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Thursday, January 26, 2012

More Thoughts on Kerr County Jail Overcrowding; Tanna Brown Recovering; News in 198th DA Race

I believe that our public officials - Sheriff Rusty Hierholzer, County Judge Tinley and the commissioners and the judges will work together in good faith to make the best decision for addressing the problem of overcrowding at the jail. I don't have enough facts to give any opinion. I hope they will explore some of the ideas that other counties have used - more personal recognizance bonds, and having the police and deputies give citations to people caught with personal possession amounts of marijuana.

Personally, I'd like to see the insane, futile "war on drugs" stopped but that is not going to happen and we have to work with the laws on the books.

DA candidate returns illegal campaign donations
By Zeke MacCormack
Published 05:59 p.m., Thursday, January 26, 2012
Scott Monroe, a candidate for district attorney in the 198th judicial district, says he refunded $550 in contributions by corporations to his campaign.
“I honestly didn't know it was illegal,” said Monroe, who was alerted Tuesday to the problem by Brad McCullouch, his Republican primary opponent. The district in which they are running covers Kerr, Kimble, Edwards, Menard, Mason and McCulloch counties.
Monroe, a Kerrville lawyer, said he self-reported the issue to state officials, who recommended returning the funds to the approximately half-dozen corporate contributors.
McCullouch, now an assistant district attorney, said, “I was glad that he repaid the unlawful contributions after I brought the law to his attention, and I believed the matter closed.”
No complaint has been filed, but Kerr County Sheriff Rusty Hierholzer said he'd been contacted about the contributions, which are potentially a third-degree felony.
Read more: http://www.mysanantonio.com/news/local_news/article/DA-candidate-returns-illegal-campaign-donations-2737122.php#ixzz1kcQjVDk5
Jeez, I'm glad I'm sitting this one out!
I'm pleased to report that Tanna Mozell Tyler Hurt a/k/a Tanna Brown is recovering from her health scare. No one is giving any specifics, but it appears that she was life-flighted to San Antonio on the eve of her jury trial in the 216th District Court in Kerr County on 35 felony indictments alleging theft, forgery, tampering with government records, etc., having to do with her job as a probation officer in the 198th District. I sincerely hope she has a full, speedy recovery. She needs to answer the charges, the same as any other person charged with a crime. Being arrested, indicted and put on trial is stressful and traumatic for most people, especially white, middle class people who have never been in trouble. I have had several who became clinically depressed and a number tell me they were considering suicide. Nothing is worth that, short of a terminal, wasting illness.

Her cases have been reset for Feb. 22.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Will the Eight Million Dollar Kerr County Jail Expansion be a Fiasco Like the Juvenile Detention Facility?

With the derailment of the trial of disgraced ex-198th probation officer Tanna Mozell Tyler Hurt Brown and the Kerr County commissioners considering expanding the jail at a cost of Eight Million Dollars in today's news, I thought it might be instructive to look back at financial disaster a few years ago involving Tanna Brown and the juvenile detention center.I found this excellent article in the web:

What went wrong at the JDF?
by Carolyn Kahant for TaxpayersWatch

On December 17, 2004, the Kerr County Commissioners voted 3-2 to purchase the County Juvenile Detention Facility (JDF) from the Hill Country Juvenile Facilities Corp. for the sum of $1.9 million. The vote was 2-2, with Buster Baldwin and Dave Nicholson opposed; County Judge Pat Tinley broke the tie, voting in favor.

This came after weeks of negotiations with the bondholders who had invested nearly $5 million in the facility. This article is an effort to understand how we got to this place. First, an historical outline.
The original 48-bed detention center was opened in 1994 by Recor, Inc. as a private institution. Recor ran into financial troubles in 1997. In response, the County created a non-profit corporation to buy the facility from Recor, and then leased and managed it. The Board of Directors of the corporation consisted, by state mandate, of Kerr County Juvenile Board members: District Judges Stephen Ables and Karl Prohl, and then-County Judge Fred Heneke. (In 2003, Pat Tinley became County Judge.)

By 2002, the facility was running a financial surplus, and was said to have a good reputation and a waiting list of out-of-county juveniles. This seems to be the basis for the decision to increase the size by one-third. To raise the money for this expansion, a new non-profit group, named the Hill Country Juvenile Facilities Corporation (HCJF Corp.), was formed.

At this point, it's important to understand that the detention facility never housed more than 10-12 Kerr County youths at any one time. It mainly catered to what seemed to be a growing demand by other county's law enforcement agencies.

The new HCJF Corp. refinanced the existing debt and began building a 24-bed, $2.6 million wing with a $5.14 million bond issue. $1,947 of this amount was used to pay off the existing mortgage on the existing facility.

However, during the course of 2003-04, things did not continue to go well. The corporation exhausted it's surplus, and in Sept. '04 failed to pay the $412,300 for the 2005 lease payment.

The Kerr County Commissioners also declined to pay up, saying the bond offering clearly stated the debt would not be the county's obligation. The eleven, mostly Texas-based bondholders were shocked, and a major Wall Street firm downgraded the county's bond rating to near-junk status. Unless something else was done, the facility was scheduled to close on December 31st.

