Devon Anderson Post Election

 

11.3.14 Victor Trevino, represented by Chip Lewis, pleads guilty to one case of misapplication of fiduciary property, a third-degree felony – sentencing set for after the election
11.4.14 Election Day – Devon Anderson elected Harris County DA
11.5.14 Texas Court of Criminal Appeals reverses Alfred Dewayne Brown’s capital murder conviction
11.17.14 Victor Trevino receives probation from Susan Brown with no jail time as a condition
11.25.14 Dustin Deutsch, former Harris County District Attorney’s office investigator, indicted for stealing evidence in 2012 (Lonnie Blevins, his partner, was arrested by the FBI in February 2013)
12.10.14 Cameron Moon’s murder conviction overturned by the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals following an incomplete certification process, which permitted him to be tried as an adult
12.12.14 Devon Anderson announces purchase of body cameras with asset forfeiture funds
12.16.14 Robert Durst pleads guilty to a reduced charge
12.18.14 Tadano America Corp. files lawsuit against the Harris County District Attorney’s office over the comic book scandal
12.23.14 228th Grand Jury no bills Houston Police Department Officer Juventino Castro in the death of Jordan Baker

 I am disappointed that the November election brought us another two years with Devon Anderson as District Attorney. During the election, it was obvious that Devon and her gang were holding their breath and hoping to delay certain difficult issues. Immediately following the election, the door to Devon’s closet full of problems swung open and revealed a laundry list of challenges.

On the day after the election, Devon awoke to an overturned conviction in the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals. The highest criminal court in Texas rejected the conviction and death sentence for Alfred Dewayne Brown.

In 2005, Brown was convicted of participating in the April 3, 2003 burglary of an Ace Check Cashing store. During the burglary, Houston Police Department Officer Charles Clark and the store clerk, Alfredia Jones, a single mother of two, were murdered.

Three men, Elijah Dwayne Joubert, Dashan Vadell Glaspie, and Brown, were charged with the Ace murders. Joubert and Brown were convicted of capital murder and sentenced to death, partially on Glaspie’s testimony. In exchange for his testimony, Glaspie received a plea bargain of 30 years in prison on a reduced charge of aggravated robbery.

Immediately after the Ace murders, Ericka Jean Dockery was used by Harris County Assistant District Attorneys to build a case against Brown and likely present false testimony. In a previous article, I reviewed the timeline of this injustice. On November 5, 2014, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals published their opinion in the Brown case.

This Court has reviewed the record with respect to the Brady allegation made by applicant. Based on the habeas court’s findings and conclusions and our own review, we hold that the State withheld evidence that was both favorable and material to applicant’s case in violation of Brady.

I do not know if Alfred Dewayne Brown played a role in the murders of Ms. Jones and Officer Clark; but, that is not the purpose of this story. This case provides an example of law enforcement’s ability to use the criminal justice system to produce a dishonest result. In particular, Brown’s case highlights the misuse of the grand jury system.

A variety of issues contribute to this misuse: repeat/professional grand jurors; the pick-a-pal (or key man) system that allows judges to handpick their grand jurors; law enforcement personnel serving as grand jurors; law enforcement influence on grand jurors; and improper influence such as the police shooting simulator. In Harris County, a prosecutor is allowed to present a case or investigation to any of the active grand juries and the prosecutor alone decides what evidence is presented to these grand jurors. Many people have a vested interest in keeping the current system in place.

During the campaign, Devon Anderson discussed the grand jury system with Houston Chronicle writer Lisa Falkenberg. Anderson said:

  • Even though she used the key man system as a judge, she would not use that system now.
  • The District Attorney is not in the position to dictate grand jury policy to the criminal court judges.

In the last legislative session, Senator Estes filed SB 834, which would keep the identity of grand jurors confidential. The Harris County District Attorney’s legislative liaison, Justin Wood, was in favor of the bill. So, in 2013, under the leadership of Mike Anderson, the Harris County District Attorney’s office took a position in favor of secret grand juries.

Senator Whitmire and Representative Dutton have filed bills to abolish the pick-a-pal system. In other words, with this legislation, Texas grand juries could only be selected through the jury pool. What will Devon Anderson do now? The no bill of Houston Police Department Officer Juventino Castro certainly magnifies the issue.

Log on to the Texas Legislature Online. Watch SB 135 and HB 282. Will the Houston Police Officers’ Union oppose this legislation? If so, why? Will the Harris County District Attorney’s office take a position?

While this legislation offers a sure fix, is it the correct answer? Does it get to the root of the problem? Does it let judges like Susan Brown off the hook? I am in favor of the abolition of pick-a-pal grand juries because the problem needs to be fixed immediately; but, I do not want to ignore the meaning behind this belief – there are judges who simply cannot be trusted. The only true solution to the problem of using a grand jury for an unlawful purpose is to identify this wrongdoing, educate the public, and get bad judges out of the courthouse.

Let me speak plainly on this issue. Now, judges are allowed to handpick individuals throughout Harris County to serve on their grand jury. These individuals can be their friends from church or the country club or people who helped get them elected, like political and union folks, including police officers. Lisa Falkenberg recently exposed the fact that most Harris County judges are sealing the names of their grand jurors. Harris County judges can handpick their friends/supporters to serve on their grand juries and defendants may never know the connection because those same judges protect the identities of grand jurors.

