I have not written about the killing of Kaufman County DA Mike McLelland and ADA Mark Hasse because I wasnt sure what to say. I didn’t know either man, but I know the kind of work they did. It does put people on edge when prosecutors are apparently targeted for doing their job, just as any profession would be on edge if it was what they did. Time will hopefully tell us what happened and why, but until then we have to wait.
I spent the last two years at the DAs office in the Major Offenders Division, mainly prosecuting large narcotics cases. I never gave too much thought of ever being targeted, but I was always aware of crime in general in Houston. Now as a judge, I’m too busy in the courtroom to think about an attack or anything like that happening, but these events certainly do put the thought in the back of your mind sometimes. I can only worry about so much, and some things you have to leave to God.
I remember when I was an intern at the DAs office about 10 years ago when Stephen St. Martin, who mentored me in many ways at the office, took me to lunch. He was in Major Offenders at the time. As he got out of his car and put on his coat I saw he was wearing a gun. I asked if he carried that because of the drug dealers and gang members he prosecuted. He said no, he was more worried about regular street crime. I think that is how many of us who work in the Criminal Justice Center think about crime and what we do in our respective roles.
The universe of people who practice criminal law as their every day profession is rather small as compared to all the attorneys out there. Those of us who work down here every day really love what we do. We often went to school together, work together every day, know each other’s families, etc. When tragedy strikes any part of the system, all sides rally around one another. Seeing first hand how this has happened in Harris County in the past makes me know that the entire criminal bar in Kaufman County feels this together, but that no one will stop doing what they love.
I pray for Mike and Mark, and for the safety of everyone who spends their career protecting us, our safety, and our rights.
I want to thank you for your support of my successful campaign for the 177th District Court. I would not have won the election without it. In an election of 1.2 million ballots cast, I won by 8,494, or .74%. Because of your support, my margin of victory among judicial candidates was one of the largest in an election year that most Republicans lost countywide.
I am asking that you make a financial contribution this year. Under Texas law, judges play by a different set of rules regarding fundraising. I am only permitted to raise finds immediately before, and after an election. The deadline for this election season is March 6th. After that date, I am unable to raise money until the 2016 primary.
It is important to have a strong base of financial support going forward into the 2016 primary, and general election. This past year I was forced to fend off a primary challenge by an opponent who had never voted in a Republican primary, and had little criminal law experience. While I hope not to have a primary opponent in the future, I am certain the Democrats will once again come at us aggressively.
You can contribute by clicking on the “donate” button. Kindly remember, all donations must be made by March 6th.
Years ago I started a project. Its something that I have worked on and off for the past six or so years, and that is to read a biography, or “the” biography on each US President. For obvious reasons, some are harder to come by than others. Millard Fillmore does not inspire historians quite like Washington, Lincoln or the Roosevelts. Along the way I have been sidetracked and read other books that have been related to the time and period, like 1776, Ron Chernow’s tome on Alexander Hamilton and some books about the Supreme Court.
So on this President’s Day, I thought I would share my list of books that I have read, and solicit any suggestions. I had started by skipping around, but that proved too confusing to keep track of, so now I am trying to go in order. A big help through this has been the American Presidents Series. This book series started by Arthur Schlesinger, Jr. has chronicled every President up to George H W Bush. They are not long books, and generally focus on the Presidency itself, but for some of our chief executives, it is the only biography worth reading. In addition, the Washington Post recently released a “best of” list.
Washington: A Life
The Art of Power
James Madison: A Biography
The Last of the Founding Fathers, James Monroe (The American Presidents)
John Quincy Adams (The American Presidents)
Martin Van Buren (The American Presidents)
Zachary Taylor (The American Presidents)
A. Lincoln, Lincoln and His Generals
Rutherford Hayes (The American Presidents)
Destiny of the Republic
Chester Alan Arthur (The American Presidents)
Benjamin Harrison (The American Presidents)
Mornings on Horseback, Theodore Rex, Colonel Roosevelt
One Minute to Midnight, Killing Kennedy
Master of the Senate
All the President’s Men, The Final Days
Dutch, Riding with Reagan
Bush at War, Plan of Attack, The War Within, State of Denial, Decision Points
Yesterday, I had the honor of attending the funeral of Terry Taylor, the “bystander” who was killed on Christmas Eve along with Bellaire Sgt. Jimmie Norman. Terry’s son Kevin is a good friend of mine.
