Defending Against Texas DWI Charges: Strategies to Protect Your Rights
Facing driving while intoxicated (DWI) charges in Texas can be a distressing and overwhelming experience. A DWI conviction cRead More
The Houston Bar Association (HBA) will soon conduct it’s latest Bar Association Judicial Preference Poll.
This is a poll taken of HBA members, wherein the members vote on and rate judicial candidates. The intent is to give the public the presumed wisdom of the HBA Members, as a voting guide to follow in electing judges.
There is one small problem with using the HBA BAR POLL as a voting guide. The problem is The HBA BAR POLL is largely a Sham. Many Lawyers know this; the public that might rely on the POLL, does not know it.
Allow me to explain how this farce works.
First, the Houston Bar Association is a fine Organization. My critique of the farcical nature of the HBA BAR POLL, is not an attack on HBA as a whole.
HBA’s membership has historically been made up primarily of civil lawyers. On the criminal law side membership is open to prosecutors and defense lawyers. What’s critical to understand is that For years, legions from the Harris County District Attorneys Office have been strongly “encouraged” to join HBA. For years assistant district attorneys dues we’re reportedly paid for by the DAs Office. ( I don’t know if that’s true but I have heard it for years). What’s important to note is that one of the primary reasons all these assistant district attorneys were encouraged to Join HBA, was for one reason and one reason only.
What was that reason? Assistant DAs were encouraged to join HBA, so that they could vote in the HBA BAR POLL. More specifically, they were encouraged to join HBA so that they might strongly impact, if not dictate, the outcome of the HBA BAR POLL regarding criminal court judges.
Now who would all these assistant district attorneys be voting for in the BAR POLL? Hmmm. They were encouraged to vote for their friends and former colleagues. They were encouraged to vote for former DAs who were reliably pro-state & pro-law enforcement & thus not reliably impartial. They voted for their pals, men and women who had non stop tickets from the DAs Office to the Bench. For years that’s exactly what happened. The prosecutors join HBA and in lock step they vote for their pro- prosecution pals. It makes sense but it does tend to skew the vote.
You might ask, well aren’t there an equally large number of defense lawyers, who also join HBA who might counter the prosecutor’s vote? The answer is no there are not.
The defense bar does not march in lock step. We are not big on marching. Moreover, we have our own organization.The Harris County Criminal Lawyers Association (HCCLA), is our Organization. I believe we are the largest local criminal defense organization in the country. We have well over 700 members. So, while some defense lawyers join HBA, the vast majority of defense lawyers join HCCLA, if they join anything.
What does this mean regarding the HBA BAR POLL? It means that for years, in BAR POLL after BAR POLL, far more prosecutors likely voted, then defense lawyers. And while the prosecutors block vote, the much smaller defense bar, votes according to their own whims.
Judges campaign for lawyers to vote for them in the BAR POLL. Why? Because the judges want to win the BAR POLL. Judicial Candidates tout their BAR POLL ratings as a reason for voters to elect or re-elect them to office.
State’s- oriented judges use their pro-state reputations to encourage prosectors and others to vote for them in the BAR POLL. Case in point, yesterday I received this email from Judge Katherine Cabaniss, 248th District Court.
“Dear Fellow HBA Member,
The Houston Bar Association’s Judicial Preference Poll will be released on Monday, September 8. I am asking for your vote.
In the HBA poll released earlier this year, I was voted either “Well Qualified” or “Qualified” by almost 87% of respondents.
I was a prosecutor for more than 11 years in Houston. I also served as Crime Stopper’s Executive Director for 6 years. Since being appointed by Governor Perry in 2013, I have worked to see that justice is done in every single case, every single day, in my courtroom.
It is the election season, and I need your help to keep Harris County safe.
Please take a moment to complete the HBA poll before the deadline, September 29. I would be honored to receive your vote. Additionally, please let a friend know about the poll, and ask them to vote as well.
Thank you for your time and consideration.
Judge, 248th Criminal District Court
pd pol ad • Katherine Cabaniss Campaign
First, I am not a member of the Houston Bar Association. So I don’t know why I got this email. Like other pro-state judges, Judge Cabaniss cites experience as a prosecutor and her years of service as CrimeStoppers Executive Director.
For the record, I have no personal animus toward Judge Cabaniss. We have known each other for years, have mutual friends, and no cross words have ever been exchanged between us.
But, I have a naive notion that judges are supposed to be neutral and detached. Actually, it’s not just my notion. The Texas Code of Judicial Conduct, Canon 2 A, states that ” A judge shall comply with the law and should act at all times in a manner that promotes public confidence in the integrity and IMPARTIALITY of the Judiciary.