Most recently, the 228th Grand Jury refused to indict Houston Police Department Officer Juventino Castro in the shooting of an unarmed black man named Jordan Baker. The judge of the 228th District Court, Marc Carter, signed an order sealing the names of these grand jurors. In a recent Twitter exchange, Judge Carter told Falkenberg that revealing the race and gender information of grand jurors would answer “basic fairness questions.” Falkenberg concurred. As long as pick-a-pal grand juries exist, the revelation of race and gender alone is wholly insufficient in order to determine fairness.

Beyond the 185th grand jury, there are other instances of (at a minimum) the appearance of impropriety on local grand juries. The foreman of the Montgomery County grand jury that indicted Adrian Peterson was the chief deputy clerk and court administrator in Montgomery County. It was recently revealed that, in 2003, Houston Police Officer James Koteras led the grand jury that threatened Alfred Dewayne Brown’s girlfriend Ericka Jean Dockery.

Who cares, right? You are likely an upstanding citizen and the only time that you even think about the justice system is on the rare occasion when you are called for jury duty.

Recently, I had the opportunity to attend an event for the Anthony Graves Foundation. One of the luncheon speakers was Kelly Siegler. In her gruff way, she made a good point: victims are revictimized and communities are damaged when the wrong defendant is prosecuted. That is not justice. And, I think that most of us want justice for our community.

With this bad post-election publicity, Devon Anderson announced that she would use asset forfeiture funds to purchase body cameras for some local law enforcement. She is desperately trying to heal her relationship with the black community after she used Harlem Lewis to champion her “one tough prosecutor” image.

Devon did not fare well with the Hispanic community either with her handling of the Victor Trevino case. First, it was announced that Devon offered Victor Trevino a pre-trial plea bargain to reduce the felony offenses to a class C misdemeanor, a traffic ticket-level offense. Following jury selection and a day of testimony, on Election Day Eve, Trevino pleaded guilty to one case of misapplication of fiduciary property, a third degree felony. The sentencing was reset for two weeks and, surprising no one, Susan Brown gave Victor Trevino probation with no jail time as a condition.

Courthouse watchers raised an eyebrow when Trevino’s case was transferred from Judge Mark Kent Ellis’ court to the dishonorable Susan Brown’s court. Susan Brown, the judge of the 185th runaway grand jury that helped get Mike Anderson into office, held the wife of a defendant in contempt after she yelled “Amen” when a jury found her husband not guilty. Why would Trevino agree to this transfer unless he knew that the fix was in?

Imagine the balancing that was going on with this litigation. Chip Lewis, Trevino’s attorney, desperately wanted Devon Anderson to win. After Lewis permitted Trevino to testify before a grand jury not once, but twice, the constable was indicted. Lewis needed to clean up his mess with Trevino and “represent” his client’s best interests while making sure that his gal was elected. Again, why would Trevino agree to this transfer? Meanwhile, in December, another Lewis client, Robert Durst, received a reduced charge from Devon Anderson after he exposed himself and urinated on candy at CVS.

Let me talk about the Houston Police Officers’ Union for a moment. Every politician in Houston and Harris County tries to curry favor with this union. Deals are made because, let’s face it, unions can be powerful. It was this very union that worked together with Allen Blakemore and Mike Anderson to take down Pat Lykos at all costs because she stood up to them and prosecuted their own. It is this very union that protects officers from indictment.

What is next for the Harris County District Attorney’s office? Will Belinda Hill stay? How will the lawsuit over the comic book caper go down? And, how will the hearing end concerning David Temple? I have said for long time that we live in a banana republic if citizens are denied justice at the Harris County Criminal Justice Center. Chuck Rosenthal may not be the DA any longer but his key supporters are running the show.

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Jim Leitner

Friday, October 19, 2012. Jim Leitner’s last day as First Assistant District Attorney at the Harris County District Attorney’s Office.

Jim is board certified in criminal law with three decades of experience as a prosecutor, defense lawyer, and appellate attorney. After serving as a Harris County Assistant District Attorney, Jim served as the First Assistant District Attorney in Bell and Lampasas counties. Additionally, Jim retired as a Commander with the U.S. Coast Guard Reserves after 26 years of service. He was activated during Operation Desert Shield/Storm.

This is the resume of the man who has led the Harris County District Attorney’s Office over the last four years. What this resume does not say is the fact that Jim Leitner is an honorable, genuine, and good human being and lawyer.

During the demise of Chuck Rosenthal in 2007 – 2008, multiple prosecutors and “leaders” at the Harris County District Attorney’s Office begged Jim to run for District Attorney. “Please run – you are our only chance,” said many of them. After prayer and consideration, Leitner made the decision to seek the office of Harris County District Attorney. Quickly afterwards, the majority of the prosecutors abandoned Leitner’s campaign and placed their support behind their gal, Kelly Siegler. After Pat Lykos defeated Siegler, the prosecutors began begging Leitner to serve as First Assistant in a Lykos administration because they saw that as their “only way.”

