Shame on You, Brett Ligon

Here, they have a party for the assistant District Attorney …. They have cake and cookies and speeches, lots of clapping and back slapping, and then, a gold coin is given to that prosecutor to memorialize their “Queen for a Day” status. The prosecutor is given a gold coin to hang on their wall and everyone is made to recognize the happy occasion.

(Montgomery County, Texas criminal defense lawyer Kelly Case’s blog)

So what’s the occasion? Promotion? The birth of a child? Board certification? Potty-training success?

Oh, no no no no no.

The Montgomery County, Texas District Attorney’s Office, under the direction of Brett Ligon, has an odd celebration that is performed when one of its prosecutors obtains a life sentence.

(Emphasis added.)

Sometimes people need life sentences. But a prosecutor’s job is to do justice, and there is no more justice inherent in a life sentence than in probation. By making a show of rewarding life sentences, the Montgomery County District Attorney turns what should be a quest for justice into a game in which the sentence is the score.

What about the Assistant District Attorneys? Aren’t these conscientious educated professionals refusing to support Ligon in this revolting practice?

What is especially sickening to me is the fact that a gold coin is handed out as a party favor at the happy event to memorialize such a tragic situation. What is even worse is that no one in their office thinks twice about it. They see nothing wrong with it.

Well, not exactly nothing; it’s actually much worse (and more banal) than that …

Even the assistant DA’s know better because when you ask them about it, they try to put the coin away or will sheepishly avoid the question. They are ashamed of it when publicly confronted, but behind closed doors, they celebrate and hope to be the next one to earn the coin!

This is nothing new in Constitutional backwater Montgomery County (driving directions: from Houston, get on I-45 North and go back in time 50 years): a friend who was a prosecutor there some years ago told me about the parties the office had when a defendant was sentenced to death.

There are people who do difficult jobs with quiet dignity. Montgomery County’s District Attorney, Brett Ligon, and his assistants are not among them.

22 responses to “Shame on You, Brett Ligon”

  1. So Prosecutor’s should go about their job with somber solitude while defense lawyers party like it’s 1999, even if they just had a known pedophile or drug dealer acquitted? To me, if there was no foul play or prosecutorial misconduct involved, and a life sentence is obtained against someone charged with a heinous crime, a celebration is warranted because a bad person is locked up for good and maybe their next victim would have been my daughter or yours. I do believe discretion should dictate which cases warrant such a celebration and said celebration should not be used based solely on obtaining a particular sentence.

    • First, I had to add your name to your comment, since you seem not to have understood my limpid (that means perfectly clear) anonymity policy.

      Second, you’ve missed the point of the post: there is no discretion dictating which cases warrant such a celebration. Prosecutors are rewarded for simply running up the score.

      That’s a total reading-comprehension fail. Come to think of it, I probably wouldn’t have put my name on it either, if I were you.

    • “…even if they just had a known pedophile or drug dealer acquitted?”

      So you are saying that a defense attorney should NOT be elated if they get someone acquitted for a crime that was not proven to be true? Or are you saying that defense attorneys should be sad they did their job and defended a person that the DA ‘knew’ was guilty? Sour Grapes.

  2. Mark, i respectfully disagree with this part of your post-” in a way that politicians of other parties do not. ”

    health care reform is based on the fear of dying, the fear of unknown medical costs etc..
    bailouts on the fear of another great depression

    different fears, granted but both parties prey on fear; just as both parties use false hope

    the Left places HOPE in “social reform” / the Right in “economic reform” i.e. the magic tax cut

  3. A coin?! For placing someone in an unhealthy environment for the rest of their life? For forcing a family to interact with their loved one from behind glass? For the victims who still must bear the burden of their own personal horror–regardless of the trial’s outcome? For acknowledging that, in their estimation, our system and society are incapable of rehabilitating someone who likely didn’t want to be a wretch and burden in the first place?

    Yet, they treat the result akin to a Gold Medal win at the Olympics. Never mind the other collateral effects.

    The thought of a coin ceremony makes me sick. There is no such thing as a win for either the prosecution or defense. Perhaps many of us need to get over ourselves.

    • Eric, I disagree in part. There is such a thing as a win, for both the defense and the prosecution.

      The defense are fighting for freedom; when we make people more free, we win.

      The prosecution are fighting for justice; being human, they don’t know what that looks like. So they worship the cult of death and big numbers.

      But this is not a game. Freedom or justice, ours is a sacred duty, and none of us should be partying when we fulfill it. We should all do our jobs with quiet dignity; we should, in other words, act like we’ve been there before.

  4. I remember the celebration when I made it through my first jury trial. There was, with that, an extreme sense of self-satisfaction; of accomplishment; of having earned my pay as it were.