Judge Cabaniss states “I need your help to keep Harris County safe.”
This statement bothered me. So I emailed Judge Cabaniss. I expressed my concerns. I am relating those same concerns here.
The Judicial Canons do not state that a judge has any duty to keep a jurisdiction safe. I recognize that a defendant’s potential danger to the community is a valid factor for any judge to consider when setting bond or sentencing. But I think it incorrect to suggest that ” keeping the community safe” is what a judicial candidate should be promising.
If you are running for Sheriff, you might promise you will keep the community safe. If you are running for DA, you might promise you will keep the community safe and you will do justice.
But, if you are running for judge, it’s seems appropriate to promise that you will comply with the law and act at all times in a manner that promotes public confidence in the integrity and IMPARTIALITY of the Judiciary.
A hero of mine, a man we all refer to as “The Real Bob Bennett” once observed that based on their ads, he could not tell if some judges were running for judge or sheriff.
At long last I think some Judges have never severed the cord. They never really left the DAs office. That’s why we refer to many of these judges as the “Judicial Branch of the District Attorneys Office”.
Is There something fundamentally wrong with a BAR POLL that’s numbers are skewed by a designed and quite purposeful, lopsided vote?
Is There something wrong with a DAs Office that systematically encourages it’s employees to take actions to elect judges who will predictably be pro-state and not impartial?.
Is There something fundamentally wrong when judicial candidates who should be trying to prove their impartiality, blatantly use their partiality, in order to promote their advancement in an already tormented system?
Ponder those, and while your doing that pray to God your liberty is never in the hands of our “impartial” judiciary.
Other than that I have no opinion.
The client believed to be facing potential Wire Fraud Charges related to SBA PPP loan applications. Investigation of applications for PPP loans and PPP forgiveness demonstrated that the Client had at all times acted in a lawful manner. Investigation demonstrated no fraud was committed by the client. Case closed.
Client was charged by Federal Indictment with making a social media post that threatened Malicious Damage and Destruction of a Building by Means of Fire and Explosives in violation of Federal law. The Defense showed that Client was a law-abiding citizen. The Defense further showed that the alleged threat was not made with any criminal intent.
The client, a public official with a long history of public service, was accused by a former girlfriend of engaging in non-consensual sexual relations. The Defense investigation and analysis showed through a detailed timeline that the allegation made absolutely no sense. Phone records, including calls and texts, were relied on to help establish an accurate timeline. The Defense met with law enforcement and reviewed a detailed package that exonerated the accused.
Client, a Houston area professional who frequently travels for work, was accused by his wife of assaulting her in his family home. Defense showed that wife’s story lacked credibility and there was no physical evidence in support of the wife’s allegation.
The client, a young Black male, was driving his car when police pulled him over for no apparent reason. It looked to be a profile stop. The client was accused of possessing a controlled substance in his vehicle. The Defense showed that there was no lawful basis for the police to stop the Client’s car. The Defense also showed that there was no lawful basis for the search of the Client’s car. It was a bad search, so the seized evidence was not admissible.
Client charged in Federal Indictment In “Operation Wrecking Ball” with 55 named co-defendants. Client faced seven charges. Client was charged with Conspiracy to Distribute Cocaine and Conspiracy to Engage in Money Laundering. Client was also charged with four counts of Distribution of Cocaine and one count of Money laundering.
Allegations involved client’s alleged use of his home to distribute cocaine. Government’s lengthy investigation involved numerous wiretaps, surveillance, video, pole cams, search warrants, vehicle stops and use of cooperating co-defendants.
Client went to trial with four remaining defendants. After a two-week trial, Judge granted Motion for Acquittal on four of the seven charges. Jury found Client Not Guilty of remaining three charges.
Client charged in Federal Court with two counts of Wire Fraud related to Five SBA EIDL loan applications. The Government alleged the client, a Houston professional, defrauded the Small Business Administration out of over $150,000. The Government also found the intended loss was over half a million dollars. The Client faced up to 20 years in prison on each count. The Defense investigated the case and negotiated a deal that included the Government not opposing a probation. The Federal Guideline calculation was for a prison sentence and the Probation Department recommended a prison sentence. Attorney Fickman submitted a 90 page Defense Sentencing Memorandum asking for Probation.
Client was retired professional. Client was accused of being involved in a road rage incident in 1960 Area. Defense put together a 100 page memorandum that demonstrated complainant was actual aggressor.
Client was accused of touching child. Case involved thousands of pages of psychiatric and Child Protective Services records as well as investigations by multiple police departments. After three- year fight, case dismissed.
Client accused of shoving and knocking down family member causing injury. After investigation, charges were dismissed.
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