Terry Taylor was not just a bystander as the Chronicle continues to call him, but a hero. The pastor put it this way: at 9:00am on December 24th, Terry was confronted and burdened with the sin of the world, and he reacted with action. Terry saw another person in need – an officer in distress. It cost him his life, but as a believer in Christ, he is burdened with sin no more.
The Taylor family also wanted the message and eulogy to not only celebrate Terry’s life, but also about salvation. The family wanted everyone to understand that you don’t know when your time will come. You must have your relationship with Christ in order, and no amount of good works in your life will open the gates of heaven without believing and trusting in Christ.
Leaving the service, and after hearing the speakers at the funeral, I know that Terry is with his Father now, is burdened no more, and died a hero.
Additionally, Terry was honored by the Harris County Sheriff’s Department. Typically reserved for fallen officers, the Sheriff’s Department’s Honor Guard was present for the funeral to show their respect for someone who came to the aid of a fellow officer.
There was a 20% increase in ballots returned early by mail this year compared to 2008: 66,310 this year, 55,446 mail-in ballots were returned early in 2008.
The in person vote this year was 4.4% higher than in 2008: 766,526 compared to 733,758 2008. If County Clerk Stan Stannart’s projections are correct, about 2/3rds of the vote has already been case.
So what does this mean?
“[T]here are known knowns; there are things we know that we know. There are known unknowns; that is to say there are things that, we now know we don’t know.But there are also unknown unknowns – there are things we do not know we don’t know.” —United States Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld
If you compare the mail votes and in person voters, based on the known primary history of the voters, the race in Harris County is about even between Republicans and Democrats.
However, independent voters, which account for about one third of the total vote so far, can’t be reliably tracked. The question is which way are independents breaking in Harris County. It makes sense that they would be breaking towards the Republicans like they did in 2010, but by what percent we won’t know until after the election.
If they are break for Republicans that would give Romney and Republican candidates an edge all the way down the ballot going into Tuesday.
The next factor is straight ticket voting. How many Republicans voted straight ticket compared to Democrats who vote straight ticket in large numbers. We don’t know yet.
Republicans who don’t vote straight ticket are usually more likely to go down the ballot and vote for several candidates one by one compared to Democrat voters. In 2008, a number of Democrat voters selected Obama and didn’t vote for anyone else, or they voted for the President and one or two other candidates.
When you add up all of these factors we know the following: there are many knowns and unknowns, yet all will be known Tuesday night.
This means if you haven’t voted you need to vote on Tuesday, and go down the ballot and vote for every office. If you have already voted you need to ask family, friends, & co-workers and find conservative, like minded voters and tell them to vote.
In 2008 there were several races decided by just a few hundred votes out of over a million cast in Harris County.
Today is your last chance to early vote! You must be in line by 7pm this evening. If you do not early vote today, and wait until Tuesday, then you must vote at your election precinct. Remember, that because of redistricting, your traditional polling location may be different from years past.
If you have already voted, please encourage your family, friends and neighbors to vote. VOTE TODAY!
Early voting is underway and began today. You can early vote this week 8-4:30, Saturday 7-7, Sunday 1-6 and next week 7-7. You also have until the end of the week to request a mail ballot.
First day of early voting set records. 47, 093 people voted today. If you combine that with the 40,566 who have returned mail ballots, 87,659 votes have already been cast. There are still nearly 40,000 mail ballots that have not been returned -most will be.
Remember, early voting runs all this and next week and if you have a mail ballot, make sure to send it in. You also have until the end of this week to request a mail ballot if you are over 65 or especially your college student who is still registered here.
I am happy to announce that I was chosen over my opponent in the Houston Bar Association Judicial Preference Poll. This is a poll sent out by the Houston Bar Association membership – thousands of lawyers. When asked to select me, or my opponent, as qualified to hold the 177th District Court, I received 55% of the responses. These are the votes of the people who actually practice in our courts and I am proud to have their vote of confidence.
I am proud to announce the endorsement of the Houston Police Officers Union PAC for my election to the 177th Criminal District Court. Houston Police officers are well aware of the changes that are needed in our criminal courthouse and particularly the change that was needed on the 177th.
Thank you to the men and women in blue for supporting my campaign.
In 2006, Ryan was sworn in as Assistant District Attorney. As a prosecutor, Ryan has handled thousands of cases, and has tried over 50 jury trials, including many high profile drunk-driving fatalities. He has been recognized by Mothers Against Drunk Driving for his success.