I’ve watched the video, and I don’t know if he did it. Maybe he, like so many of my clients, is the victim of a false accusation, betrayed by the criminal justice system. Maybe he was just running his hand along the side of the car feeling the damage that someone else had done.
But (please keep this just between us) I felt a frisson of guilty pleasure when I learned that retired judge (and former HCCLA President) Woody Ray Densen had been indicted for criminal mischief after his neighbor gave prosecutors this video, showing a guy who could well be Woody doing something that could well be keying the neighbor’s car:
Woody Densen is the rare defendant who probably wouldn’t want to be judged by a jury of 12 criminal-defense lawyers. The Harris County Criminal Lawyers Association filed an ethics complaint against him in 2007 for:
- Threatening to jail an unrepresented defendant for being financially unable to retain counsel;
- Refusing to conduct an indigency hearing for said defendant and appoint him the counsel he requested;
- Treating this defendant in a discourteous, unprofessional and impatient manner;
- Actually jailing a female defendant because she had been unable to retain a lawyer in the one and one-half working days she had been given to do so by the presiding judge of the 248th District Court, the Hon. Joan Campbell;
- Presiding over a plea of guilty from an accused person who the judge knew was unrepresented by counsel and by persisting in conducting said plea even after being repeatedly advised that said person was not represented by counsel;
- Permitting a member of the court’s staff to speak to an officer of the court in a rude, insulting and unprofessional manner, in open court and in furtherance of eliciting a guilty plea from a person whose lawyer was not present; and
- Manifesting racial bias or prejudice in the performance of his judicial duties.
The Commission for Judicial Conduct dismissed the complaint, of course, because creating the illusion, and only the illusion, that unethical judges will be disciplined is its raison d’etre. HCCLA has had the satisfaction, however, of not seeing Densen on the bench in Harris County since then.
Aside from the grounds for the complaint, Woody has caused enough misery to enough people accused of crimes (and tried to cause more misery to more, but failed because of incompetence) that a Houston criminal-defense lawyer should be forgiven a little schadenfreude right about now.
There are judges whom I can’t easily imagining keying someone’s car; Woody is not one of them. Is he falsely accused? Maybe so. I suspect that any pain we cause others eventually catches up to us one way or another. In Woody’s case, it’s a pleasure to be around to see it happen.