The Legal and Financial Consequences of a Texas Identity Theft Conviction
Identity theft is a serious crime that involves stealing someone’s “Identifying information” to commit fraud or otRead More
We must do away with the ugly appointment system in Harris County. Good people like State Senator Rodney Ellis and Past HCCLA President Jack Zimmerman, as well as others worked hard to pass this Act.
The problem is that, notwithstanding the language of the Act, the problems in the Court appointment system persist. In fact they may even be worse. What happened is simple: the Harris County Judiciary essentially ignored the intent of the Fair Defense Act and continued to do things their way. The Judges in Harris County control the Court Appointments. We have 22 District Court Judges and 15 County Court Judges and they each continue to control how appointments are made in their court. This is how it has been for the last 30 years I have been a lawyer and it must stop. The time for it to stop is Now!
In my opinion, most of our State and County court judges are good people. Personally, I like most of them, and they at least act like they like me. Individually, most of them try to do the right thing. But they are human beings which means, notwithstanding the robe they are capable of making mistakes. When you are a judge and you and your colleagues make a mistake and you all repeat that mistake, over and over, the damage caused by that mistake is magnified. The result is a very ugly picture, a very ugly criminal justice system. A criminal justice system that punishes people for being poor. That is wrong and it must stop Now.
The Harris County Criminal Appointment system is controlled by the judges. It is their creation and it is a wretched creation. Favored lawyers who are known to move cases are given an obscene number of court appointments. Lawyers who work hard on cases, who do their job are given a much smaller number of cases. The result is a small group of lawyers, handling an exceedingly large number of cases. Likewise, the result is a large group of lawyers, who are competent, are not given enough cases. This is not a matter of opinion. This is a matter of fact. The fact is demonsrated by the link that I am providing. Look AT IT!! It will show you lawyers that are handling 2, 3 and even 4 times the national recommended number of cases.
There are only so many hours in a day. No lawyer can provide adequate assistance to this many clients. So one may safely presume that in Harris County many lawyers are not providing effective assistance, simply as a result of time constraints. Restated: By perpetuating this system, the Judges in Harris County, each in thier own way are contributing to institutionalized ineffective assistance of counsel by the lawyers who are clearly handling too many cases. Would you want your family member represented by someone who moved 400 cases, 500 cases, 600 cases, 700 cases, or 800 cases a year? NO you would not. These numbers, which occur in Harris county all exceed the number of cases recommended by the American Bar Association. That is not some lefty group. That is the staid American Bar Association. They are conservative by nature, yet our appointment system, as it exists does not even come close to their recommended case levels which are high.
The Fair Defense Act was the Judiciaries chance to do things right. They have failed. They are making no move to change this egregiously wrong system. If no outsiders intervene this system will go on and on and on… My post and those that follow will be my attempt to movivate my Fellow lawyers, Community leaders, Legislators, The Harris County Criminal Lawyers Association, and other stake holders need to put an end once and for all to this system. The legislature is in session. Laws can be passed to change this Now. We need not allow the disgrace to go on.
An independent Agency needs to be created. That agency needs to be staffed by individuals who are knowledgeable and professional. That agencies mandate should be to make all state and county appointments and to implement the Fair Defense Act. Such agencies exist in other jurisdictions. In Texas their is such an agency in Lubbock. San Mateo, California has a national model, that we can follow.
I love Texas, and I love Houston and I love my fellow Houstonians. I do not love our State & County Court appointment system. Our Judges are good folks, but it is past time for them to get out of the court appoinment business. In federal court, the District Court Judges do not make appointments. Appointments are made by clerks at the magistrate level who have no connection to the trial court.
An independent agency making the appointments is what is needed. The agency would not cost much to run. Staff could be drawn from existing personnel. A trusted person, known for their fairness could be put in charge. Former Judge Caprice Cosper comes to mind. The Public Defender would have no control. A Board of Trustees could be put in place, comprised of stakeholders and respected appointed counsel, to oversee the agency, to make sure it was operating properly.
And this is very important: I do not advocate reducing the number of private appointments made. There should not be one less appointment. I advocate a redistribution of the appointments to qualified appointed counsel. When one lawyer is drawing work for four lawyers that is too much. The clients suffer. Those cases need to be given to the good lawyers who are not recieving adequate appointments. If the appointments are fairly spread out amoung our many qualified private counsel, the system will provide better representation to the indigent defendants. And Good court appointed lawyers will be given work, rather than watching other lawyers handling 3 and 4 times the number of cases they should get.
Indigent defendants have suffered enough. Today I am drawing a line in the dirt. The system as we know it must stop. The judiciary has proven that they need to divested of the power to make state and county appointments. Their creation, as seen in the data is beyond shameful. The time for tweeking is over.
Fundamental change must occur. The legislature is in session. I call on ALL who care about our justice system to stand with me, and my colleagues. The system is wrong and it must be changed. The disgraceful system may be seen by going to the link below.
I am fully committed to this action.
God Bless Texas.
Robb Fickman, Houston.
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 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.
Client was accused of knocking disruptive student against the wall. Videotape of incident was obtained. Witnessed located and interviewed. On the day of trial, case was dismissed
Identity theft is a serious crime that involves stealing someone’s “Identifying information” to commit fraud or other illegal activities. “Identifying information” includes:
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