Devon Anderson cancels (some say declines) remaining DA debates

Don Hooper

Devon Anderson, the interim DA, has found herself in a position where she can no longer debate Kim Ogg and has cancelled (some say has declined) all remaining debates. Political consultants often warn prosecutors that their trial skills do not translate well into the political arena. That is certainly true for Devon.

Over the last few weeks, Harris County voters have seen three debates between Kim Ogg and Devon Anderson: Fox 26 debate (in three parts: 1, 2, 3); Red, White, and Blue on PBS; and Houston Newsmakers with Khambrel Marshall.

On Sunday’s Newsmakers show, Devon’s scowls grew more pronounced, especially when discussing her special deals for friends of the DA. When the topic turned to Denise Pratt, Shawn Carrizal, and Ryan Chandler, Devon provided a look into the Anderson administration. She said that she was forced into a secret deal with Denise Pratt because she did not want that case to linger like the case against Victor Trevino, the Precinct Six Constable. And Devon said that she did not tell the public about the Pratt secret deal because she was not asked about the case. Devon and Pratt had the same political consultant, Allen Blakemore.

As a reminder, Trevino was indicted by a Harris County grand jury on November 16, 2012, for misapplication of fiduciary property, abuse of office, and tampering with a government record. Trevino is represented by Chip Lewis. Lewis was at the forefront of Mike Anderson’s campaign for Harris County District Attorney. Even though Anderson told Big Jolly that he did not have a special relationship with Lewis, over $10,000 was transferred from Lewis’s pocketbook to Anderson’s campaign coffers.

Lewis told reporters that Anderson’s victory proved that “our electorate cares about the integrity of the DA’s office.” Meanwhile, Lewis was busy informing Harris County Commissioner Steve Radack about secret grand jury matters. When Mike Anderson passed away, Lewis thought that Governor Perry’s appointment of Devon Anderson was “in the best interest of Harris County.”Lewis, someone who makes a living defending folks, also said that he understands that “Judge Anderson and Judge Hill discussed [Anderson’s inheritance of the position of District Attorney] extensively.”

Since January 2013, Trevino’s case has been reset 13 times and transferred from the 351st District Court to the court of Susan Brown, the same judge that led the runaway grand jury. Devon told Newsmakers viewers that she made a special deal with Pratt to prevent a delayed process like the Trevino case. The problem with that statement is that she is prosecuting Trevino and delaying the case now until after the election. Watch what happens after the election is over.

Then, Devon brought up the Ryan Chandler situation. Chandler is the former Houston Police Department homicide detective who was fired for lying and incompetence. Devon claimed to have no information on the Chandler situation because she recused herself from the investigation. Kim Ogg asked Devon to ask the court, once again, Susan Brown, to unseal the orders for more transparency. Devon told the audience that she originally asked the court to seal the orders but her hands were now tied because she recused herself. Meanwhile, Lewis has been making calls to the media on Chandler’s behalf. Shouldn’t he be working on getting Victor Trevino a Devon Anderson sweetheart deal?

Ryan Chandler and bride to be

Ryan Chandler and bride to be

Devon presumably recused herself from Chandler’s investigation because Chandler is married to Inger Hampton, leader of Anderson’s conviction integrity unit. Wrongly convicted individuals must feel safe with Hampton leading that charge. Open records requests revealed that Hampton was covering for Chandler regarding the absence of evidence in criminal cases and sending messages containing case information directly to Chandler.

Devon said that she asked Susan Brown to appoint an attorney pro tem. We know that Brown appointed Jeff Hohl, a former intern at the Harris County District Attorney’s office and current Montgomery County prosecutor. After a perfunctory investigation, the Montgomery County District Attorney, Brett Ligon, a former lawyer for the HPD union and another Allen Blakemore client, announced that no charges would be filed against Chandler.

So, here we are. Susan Brown sent the case to Jeff Hohl, a former Harris County DA intern who was licensed in November 2010. Has this guy even tried a murder case? Is he capable of evaluating a dirty cop who ignored murder victims?

The fact that Jeff Hohl was the attorney pro tem may be shocking to you because everyone was led to believe that the attorney pro tem was Brett Ligon. Then, Phil Grant, the first assistant in Montgomery County, claimed that he investigated the Chandler case. Grant told the Houston Chronicle that he was the attorney who “made the decision.” Of course, my favorite part of that Chronicle article is the fact that Blakemore is referred to as “Mark Blakemore.”

