A Tiger for HCCLA

Pop quiz:

Several Houston police officers savagely beat a surrendering suspect. The attack is captured by a private citizen on video. The Harris County District Attorney’s Office seeks to keep the video from being published. The private citizen provides a copy of the video to another private citizen, who releases it to the media, who publish it.

Does the Harris County Criminal Lawyers Association:

A) Publicly state its opposition to police brutality and commend those who have brought evidence of brutality to light, while pointing out that the officers apparently beating the suspect should get all the due process that the suspect should have received;

B) Publicly state its opposition to police brutality and point out that the officers apparently beating the suspect should get all the due process that the suspect should have received, and remain neutral on the release of the video; or

C) Publicly state it opposition to police brutality, point out that the officers apparently beating the suspect should get all the due process that the suspect should have relieved, and call the private citizens’ Constitutionally-protected release—and the media’s Constitutionally-protected publication—of the video “a direct assault on the Bill of Rights.”

I wish it were not so, but if you picked (C), you’re right (maybe because you’ve read Kennedy’s and Horowitz’s posts). The Executive Committee of HCCLA (President, VP, Treasurer, Secretary, Pres-Elect, and Immediate Past President) approved an editorial by the Vice President condemning the release of the videotape.

If I were representing one of these cops, I might not feel great about a video that seems to show my client tuning up a guy for the crime of making my client run. If the government were responsible for the release of the video, I’d raise hell. But if a private citizen were responsible, I think I would take my lumps—part of the price of living in a country with a moderately healthy free press—and try to control the damage or even use it to my client’s advantage.

But the lawyer for one of the police officers shown on the video is HCCLA’s President, and HCCLA’s President-Elect and Immediate Past President have a contract to defend police officers against criminal charges. So they pick whatever is behind door C.

Disclaimer: My opinions are not necessarily held by a majority of HCCLA members. And neither are HCCLA’s.

15 responses to “A Tiger for HCCLA”

      • Mr. B., re: “…have a contract to defend police officers against criminal charges.”

        Do you happen to know when this contract was agreed upon?

        For the citizens at the wrong end of a bad cop’s boot, stick, or teaser, resulting in being: rightfully or falsely arrested, would they be wise to ask potential CDLs & PDs if they are members of the HCCLA?

        I can’t help but wonder where the money comes from to retain and pay an entire Association to automatically defend an entire police force?
        It seems to raise conflict of interest issues when lawyers/attorneys/associations/cops/judges are all on the same team. This could go to explaining the massive push to plea-bargain vs. defending to a verdict. Thanks.

        • You misunderstand. The organization doesn’t have the contract. Some of its officers (all of whom are criminal-defense lawyers) have the contract. And no, it doesn’t affect their defense of their non-cop clients.

  1. When you first told me about the HCCLA, I was impressed by its vitality and focus, and wondered why the NYSACDL has floundered so badly and lost its direction. This reminds me, as “officials” use the association for their own purposes, and slide down the slope by loading up on friends to support their choices and isolating malcontents who question them.

    I hope the membership doesn’t stick its head in the sand and allow this slide to happen. I’ve yet to see any criminal bar association recover once the slide has begun in earnest.

    • Don’t count HCCLA out yet. This was a misstep, but there’s a lot of life left in the ol’ organization yet.

      And slides aren’t permanent. In the last decade we’ve recovered from complete irrelevance.

  2. Mr. B., re: the HCCLA. Upon the creation of the association, was the word Defense not included for any particular reason? Or is it assumed?

    Do you have any reason to believe that this will lead to two new laws (felonies) being aimed at the citizens of Texas that’s already taking place in the U.S.A.? Ex. *Recording Public Servants on Duty & *Making the images or sounds of Public Servants on Duty Public. Thanks.

    • I think HCCDLA was probably just too long.

      No, I have no reason to think that this will lead to new laws, but the connection is an important one: what HCCLA calls “a direct assault on the Bill of Rights” is something that the government bars people in several states from doing.

      • Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts all have laws that make it illegal to film an on duty police officer, even if such filming is for evidence for your own defense.

        Seems they get you on a wiretap charge. here’s the Illinois law:

        (720 ILCS 5/) Criminal Code of 1961

        The Massachusetts law seems to hold the same wiretap standard although I found atleast one court case where it was dismissed. I guess your mileage my vary on that one.

        Here is a recent Maryland case where a motorcyclist was arrested after the fact when he posted a video of a plain clothes officer in an unmarked vehicle jumping out of a car waving his service weapon and only later identified himself as a police officer. The case was finally dismissed, but at great cost and incarceration to the defendant.


        So, will this give us a new law, maybe not, but just the thought of the LEO using existing laws in the same manner as the above three States is chilling.

      • Thank you for both replies.
        Did you happen to notice the Injustice News Feed on the left that mentions Tx. police chief & videotapping cops? I put it below incase it disappeared.

        InjusticeNews: Houston TX police chief claims videotaping cops is “provocation” that he believes will lead to cops being assaulted [4] http://is.gd/ubDZPR

        What load of crap, I meant shit – marriam. The next thing we’ll hear from this jerk is that when the public observes or witnessess a cop or gang of cops beating down suspects that are: handcuffed, complying & laid out prone as ordered will lead to: erectile dysfunction, blindness, or death. Thanks.

  3. ObBenFranklin: “A Republic. If you can keep it.” I tend to strobe on the issue of whether or not we eventually will, and this sort of nonsense makes the red lights flash longer.

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