    And while I can honestly and with fondness recall many of my victories, I also remember being somewhat vacant in the feelings department when I obtained favorable outcomes for some of my, shall we say, less socially acceptable clients.

    Maybe that is because to me, it’s the job that I did that matters much more than the outcome; it was the course I took and not the arrival at the destination that really mattered. Maybe that idea is alien in those parts?

  5. Mark, it is limpid that you can’t see the forest for the trees in my post (that means you missed the big picture), so I’ll eloborate: I disagree in part with your position and agree in part. I think prosecutor’s sometimes do have justifiable cause to celebrate. That’s the part that disagrees with your position. I agree with you that celebration is never warranted based solely on obtaining a particular sentence without regard for the circumstances involved.

    • You think prosecutors sometimes have cause to celebrate? Okay, that’s nice, but entirely off-point.

      Again, your comprehension of my “position” (as well as your grammar) leaves much to be desired.

    • Just my humble little note (because it’s a real pet-peeve of mine): the plural of prosecutor is prosecutors, adding the ‘s demonstrates possession. Of course, this has nothing to do with your argument, just a small point. Sorry for the trouble.

  6. Mark, if people like me are kind of enough to indulge you on a weekly basis by reading your blog, you can at least have enough respect to address my comment with a meaningful response (regardless of how off-base you may think my comment is), or not reply at all.

    It’s really not as if there is much education to be found on your blog. Most of your posts are of the soap-box variety, as opposed to any true nuggets of wisdom, practice tips, etc. So, those of us who do subscribe to your posts are making a statement that we care enough about your opinions (as opposed to those of the other hundreds of attorney blogs out there) that we take time out of our day to read what you have to say.

    I’m sorry that I don’t see eye to eye with you on every issue, but seriously, does a random post from a random unknown criminal defense lawyer like me really threaten you to the degree that your replies have to be personal in nature?

    I’m thick skinned, and it’s not as if I am going to lose sleep over you believing I need to have words defined or improve my blog commenting grammar, but all the same, it is a little frustrating that you waste an opportunity to enlighten me as to why my beliefs may be misguided or my conclusions incorrect, and instead find it of more value to act like an English teacher. There are only about 1000 blogs out there devoted to word definitions and grammar advice. I simply don’t see the point in you trying to compete. If all you have to say is what you have said to me, why say anything at all? Why not just let it go?

    And yes, I misspelled “perplexed” on purpose just to rile you a little more, haha.

  7. Brace yourself, Matt.

    You aren’t doing me any favors by reading my blog. I wrote when nobody read, and I will when nobody reads anymore. You’re not indulging me; when you stop reading, I will not notice, and if narcissism forces you to tell me you are doing so, I will not care.

    You think I take the position that prosecutors never have justifiable cause to celebrate; you’re wrong. I never said it or even implied it and already, at 6:53 p.m. yesterday, I explicitly disavowed the position that you attribute to me.

    So, what, you want me to spend more time talking about your off-topic comment (which you tried to leave anonymously)?

    Sure, honey, let’s sit down at the kitchen table and I’ll get you a chocolate-chip cookie and a nice cold glass of milk … oh, wait. I just remembered: I’m not your mommy.

  8. Hey, I’m a fan of cold milk and cookies! And I would love nothing more than to share some with you. Not in the persona of my momma; just good ‘ol fire brand Bennett. If I’m ever in your neck of the woods, I’ll give you a call.

  9. I agree with you fully regarding the celebration of a conviction being out of order. As far as I can see the current District Attorney is much worse than the previous one. He seems to disregard, stretch, and overlook evidence in order to get a conviction. I would like to e-mail you some information I have regarding the current situation here if you will respond to me privately. I do not wish to publish the information on this blog.

  10. I stumbled across this blog while looking for new information on the ongoing dispute between the 9th and the MCDA office. It’s offensive for them to have life sentence parties. It reminds me of a story I read years back when prosecutors in some other shit-fuck county wore neck ties emblazoned with pictures of syringes during death penalty trials.

    At least half the prosecutors I deal with have no idea what a big deal their discretion is. Your client is gonna lose his job because I won’t do a pretrial diversion on a $51.00 shoplifting? Oh well, I guess he should have thought of that ahead of time. And on and on.

    And I was a DA for 5 years. I think that towards the end I was about as fair as you could hope for. But before then, I was young and dumb and did not see the big picture. I abhor some of the decisions I made during that time and hope to have my forgiveness in this life or the next. And I’m not talking about Brady stuff; I never did that. I’m talking about just stupid, narrow-minded shit: the kind of stuff that Brett Ligon apparently encourages with his flock.

