Harris County DA race: Mike Anderson – Justice? You mean “just us”, right?

Mike Anderson

I have to admit that when I first saw Felicia Cravens’ complaint against Judge Mike Anderson, I was half, oh well, and half, hey, that is Judge Denise Bradley’s courtroom, I need to warn her. I mean, I’ve seen this stuff so often through the years that I’ve come to accept it. Yeah, I know shame on me and good on Felicia for not. And as for Judge Bradley, she had been very nice to me during her campaign and I thought that I was returning the favor. Although I was never able to contact her directly, I was able to get word to her through an intermediary.

Lot of good that did. I couldn’t have protected her because Judge Anderson himself hung her out to dry. In a blog post on Chron.com, either Chris Moran or Brian Rogers got this from Judge Anderson:

“Whether it’s the Cub Scouts or the South Texas College of Law doing mock trials or (Houston Bar Association) doing (continuing legal education), those are public courtrooms and you seek permission from the judge, which I did,” Anderson said. “It’s just been customary at the courthouse, for the 30 years I’ve been around, that if you want to use a courtroom, you ask the judge.”

He said Bradley even signed the group in and watched them go through the metal detectors at security.

Let’s review the Texas Code of Judicial Conduct:

Canon 2, B.     A judge shall not allow any relationship to influence judicial conduct or judgment. A judge shall not lend the prestige of judicial office to advance the private interests of the judge or others; nor shall a judge convey or permit others to convey the impression that they are in a special position to influence the judge. A judge shall not testify voluntarily as a character witness.

Great. Wonderful. Now both judges are guilty of judicial misconduct. Sad state of affairs down at the courthouse. And this is what people want to go back to?

No, Judge Anderson (and Judge Bradley), you don’t just “ask the judge” if you want to use a courtroom. Here is how it is done:

SECTION 7. NON-OFFICIAL USE OF PUBLIC AREAS

7.1 In accordance with this section, those Public Areas suitable for meetings or gatherings may be made available for Non-Official Use after regular business hours provided such Public Areas are not needed for official business. However, such Non-Official Use may not be scheduled between the hours of 10:00 p.m. and 6:00 a.m..

7.2 Any Entity desiring to meet or gather in such Public Areas for a Non-Official Use shall submit a written request at least ten days prior to the initial proposed use. Each request shall be valid for a period not to exceed ninety days. All requests shall be submitted to the FPM Customer Service Section at 1310 Prairie, Suite 140, Houston, Texas 77002. The request shall provide: (1) the full name, mailing address, e-mail address, and telephone number of the Entity, and the Person representing the Entity, desiring to make the Non-Official Use; (2) a specific description of the Public Area to be used; (3) a general description of the nature of the Non-Official Use (i.e., meeting) and the expected number of participants; (4) the dates and hours during which the Public Area is to be used; and (5) a promise to pay any cleanup or other costs.

7.3 Use is allocated by the County or District on a first-come, first-served basis, and is subject to the availability of the requested Public Area.

7.4 The Public Areas provided herein are primarily for official business, and in the event of a conflict, the need and use for official business shall take priority.

7.5 The County or District reserves the right to preempt or interrupt the scheduled use of the Public Area if the Public Area is needed to conduct official business.

7.6 A Person who makes Non-Official Use of a Public Area Surrounding a Public Building may hold, carry, or display as much material as that Person can hold, carry, or display on his or her Person at all times. Any excess material or any material found in the Public Area after the Person has left shall be removed.

7.7 A Person may use a portable chair or table while holding, carrying, or displaying material, but a Person may not place articles in or on Premises that give the impression of permanent or semi-permanent occupancy or residency (for example, a bed, cot, filing cabinet, sofa, desk, heater, refrigerator, stove, or portable bathroom facilities). Any excess articles shall be removed.

7.8 Activities may not interfere with or disrupt the conduct of official business, or interfere with the free ingress and egress to the Premises.

And here are copies of the forms that are supposed to be filed ten days prior to expected use:

Reservation

Indemnity

 

Perhaps judges do not have to sign in when they enter the courthouse on weekends because neither Judge Bradley’s or Judge Anderson’s names are on the log in sheet.

Sign In

Makes you wonder: who else entered the courthouse that day without signing in? Hard to believe that Judge Anderson would film an ad without his sleazy consultant around. I half expected to see the members of the 185th Runaway Grand Jury on that list.