As stated above, in mid-December the Commissioners took over the facility for $1.9 million, and shortly thereafter the juvenile board registered their vote of approval. Since the beginning of this budget year, October 1, 2004 to May 31, Kerr County taxpayers have been billed $1,207,552 to operate the facility, above and beyond the purchase price.

Questions that must be asked

The questions have always been: What was happening at and with the Juvenile Facility that caused it's financial fortunes to change for the worse during 2003-04. And why were the public and the bondholders, indeed even the County Commissioners, unaware of these facts and taken by surprise when the Juvenile Board announced it was unable to meet it's lease/bond payment?

TaxpayersWatch studied the minutes of the Juvenile Board meetings of 2003-04. The following are excepts we believe tell some of the story. You may access the complete transcripts for yourself at the Clerk's Office in the Kerr County Courthouse.

April 1st, 2002 - County Auditor Tommy Tomlinson states, "Back when we first started, our mix was better. We had a lot of overflow; that situation has totally gone away. Some months we had $165,000. Now we're averaging $125,000 to $135,000."
(We include this to show that in 2002, there was some warning of a downward turn in revenues. Ed.)

January 29, 2003 - Judge Prohl said that although we have no building permit, we've already begun excavating. He also mentioned a floodplain problem. Architect Gondeck replied he had submitted plans to the city and applied for a building permit.

February 13 - several therapists and MHMR personnel employed by or associated with the Juvenile Facility attended the meeting, bringing complaints that were discussed in closed session.
Kevin Stanton, Juvenile Probation Department chief, comparing the first six months of fiscal year 2003 to last year's, announced a deficit of $86,000, attributing it to having more kids that stayed longer; also "kids we're holding for other states that we have to pay for."(?!) Tanna Brown, JDF Director, reported that everything was fine.
(Only 15 days after being told there was still no building permit, and the excavation had only just begun, the board is confronted by employees with serious complaints about the management of the facility, in addition to negative financial news. Shauna Wickham, a licensed professional counselor employed by the JDF at the time, said in a 1-14-04 Kerrville Daily Times story that the therapists who attended juvenile board meetings were not allowed any time to voice concerns. "We never got to say a word." she said. TaxpayersWatch believes the board missed an opportunity here to put the building construction on hold while it looked more closely into institutional problems. Ed.)

April 21 - Tanna Brown described some minor difficulties involving construction of the new wing, and also a problem with a 25 year old detention guard, whom she teminated, winning the approval of Board members. After a closed session which included Stanton, but not Brown, Judge Tinley said he was very concerned and would keep what was brought up an item of consideration at every board meeting.

(All meetings from here on had a closed session dealing with personnel matters.)

June 18 - Meeting focused on moving money around to pay bills and details and problems with the building contractor.

July 2- Tanna Brown reports that the facility no longer has the drug and alcohol program in place as of June 23.The grant of $84,000 that funded the program was terminated because the facility was out of compliance with the rules. Though the facility had already received $40,000 to $50,000 of it, Auditor Tomlinson is insecure and thinks the Texas Commission of Alcohol and Drug Abuse may ask for that to be returned. The possible involvement of "criminal justice" comes up several times.

Before the closed session, which includes possible pending litigation this time, JDF Therapeutic Program Director Peter Steeghs asks to speak. He says he was fired yesterday by Tanna Brown and told he may be subject to a criminal investigation. Reason given: Brown claimed her name had been forged on Texas Commission of Alcohol and Drug Abuse documents.

Mr. Sadler, author of the Substance Abuse Treatment Program, said he was also threatened. He had filed a grievance and wanted to attend the closed meeting, based on the Texas Open Meetings Act. That was not allowed, but he expressed satisfaction after being assured his situation would be addressed.

Following the closed session, the Board referred matters to the oversight agency of the JDF, which is the Texas Juvenile Probation Commission.

(This is a major disruption at the facility, yet the board doesn't show much concern for the blinking red lights. When the TJPC investigated, they found no evidence to back up Brown's claims of forgery. Yet the substance abuse program was not reinstituted and no explanation has ever been given to the public.
Glenda Taylor wrote in a 1-14-04 Kerrville Daily Times story, "Most of these therapists lost their jobs at the facility when a substance abuse grant was terminated by Brown -- a move which has been questioned." Questioned by onlookers and the people terminated, perhaps, but not by the juvenile board or any other county authority. Ed.)

August 12 - County Auditor Tomlinson reports that he's short $70,000 for three months at the Juvenile Facility and some old bills, plus $9,000 for court-appointed attorneys. The judges look at county reserves. Tinley says, "The ship is taking on water fast." They vote unanimously to request $75,000 from Kerr County. Then, since they were short this year, they vote to increase next year's budget request by $75,000.

(During all the above meetings, Brown reports that everything at the juvenile facility, apart from the construction which takes up much of her attention, is going well. The board accepts her reports without question, at least in open session. Ed.)

October 1 - Tanna Brown introduces the idea of instituting a charter school at the facility, as a way to overcome the financial problems. The Texas Educational Agency will pay $24,750 for each of the facility's special ed students. "We're looking at a possible million dollar budget!" she said, "Actually one million, 200 thousand. Plus grant opportunities that come along with it, outside of TEA and ADA." She explained that 80% of the money has to be spent in the campus education department; the other 20% could go to administrative costs.

