Why I voted for Kim Ogg for District Attorney

kim-ogg_DSC_2046-500x333

Commentary/Opinion by Don Hooper

While some lifelong conservatives, like me, have voted for Kim Ogg this fall, others may be hesitant because they are conservatives and doesn’t a good conservative always vote for the Republican candidate? Of course, that line of thought begs the question: What does a conservative prosecutor look like?

Before I begin, I would like to address the elephant in the room. I do not like the Anderson administration or their cronies and they do not care for me very much either. When I met my wife, she was a hardworking Harris County Assistant District Attorney. Over the last few years, I saw the Anderson cabal use a fake scandal to gain power. In doing so, they did everything they could to tarnish my wife’s professional reputation, including using Chip Lewis to file a baseless civil lawsuit. For many years, the cabal has used Murray Newman to speak ill about my family. Instead of sitting on my hands, I decided to do something about it and started my own website. That being said, I want to see the Harris County District Attorney’s office return to the people of Harris County and I proudly support Kim Ogg for District Attorney.

Some say that they would only support a conservative for any office; so, I would like to look at Devon Anderson’s record and ask the question: What does a conservative prosecutor look like?

In early 2013, Philadelphia physician Kermit Gosnell was convicted of three counts of murder in the deaths of three infants born alive. Shortly after that conviction, the news broke that Harris County authorities were investigating Douglas Karpen, a local doctor accused of performing late term abortions. Four former employees of Karpen accused him of delivering live babies during the third trimester and killing them by snipping their spinal cord or twisting their necks. On December 20, 2013, on Devon’s watch, a Harris County grand jury no billed Karpen. This no bill occurred as soon as Devon knew that she would have no primary opponent.

Much has already been written about our poor grand jury system in Harris County. Most of the judges use a key man system, which means that the judges select commissioners who choose the grand jurors. Using this process, rather than selecting the grand jurors at random from the jury pool, allows bias to enter the criminal justice system. New York judge Sol Wachtler was famously quoted in The Bonfire of the Vanities that “a grand jury would indict a ham sandwich if that is what [the prosecutor] wanted.”

In Texas, a prosecutor presents a case or investigation to a grand jury and the defense attorney is not permitted to enter the room. So, if a prosecutor, a hired persuader, presents a case to a pro-government, key man grand jury, what is the likely result?

Devon used the key man system when she was a judge. Devon and her husband continuously recycled certain grand jurors, such as Tricia Pollard.

Now we know that Denise Pratt, former judge of the 311th District Court, was operating a dysfunctional court. It is alleged that she backdated orders and dismissed hundreds of pending cases. If proven, these acts would be deemed criminal. Instead of being “one tough prosecutor” and vigorously prosecuting Pratt, Devon presented the case to a grand jury and used the grand jury as leverage to force Pratt’s resignation.

Meanwhile, the appearance of impropriety was grand. Devon and Pratt shared a political consultant, Allen Blakemore. If you are not familiar with Blakemore’s shenanigans, I ask that you listen to Michael Berry’s take on the man and his ethics. Pratt was represented by Blakemore buddy, Terry Yates. It is amazing that Terry Yates still associates with Blakemore. In 2010, Blakemore’s nasty tactics ruined Terry’s wife’s re-election campaign. Now, Leslie Brock Yates is a regular visiting judge down at the Harris County Criminal Justice Center. Devon is just mimicking Chuck Rosenthal as Blakemore also served as Chuck’s political consultant.

Let’s talk about Devon’s most recent campaign press release issued through Allen Blakemore. Allen and Devon claim that Kim Ogg was late on her latest campaign finance report. That statement is a complete lie. A simple gander at the latest report shows that Kim’s report was mailed on the due date, which is permitted by the rules. If Devon would permit this sort of distortion in her campaign, what is she doing as the interim District Attorney?

