After defeating Sheriff Ron Hickman in the election this month, Sheriff-elect Ed Gonzalez is already sticking his nose in Hickman’s official business — mainly, the lawsuit filed against him.
Hickman, along with the county, all the county judges and five bail hearing officers, has been sued for participating in what a national civil rights group calls an unconstitutional bail system. The group that sued on behalf misdemeanor defendants, Civil Rights Corps, argue that poor people in Harris County are being systematically jailed before trial just because they cannot afford to pay an arbitrary bail amount, unlike wealthier people charged with the same crime.
A Houston police officer shot his neighbor during a dispute over a dog Thursday evening, Houston police said Friday.
According to police, off-duty Officer Jason Loosmore knocked on his 21-year-old neighbor’s door around 6:20 p.m., on Riderwood Drive in Westside, hoping to ask the man for medical and shot records for his German shepherd, which Loosmore told police attacked his own Pug mix that evening. Then things got weird.
After embarking on a year-long review of Harris County’s pretrial system for poor people, the Texas Indigent Defense Commission released its findings and recommendations Tuesday — and it appears judges have their work cut out when it comes to reform.
According to the commission’s analysis, judges appear to be rather arbitrarily deciding whether someone is indigent based solely on whether they paid bail or not, a practice prohibited under the Fair Defense Act. Bail for defendants appears to be set based solely on what the convenient bail schedule mandates, with deviations from the schedule being rare — a practice for which Harris County has been sued. And court-appointed attorneys appear to be taking on two to four times as many cases than the maximum caseload recommended by the commission, potentially affecting the quality of representation for hundreds of poor clients.
For years Quanell X, a Houston civil rights activist, has appeared before banks of cameras and lights, addressing crowds with his sonorous voice about a crime or a miscarriage of justice that he was working to prevent.
But last week in Beaumont a small cluster of people gathered outside the new section of the Jefferson County Courthouse and Quanell was nowhere to be seen. People who say they hired him for his ability to draw attention to a case, to shape a narrative in the media, told reporters — who, along with photographers, outnumbered about a dozen people who’d come there to speak — they felt they’d been ripped off by Quanell, who, they say, made promises he never delivered on.
It seemed like the kind of innocent meeting that happens nightly in a town where two public universities bring thousands of young people together each semester. She couldn’t have known that he’d been stalking a 18-year-old former girlfriend who attended the University of North Texas, that he’d been sending Facebook friend requests to other young women whom he didn’t know or that a protective order had been recently filed against him in Denton County.
The Harris County Attorney’s Office is seeking to shut down the club outside of which Moses Malone Jr., son of Houston Rockets legend Moses Malone, was recently attacked and robbed.
The county has filed a common nuisance lawsuit against V Live Club because of its frequent brushes with violent crime on or near the premises and its failure to comply with the Texas Alcoholic Beverage code by allowing patrons to drink after hours.
Four decades have passed since Huntley stood with Campisi, and the years haven’t been kind to him. He lost his family in divorce, a son to a heroin overdose and years of his life in one of Texas’ worst prisons. He wears his toughness in his eyes as old age ravages his once powerful body. He looks like he’s been in one too many bar fights over the years.
At 69, he still looms over people, but he looks battle-worn from his years working drug cases with local, state and federal law enforcement officials. His receding white hair was more reddish blond when he was younger, and the prison tattoos decorating his arms more vibrant. Skulls and daggers, a German cross, red roses now black and Wile E. Coyote in a wizard’s robe, smoking a joint — the faded tattoos appeared during his prison stint and later helped him to infiltrate drug rings across North Texas as an informant.
Harris County District Attorney Devon Anderson laid bare the havoc a missing evidence scandal in Precinct 4 has caused within her office: 142 dismissed criminal cases to date, a list that grows longer each week.
“It’s so critical that this gets under control,” Anderson said at a Friday morning news conference, adding that she was not exaggerating in stating her attorneys have so far spent hundreds of hours trying to determine which cases to proceed with and which must be tossed.
Anderson said as many as 21,500 individual pieces of evidence may be missing.
Ever since he was a kid, Steven Allen liked to take things apart, see how they worked and put them back together again. “He made a computer for his little brother, just by spare parts that people threw out, one year for Christmas,” recalls Nellie Hencerling, his mom. He was a good kid, she says. Sure, he’d had issues with drugs back when he lived in their hometown of Victoria, but after he moved to Houston in 2012, he seemed to put those behind him. He was married, with a young son, a steady job and a home of his own.
Then, over just a few days in February 2014, Allen’s life unraveled completely.