Auditor Tomlinson says, "It's a no-lose thing. If our budget is even close to what we project, then 20% for us for administrative cost is not small change."

Judge Prohl: "I'll tell you, this just ... Tanna and I have talked about this for a couple of years. I think ... and in reviewing Dr. Troxel's (KISD Superindendent) comments to the paper, it seems it would be timely for us. I think we should move forward immediately to try to lay the basis to go with a charter school."

Judge Tinley makes the point that education benefits to the children is his primary concern, but admits it looks profitable.

Brown reports about residents breaking the sprinkler system. This leads Tinley to mention that the Hondo juvenile facility is shutting down and we should get some "diversions" from there. Prohl declares, "We're fortunate to have wonderful administration in our facility!" Ables replies to Tinley, "Hondo struggled. The guys that were running it tried to make too much money." There follows an off-the-record discussion.

October 10 - Judge Prohl reports on his visit to the Hays County charter school and moves to authorize Brown to proceed in implementing a school here. It passes unanimously.

Oct. 23, Nov. 20, Dec. 4 meetings were mostly closed session. Open session discussion centered around the building construction progress, with the Lift Station for sewer and septic being a continuing problem.

(An 11-20-03 news story in the Kerrville Daily Times reports that Advocacy, Inc. was seeking formal permission to visit the juvenile facility in response to complaints of abuse and neglect. The board said the complaints were unfounded.)

December 23 - the grand opening for the new wing, scheduled for Christmastime, is pushed forward to February. Brown says, "Our septic stuff haunts us."

(Throughout all these meetings, Judges Ables and Prohl expressed their belief that they should not get too involved in what was going on at the building site because it was the architect's responsibility, and liability. If something turned out badly in the end, he would have to get the builder to fix it ... they had fulfilled their responsibility when they hired the architect. Ed.)

January 9, 2004 finds them still having septic problems. The Lift Station is described as "not a high quality deal, but it should be sufficient". The Charter School should start in August.

(On Jan. 14, there is a major news story in the Kerrville Daily Times, by Glenda Taylor, enumerating complaints of serious abuse and neglect taking place at the JDF. Taylor writes that more than 20 former employees have been speaking to her for the past three months. The article quotes Judge Stephen Ables saying, "The six allegations ... never made it to the juvenile board." Yet, almost a year earlier, on Feb. 13, 2003, JDF therapists and MHMR personnel came in person to the juvenile board meeting with "complaints" and said they were not heard. Ed.)

January 15 - Emergency meeting. After a closed session, the board votes unanimously to authorize the County Attorney, with counsel in Austin, to prepare a revised draft from the TJPC Executive Director of the Kerr County Juvenile Board, and submit it to Advocacy, Inc. and the Texas Juvenile Probation Commission.

(Two months after Advocacy Inc. requested to visit the facility, permission was still being denied by the JDF and the juvenile board. On January 19, Advocacy Inc. finally entered the facility after at least $27,000 in taxpayer's money had been spent to keep them out. Ed.)

March 19 - Brown reports, "We're getting a lot of calls saying Advocacy Inc. is calling kid's parents and telling them about what happened." The attitude is that Advocacy, Inc. are acting as troublemakers. Discussion centers around billing of $18,000 from Allison Bass & Assoc. for legal services regarding Advocacy Inc. Board votes to pay the bill. As money troubles mount up, interest is keen on starting the Charter School.

April 21 - Tanna Brown tenders her resignation, as of May 1st. Her stated reason is that "she wants to have a family life." All three judges praise her performance and dedication. They decide to immediately look for a new director.

May 19 and July 6- meetings are taken up with interviewing and hiring Becky Harris as new Director of the JDF, and the changes she is making. Auditor Tomlinson has another bill from Allison Bass for $6,000.

July 20 - the new wing is completed. There is some reference to abuse and neglect investigations by Texas Juvenile Probation Commission.

August 30 - A letter from Pat Tinley, Chairman, Kerr County Juvenile Board was sent to the Kerr County Courthouse advising that the Juvenile Board failed to appropriate funds in an amount sufficient to pay lease payments, including debt payments, for FY2004-05, beginning Oct. 1, 2004.

September 8 - Board filed a notice of non-appropriation: On 9-7-04, the Juvenile Board adopts a budget which did not include funds to make lease payments.

September 30 - Special emergency meeting. The Board passes a temporary continuation of lease agreement between the Hill Country Juvenile Facility Corporation and Kerr County until November 2004.

Oct. 28 and Dec. 2 - Two more emergency meetings for the purpose of having Kerr County keep paying the bills.

Then, as stated above, in Kerr County Commissioners Court...

December 17, 2004 - Commissioners voted to purchase the facility from the HCJF Corporation bondholders, thus getting the Juvenile Board off the hook. Judge Pat Tinley cast the deciding vote by joining Bill Williams and Jonathan Letz for a 3-2 majority. The agreement to purchase was dependent on the Kerr County Juvenile Board and the Kerr County Commissioners being guaranteed total immunity from liability from the bondholders.

(In the following 6 months, no one in government has tried to explain what went wrong except to place blame on the Texas Juvenile Probation Commission and Advocacy, Inc. But no accountability has been accepted by anyone. On May 9th, 2005, Commissioners Court addressed the problem of how to explain what happened in their Management Discussion Summary for the '03-'04 Audit of the county budget. For this story, please see "What do we tell the taxpayers?".)