Let’s go back to Cravens’ complaint:

Anderson’s use of the 262nd State District Criminal Courtroom to film his campaign advertisements is a clear violation of the Texas Code of Judicial Conduct because it undermines, rather than promotes, public confidence in the integrity and impartiality of the judiciary, and clearly involves a judge lending the prestige of judicial office to advance their private interests.

I pay my taxes so government can carry out a few narrow, legitimate purposes. Establishing a judiciary to promote justice is one of them; but providing a no-cost set that politicians can use to film campaign commercials is not.

And she is exactly right.

I guess what bothers me most is not that Judge Anderson broke the rules and didn’t follow the law, although that is not a good thing. What bothers me the most is that Felicia filed her complaint over a week ago. Judge Anderson had plenty of time to huddle up with his consultant, figure out a game plan, and do the right thing by reimbursing the county for the cost of his use of the 262nd courtroom and issuing an apology.

But no, that isn’t what he does. He defiantly claims that he did nothing wrong even as the facts are staring him straight in the face. Not only is he defiant, he implicates another judge to go down with him.

Why? I’m glad you asked. I think it is clear that Judge Anderson has a pattern of doing what he wants, regardless of what should be done. Supporting Judge Bill Harmon’s dismissal of DWI cases rather than have the defendants go through a rigorous intervention program. Allowing felony DWI’s to be pled down to misdemeanors at the same time his is publicly admonishing the District Attorney for an intervention program for first time offenders.  Wanting the courthouse to revert to the good ol’ days of the frathouse.

Does Judge Anderson understand the meaning of justice? Or does it mean “just us” to him and his friends?

If you haven’t voted yet, think about that.

Comments

  1. Ex-ADA says

    BJ,

    If you truly are neutral, I challenge you to make one, just one, blog post on something negative Lykos has done. There are many to choose from.

    • David Jennings says

      I haven’t been neutral since I did the PIA that showed me that Mike Anderson was in favor of Judge Harmon dismissing cases rather than putting defendants through the rigorous DIVERT program.

  2. Ex-ADA says

    So your dislike of Mike Anderson means you are blind to ANY faults Lykos may have? Do you think what she did to Mark Donnelly and Rifi Newaz was appropriate? Do you think rewarding Rachel Palmer for taking the fifth to protect herself and Lykos sends the right message to the public?

    While I prefer Anderson to Lykos based on qualifications (and the fact that Lykos has decimated the HCDAO I was once proud to be a part of) I can agree that he has many flaws. Are you capable of the same regarding Lykos or are you really just a shill as Murray suggests?

    When I started working at the HCDAO, I was proud of the job I did. When Rosenthal happened, I was ashamed and embarrassed for the way he screwed us all, but I was still proud of what I and many others did every day. Morale at the office began to tank; however, when Magidson came into the picture, morale rose above where it had been pre-Chuck. Morale rose because we had a leader who had integrity and whose only goal was to do the right thing. Then Lykos came and morale hit an all new rock bottom – likely beginning with her treatment of Rifi and Mark. It got so bad that the HCDAO became a toxic environment that drove me away from my passion. There was no longer any “reward” for doing the right thing. Under Lykos, nobody wants to step up and try the hard cases because a loss might have you libeled in the chronicle. Rather than let it eat my soul and turn me into a depressed shell, I left so that I could maintain my integrity (personal decision – not implying that those who remain lack integrity). Since I left the DAO, I have returned to smiling when I get home to see my wife and daughter instead of being constantly consumed by the morale killer that is Lykos.

    Unfortunately, I am not the only one who feels this way. There are likely 150+ lawyers at the HCDAO who share my sentiment but are unable to leave. I hope for their sake that Lykos is NOT re-elected. Anderson, Fertitta, and possibly even Lloyd Oliver would be an improvement over what Harris County now has as a “leader.”

  3. David Jennings says

    Ex-ADA,

    Sorta funny you calling me a shill right after a comment from Murray. Sheesh. Look in the dictionary under “shill” and you find a picture of….

    Here’s the deal – I was straight down the middle until it became clear that Anderson supported dismissing DWI cases rather than let defendants enter the DIVERT program. That put me squarely in the Lykos camp. No one, be they a blogger or a reporter, has filed more PIA’s in this race than me. So don’t call me a shill and expect me to take you seriously.

    As for she treated Donnelly and Newaz – what do I care? Seriously. I’m a voter and a county resident. I couldn’t care less about the day to day workings of the office, I just want it run efficiently. And no one, not even her most vocal critics, say that she hasn’t run the office efficiently. Oh, sure, you hear about the hardwood floors, again, who cares? Look at the office as a whole and you’ll see why County Judge Ed Emmett endorsed her.