Again, after prayer and consideration, Leitner abandoned a very successful criminal defense practice and took the position of First Assistant. Within days, the same prosecutors who begged him to run for District Attorney and serve as First Assistant turned on him. Of course, the leader of that group was Louis Murat “Murray” Newman IV, an individual who was twice fired from the office. After Lykos was elected, Leitner told Newman and approximately fifteen other staff members that they would not be retained in a Lykos administration. Newman responded by posting this [as posted – no grammatical corrections made]:

On the 12 Days of Christmas, Pat Lykos gave to the Harris County Assistant DAs:

12 jurors chosen witout a preemptive strike used by the state;

11 free “crooked cop passes” from Mr. Police Integrity himself……Clint Greenwood;

10 internal memos re: unprofessionalism of reading toxic, antiregime blogs at work;

9 new ashtrays for the 6th floor smoking lounge;

8 days of Lykos Hell every single week;

7 insulted yarmulka-wearing witnesses;

6 emails from my family wanting an explanation for why I won’t be visiting as planned for New Years;

5 new pantsuits;

4 free tickets for a reception on January 1, 2009 that I’m forced to attend;

3 washed out judges;

2 Leitner balls; and

A little troll from a spider hole….

Following this post, Ken Magidson, the interim District Attorney, fired Newman. So, from that moment forward, Newman began posting grotesque untruths about Lykos, Leitner, and anyone perceived to be affiliated with the Lykos administration. This included multiple posts about Leitner’s genitals and even cruel posts about his wonderful wife and family.

It is now clear that, from the beginning, the same prosecutors who begged Leitner to run and serve as First Assistant worked against him and every “friend” of the Lykos administration. Even individuals working as “leaders” within the office have steadily worked against Leitner simply to prove the point that they run the courthouse. Within minutes of a meeting inside the office, the certain specific details would be published on Newman’s blog. This occurred time and time again – even with sensitive data.

At this point, a reader with no link to the courthouse may think that this is simply a “he said, she said” and choose to not “take sides.” Let me offer this piece of evidence that, I believe, will make you change your mind.

On Sunday, July 26, 2009, at 11:00 a.m., someone from inside of the Harris County District Attorney’s Office accessed Leitner’s computer and served him with a warning.

So, someone who is tasked with providing justice to our community accessed Leitner’s computer and told him that the “war” over the courthouse was not over. If this sounds too ridiculous to be true, I agree with you that it is ridiculous; but, unfortunately, this political war over the courthouse is real. Now, maybe you can understand that the use of the 185th Grand Jury as a political weapon was true as well.

It is important to me that the public has access to the truth about Leitner and the other honest leaders within the Lykos administration. Newman and many bad actors within the office have worked to bring dishonor based upon lies to many good people and, unfortunately, Jim is just one example.

The people of Harris County lose with his exit from the office. The people who have systematically spread lies and undermined his leadership, including Mike Anderson and Murray Newman, owe Harris County citizens and Jim Leitner an apology. Certain members of the media, including Ted Oberg, owe Jim Leitner and our citizens an apology for serving as surrogates of these individuals.

I wish Jim the very best.

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(Updated) Murray Newman,Special Prosecutors, and Motion for new trial! (Updated)

185th Blogger and Anderson supporter

After all of Murray Newman’s misdeeds, Newman now dares to accuse the DA’s office of misconduct in the appointment of a special prosecutor following the revelation of evidence pointing to a defendant’s innocence. Secret grand jury information out of the 185th regularly appeared on his blog, you would have thought he was on the grand jury.

In all of Murray’s diatribes, he failed to mentioned the cozy relationship between Trisha Pollard, the grand juryforeman of the 185th, to Mike Anderson and his wife Devon Anderson. Murray never mentioned Stephen St. Martin’s large financial contribution to Kelly Siegler’s campaign. Judge Susan Brown’s payment of $3,000 to Devon Anderson. Stephen St. Martin and Jim Mount’s roles in the 185th grand jury will go down as one of the most disgusting occurrences in Harris County history. The 185th Grand Jury was nothing more than a photo op for the Mike Anderson campaign and the results of this grand jury speak for themselves.

The filing states that Kelly, in the least, failed to provide the defense with exculpatory evidence.The more important question is for Murray’s clients: Does your lawyer believe in prosecutors withholding exculpatory evidence? Judges you may want to think this through before appointing this fool.

(Updated)

Kelly and Paul playing make believe

So now we have all the players on the field and it seems the witness has representation, Paul Doyle. You may remember Paul Doyle as the straddlee from the first Susan Wright trial. Riley Joe Sanders has a lawyer too, Chip Lewis. Now, how is it that the witness and the stoned neighbor end up with these fine lawyers? Did Riley Joe have a lawyer at the trial? Did the witness see the People magazine article about Paul and Kelly, figure out that Paul is now a defense lawyer, and give him a call?Did Riley see Chip on Kelly’s campaign finance report and think to give him a call? I do agree with Paul on one thing, something certainly stinks and it isn’t Dick DeGuerin.  Stay tuned…………………………..

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