Dear Harris County judges:
The following is a non-exhaustive list of conduct, engaged in by you or your staffs, that is likely to get you grieved:
- Telling defendants, “If you don’t hire a lawyer, you’re going to come back every day and stay until 11:30 until you hire a lawyer.”
- Telling defendants, “Go hire a lawyer from the hallway.”
- Telling defendants, “You made bond. You can’t have an appointed lawyer.”
- Removing appointed counsel from cases when defendants make bond before substitute counsel is hired and without a hearing.
- Telling defendants, “Hire a lawyer or go to jail.”
- Jailing people for not hiring lawyers.
The days of the Harris County Criminal Lawyers trusting the Commission for Judicial Conduct to do its job are past. If a grievance is filed, it will be news.
Most of you would never do any of these things. That’s great. No need to protest. I hope your staffs realize that you would never do these things.
I know that some of this conduct has been going on for longer than I’ve been a lawyer. If you have a quibble or doubt about whether any of it is unethical, I’d be happy to have a friendly discussion with you about it; maybe you can convince me that it is not only traditional, but also legitimate. I raise these issues because I don’t want HCCLA to have to grieve any more judges. I’d rather the unethical behavior just stopped.
There you have it. Harris County judges can't say they haven't been warned!