May 09, 2014

DA Made Deal With Pratt -- And So There Will Be No Justice For Her Victims

Am I out of line having very little confidence left in Harris County DA Devon Anderson after reading this?

Denise Pratt
Disgraced Former Judge
311th Family District Court

Former family court Judge Denise Pratt's resignation in late March was part of a deal to avoid indictment, Harris County District Attorney Devon Anderson said Wednesday, asserting that the document tampering case would have been difficult to prosecute and that the agreement was the best and quickest way to get the rookie jurist off the bench and bring the "ongoing damage to a stop."

In a shorter statement issued the day before, Anderson described Pratt's actions as "reprehensible" but made no mention of the deal, saying only that prosecutors concluded after investigating the judge that "while there may have been probable cause, her actions did not rise to the level of proof of beyond a reasonable doubt that a crime had been committed."

So let's see -- you had the backdated document, witnesses who were cooperating with the DA, and a pattern of such conduct by Denise Pratt in other cases. What do you mean "her actions did not rise to the level of proof of beyond a reasonable doubt that a crime had been committed." Your office prosecutes a dozen cases a day with less evidence than that, and wins them. So what is the real reason you refused to see that justice was done for the thousands who were harmed by the wrongdoing -- what it is now fair to call the criminal wrongdoing -- of Denise Pratt acting in her official capacity?

Frankly, this Republican is outraged. DA Devon Anderson has shown herself unwilling and /or unable to get an indictment and take to trial a criminal judge. I wish the re had been a primary opponent for Anderson back in March, and that there were a runoff for DA on May 27. Instead, Harris County will have to decide whether to give Anderson a term in her own right despite her failure to properly deal with Denise Pratt, or to vote for her Democrat opponent, Kim Ogg.

Ogg on Tuesday had called on Anderson to request an independent, special prosecutor be appointed to investigate Enos' complaints. Ogg said the county's top prosecutor should have done that in the first place to avoid the appearance of impropriety as she and Pratt shared the same political consultant, Allen Blakemore, at the time Enos' complaints were filed.

On Wednesday, Ogg said it was "unethical" for Anderson to use evidence that she suggested was insufficient to charge Pratt as leverage to force her resignation, describing it as a "secret plea bargain."

"An ordinary citizen is rarely, if ever, offered an opportunity to resign from their job in exchange for dismissal of a criminal complaint and this confirmation by the district attorney of a secret plea deal reveals this district attorney's double standard: One standard for fellow Republican judges and a different standard for ordinary citizens," said the former prosecutor and head of Crime Stoppers.

Noting that the statute of limitations for tampering with a government document does not expire for a few years, Ogg said that the case still could have been presented to another grand jury, "but now that the DA has confirmed a secret plea bargain, that is likely impossible."

That Ogg is clearly right and Anderson wrong doe s not help matters politically in November for Harris County Republicans. The appearance of impropriety here is stunning. She could parlay this incident into a victory over Anderson in November.

And that we are again dealing with the fallout from the pay-to-play slatemakers and one of their closely allied political consultants should surprise no one.

But in the mean time, we Republicans have a job to do in the primary, since Denise Pratt is still on the ballot and could still be our nominee if folks fail to vote correctly on May 27 in the runoff. I said this the other day, and I repeat it now.

Alicia Franklin for Judge
311th Family District Court

In the mean time, we have to remember to get out to vote in the May 27 runoff election, to make sure that Alicia Franklin wins the GOP nomination in the race for the 311th Court rather than the derelict vessel that is the Pratt candidacy.

M.L. "Meca" Walker for Judge
247th Family District Court

And while we are at it, it is important that in the runoff for the 247th Court that we nominate Associate Judge Meca Walker as our candidate for presiding judge of that court rather than her opponent, John Schmude. After all, Walker has years of experience as a Family Court judge while Schmude barely meets the legal requirements to be elected -- and is backed by the same slate-makers who assured Harris County Republicans that Denise Pratt was superbly qualified to be a judge and the same donors who were giving money to the Pratt campaign right up until the day she resigned. Because justice and competence -- especially in our Family Courts -- matters.

Devon Anderson may have taken the wrong course of action in her effort to clean up the problem in the family courts here in harris County -- but we voters in the GOP primary can solve it ourselves on May 27.

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