sobriety tests, client looks perfect on the video. Additionally, when Goodman asks client if he has had anything to drink, client replies that he has not had anything to drink. Not surprisingly, Goodman falsifies this in his report and writes that client admits to drinking.

It seems that the indictment against Goodman may have been a long time coming. I will say it again, good for the Montgomery County District Attorney’s office for taking a stand and saying in effect, “we will not stand for lying cops.”

All we ask as criminal defense lawyers is that we have a level playing field and that everyone plays by the rules.  Actually, when you think about it, don't we all want that in our criminal justice system.  I think we all want everyone to tell the truth, right?  We all expect OUR government to play by the rules, right?  Even in DWI cases, right?

Conroe Police Officer Indicted for Tampering with DWI Offense Report

The Montgomery County District Attorney's office has indicted a Conroe police officer for tampering with a government record.

The indictment accuses Conroe policeman Mark Goodman of falsely stating that a person he charged with Driving While Intoxicated refused to perform field sobriety tests. The defendant was charged with DWI.

It is a new day in law enforcement when police officers are held accountable for arresting someone and then lying in their reports about that DWI arrest. Rarely is anything done to police officers that just flat our lie in their reports. Even when there is video evidence that the officer's report is wrong, there is rarely any repercussions for the officer.

Let's not forget that these reports have a serious long term impact on people's lives. Even if the case is ultimately dismissed, the client is still arrested, taken to jail, forced to pay money to make bail and hire a lawyer. Good for the Montgomery County District Attorney's office for protecting the rights of the citizen accused and holding a police officer accountable.

Judge Rules Harris County District Attorney Violated Defendant's Rights

A visiting Harris County District Court Judge ruled that the State prosecutors should have turned over exculpatory evidence to the defense lawyers before the start of a sexual assault trial. 

According to the article,

Visiting state District Judge Van Culp said the chief of the Crimes Against Children Division of the Harris County District Attorney's Office should have revealed that the girl accusing 54-year-old Glen Kahlden originally said a black man assaulted her. Kahlden is white.

So what is Brady materialBrady material is the suppression of evidence favorable to an accused.  In other words, if the government has any evidence that tends to show that a defendant is not guilty or did not commit the crime, the government is required to produce this evidence to the defense. 

Why is this such a big deal in the Houston criminal defense community?  Well, those of us who are criminal defense lawyers have repeatedly complained that the District Attorney's office routinely fails to fulfill its duty to disclose Brady material.  Even more troubling is the fact that the person committing the violation is the one of the most senior prosecutors in the office and the chief of a division in the Harris County District Attorney's Office. 

The problem starts at the top and trickles down to the underlings.  It is no surprise that the younger Harris County prosecutors don't turn over Brady material upon learning of it.  There is a saying, that floats around,

Prosecutors wouldn't know Brady material if it were staring right at them.

New lows in lawyer marketing - Andy Nolen's style

Just like my friends and colleagues Mark Bennett, John Floyd, Paul Kennedy, Murray Newman and Cynthia Henley, I too am calling out Andy Nolen's immature attempt to market his law practice (if he even has a legitimate law practice.) 

What is it that Andy Nolen has done?  In an attempt to bolster his reputation, he has taken to very juvenile tactics.  He has created or has had someone create a username and has written reviews of  some of the best attorneys in Houston.  In fact, the person with the username "Jerry K" wrote 32 reviews of Houston lawyers on 1 day.  And guess what?  31 of the reviews of Houston lawyers were negative and only one was positive - that review was for Andy Nolen.

Let's take my law partner Leslie Johnson as an example, where Jerry K says, "Pompous, this guy acted like he was the president or sumthin and treated me like i was trash."  So how do I know this is fraudulent - well my law partner is also my wife and not a he as described in the post.

The following is a list that was posted on Mark Bennett's blog that I attached here for reference.

Houston criminal defense lawyer Paul Kennedy: I'm calling you out, Andy Nolen.
Houston criminal defense lawyer Cynthia Henley: Thinking about hiring Andy Nolen - let's put it this way - you better shop around . . .
Miami criminal defense lawyer Brian Tannebaum: In Houston, Criminal Defense Lawyer Andy Nolen is the Best. Everyone Else Sucks.
Houston criminal defense lawyer Murray Newman: When We All Agree
Houston criminal defense lawyer John Floyd: Houston Attorney Andy Nolen: A Dishonest Lawyer?
The Further Adventures of "Lawyer" Andy Nolen
The Continuing Adventures of "Lawyer" Andy Nolen
Andy Nolen: Total Fraud?
Andy Nolen: Today's Last Chapter]

Andy Nolen, you and your blatant attempt to make other Houston Criminal Defense lawyers look bad for your benefit is completely transparent and a disgrace to our profession.