  11. I have this to say…..i went to school with Brett Ligon and he knows my family well….i come from a christan family. I think you Brett Ligon should really go after hard criminals…..not insist people that has never been in jail….especially when the case has been dropped and you and your team pick it up….All about money…..i sit in your court house almost a year and watch all your employees texting, laughing, talking and standing around putting insist people in jail or probation….Sorry but a lot of insist peoples have lost everything they work for in life to be punished by nothing. Do your job right….this job has made you a very disrespectful man out of you…..

  12. Also i would like to say somethings else; If you Brent Ligon think that you and your team really looked at the facts of my case and see that all charges were dropped and you decided take on my case yourself because you thought you was trying to help me out so you could not bare to see another one of your classmates die. First off did you read ALL and I mean ALL the facts? Did you ever try or have one of your ADA ask me for the TRUTH? NOPE you never once cared to know i was inisit. I was in my own home fighting deep depreesion, flash backs after finding my hysband of two weeks that hung himself in my parents barn. I think that would have made anyone go into PDSS. I was not out to hurt anyone but myself. Thanks to the Good Lord up above and the constiable from David Hills Office talking me into putting the clips to the gun at the window….but the Montgomery County Sheriff Officer (will not mention his name) told me to bring gun to door. I asked him “do you want me to put gun at the window with the clips?” Responces was NO bring it to the door….i did thinking gun was unloaded but, yet i held gun behind my back asmy dad always tought me. The officers had spare key to my house he had gotten outside and opened my door and crabed me and the gun went off into the kitchen floor away from officer….instead of taking me to Tri County to get help i got slapped with handcuffs and taking to Montgomery County Jail with NO bond and assult of a police officer and spent two weeks in jail in a padded room where i was treated like i tried kill a police officer. I was intervied by Dr.Q that said i should not be in jail but at mental place to get help with my PDSS. I finally got released from Montgomery Co. Jail and i ran into the officer that put me in jail and told me right in front of my cousin and i that he only put me in jail because if he would of taken me to Tri County that he was afraid i would get out and try and kill myself again…and i hugged his neck and told him i was sorry that i was trying to hurt no one but myself. I get a phone call next day that the officer dropped the assault charges because he knew I DID NOT ASSAULT HIM IN ANYWAY. I spent almost half a year in court 435th with my case being reset after reset and finally WAS TOLD TO PLEA GUILTY TO DEADLY CONDUCT CLASS A MISDEMEANOR and TWO YEARS OF PROBATION. That you BRETT LIGON decided to pick this up. I have NEVER BEEN IN JAIL, NEVER IN TROUBLE IN HS, and NEVER BEEN IN TROUBLE IN MY LIFE BY THE LAW. I Lost my Job of 10 years working with Special Needs Children and Juvenile Kids, lost my house. I lost everything i have and most of all my self esteem. I see a wonderful Psychiatrist and a wonderful Counsel that is paid by the government because i cannot get a job with this on my record, especially with all the shootings in our country. You know Mr. Brett Ligon I am a good person that comes from good family and DO NOT DO DRUGS AND WOULD NEVER HURT A FLEA! I cannot hardly pay my probation fees that i owe to Aug. 2015.. That is another issue….i just might be sitting behind bars because i owe probation. I am SORRY FOR TELLING THIS ON A WEBSITE BUT, NOT SORRY FOR PEOPLE TO HEAR THE TRUTH ABOUT MY CASE. I WANT TO GET MY STOREY HEARD! I also would like to know who is paying for the DA and ADA sitting and standing in the COURT HOUSE DISTRICT COURT 435TH talking, laughing, talking on cell phones and talking out loud where they are going for lunch and weekend parties….I would like to know one more thing. Why did the Montgomery County Sheriff tell me to put clips of the gun at window and NOT THE GUN? You know Brett Ligon i was not in the GT classes in HS but, I with all i have been put through can see that i was insist and let the ADA talk me into saying guilty for trying to harm myself. You know this was WRONG OF YOU AND YOU SHOULD MAKE IT RIGHT OR I PRAY THIS WILL NEVER HAPPEN TO ANYONE ELSE. STOP PUTTING THE INSIST IN JAIL…..

  13. I think Dana polan is crazy and has lost her mind! She burnt all my clothes , I bought new ones .she then sold them I put my truck in her name she hocks I then calls the police on two different acausion ‘s and told them I stoled it. Then sold my travel trailer without my permission . now Dana polan you should be in a mental institution and taking spelling lessons. Because your spelling is bad.

  14. My only son was brutally murdered and his confessed killer is awaiting trial. I have no problem at all with the officers of the court feeling and expressing a sense of satisfaction when they convict one of the animals. The one who killed my son has an impressive criminal record. How many does me need to destroy before we remove him from civilized society?

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