    I’ve written about Rachel Palmer – you can read what I think.

    Whenever I hear people say stuff like you just wrote, about the swings in your morale, I know that the problem is with the person, not the leader. Look within yourself before blaming Rosenthal, praising Magidson, or blaming Lykos. Likely, you were pissed off that she won and never gave her a chance – that is what I think. I’m glad you are smiling now but have no doubt that when something doesn’t go your way, you’ll be crying again but this time you’ll blame whomever is in your way and it won’t be Lykos.

    If there are 150 more like you remaining at the office, I hope that Lykos is able to identify them and get them to leave or force them to leave. The DA’s office should be about the people’s business, not coddling a bunch of people that need counseling.

    Did that help?

  4. Georgetown says

    We will never have another Rosenthal who did so much good in that office. The way Lykos treated him as far back as the 2000 Primary meant I would never vote for or respect her and I told her that face to face at the SD convention . Let’s hope Anderson can do better because I sense that he is winning this primary.

  5. snapped says

    Pat Lykos may be a difficult boss and demanding but Mike Anderson returning the DA’s office to a frat house party surely is not the appropriate solution.
    Perhaps if the ADAs stopped their whinning and acted like adults Pat Lykos would’t have to scold them as much.
    Pat Lykos decided to clean house instead of allowing Animal House to continue and I support her for that.
    It felt really good to vote for Pat Lykos on Friday with our precinct chair.

    If you haven’t voted for Judge Pat yet Tuesday, May 29th is your last chance so get out and vote to re-elect Pat Lykos as Harris County DA.
    Tell everyone you know to get out the vote for Pat!
    Email blast all your friends and have them do the same.

    We can’t afford another Chuck Rosenthal buddy system DA we need a real DA for all the people.

  6. says

    Good prosecutors who are dedicated and stay at that office deal with cases on a daily basis that people outside the Office will never see in a lifetime. That includes Republican bloggers who care only for the good of their political party.

    I’m willing to bet that Big Jolly has never had his living room table scattered with the autopsy photographs of infants. Probably never sat down and had to talk to a five year old little girl about what her mom’s boyfriend did to her, either. I doubt he’s ever had to sit and explain to the mother of a murder victim about why the jury gave her child’s killer less than Life.

    But, hey, he’s a political blogger, and that gives him about as much qualification as Pat Lykos to cast judgement and insults on those of us who have walked the walk that he talks about. Did I sit around and drink beer on many Friday afternoons with Homicide cops and prosecutors who tried cases like I did? Damn straight. Did commiserating with people of common background mean we were a “frat house”? Hell, no. And to hell with people like Lykos and her shill who would judge prosecutors who deal with subject matter that they couldn’t ever handle in a million years.

    You can try to inject politics into the District Attorney’s office all you want, but when the polls close and the election is over, there is a very non-political job to be done. Lykos has brought politics into it and decimated the numbers of experienced prosecutors who can handle what she can’t.

    Big Jolly, you want her to get rid of 150 more of those “whiners”? Now that’s awesome! So, you would prefer an incompetent, wet-behind-the-ears prosecutor as long as they were conforming and happy to work for your Matriarch? I pray, for your sake, that your life never experiences a personal loss at the hands of a criminal. If it does, you may change your mind about how wonderful Lykos is.

  7. Newme says

    Murray Newman, who in the HELL do you think you are as the great gift to Prosecutors in the D.A’s office. YOU DONT SPEAK FOR ME OR ANY OF THE REST OF US! You need to butt out! You dont speak for us.

  8. says

    Hooper, seriously, who do you think you’re fooling? Just because you borrow your wife’s badge doesn’t make you a prosecutor. She’s not really one, either.

  9. David Jennings says

    Murray, first off, Newme isn’t Don Hooper. Just thought you should know.

    A tiny part of me wants Anderson to win, just so I don’t have to hear you complain about the political process any longer. But that is just selfish on my part and would not do the citizens of Harris County much good.

    The DA’s office is a political position. You can bemoan politics all you want but that is the simple truth. And if you think that Mike Anderson isn’t a politician, you are ignoring reality. He has been elected three times and has carried himself as a politician throughout this race, although not an honorable politician.

