FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Doug Murphy, HCCLA President
713-229-8333 office, email Doug Murphy
Houston, Texas – June 11, 2018 – Harris County Commissioner Steve Radack recently called for an investigation on the Harris County Public Defender Alex Bunin to determine if he wrongfully used his office in assisting the litigants who have successfully sued Harris County for their unlawful bail practices. A federal judge declared the practices unlawful for discriminating against the poor.
Harris County so far spent over $6 million dollars in their unsuccessful defense of these unlawful practices. The call for an investigation by Commissioner Radack is nothing more than a diversionary tactic and waste of further county resources that will reveal only one thing: Alex Bunin has an independent duty to protect and defend the indigent—an inherent duty of a public defender—even if that duty is at odds with Harris County. This obligation and duty may be offensive to Commissioner Radack, but spending $6 million dollars defending illegal bail practices should be offensive to Harris County residents.
In 2010, the Harris County Bar, the Texas Indigent Defense Commission, the Harris County Commissioners, and the Advisory Board of the Public Defenders all came together to support the first ever creation of the Harris County Public Defender’s office. The search for the first Harris County Public Defender was the result of a nationwide search for the finest combination of legal acumen, proven ability to build a defender’s office, and commitment to providing the best defense for the public possible. All parties unanimously agreed that Alex Bunin was the perfect choice because of his stellar reputation earned by spending a lifetime defending the indigent accused throughout the country.
Harris County has benefitted from the finest criminal defense legal talent ever assembled under one roof since Alex Bunin was hired. Under his leadership, the Harris County Public Defender’s Office has had an enormous impact on day to day criminal justice in Houston.
The mental health division has significantly lessened the average stay in custody of the mentally ill in our criminal justice system, saving the county money while making the system more humane. The juvenile division has provided a striking contrast of professionalism to the crony system that had been the norm in the juvenile courts. The trial division has fought some of the most difficult cases in our system, including habitual offenders and those accused of sex crimes, with skill, zeal and most importantly, full resources for investigation and mitigation of any punishment. This team approach has already helped influence and improve our appointed counsel system. The appellate division, under his guidance, has helped change the law in our state, and has worked to integrate itself into trials smoothly, another first for our country.
Alex Bunin built the Harris County Public Defender’s Office with integrity, hard work, and outstanding leadership. The talented lawyers whom he personally recruited came because of him, and they stay because of him. The Harris County Criminal Lawyers Association supports continuing Alex Bunin as a true “Public Defender” of Harris County.