Breaking News: Tanna Hurt Mozell Tyler Brown Life flighted to SA on Eve of Trial

Tanna Hurt Mozell Tyler Brown's 35 felony cases arising from her job as a 198th District probation officer were set for trial in the 216th District Court, Kerr County, today. I don't know any details but she was found "unresponsive" and life flighted to San Antonio. The hospital and law enforcement are not releasing any more information at this time.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Another idea to ease jail overcrowding - stop arresting people for misdemeanor marijuana possession

Kerr County sheriff deputies and Kerrville Police Department officers' standard operating procedure with people charged with possession of small amounts of marijuana is to arrest them and take them to jail. The legislature amended the law in 2007 to give the officer discretion to issue a citation like giving traffic ticket and let the defendant go (Code of Criminal Pro. Art. 14.06).

Another idea for the county commissioners to consider.

How to Reduce Jail Over-Crowding in Kerr County - Stop the Bail Bond Racket

Before the Kerr County commissioners ask the voters to approve the $8MM bond and tax increase Sheriff Rusty Hierholzer is asking for to expand the jail, they should look at how Liberty County (between Houston and Beaumont) cut its jail population by 2/3's and saved millions of dollars. The key is to release non-violent offenders on personal recognizance bonds.From Grits for Breakfast:

Liberty County lowers jail pop nearly 2/3, private contractor wants to up rates, county may de-privatize

"Remarkably, Liberty County has reduced its local jail population by nearly 2/3 since early 2011 simply by issuing more personal bonds to low-risk defendants, reported the Cleveland Advocate ("County's jail population down, but companies now asking for more money per inmate," Jan. 22):
Liberty County is already seeing a reduction in costs for the operation of the county jail thanks to a plan initiated by 253rd District Court Judge Chap B. Cain and supported by County Judge Craig McNair, County Court-at-Law Judge Tommy Chambers and 75th District Court Judge Mark Morefield to reduce the inmate population. Morefield discussed the plan as guest speaker of the Cleveland Rotary Club luncheon on Jan. 18

According to Morefield, at the time the plan was put into place, the county was spending 11 percent of its total budget, around $3.85 million, to fund the county jail. Much of the burden had to do with the fact that non-violent offenders were not being released because they were unable to pay their bond.

“It is not about overcrowding. It’s about the expense to the county and ultimately the taxpayers of Liberty County,” said Morefield. “The plan is designed to release low-risk inmates. Give them a PR (personal recognizance) bond and get them out of jail and off the fee list. With PR bonds, there hasn’t always been oversight, but our plan alleviates some of the concern.”
I bet that most of the inmates in the Kerr County jail are non-violent (alleged) offenders who are not a danger to the community.Most are not a flight risk. But they routinely have to post bonds for thousands of dollars. Typically, they pay 10% as a premium to a bond company - if they can afford it. But someone who is having trouble even paying living expenses often doesn't have a thousands dollars or more (lots more) to pay for bail. So they sit in jail.

The federal courts generally handle more serious crimes but routinely release defendants on PR bonds. In some cases they make them wear an ankle bracelet and can trace every where they go and restrict them to home and work.The ones who are true flight risks and/or dangers to the community stay locked up.

It took the judges in Liberty County to reform the bail bond racket and it will require the same here.I hope our judges and the commissioners will talk to the folks in Liberty County.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Does Kerr County Really Need to Spend $8MM for Jail Expansion? Rejected by KPD Citizens Police Academy; AUSA Takes Fifth in Fast and Furious Scandal

Kerr County Sheriff Wants $8MM for Jail Expansion
Kerrville Daily Times reported in its weekend edition that "Kerr County Sheriff Rusty Hierholzer told commissioners Tuesday that the jail needs an additional 96 maximum security beds to reduce overcrowding and "puts some teeth" in probation sentences.
The problem is the $8 million price tag that comes with such a construction project and the potential tax increase that would be needed to fund it."

KDT's editorial board supports the proposal, in an editorial that makes it sound like the lack of beds at the jail is letting hardened criminals run the streets of Kerrville, talking about the back log of cases in the two district courts. The truth is that convicted felons don't serve their sentences in the jail - they go to one of the Texas Dept.of Corrections state jails or institutional division prisons (a/k/a the "Big House).

The county jail houses inmates convicted of misdemeanors (maximum sentence 1 year), and inmates awaiting trial or revocation of probation before going away.I believe a significant factor in the overcrowding is the ridiculously high bails that some of the JP's set. That, and the sheriff and police departments doing what they call "direct files," where they file a case in the district courts without the DA vetting

Federal prosecutor cites Fifth in ‘Fast and Furious’ probe
The chief of the criminal division in the U.S. Attorney's Office in Arizona has cited his Fifth Amendment rights against self-incrimination in refusing on Friday to testify before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee in its ongoing investigation into the failed “Fast and Furious” gunrunning operation.

