FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: July 9, 2022
Contact: Jed Silverman, HCCLA President
HARRIS COUNTY CRIMINAL LAWYERS ASSOCIATION QUESTIONS IMPARTIAL CONSIDERATION OF JUDICIAL COMPLAINT AGAINST HARRIS COUNTY CRIMINAL COURT JUDGE
HOUSTON, TX — The Harris County Criminal Lawyers Association (“HCCLA”) is the largest local criminal defense bar in the United States, with more than 700 active members engaged in the defense of citizens accused of criminal acts. HCCLA has, for over 50 years, stood for criminal justice, criminal justice reform, and against government and judicial overreach.
Yesterday, it was reported that the State Commission on Judicial Conduct recommended formal proceedings against Judge Franklin Bynum to suspend him for a range of charges. The complaints against him come from the Harris County District Attorney’s Office who allege that he is biased against prosecutors, has failed to comply with the law, and has failed to maintain impartiality.
While HCCLA stands behind Judge Bynum and believes that these charges are baseless, our organization is concerned about a greater problem demonstrated by the handling of his complaint.
For years, prosecutors have taken advantage of a broken criminal justice system to violate the rights of individuals accused of criminal acts with the blessing and approval of judges who are willing to accept, ratify, and justify those same prosecutors’ actions. When a good and honorable judge like Judge Bynum exercised his legal knowledge and judicial discretion to make sure that prosecutors followed the law and, more importantly, that innocent individuals were not subject to illegal oppression, prosecutors petulantly went crying to the State Commission of Judicial Conduct.
Within a matter of months, the Commission held public hearings and made its recommendation to take punitive action against Judge Bynum whose term will end at the end of this year.
Contrast this against the judicial complaint made by HCCLA and the Texas Criminal Defense Lawyers Association (“TCDLA”) against one of those judges who, on a daily basis, violated —and continues to violate — individuals’ rights: Judge Ramona Franklin, Presiding Judge of the 338th Judicial District Court of Harris County. Almost two years ago, HCCLA and TCDLA filed a complaint with the State Commission on Judicial Conduct against Judge Franklin for illegally revoking defendants’ bonds right after they were released from custody and, worse, illegally denying them bail in violation of the United States and Texas Constitutions. Even after the complaint was made, Judge Franklin continued to engage in the same oppressive and illegal action. HCCLA and TCDLA notified the Commission of her continued action and the urgent need to step in and take immediate action. To this day, the Commission has taken no action against Judge Franklin.
In short, there seems to be two Commissions available to the people of Texas to review the actions and conduct of our judges: one that serves at the will and pleasure of prosecutors that will take immediate action against a judge like Judge Bynum who does not yield to prosecutors’ demands and holds them to their obligation not to convict but to see that justice is done — and another one that will stand idly by and unhurriedly consider a complaint by defense attorneys while individuals continue to have their rights and liberties violated on a daily basis.
While the Commission operates largely in secret and routinely takes private action against judges who engage in judicial misconduct, HCCLA is calling on the Commission to issue a public statement that explains its actions against Judge Bynum and, more importantly, its desire to take such immediate action against a judge whose term left on the bench is less than six months. In it, it should further explain how the complaint by the Harris County District Attorney’s Office takes priority over that of two organizations with thousands of members who stand by ready to protect Texans’ rights and liberties from judges who engage in judicial misconduct.
For further inquiries and interviews, contact Jed Silverman at (713) 226.8800 or email to email@example.com.
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