Friday, October 2, 2009

I guess I just don't always play well with others

Growing up in Texas I learned at an early age that if you've got a problem with someone for what they said or did, you talk to that person about it. Face to face. It was called being a man (or in this age of enlightenment -- being an adult). Attacking someone anonymously was, and remains, the act of a coward.

I had to deal with a coward down in Fort Bend County this morning. While I don't know with absolute certainty who that coward is, I have a pretty damn good idea. And if that coward is reading this post, I would appreciate it if you would act like an adult and acknowledge yourself. I'm not holding my breath, however.

I had a client appearing on an arraignment setting on a second DWI. After the docket was called, the bailiff (and I want to make this crystal clear -- the bailiff who was involved in this situation handled everything professionally and treated everyone involved with the utmost respect) took my client into the back hall and asked me to come with him. It turned out that Judge Lowery had signed an order revoking my client's bond for an alleged violation of a bond condition that the assistant prosecutor couldn't even point out.

That same prosecutor told me my client had two options this morning: he could accept her offer or he could go into custody until a new bond was set.

I asked the prosecutor if we could approach the judge to discuss this alleged violation and she said no. She told me that only the judge who signed the revocation order could hear the matter. So I headed upstairs to find out when we could get a hearing scheduled. On the way out I told the assistant prosecutor she had a problem with her probable cause affidavit and that we would need to approach the judge on that issue as well.

So up to Judge Lowery's court I went. Just before it was my turn to approach the bench, who should appear out of nowhere? Oh my, it was the assistant prosecutor! She and the judge proceeded to have a conversation -- I think it's a fair bet that they were discussing my client's case without my being present. Oh, what's a little ex parte communication between friends, anyway?

Judge Lowery then told me that we would have to go back downstairs to request a bond hearing after the sitting judge returned from out of town. Interestingly enough, on the revocation order, the judge had written that there would be no new bond until a hearing was held but then it would be set at a given amount with enumerated conditions. First the verdict, then the hearing?

Now it's back to the original court where we approach the judge on my motion to dismiss the information due to an invalid probable cause affidavit. During our time before the judge, the assistant prosecutor not only mislead the court on the purpose of our appearance in court this morning -- she also proceeded to argue a motion that wasn't before the court. Of course we should have a pretty good idea of how my motion before the bench fared. Ironically enough, without being asked, the judge set the bond at the amount listed in the revocation order along with the listed conditions.

As I left the courtroom the bailiff (the same gentleman I mentioned previously) asked me to come outside to the hallway so we could talk. I knew this couldn't be good. I know I was being a pain in the backside of the court and the prosecutor -- but that's my job -- but I couldn't think of anything I had done that would fall outside the lines. What happened next shocked me.

The bailiff told me that Judge Lowery told him that another attorney told her that I had alcohol on my breath. I told the bailiff that I had not been drinking. He told me he didn't want to take me in for public intoxication (WTF?) and asked if I thought I was okay to drive. I assured him I was. He then told me he didn't think I was drunk because he heard me arguing the law to the judge. I told him I knew he was only doing his job and I left -- steamed beyond all belief.

Now who is this coward of whom I speak? Before I approached Judge Lowery I was among my brethren on the defense bar. The only other attorney at the bench when I approached was the assistant prosecutor.

I'm not going to sit here and tell the world that an assistant prosecutor in Fort Bend County slandered me before the bench -- behind my back, no less. I'm not going to sit here and tell the world that an assistant prosecutor in Fort Bend County tried to have me arrested because I wouldn't roll over. I will say this much, however. If Judge Susan Lowery thought I was intoxicated or smelled of alcohol in court this morning - she didn't have the decency to tell me to my face.

I have a damn good idea who the coward is. I'm also willing to bet that he or she isn't going to come forward anytime soon. Always remember that a brave man dies but once while a coward dies a thousand times.


Anonymous said...

A great example of application of the law in Fort Bend County: PC for PI based on hearsay in hearsay.

Anonymous said...

That is just horrifying. Sounds to me like you should file a greivance about the ex parte thing. The State Bar won't do anything, of course, but it might make the prosecutor think twice before she does it again. Maybe you should get one of those little personal breath testing machines and take it with you next time so you can blow in front of the judge. That is such an incredibly chickenshit thing to do to you.

Houston DWI Attorney Paul B. Kennedy, said...

Thank y'all for the comments. It was quite the experience. Striping soccer fields tonight never felt so relaxing, peaceful and sane.

Anonymous said...

Maybe you need to change your mouthwash. Could that be the problem?