Rep. Darrell Issa, California Republican and committee chairman, said the prosecutor, Patrick J. Cunningham, had been subpoenaed by the committee to testify on Tuesday but his attorney notified the panel that Mr. Cunningham intended to exercise his right not to incriminate himself at his scheduled deposition.
Mr. Issa and Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa, ranking Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, have been investigating the Fast and Furious operation for several months. They discovered that more than 2,000 weapons illegally purchased by “straw buyers” at Arizona gun shops, including hundreds of AK-47 semi-automatic assault rifles, were allowed by the ATF to be “walked” to drug smugglers in Mexico.

More than 1,400 of the weapons are still unaccounted for.

Two AK-47s purchased at a gun shop in Glendale, Ariz., were discovered at the site of the shooting death of U.S. Border Patrol Agent Brian A. Terry, who was killed during a Dec. 14, 2010, gunfight with Mexican bandits just north of the border near Nogales, Ariz.

Arizona's state legislature will open its own investigation into the Obama administration's disgraced gun-running program, known as "Fast and Furious," the speaker of the state House said Friday.

Speaker Andy Tobin created the committee, and charged it with looking at whether the program broke any state laws — raising the possibility of state penalties against those responsible for the operation.

Fast and Furious was a straw-purchase program run by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. The goal was to try to trace guns sold in Arizona shops and then trafficked across the Mexican border, where they landed in the hands of drug cartels.

As part of the operation, however, agents let the guns "walk" — meaning they lost track of them. At least two of the guns ended up at the scene where Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry was killed in a shootout with Mexican bandits along a smuggling corridor in Arizona.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

John Bradley: Worst Prosecutor of the Year and Sorry Human Being Too

The Agitator announces the winner of its annual poll for worst prosecutor of the year:
Williamson County, Texas, District Attorney John Bradley is the winner of our 2011 Worst Prosecutor of the Year award. It was a tight four-way race for the first day. North Carolina DA Tracey Cline then broke open a small lead on day two, before Bradley closed on the final day of voting.

A few updates on Bradley: On January 4, UPI reported that the Texas State Bar cleared Bradley of any ethics violations for spending 20 years fighting the DNA test that kept Michael Morton in prison for a crime he didn’t commit. This isn’t terribly surprising. State bars are notoriously lax at disciplining misbehaving prosecutors.

In this November New York Times profile that I didn’t catch when researching Bradley to nominate him, Bradley actually shows some contrition, going so far as to say the DNA results in the Morton case—which, again, he fought like to prevent from ever happening—have changed him. I hope that’s the case, but I’m inclined to think that after the Morton case, after having once advised another prosecutor to seek plea agreements that allow evidence to be destroyed so it can’t be tested in the future on an innocence claim, and after doing all he could to bury any investigation into the Cameron Todd Willingham case, Bradley’s period of penance should probably last more than a few months.

Nevertheless, even after all of that, last year Bradley was still elected to the board of directors (PDF) of the National District Attorneys Association. (Nominee Anita Alvarez is also on the board.) I don’t know if his election was the result of obliviousness to the controversy surrounding Bradley or a way of symbolically defying Bradley’s detractors. Either way, it really doesn’t speak well of the organization’s membership. Or at least of its voting membership.

Bradley is up for reelection for his current DA position. His critics have adopted an amusing way to protest his candidacy: They’re hanging bandannas from Bradley’s campaign sings. The DNA that eventually cleared Michael Morton was taken from a bandanna left at the crime scene

A commenter wrote that.Williamson County, Texas, District Attorney John Bradley is the winner of the 2011 Worst Prosecutor of the Year award, and also receives a concurrent nomination as the Worst Human Being in America (tied with former Pedophile State University Asst. Coach and Pedophile Ring “Trainer” Jerry Sandusky).

Mr. Bradley vociferously defended the status quo, and stonewalled any DNA testing of the suspect “bandana” for five long years, extending the sentence in the Texas Gulag of Michael Morton from 20 years to 25 long, long years.

Bradley helped engineer a cover-up and suppression of exculpatory evidence for his former DA boss former Williamson County District Attorney Ken Anderson – now a Texas state district judge, for as long as humanly possible against the the valiant and noble forces of Barry Scheck and the Texas Innocence Project.

John Bradley wins both awards —- hands down.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Tanna Mozel Tyler Hurt a/k/a Brown Felonies Set for Trial

Tanna Mozel Tyler Hurt a/k/a Tanna Brown's 35 felony cases are set January 24 for trial in the 216th District Court for Kerr County. The former probation officer in the 198th District is charged with forging signatures on checks and other documents and stealing money paid by probationers under her supervision.

She loved to send people off to the pen, or at least those she didn't like or have to protect because they could have testified against her.

Hurt-Brown was part of the corrupt Ron Sutton-Karl Prohl regime. Sutton was the 198th DA, Prohl was the district judge, and both were indicted for embezzling from the asset forfeiture fund and other crimes.She was close to both of them and others who probably should have been indicted with them. She could probably tell some tales that would have the rats scurrying.

The 198th was run like a private fiefdom, and people who got caught up in the system were like the old inmates on the county farms, a source of revenue and job security.It needs more cleaning up.

She was indicted a year ago this month. I wonder if she'll plead and if so what kind of deal she'll get.A first time drug offender can easily get a 20 year sentence in this county. Surely law enforcement officers should be held to a higher standard.

