Appearance of impropriety between Robert Durst’s attorney, Chip B. Lewis, and Harris County District Attorney Devon Anderson
2520 Robinhood is home to a small high rise blocks away from Rice University. This address is also the location of Robert Durst’s safe house. Durst is a registered voter in Harris County and in the Conductor’s Circle level of giving to the Houston Symphony. In Houston, Durst’s security consists of Chip Lewis, not a registered voter; but, an attorney with special influence at the Harris County Criminal Justice Center.
If you turned on your television Sunday evening, you could not get away from Lewis. He seems to be using Durst’s latest misfortunes as his personal press junket. So, who is this opportunist?
Lewis spent the last half of the 1990s as a Harris County Assistant District Attorney. During 1999, his last year at the District Attorney’s office, Lewis represented the State of Texas in the prosecution of three Second Baptist School students alleged of aggravated sexual assault. For months, Lewis worked with fellow prosecutors Terese Buess and Lisa Andrews to prosecute these cases.
On the eve of trial, Lewis convinced the victim and her family to bless off on a plea bargain that dismissed the rape cases. In return, one of the three defendants, represented by Dan Cogdell, pled no contest to unlawful restraint and received deferred adjudication. This plea assured Cogdell that his client would not be labeled a sex offender because the plea bargain relieved the defendant of the sex offender registration requirements. Devon Anderson’s husband, Mike, accepted the plea bargain as judge of the 262nd District Court.
Following the conclusion of this deal, Lewis left the DA’s office and went to work for Cogdell. Meanwhile, the victim and her family were forced to file a civil lawsuit to recover restitution for her medical treatment
Lewis knows the media. Weeks after her husband’s passing, Devon Anderson was appointed to serve as Harris County District Attorney. Lewis served as a backchannel telling Chron reporter Brian Rogers that he “understood that Judge Anderson and Judge Hill discussed this [appointment] extensively.” How would he know?
So far, in one year, Lewis has donated $25,100 to Devon Anderson. Who knows if Durst has contributed under one of his many aliases.
- $10,000 on February 4, 2014
- $5,000 on May 23, 2014
- $1,000 on September 17, 2014
- $9,100 on September 25, 2014
This does not include the funds that Lewis donated to Mike Anderson, which were ultimately transferred to Devon’s campaign account. Lewis gave Mike Anderson $12,531.
- $10,000 on February 27, 2012
- $1,531 on June 12, 2012
- $1,000 on April 2, 2013
Even in the shadow of the latest courthouse rumors surrounding Lewis, he is hosting a fundraiser for Devon later this month. What has Chip’s investment in the Andersons done for him?
When Durst was arrested in June 2014 for urinating on candy at his local CVS, he was filed on for a class b misdemeanor. Three months ago (and post-election), Devon Anderson’s office reduced the charge to a fine only class c charge. Certainly a tough prosecutor like Devon called LA and Westchester County to let them know that their creepy serial killer is spraying his urine all over candy right here in Harris County, right? Devon Anderson sent the jinx back home to Rice Village. I am sure there is a very good reason why Robert Durst’s criminal defense attorney is Devon Anderson’s largest legal campaign contributor.
Since Devon Anderson assumed the position of District Attorney in September 2013, Lewis has received approximately 40 dismissals for his clients – this does not include the numerous dismissals under her husband’s administration. Victor Trevino, another Lewis client, received probation with no jail time for misapplying money. Trevino’s three other cases were dismissed.
Lewis represented Doug Karpen, the “Texas Gosnell.” Under Devon’s leadership, Karpen was no billed by a grand jury.
Lewis’s involvement in the 185th runaway grand jury is well recorded. Lewis and his client, Amanda Culbertson, sold a fabricated story to the grand jury, manipulated the system, and used the process to get Mike Anderson elected. Lewis and Culbertson subsequently attempted to use the federal court system to silence my wife and they have been unsuccessful. In fact, during one of the hearings, Lewis simply left the court during a break and was chastised by Judge Lynn Hughes.
The story of the worthless HPD homicide detective, Ryan Chandler, has been a consistent narrative over the past year. The former detective is married to Devon’s chief of post-conviction review, which is an area of the office supposedly dedicated to the review of innocence claims. For some reason, Lewis has openly supported the former detective and attempted to manipulate the media to favor this man who failed to investigate at least 25 Houston murder cases.
Devon Anderson needs to account for her relationship with Mr. Lewis. His campaign donations and results at the courthouse, at a minimum, appear improper.
The Andersons campaigned on their tough on crime stance. If you look around town, you can find evidence of a serious crime wave in Harris County. Tagging isn’t just graffiti – it is a criminal element marking their territory. The local news is filled with shootings, kidnappings, and robberies.
Harris County residents are riding a crime wave and the smart criminals know where to go. I am sure that the Rice University area residents are praying that the criminal justice system is less corrupt in New Orleans and LA County than in Houston. Maybe we can rename the open carry bill after Robert Durst.