In 2012, Mike Anderson used the Houston Police Officers’ Union to publicize his campaign for District Attorney. Anderson and the union used Pat Lykos’s “trace evidence policy” to label Lykos as soft on crime. The truth is that policy was in place for two years prior to the aired complaint. Prior to implementation of the policy, Lykos had gotten the buy in of law enforcement and the judiciary, which included Anderson. This is a great example of the trickery and distortion often used by Blakemore.

During that campaign, Anderson also criticized the DIVERT program, which was a program implemented by Lykos that allowed pre-trial diversion for first time driving while intoxicated offenders. Anderson proclaimed that program was illegal. After he took office, he retained the DIVERT program (giving it another name). Today, the DA’s office continues this pre-trial diversion program. In fact, Devon has implemented a pre-trial diversion program for drug offenders. So, has she implemented illegal programs?

Just this week, Devon announced that she granted pre-trial intervention to an HISD principal and another HISD administrator for failing to report sexual abuse of a child. It is interesting to note that the HISD administrator was represented by Billy Belk, one of the attorneys appointed by Susan Brown to “prosecute” my wife in front of the 185th grand jury.

Speaking of Susan Brown, has anyone ever learned why Susan Brown gave $2,925 to Anderson & Thomas, the former law firm of Devon Anderson and Brock Thomas, on December 29, 2010?

Back to the HPOU. Did you know that Devon is endorsed by the HPOU? It is odd to note that Devon does not discuss this endorsement. Why? Is she worried that citizens would draw the dots between her support of the police and the actions of the DA’s office? Does support from a police union make Devon conservative? If you wonder why the Houston Police are still in the crime lab business, look no further.

Now, Devon is up on television during this campaign. Her commercial focuses on her prosecution of a capital murder [on videotape]. While the Victor Trevino case is continuously reset, it is almost like she tried the capital murder [on videotape] to use in her campaign commercial. Is it conservative to use a defendant as fodder for a political campaign?

Shortly after Mike Anderson took office, he hired Ann Johnson, fresh off her campaign against Republican Sarah Davis for House District 134. Johnson was hired as the “human trafficking specialist” at an annual salary of $110,000. Was that a conservative move?

Belinda Hill gave up her bench to serve as the first assistant under Mike Anderson. A lot of folks thought this was a strange move. Why would a judge with broad authority resign to become an assistant district attorney? Once Mike’s illness was announced, it seemed obvious – Belinda would succeed Mike in office. The Houston Chronicle thought so. Surprisingly, Devon was appointed by Rick Perry. Recently, Devon said that Mike wanted her to take his place.

Chip Lewis has been a visible figure throughout the Anderson administration. He was involved with the 185th grand jury and even told Harris County Commissioner Steve Radack about his forthcoming subpoena. Following Devon’s appointment, he said this: “I understand that Judge Anderson and Judge Hill discussed this [Devon’s appointment] extensively. They both believed that this was in the best interest for Harris County and their families to move forward with this arrangement.” Meanwhile, he is representing Victor Trevino and seems to be getting a lot of favorable results for his clients with the Anderson administration.

Kim Ogg certainly has Republican minions running scared. I received word that a political consultant was looking to see if Kim ever represented a Muslim so that could be used as slime against Kim. Note to this consultant: you may want to first run Devon’s bar number through the Harris County District Clerk’s website before you decide to throw stones. This is the type of garbage that certain people resort to when they have nothing else. Thankfully, Kim Ogg is above that trash.

I first met Kim Ogg in 2009 at a fundraiser for my wife, then a Republican judicial candidate. I will never forget the conversation that I observed between Kim and Dodie Osteen – Kim was thanking Dodie for praying for Kim’s mother at Lakewood.

While some conservatives may have reservation about voting for a democrat, I am confident that Kim Ogg is not a partisan figure. The Ogg administration will be true justice for all Harris County citizens. Think of it this way – a vote for Kim Ogg is a vote against Allen Blakemore.

Please follow and like us:
0

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.