A story in today's Houston Chronicle illustrates how there seems to be two "justice systems" one for the politically connected, and another for everyone else.
Ex-congressman loses $1.2M suit against teens in shooting
He filed the lawsuit against boys he was accused of firing at

"A former U.S. congressman lost a $1.2 million civil lawsuit he filed against two teenagers he was indicted for shooting at in his Houston law office parking lot more than four years ago.

The families of Taylor Brooks and Evan McAnulty, both then 17, said that after years of court battles with former congressman and defense attorney Craig Washington, the 11-1 jury verdict felt good.

"It was vindication for our sons, finally, after four long years," said Marti McAnulty, Evan's mother.

An attorney for Washington did not return a reporter's phone call on Thursday.

The teenagers had parked in a private lot below Washington's law office around 8:30 p.m. New Year's Day 2008.

Brooks and McAnulty said Washington shot at them after demanding payment for parking there. Washington was indicted by a grand jury in 2008 on charges of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, and he entered into an agreement with prosecutors on the eve of the scheduled trial.

Washington served two years of pretrial diversion and 60 hours of community service in exchange for not having to admit guilt or enter a final plea. With his completion of the diversion program, the charge was dismissed.

The boys families called it a "sweetheart deal," saying they were not notified until after the fact that there was an agreement.

Washington then sued Brooks and McAnulty for $600,000 each, contending they tried to run him over in his parking lot. The claim Washington filed did not mention that he shot at the teenagers.

Brooks, a 22-year-old senior at LeMoyne College in New York, said he was starting to lose faith in the justice system, until Wednesday's verdict.

"We are in America very lucky to be able to be judged by a group of our peers, and it worked out for us well in the end," he said."
Washington, African-American, is a case study in the decline and fall of a once great lawyer.He successfully defended a black convict in the sixties who killed a prison warden and superintendent, a saga chronicled in The Trials of Eroy Brown: The Murder Case That Shook the Texas Prison System, by Michael Berryhill.Washington was elected to Congress, and being a liberal Democrat, probably was a big gun control advocate. As with many of the politically privileged, that didn't apply to him.

One of the boys posted this comment:

"Thanks to everyone for your support for the victims (the boys). I would like to clear up on thing for some of you. The boys had parked in that same parking lot a couple days before, their cars were never towed, were not ticketed, no note left saying you can't park there, in fact they were waived into that parking lot and when they left that night, their car were fine. So when they went back, they didn't think anything of it. However, Washington asked them to leave or pay him, and they decided to leave and Washington shot at the boys after they were already in their cars and in the public street. Proof showed the shots were fired after they were already in the street, with 3 bullets hitting the car (on the middle of the car window, the middle of the car door and the behind the car door all on the passenger side. This happened about 9:30pm and the entire event from the time to boys parked their car until after they were out of the parking lot and shot at, was less than 10 mins. We agree no one should trespass; we have all parked where we shouldn't have at some point, no knowing we were trespassing. But you also shouldn't get shot at when you leaving the premises as requested.

As for LegalMentors statement: Completely agree wish we could prove it, then that would really be a sweetheart deal. Washington was never arrested; he wasn't indicted until 4 mos. later and was allowed almost 2 weeks to turn himself in and he did so in the middle of the night. I don't believe anyone else would have been given the same courtesy.

To Ru55: We found that there were only 2 cases (which incl. our case) that Pre-Trial Diversion was ever given for Aggravated Assault with a deadly weapon. I completely agree it was official corruption, seems like we need a new DA. Thanks again to everyone".

Friday, January 13, 2012

Crooked Constable in Houston; Sex Abuser Cop in Killeen

Constable Abercia, two staffers indicted in corruption probe
By Susan Carroll and Mike Morris, HOUSTON CHRONICLE
Updated 11:23 p.m., Thursday, January 12, 2012

"Constable Jack Abercia, a veteran lawman with more than 41 years of service in Harris County's Precinct 1, faces a bevy of criminal charges in a corruption probe that also has snared two of his top staffers.

A federal indictment unsealed Thursday alleges rampant abuses within Abercia's office, accusing the constable of conspiring to sell information from a law enforcement database, accepting a bribe for hiring an unqualified deputy and sending his employees on personal errands on county time.
"The indictment alleges 11 specific acts of misuse of NCIC in November, accusing Abercia of accepting about $9,000 total for running checks on about a dozen prospective employees of a power washing company with ties to the government's confidential informant in the case. Though the indictment focuses on the November incidents, prosecutors say the practice had been going on in the constable's office for a longer period of time.

?Abercia and Butler are charged with bribery in connection with the hiring of an otherwise unqualified deputy constable in return for an alleged $5,000 bribe in July 2010."

Abercia appeared in court with props to make him a sympathetic character - a walker and wearing a moon boot and with his shirt tail hanging out, I suppose to make him look like an addled, sick old man - the Ronald Reagan act. A commenter hit the nail on the head:

"Let's see here, could this evoke a familar equation from the past: Federal felony committed by Harris Co. employee (Jerry Eversole) + Attorney Rustin Hardin + guilty verdict = ridiculously light prison sentence."

Wonder if he sold law enforcement information to the drug cartels?

Mickelodian commented:
"The problem with finding one criminal in government is that he or she is in league with how many other criminals and has been for how long. There is no way in hell that they are going to allow themselves to be exposed for what they are because they would have to expose much more than the taxpayers can believe. These criminals have been at this game since it all started. There is no way to change things now, that time passed a very long time ago.