    I’m not sure why you have decided that I’m nothing more than a Republican blogger than cares more about the party than I do the position of DA. I don’t. I look around and see that Pat Lykos is the rare politician that has kept her campaign promises. And I’ll be voting for her because of that, as well as the way that Mike Anderson has run such a slimy campaign.

    You and your anonymous commenters hold no sway over me. I don’t care what you say about me. I have not attacked you even one time unless you call my post about you wishing ordinary citizens couldn’t vote an attack. You have attacked me over and over. Again, that is just the simple truth.

    You attack Don Hooper and Rachel Palmer Hooper with venom that is unwarranted. I will tell you that over the last couple of months I have gotten to know both of them better and am now happy to include Rachel as a friend. If Judge Anderson wins this race and fires Rachel, I have no doubt that she will be successful in whatever endeavor she chooses to pursue. I have found her to be a person of dignity and honor (and she is also quite funny). Although Don has taken your bait and fired back, Rachel has never, not one time, said a negative word about you or anyone else that has attacked her, at least not to me. That is class. I hope to get to know them better in the future regardless of where Rachel works, although I’m very confident that she will remain with the DA’s office and will continue to offer justice to the citizens of Harris County.

    I have also been privileged to meet many fine prosecutors that are currently in the HCDAO and are diligently working to improve the professionalism of that office. Some have told me that they used to read your work until they saw a story here or there that didn’t match the facts as they know them. I have complete confidence that the HCDAO is better today than it was when Pat Lykos took office in 2009 and that it will continue to improve under her watch.

    Thank you for your prayers for me. There can never be too many people praying for me. I wish you the very best in your new marriage and in raising Luke, who seems to be turning into a fine young man. God bless.

  10. newme says

    Thanks David

    You worked him with gentle gloves and I think your a great guy for that, but I’m a little different when it comes to dealing with a guy that has done nothing but thrash our office for almost a year and I’m ticked that this piece of crap thinkng he is speaking up for us, that are working for the office and are happy doing our job. You are a good man (David) for turning your cheek and absorbing his insult’s. I Wont, you dont speak for me Murray Newman and or anyone else in the office. If you do, your totally mistaken!

    GOD BLESS THE U.S.A., STATE OF TEXAS AND PAT LYKOS!

  11. Scott C. Pope says

    Until I read the last few posts and comments here, I never really realized just how damaging and insidious party politics have become. I’d seen it on a national level of course, but had never really paid much attention to it locally. it’s more than disheartening, it’s actually scary. I don’t care about party infighting, but when it spreads into every facet of life, it makes me realize that this country is in big, big trouble, at every level. Lies, obfuscation, and hate are the order of the day, even on a da when we should be thankful for the people who made this country possible. How ashamed of us they must be.

  12. conservative values count says

    An excellent point made by Big Jolly is that Mike Anderson is obviously a politician and to assert otherwise adds to the hypocrisy of his campaign.
    Mr. Anderson used to be a prosecutor many years ago as Al Franken used to be a professional comedian several years ago.

    Mr. Anderson’s, “I’m a prosecutor not a politician” applied to Kelly Seigler back in ’08 and Mike Anderson is no Kelly Seigler. I voted for Ms. Seigler in ’08 and would again. I cannot vote for someone who pretends.

    Big Jolly is correct that Mr. Anderson has run a very slimy campaign, associated himself with slimy consultants, engaged in highly suspicious activity and focused on impractical obscurity. These are compelling indicators on how Mr. Anderson would conduct himself as the elected DA.

    I do not want an angry old man longing for days past I want a cutting edge visionary who chooses performance over excuses.

  13. Rosie says

    Murray:
    I’m not much of a fan of either Lykos or Anderson, so this really isn’t a partisan comment – nor is it an ad hominem attack on you or them. But it seems to me that you consistently take the position that people like me (neither law enforcement, lawyer or court-related) have no right to make decisions regarding OUR District Attorney’s Office. Is it your position that Harris County would be better off if only employees of the DAs office got to cast ballots in this race? Don’t disparage those of us who haven’t seen a table “scattered with the autopsy photographs of infants.” You’re being overly dramatic; trust me, I’ve seen things you wouldn’t care to face, either, my friend. I have educated myself quite a bit about this and other races on the ballot; I also know many of those involved. But your comments are becoming a bit pontificating and self-righteous. You probably don’t intend it that way, but you play into the Lykos’ supporters hands when you take that “us vs. them” attitude and push everybody who’s not a DA into the “them” camp. Like it or not, WE whom you view as the ignorant masses will decided who leads this office and the rest of those in this democratic republic.