Please follow and like us:
0

Devon Anderson, and the Texas Rangers Investigation

 Chandler HPD Photo

The Harris County District Attorney’s office has a dilemma, compounded by a conflict, in search of a guy name Brady. A month or so ago, there were rumblings around town that a Houston Police Department homicide detective was under investigation. On Friday, Houston Police Chief Charles A. McClelland, Jr. called this (former) police officer a liar and announced that the officer was fired. Of course, bad news always hits on a Friday.

Back on March 5, Jeremy Rogalski from Channel 11 reported that the homicide detective accused of sloppy work, Ryan Chandler, had received identical performance reviews. All four of Chandler’s performance reviews from 2011 and 2012 were “virtually identical.” They even included the same misspelling: “investigattions.”

On Friday, James Pinkerton reported in the Houston Chronicle that at least 24 homicide cases in the city of Houston were not investigated. Houston City Councilman Ed Gonzalez, a former HPD homicide detective, was recently in possession of pending homicide files. He told Pinkerton that he took the files with him when he left HPD for Houston City Council in 2009. Now we know that seven other officers from the homicide division have been disciplined for playing a role in the failure to investigate murder cases in Houston, Texas.

There is no question that, even at the outset, this was obviously a huge scandal. The actions of local law enforcement and a shared political consultant, Allen Blakemore, have turned the scandal into actions that require investigations by the Texas Rangers and a special prosecutor. It is not surprising to most that Allen Blakemore is the center of evil when it comes to the Harris County District Attorney’s Office.

Unsolved homicide cases leave unidentified murderers on our streets and families without answers. So, who is investigating the actions (or inactions) of the Houston Police Department? Typically, the Harris County District Attorney’s office would investigate HPD’s behavior. Instead, the investigation was forwarded to the Montgomery County District Attorney’s office at the request of the Harris County DA. This may have been done because Chandler is engaged to a Chief Prosecutor in charge of conviction review at the Harris County District Attorney’s office.Chandler Hampton Photo

The new Harris County District Attorney, Devon Anderson, forwarded the investigation to Montgomery County District Attorney, Brett Ligon. Brett Ligon, an Allen Blakemore client, is also a former union attorney for the Houston Police Officers’ Union. So, now we know that Brett shares a political consultant with Devon Anderson. And they share their political consultant with the Houston Police Officers’ Union. And, before Brett was the Montgomery County District Attorney, he represented HPD officers on a full-time basis for almost ten years. Let me be clear, Brett Ligon represented HPD officers who were disciplined by the department or in trouble with the law. And, of course, Mike Anderson was endorsed by the HPOU. I did contact Jeff McShan, the spokesman for the Harris County District Attorney’s office on Friday and asked for an opportunity to speak with Devon about these issues. I have yet to hear back.

Mike Anderson campaigned on the restoration of integrity to the Harris County District Attorney’s office. After Devon was appointed by Governor Perry, her mouthpiece at the time, Chip Lewis, said that she would “continue the good work” done by Mike. So, wouldn’t you think that Devon would want to avoid even the appearance of impropriety? Why would she forward an investigation of Houston Police Department officers to a former HPOU lawyer? Did Brett Ligon ever represent any of the officers currently under investigation?

Do these disciplined officers continue to work in the homicide division? Do they continue to testify? Has the defense bar been notified about these problems and conflicts? Are these uninvestigated murder cases being reviewed and properly investigated? Are murderers roaming our streets because of law enforcement’s incompetence? Will these murder victims ever be acknowledged? If any of these cases ever go to trial, how will this situation be handled? Were officers paid to not investigate cases? Is that a crime?

The people of Houston deserve a truly independent investigation by the Texas Rangers and a neutral special prosecutor. Allen Blakemore cannot continue to use the courthouse and the District Attorney’s office as his playground. Blakemore controlled the District Attorney’s office through the Chuck Rosenthal administration and we saw the end of that story. It’s always the cover up that gets you.

Please follow and like us:
0