The only way left now is to get rid of all of them and start over.
No Exceptions!"

Killeen officer charged with sexually assaulting teen

A police officer in Killeen was arrested Thursday and charged with sexual assault after investigators say he had an "inappropriate relationship" with a 16-year-old.

Last week, allegations surfaced that Kirt Yarbrough Sr., a 16-year veteran of the Killeen Police Department, was "having an inappropriate relationship" with a teenage member of the department's Killeen Police Explorer Program.

The perp looks like Jabba the Hut.

The Houston Press in November reported on the problem of Cops Sexually Abusing Teens Learning to Be Cops.
n recent decades, more than 100 police officers have had sex with Explorers they were entrusted with mentoring, the vast majority of them underage. In just the past year, two sheriff's deputies in San Bernardino, California, were arrested for having sex with underage girls; a New York City cop was charged with child sex abuse after sending racy text messages to a 15-year-old; an officer in Bremerton, Washington, was reprimanded for sleeping with an 18-year-old; and a former cop in Burlington, North Carolina, pled guilty to taking indecent liberties with a minor after being accused of having sex with a 14-year-old he'd taken on ride-alongs.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Texas Tribune interview with John Raley, Michael Morton's lawyer

Texas Tribune interviewed Houston lawyer John Raley about his battle with John Bradley in the Michael Morton wrongful conviction case.An excerpt:

TT: What lessons can be learned from Morton’s case?

Raley: I think it’s important for our state and for our country. It should grasp all of us to make us realize that this could happen to us. Michael Morton is just a normal guy. He had no criminal record, no history of violence. Manager of the Safeway. Left the house at 5:30 in the morning to make sure the produce was laid out neatly in the rows. Kissed his wife goodbye. Twenty-five years.

We should all try to do what we can to keep this from happening to others. And an analysis of these issues is part of it. Yes, files should always be open to the defense, so that there’s no evidence concealed from them. DNA testing on things that would have been tested if the crime happened today should be agreed to.

The DA who secured this wrongful conviction by hiding evidence was Ken Anderson, now District Judge Anderson. His protege was John Bradley, who fought for five years to continue hiding the truth. They should both be booted out of office and disbarred, and if there is any justice, do some prison time themselves. Despicable.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Did DEA Give Sinaloa Cartel a Pass? La Familia in Texas

Trial Exposes Odd Ties in Mexico Drug War
Saturday, January 7, 2012 | Borderland Beat Reporter Chivis
The upcoming Chicago trial of the son of one of Mexico's top drug lords has broken all the rules. This time, Jesús Zambada Niebla is going mano a mano with U.S. prosecutors, with both sides trading allegations that have raised eyebrows across the U.S.-Mexico borderIn pre-trial motions, Mr. Zambada alleges the U.S. government lets the Sinaloa cartel, Mexico's most powerful criminal organization, to import tons of illegal drugs into the U.S. in exchange for information on other cartels.
Mr. Zambada, 36 years old, is no ordinary accuser: He is the son of Ismael "El Mayo" Zambada, the co-head of the Sinaloa cartel alongside Mexico's most famous trafficker, Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzmán.
Mr. Zambada doesn't deny drug trafficking. Rather, he says he did so with the permission of U.S. drug-enforcement agents and was promised immunity as part of an agreement with the U.S. government.
In Chicago, where in 2009 he was again indicted for drug trafficking after his extradition to the U.S., Mr. Zambada is also accused of trying to obtain rocket-propelled grenade launchers and bazookas, which U.S. officials allege were to be used on attacks on U.S. and Mexican government installations. "I want to blow things up," Mr. Zambada said, according to testimony in a court filling from another confidential informant.

Meth Bust Involving Members of La Familia
| Borderland Beat Reporter Buggs
Feds Announce (Another) Local Meth Bust Involving Members of La Familia Drug Cartel.

By Robert Wilonsky
Dallas Observer

In October of 2009, James Capra, the head of the Drug Enforcement Administration's Dallas Division, invited media to a press conference so he could show off the massive haul from a long-in-the-works bust involving the Mexican drug cartel known as La Familia: 220 pounds of methamphetamine, 4.5 kilos of cocaine, $660,000 in cash and dozens of machine guns.

The feds and other law-enforcement officials said they'd nabbed some 1,100 people around the country during an operation known as Project Coronado; 84 of them were taken into custody in and around Dallas, a major distribution hub for drugs brought in from Mexico -- Michoacan, specifically, La Familia's home base. Six months later, Ricardo Hernandez-Cruz, a.k.a "Rica," a 37-year-old who handled the merch, pleaded guilty to meth trafficking.