Chuck Rosenthal

Chuck Rosenthal

Throughout this article I mention a number of connections. These connections are crucial to understanding the Anderson-Lewis-Brown cabal. Devon’s latest campaign finance report provides more insight into her administration. Chip Lewis gave Devon two donations: $1,000 on September 17 and $9,100 on September 25. On September 24, Devon accepted $2,000 from former Harris County DA Chuck Rosenthal, who resigned in disgrace after it was revealed that he sent racist and sexist emails while serving as DA. HPOU who is defending Ryan Chandler and working with him to get his job back, donated $5,000 on September 24.Chandler HPD Photo

Throughout the debates, Devon stresses the importance of the human trafficking division. She believes that human trafficking is one of the most serious offenses facing Harris County. That means that she has staffed this division with only two prosecutors. Until recently, the division was manned by one prosecutor, Ann Johnson, hired by Mike Anderson. I guess Dr. Steven Hotze was not consulted on this hire. This is the same Ann Johnson who ran against Sarah Davis in 2012 for House District 134. Shockingly enough, Chip Lewis hosted a fundraiser for Ann. I wonder what Ann thinks about the latest push poll for Devon that emphasizes Kim’s sexuality. Yes, the whisper campaign against Kim Ogg has begun because that is the only card left for Devon to play.

Yesterday, the Houston Bar Association released the bar poll. Kim won that even though Devon Anderson’s office has over 300 votes and should have easily won. Her leadership style must not have won her too many friends in the office.

When asked about the Houston Chronicle’s endorsement of Ogg, Devon claimed that she was proud to not receive that endorsement. Devon’s exact response was: “I feel like I’m on the right track if the Houston Chronicle is not endorsing me.” Funny. If that is the case, why did Devon attend the Chronicle interview?

What can the rank and file prosecutors be thinking right now? I feel sympathy for many of them who have endured the succession of leadership. The truth is that Devon Anderson will do and say anything to be elected. And her besties within the office – the same people who worked against Pat Lykos within the office – have established a mean girls atmosphere where cliques reign supreme. There are still good people who work hard every day at the Harris County District Attorney’s office. What do they think about the FOD (friends of Devon) whispering about Kim’s sexuality and making her private life a political issue?

During the debates, Devon said that Mike told her that he wanted Devon to take his place as District Attorney. Did they tell Belinda Hill?

UPDATE

After this story was posted, Sara Kinney, a representative of the Anderson campaign and an employee of Blakemore & Associates, contacted David Jennings with two suggested edits.

The Anderson campaign claims that Devon Anderson has “declined” further debates rather than “cancelled” all remaining debates. Since August, the League of Women Voters (LWV) has been working with both candidates to schedule a televised debate. After the Houston Newsmakers show was filmed, Anderson withdrew her participation in the LWV debate.

The Anderson campaign’s second suggested edit concerns Anderson’s reaction to not receiving the endorsement of the Houston Chronicle. They did not like my original sentence: “When asked about the Houston Chronicle’s endorsement of Ogg, Devon claimed that she was proud to not receive that endorsement.” Rather than quote Anderson, I provided the readers with a link to the story and a brief summary. I encourage you to click over to the debate on the Houston Newsmakers website and watch the exchange (at 16:50) and decide for yourself if my characterization was correct.

The post Devon Anderson cancels (some say declines) remaining DA debates appeared first on Big Jolly Politics.

 

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Murray Newman wants Devon Anderson to re-try the killer of Officer Charles R. Clark!

Murray stated it was Mike Anderson’s intent to give Officer Charles R. Clark’s killer a new trial. Wow, I guess we can’t ask him if that is true but one thing is for sure, Devon Anderson promised to prosecute all cop killers personally to honor her husband’s campaign promise. Now, there will not be a videotape this time, like in the Harlem Lewis trial, but Murray will tell you Devon Anderson is the greatest prosecutor of all time. What would Devon tell the Clark family if she did not personally prosecute the case – they are not worthy of her efforts? Devon is not about to let the law enforcement community down. Alfred Dewayne Brown and the Clark family need justice.

Of course, I will be discussing Murray’s comments concerning grand juries at length.

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Devon Anderson and HPD

“Tonight, Houston homicide detectives are working to solve the murder of a man found stabbed in a parking lot.”

In Houston, the first five minutes of every newscast includes words like these. When we

Ryan Chandler and bride to be

Ryan Chandler and Chief Prosecutor Inger Hampton wearing Mike Anderson stickers.

hear news reporters providing minimalistic details of yet another murder, we believe that detectives will work to solve that particular crime because solving crimes makes us safer. Unfortunately, when Ryan Chandler and some others were assigned murder cases at the Houston Police Department, investigations remained idle and murderers remained free to roam. Thanks to the efforts of James Pinkerton, we know that Chandler had a variety of lapses including waiting years to file reports and lying about the status of murder investigations.

