Board Member Carmen Roe of Houston convinced a grand jury to “no bill” her 25-to-Life client stopped for speeding—and found in possession of 7 bags of cocaine, 1 bag of marijuana, and 2 bottles of pills. Turns out, officers deleted the video of the stop, 3 bags were found positive at the scene but negative at the lab, and the arresting officer never filed a supplemental report. Kudos, Carmen, on a job well done.
DWI Committee Chair and Board Member Mark Thiessen notched a string of court victories in October. The first involved an attractive young Cuban woman pulled over while attempting to lose a Porsche and a Mustang full of guys catcalling her. Her limited understanding of English in regards to DWI law led to her being manhandled at the station, despite her protestations that she didn’t understand and wanted a lawyer. An officer admitted they had a Spanish form in the room and a tape player that reads information in Spanish for them, but he allowed that he didn’t have to use them. They subsequently strapped her down and drew blood. The jury also didn’t believe the state’s analyst when she stated she never makes a mistake and ruled for D (who came by herself from Cuba at 18 with no family and worked her way up into banking). D was in tears throughout the trial, as her immigration status was in jeopardy.
The second case revolved around a messy divorce case wherein the complainant ultimately asked the DA to dismiss and refused to show up to testify. The case, which jeopardized the medical license of D, only proceeded because one DA wanted it to, despite the protestations of others. Mark notes that Judge Bill Harmon granted a directed verdict in the case, bringing it to a halt, after which jurors expressed their anger that the State would even waste taxpayer money on such a case. Mark expressed gratitude to Judge Harmon for his action in the situation.
The third case involved a veteran of Desert Storm charged with Unlawful Restraint—product again of a “passionate” relationship with a girlfriend. Complainant called the DA’s office and requested the charges be dropped, and met with them in person eight days later to reiterate, even signing an affidavit of non-prosecution. She then only wanted to testify against him after she saw him with another woman, but on the stand her story kept changing and the jury didn’t buy in. All in all, a good month, Mark. Congratulations on your success fighting for justice.
I just got the September 2015 Voice and read about Charlie Butts passing.
In the dim, distant past (1972) I was first assistant district attorney for Bell County. There was a murder case which arose in a dispute over the accused being cheated by the deceased and a companion in a pool game.
Charlie represented the defendant. I did not know Charlie as I had been practicing in El Paso County. He was a formidable opponent and a hell of a nice guy.
During his final argument, Charlie had a poster board, and he said he had spent most of the night before on the floor of the bathroom in his motel writing out all of the points that raised reasonable doubt. The jury found his client guilty of Murder without Malice and gave him three years. This is not noteworthy except for the background to show Charlie Butts was a class act.
The trial judge, who had just been defeated in the primary, berated the jury over the verdict. He basically said he was glad he would no longer preside over trials where jurors were weak. (This may not be exact—it has been a long time.)
Charlie had the judge’s words transcribed by the court reporter. He then wrote a letter to the editor of the local newspaper praising the jury for their hard work and fair verdict. He quoted the judge’s words to the jury, but was very professional and did not directly criticize the judge.
I considered Charlie a friend and he will be missed.