A Dallas federal grand jury this week indicted 16 more members of La Familia, all of whom were arrested December 14 in Tyler and Dallas. Some were nabbed in rural Tyler, at the so-called "ranch" of Sergio Renteria Echeverria, otherwise known as "Trippa," the 30-year-old who Capra and U.S. Attorney Sarah Saldaña say is the "cell-head" who "concealed large amounts of drugs" on the premises. They also say he maintains another residence in Richardson, on Midway Drive, which the feds will seize if he's convicted.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

The Continuing John Bradley/Ken Anderson Saga; Kerr County Jail Overcrowding

1/6/2012 2:42:00 PM
Morton's lawyers demand deeper probe
Editor, Wilco Watchdog
Morton's lawyers demand deeper probe

Although the Innocence Project has called for a court of inquiry to investigate former Williamson County District Attorney Ken Anderson - to determine if he withheld evidence during Michael Morton's 1987 murder trial - that's not all the New York City-based advocacy group wants, in the wake of Morton's recent exoneration.

Judge Sid Harle's ruling on the court of inquiry request is pending. Last month, the judge said he wanted to give Anderson time to respond.

But, in addition to that, the Innocence Project is calling for an investigation into other, unspecified cases Anderson prosecuted during his almost 17 years as the county's elected district attorney. Before being elected D.A., Anderson - who since 2002 has been 277th District Court judge - served more than five years as an assistant prosecutor under Ed Walsh.

Bradley is having a tough time keeping his stories straight. He has made so many misleading statements over the past few months, many are now coming back around to haunt him.

"It really is the best practice for making sure all exculpatory material is released before any trial," Bradley Stated

It is more than "best practice", it is the law. A true open file policy, not the misleading policy Bradley claims his office utilizes would prevent these occurrences.

In 2010, Assistant DA Tommy Coleman admitted to withholding exculpatory evidence during a trial. After the trial was over, Coleman admitted the act to defense attorneys and jurors.

According to court documents, a motion for a new trial (Click here to read motion) was filed in June 2010 based on issues of suppressed evidence by prosecutors. A portion of the motion reads (page 3 of the motion):
”Defense counsel became aware of the evidence during the discussion with the jury panel after sentencing. The State’s attorney, Tommy Coleman (second chair) and defense counsel were discussing what evidence the jurors wished they had seem. Juror number 1, Jennifer Reasner and juror number 25, Michelle, both specifically said they needed to see the sales flyer because it ‘would have most likely been exonerating.' Mr. Coleman then told defense counsel the state had been emailed the piece of evidence in question but had not produced it to the defense. When defense counsel questioned why Mr. Coleman failed to disclose the information during the trial, (defense) counsel was told ‘it’s too late now, your guys already pled.’” (meaning he was already found guilty in trial)

Coleman, is the same Assistant DA who stated "Ewwww! Bloody bandana! Bloody bandana!" in a cynical attempt to discredit the evidence during a September 2011 Morton hearing.

According to YNN, Bradley was asked about the evidence issue involving Coleman, and he is reported to have said that it was a “policy decision” that kept the e-mailed evidence out of the trial in an attempt to defend Coleman's actions.

If withholding exculpatory evidence is a decision based on “policy”, it doesn't bode well for fairness or justice in Williamson County. How long has this "policy" of withholding exculpatory evidence been implemented? How many other felony cases prosecuted by Bradley's office does it affect?

Perhaps Mr. Bradley can take a bit of advice from Abraham Lincoln. "No man has a good enough memory to make a successful liar."

Reasons for Kerr County Jail Overcrowding?
The overcrowding at the jail is a problem that is going to require more money for expanding it, or a change in policies. I have some suggestions.Many of the inmates are charged with minor drug possession crimes, and are non-violent. The justices of the peace who set their bonds often set them so high they can't post bond, so they sit in jail waiting to go to court. This is compounded by a practice called "direct file," where the sheriff's office files a case in the district court before a grand jury hears evidence and indicts. Some defendants sit in jail months without their cases being presented to the grand jury.
My suggestions for lessening jail overcrowding: 1) set reasonable bonds for non-violent offenders, 2) do away with direct filing. Either they have enough evidence to indict or they don't; it's not right to keep these people in limbo.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Worst Prosecutor of 2011: John Bradley

Jana Duty Receives Williamson Co Sheriff's Association Endorsement
The Wilco Watchdog reports more dismal news for Williamson County DA John Bradley:
In what most are calling a major blow to Williamson County District Attorney John Bradley's campaign, Jana Duty announced earlier today that the Williamson County Sheriff's Association has endorsed her in the race for District Attorney.

It is defiantly a shot across the bow and a very bold and loud statement when a ten year incumbent who professes to be "tough on crime" does not get the endorsement and support of law enforcement. The Sheriff's Association, according to sources, has over 200 members.

Sources in both the political and law enforcement arena say Bradley is "toxic" and "no one wants anything to do with him".

The Agitator is running a national poll for worst prosecutor of the year, and John Bradley leads the pack. Another Texas DA is on the list too - Lynn Switzer, 31st Judicial District (in Texas Panhandle). Since Gov. Rick Perry appointed her in 2005, Switzer has done her damndest to make sure Hank Skinner is executed before he ever gets the chance to have DNA testing on key pieces of evidence from his trial. Switzer didn’t even convict Skinner, which makes her stubbornness all the more troubling. Skinner was once less than an hour away from execution before the U.S Supreme Court intervened. Then, earlier this year, he was days away before the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals stepped in.

My vote goes to Bradley and Williamson County District Judge Ken Anderson, who was the DA who sent innocent Michael Morton to prison for 25 years.Maybe their award could be in the form of a red bandana like the one Anderson hid, the one that contained the real murderer's DNA.