Guest Post: Robb Fickman on Judicial Disrespect


This post was contributed by Robb Fickman. Robb is a criminal-defense lawyer and a leader of the Houston criminal bar. He is a past president of the Harris County Criminal Lawyers Association.

No disclaimer applies. I agree with Robb.
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Sometimes it takes me a couple of days to get steamed about something.

Last Thursday we honored all of our fallen colleagues. The event was well-publicized and all the County and District Criminal Court judges were invited.

To my knowledge, out of 37 judges only Judges McSpadden and Ellis were in attendance. (There may have been another judge that I didn't see.)

Bottom line: we invited the judiciary to attend our memorial ceremony and they snubbed not only us but also our fallen colleagues.

After three decades I am used to certain state judges and certain court staff treating me rudely. I can live with that. What I cannot abide, what none of us should abide, is the utter shameful disrespect that the judiciary showed our fallen colleagues.

Some of our colleagues have only recently passed. They practiced law in front of these very judges for many years. Yet these same judges, almost to a man, elected not to attend our memorial ceremony.

President Earl Musick set the time at 11am. This did not conflict with docket call. The ceremony, which was on the 7th floor, was easily accessible to the judges via their private elevators. What's more, the ceremony took less than 30 minutes.

No matter what they were doing, the Judges could have taken less than 30 minutes to properly honor our colleagues. The Judges elected not to do that. Their uniform disrespect of the defense bar is not new. Their uniform disrespect of the memories of our colleagues is new and it is disgraceful.

People who lack the common decency to honor the memory of good men and women who have worked with them for years, lack the moral integrity to sit in judgement of anyone.

I thank Judge McSpadden and Judge Ellis for taking the time to attend and to do the right thing.

The next time any other judge invites me to take my time to attend their fundraiser I will remember the disrespect they showed our fallen colleagues And I will Just Say No.

Today we learned that our friend Bennie House died last night. He was a past President of HCCLA and a good man.  It will be our sad duty and our honor  to add Bennie's name to the memorial plaque. Barring some unlikely  moral awakening, I suppose the judiciary will show Bennie's memory the same disrespect they displayed last week for our other fallen colleagues.

The judiciary may choose to disrespect and forget our fallen colleagues. That  defines who they are. We, on the other hand, will never forget those who spent their life in the defense of liberty.  By remembering them we honor them, and we define who we are and who we hope to never become.

Robb Fickman


7 responses to “Guest Post: Robb Fickman on Judicial Disrespect”

  1. I just heard that Bennie died when I read your blog. I can not believe it. All the old warriors who we mimicked and loved are going,, what a shame.

    I am however, not surprised that the “new” Judges did not attend the ceremony and I agree that not attending their fund raisers will perhaps send a message,, but probably not.

    I am not in touch with my fellow lawyers in Harris county like I used to be and if it is any consolation,, Judges around my neck of the woods treat defense attorneys with the same disrespect and disdain shown there, (until they need one).

    Anyway, keep up the good work and giving notice to the voice of freedom.

  2. At first when I read “fallen” I erroneously assumed the persons died in the line of duty or as a result of an act of violence, so I was in a different mindframe going foward reading the article. Then upon reading the entire article I reflected anew: what a great thing to recognize the contribution of defense warriors; because of those old soldiers, the constitution hasn’t been ENTIRELY gutted.

    Secondly, I wondered: does the prosecuting agencies have the same such ceremonies and judges DO attend? I can more easily forgive wholesale disrespect of defense bar and prosecutors alike. So that I may properly retain my righteous indignation: is there a similar prosecuting agency function that judges (whether in great numbers or small) attend?

  3. To my knowledge the DA’s Office has no Memorial Plaque.
    You may forgive the judiciary, I do not. Many of our state and county judges seem to view the defense bar as a “bothersome” impediment to their sacred goal of moving their docket. They don’t respect our role. Thus it is with such apparent ease that they can disrespect our dead.

  4. Shame on them – forgetting that they’re lawyers too.

    I guess your judges must be equally under instruction from the civil service not to fraternise with the bar. [As distinct from fraternising with selected members of the bar.]

    It makes it easier for the Executive to divide and rule.

    Can they not see that they might just need the bar some day to rally and support when the media and politicians pick up one of them? Or when legislators propose damaging reforms (i.e. cuts)?

  5. @Lewis: you got that right. I’m in maricopa county where the defense bar had to defend the judiciary from an overly ambitious county attorney, Andrew Thomas (who is in the middle of bar hearings to determine whethere he keeps his bar card).

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