For years, Houstonians have heard of problems with the Houston Police Department. Historically, these issues surrounded police brutality – think Joe Campos Torres. In 2003, the city was shocked to learn about the total failing of the HPD Crime Lab. Instead of solving the root problem of incompetence and poor internal governance, our local government has simply created smoke and mirrors. Recently, Annise Parker created a local government corporation to “control” the crime laboratory; however, problems still remain.

It is long past the time that HPD withdrew from the crime lab business. Scandal after scandal has led to more bureaucratic bumbling with the same management in place. Bill King wrote a great op-ed piece in the Houston Chronicle about the crime lab situation.

Another scandal broke over the holiday weekend. A senior police officer is under investigation for signing in police officers at the municipal courts when these officers were actually absent.

The purpose of the criminal justice system is to hold people accountable for their conduct and make a community safe. Our local government seems to believe that their allegiances are to the police union rather than the people of Houston. The District Attorney’s office is meant to be that checkandbalance – the watchdog of the police.

Now, the police department is embroiled in one scandal after another that festers because the DA’s office can’t or won’t do its job. Ryan Chandler is just the latest exampleof poor law enforcementleadership manifesting itself through shameless politics and mismanagement. I say this because Chandler is indicative of the problems of the crime lab, HPOU, and the command structure of HPD itself.

The HPD organizational structure is very top heavy. Each division has a number of chiefs and captains; yet, people like Ryan Chandler are permitted to exist for years. Tim Oettmeier serves as an Executive Assistant Chief over the Homicide Division at the Houston Police Department, which meant he headed up investigations during the time of theChandler scandal. Somehow, he missed the fact that Chandler’s supervisors continued to offer identical performance evaluations.Ray Hunt Anderson Photo

It is no wonder that HPOU is linked up with Allen Blakemore – they both have a desire to control the local law enforcement scene. After the Pat Lykos administration prosecuted HPOU members for theft, the union paired with Allen Blakemore in November 2012 to criticize Lykos’s trace policy that had been in effect for two years. Of course, this was the public kickoff to Blakemore’s campaign to take back the DA’s office.

The truth was that Lykos, at the encouragement of senior prosecutors (who would later support her opponent), announced that, beginning in January 2010, the Harris County District Attorney’s office would not prosecute cocaine possession cases where the amounts were so small that the evidence could not be retested by the defense. At the time, the police union said that they would work together with the DA’s office.

Two years later, the union acted like they were horrified by this trace policy, even though it had been in effect for two years. The union teamed up with Blakemore to take back the DA’s office. A group of folks either sat idly by or actively participated in using a grand jury for an unlawful purpose, to oust a District Attorney.

Now, the current DA is supported by the union and is also a Blakemore client. Feel safer?

What is the future for the Houston Police Department? The agency ordered a recently-released Operational Staffing Report. As you may guess, the police report says that there is a staffing shortage and the answer to unsolved crime is more police. Instead of maximizing current staff, the Houston Police Department wants to keep the same structure and continue down the path of a less-safe Houston. This department wants the public to pay them to raise the crime rate. It has become a culture to them. Our elected officials need to reverse this problem by paying them to lower the crime rate with real results. In the last ten years, the police department’s budget has increased from $431 million to over $800 million – and not one officer has been added to the force. Truly, not only are we less safe; but, the officers themselves are less safe because of the outdated structure.

The future without change is that this reactive justice system will spiral out of control and our city will be overrun by the criminal element. It is time for our local leaders to use this opportunity to make a structural change to the Houston Police Department. Unfortunately, I don’t think the current leadership has the guts to make these necessary changes. It is easier for everyone to continue to support the union and the outdated structure. That way, no one risks a political endorsement. It is a culture of complacency.

Ed Gonzalez, a city council member and former homicide detective, is embroiled in the Chandler scandal. Do you think that Gonzalez has any suggestions about good governance concerning the police?

Why does the Harris County District Attorney’s office permit expensive special prosecutors like Jim Mount on certain cases; but, when a HPD homicide detective (married to a Harris County Assistant District Attorney) is accused of lying and potential criminal activity, the case is shipped off to the office of a former police union lawyer? And, of course, it was not surprising to see Chip Lewis, the DA’s favorite defense attorney, insert himself into the Chandler situation. Maybe that relationship deserves a closer look.

So, are we safer without Chandler?We know that solving crimes makes us safer. Holding people accountable for their actions is necessary to prevent future crime. Future offenders need to understand that this behavior will not be tolerated in our community. Firing one guy fails to attack the root of the systemic problem. Without pulling up this root, we will remain unsafe.

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