A group of Houston criminal defense attorneys was distributing yellow cards
outside the door of a Harris County courtroom last week. The cards warned
criminal defendants that the judge in that courtroom and his staff may
try to persuade them to plead guilty or no contest, without the benefit
of an attorney.
According to the defense attorneys, they had heard complaints about the
judge's alleged conduct, and were concerned the judge was denying
defendants their constitutional rights. They argue the defendants have
the right to be informed of those rights before they enter a plea that
could have life-changing consequences.
For his part, the judge in question insists he's following the law
and giving everyone who appears in his courtroom a fair chance. He acknowledges
that he and the defense lawyers often disagree, but insists he takes his
responsibility to the public very seriously.
The lawyers say they don't plan to lodge a formal complaint about the
judge. But they say they will return with the warning cards if the alleged
pressuring of defendants continues.
Every individual who is accused of a crime in Texas has the right to an
attorney, the right to a trial by jury, and the right to mount an aggressive
defense if they choose. These rights apply whether the individual is charged
with capital murder or simple
possession of marijuana. No one should ever be pressured to enter a guilty plea if
they do not understand these rights. The best way for a defendant to be
informed of their rights is to have an experienced criminal defense lawyer
in their corner.
Source: abc13.com, "Judge Accused of Violating Defendants' Rights,"
June 27, 2014