2015.28: Billy Harmon, Hubris, and Defilement

A couple of years ago I wrote a post about the prevalence of judges coaching prosecutors:

In short, the judiciary acting as an adjunct to the prosecution shouldn’t surprise anyone. Elected judges identify with the state. There are very few who will decide close calls for the defense. There are many more who will bend over backwards to make sure the state wins. What Coker did with Jones is little different than what Narcise does with Cousteau. But Narcise doesn’t text Cousteau, or if he does Cousteau is smart enough not to commit the texts to paper.

Now I’ve found a judge who is so brazen about coaching prosecutors that he doesn’t care who knows it.

Meet Billy Harmon, Judge of Harris County Criminal Court at Law Number Two.In a DWI case in Court Two, Tyler Flood filed a motion in limine asking, among other things, that Harmon “refrain from…[c]oaching the prosecution….”:

Motion for Judge Harmon not to Coach Prosecutors
Motion for Judge Harmon not to Coach Prosecutors

Harmon denied the motion. In other words he refuses, even when asked on the record, to refrain from coaching prosecutors in the court on which he sits. (And no, judge, it’s not “your” court.)

Flood is engaged in a running struggle against Harmon. In Simpson v. State he appealed the denial of a motion to recuse Harmon because of the MADD plaque on display in the view of the jury. The judge who heard the recusal (if a party moves to recuse a judge and the judge doesn’t recuse herself, another judge hears the matter and decides whether recusal is appropriate) said, “The motion to recuse is denied, but I would strongly hope that the Judge would do the right thing and take down the plaque.”

Justice Sharp dissented in Simpson, writing in part:

To display behind the trial bench a plaque awarded by one of the most well-established interest groups in the nation not only fails to keep the interest group at bay, but also invites others to take notice that, in the judge’s capacity as a public official, his actions merited the group’s commendation. When that interest group is Mothers Against Drunk Driving—a group dedicated to the proposition that the offense for which the accused citizen is being tried in that very courtroom is a very bad and potentially horrific thing—the sanctuary has been twice defiled: not only by the agenda of the interest group, but also by the hubris of the judge charged with the responsibility of assuring a fair and impartial DWI trial.

The fact that the voters of Harris County pulled the lever marked “R” to allow Billy Harmon to work in County Criminal Court at Law Number Two doesn’t give him the right to dishonor it.

p.s. There’s another wrinkle to this story that will bear watching. When Flood sent an associate to the clerk’s office to get a copy of the motion in limine, the associate was given this:

Motion for Judge Harmon not to Coach Prosecutors (Tampered?)
Motion for Judge Harmon not to Coach Prosecutors (Tampered?)

10 responses to “2015.28: Billy Harmon, Hubris, and Defilement”

  1. Um, wow. Seems like there would be a law against that . . . like Tampering with a Government something or other.

    I may not get your puns, but I got that one. See, I am smrt

  2. Harmon denied the motion.

    Mr. B., thanks for exposing wild bill’s crazy antics and the in-your-face writing on the wall that no one has been able to see, up until now. When time permits (or when & if you post a follow up) could you post a pic of the Courts Orders with the file mark in response to the MIL? Or direct us to where we can view it.

    *Since it’s cool & apparently legal to display Awards in the form of plaques from campaign donors in publicly owned properties, can you see any problem with displaying plaques on the walls of Jury Rooms and/or directly on the 12 chairs in the court from donors hailing from the criminal justice system reformation movement? I for one, hope you do and since it’s internal, I hope this most recent incident of criminal impropriety with a side of judicial bias, is dealt with via something other than a drink and good talking to by brothers in robes. Thanks.

    • The motion was denied orally on the record. You’d have to look at the clerk’s record to see the docket entry online. I’m told that there was a written order denying as well, but it is not yet available online.

    • Enter his bar # in the criminal search tab on HCDC and either sort the results by Court or scroll down and open the CCL2 cases. He’s filing similar, if not identical, motions in several active cases in that court. The case Mr. B posted has the imaged order denying the motion.

      On a side note, (Judge) William Harmon yields some interesting anagrams, such as A Warming Humid Jello and Hallow Man I Rim.

  3. So what happens if I am a juror in that court, and tell the judge I can’t be fair and impartial as long as the plaque is displayed, because it is distracting? Or ask the judge why he seems to be helping the prosecution by making us think defendants accused of drunk driving don’t deserve fair treatment.

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