For the four years that Pat Lykos was the Harris County District Attorney, there was a blog that ran salacious rumors about the department. Anonymous commenters were allowed to posit wild stories and theories about the department. After Mike Anderson took office in January, the blog and its commenters have gone on a hiatus. Some people have missed that type of yellow blogging, so I’ve decided to fill the market niche, at least until they return. So until they return, I’m going to be filling you in on some of the happenings in the office and court system.
I thought I’d start with an easy one, one that any member of the system down there can verify by simply asking the players. Because the players think they have a great idea and I doubt they are going to deny the existence of the plan, although they’ll probably disagree with my opinion of it.
On any given day in Harris County, there is a backlog of capital cases in the courts of approximately 250 cases. Lots of reasons for that – judges don’t particularly care for them so they reset cases over and over again, defense lawyers know they can make more money if they can lengthen the cases, and defendants would rather sit in a jail cell than lay on a gurney in Huntsville. Of course the taxpayers are stuck with the additional costs of delaying these cases, so it would be nice if someone figured out how to speed the process up and reduce the backlog.
The good news is that Judge Susan “Runaway Grand Jury” Brown, Republican on the 185th bench, as well as the administrative judge for the courts, recognizes the problem and wants to do something about it. The bad news for defendants is that Judge Susan “Runaway Grand Jury” Brown, Republican on the 185th bench, as well as the administrative judge for the courts, recognizes the problem and wants to do something about it.
You see, Judge Susan “Runaway Grand Jury” Brown has a wee bit of a bias for the prosecution. As do most of the judges in Harris County but we’ll save that for another day. If you don’t think the bias exists, you probably don’t believe that judges routinely have dinner and drinks with the chief prosecutors of their courts. And if you don’t believe that, then you really wouldn’t believe that judges routinely have drinks and dinner with members of their grand jury. Oh, and did I mention that they have these dinners and drinks with the prosecutors and grand jurors at the same time? Heck, it’s so brazen that they do it in very popular places. Hmm. Brennan’s comes to mind. Doesn’t it GK?
Anyways, Judge Brown, former judge and now Harris County District Attorney First Assistant Belinda Hill, and former judge and now Director of the Harris County Criminal Justice Coordinating Council Caprice Cosper got together and came up with a plan for the backlog. Notice who is missing from this cast of former and current judges and prosecutors?
Okay, so their plan is to create four specialty courts that deal solely with capital cases. The rub is that they get to pick the judges and the prosecutors for the courts. Again, who is missing from this cast?
Basically what they want to do is form a “needle express”, rushing defendants through a court with handpicked judges and prosecutors in order to eliminate the backlog. Ah, justice, sweet justice in Harris County. Just like the good old days we heard so much about when Mike Anderson was running for the office and the rumor blog was running amok.
The three recently approached Harris County Sheriff Adrian Garcia with the plan, hoping that he would fund the eight bailiffs necessary to run the courts. Uh, no thanks, said the much more politically astute Sheriff.
For the third time, who is missing from the needle express cast?
Okay boys and girls, that’s it for this round of Harris County criminal court follies. Don’t worry, there is plenty more to come. Why, just today I filed a PIA to find out who the two people are that are getting raises so large that the Commissioners Court had to approve them last week. And to find out who the lucky person is that lost their car allowance (okay, so I know it is the general counsel) and who was the recipient of his loss!
This might be fun!
Whoops! Almost forgot my bonus question of the day!
For extra points, name the current judge who was the attorney for Robin Sue Cooper, and tell us why Houston Chronicle reporter Brian Rogers refused to name this judge in his article about the dismissal of charges?
If you’ve got a tip for me about the Harris County DA and court system, send it to [email protected]. Remember! Don’t use your work email or any equipment supplied to you by the county!