Ex-Judge Hanger

A couple of the Harris County felony court judges deselected by the voters in November have, as I noted before, hung out their shingles as would-be criminal-defense lawyers. They will, no doubt, advertise their ex-judgeness to the potential clients as a positive. And judicial experience could well be a positive in some cases.

One of these ex-judges, however (we’ll call her “Ms. Hanger”), as recently as December was going out of her way to make the lives of people accused of crimes in her court miserable for misery’s own sake. I have one particular client whose bail she increased tenfold for no good reason so that he would spend the holidays in jail; as soon as her replacement was on the bench bail came back to the value dictated by the judges’ agreed bail schedule, and the accused was back with his family.

As president of the Harris County Criminal Lawyers Association, I welcome all new members of the criminal defense bar, no matter what their background. This is the official line.

But as a criminal-defense lawyer, I’ve got to wonder:

How does a person go from being an extremely pro-state, fuck-the-accused judge in December, to being a criminal-defense lawyer in January?


0 responses to “Ex-Judge Hanger”

  1. We’ve got one of those up here. The attorneys who rated her for an annual newspaper survey routinely gave her the most negative ratings of any judge. She would come in at 50% of the attorneys disagreeing or strongly disagreeing that she was courteous, professional, prepared, ethical, and knowledgeable of the law. She’s now calling herself a defense attorney. I can’t wait to see how the members at a KACDL CLE treat her. It will be hard for me to take her seriously as “one of us”.

    • There is money to be made in the American Defence Bar? Forget all my criticism, I’m getting a flight out today!

  2. A friend once told me teaching attracted the “best and the worst:” people who believed in the mission of teaching, and others who wanted summers off and a job you had to really screw up to get fired.

    The description applies to criminal defense lawyers too: We attract the best and the worst I think, those who believe in it as a mission and those who see people easily taken advantage of.

    I thought it interesting though that Thomas Tamm, the person who blew the whistle to the NYT on the data mining, who had a great FBI career prosecutor before he blew the whistle. is now taking court appointments as a criminal defense lawyer. (link at sig)

    There’s a huge difference between the former judge you describe, who the voters sent our way, and this ex-law enforcement officer, who, did the right thing by stepping forward to describe unconstitutional conduct that would have otherwise not been known about, whose decision ruined his career and sent him “down here” with us.

    The newsweek article (at my signature) asks whether he should be prosecuted but to me he should be welcomed to our ranks as he was “sent” here for taking a rare stand against the government in contrast to the ex-judge you describe who was no friend to the accused while on the bench and likely will keep this up even while supposedly defending them in court.

    His stand makes me presume him the best while her past makes me presume her the worst. It’s only fair that when I get mad at cops for standing by the worst in their profession because they’re “on the same team” that I apply the same standard to criminal defense lawyers. If you got here for a good reason, I’ll help you out, but if you chose this gig ’cause it’s easy to keep screwing defendants while masquerading as they’re lawyer, you’re not on my “team.” Justice demands we call these people what they are: ex-wolves trying to change into sheep’s clothing without paying a price.

    Don’t be fooled by lipstick on a pig…

    • You and Brian both lose. “Money” and “losing an election” are reasons to hold yourself out as a criminal defense lawyer, but not everyone who holds herself out to be a criminal defense lawyer is one.

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