October 07, 2004
Does Ted Poe share our values?
The title of this post is a play on the NRCC ads that have been hammering Nick Lampson lately. They're your standard-issue attack ads: grainy images of the target, vague and voluminous accusation of one moral failing or another, an iconic image to remember (in this case, "failing" grades for Lampson from such non-partisan third parties as the Texas Association of Business and the National Taxpayers Union), and of course, the only-one-way-t0-answer-that question "Does Nick Lampson Share Our Values?"
Anyway, today's Chron reports on a crime victim who is quite unhappy about how then-Judge Ted Poe handled the sentencing in her case.
This Houston Press story
Texans for True Sentencing members Barbara Davis and Carolyn Hardin said they think Poe let convicted killers off the hook without fulfilling the terms of their probation.
"Judge Poe is not the guy he says he is, he doesn't follow through on what he says," Davis said. "He used me for his own personal gain. He destroyed my life all over again. If someone would lie to a victim, what would he tell his constituents?"
In 1996, Davis' car was hit by a teenage drunken driver, killing her husband and housekeeper and critically injuring her. Poe's sentencing included conditions such as a six-month jail sentence, shock probation and a requirement that the defendant carry pictures of the victims in his wallet. He also prohibited him from having a driver's license for 10 years.
Three years later, Davis found out the defendant got his driver's license back. When she tried to reach Poe, her calls went unreturned, she said.
In 1998, Hardin's son, Steven, a wrecker driver for a towing company, was sent to tow an illegally parked car. The car's owner shot and killed him.
Poe imposed creative sentencing, including requiring the man to place a cross at the site of the shooting. After serving only six months in jail, the man was set free. Poe refused to explain why he wouldn't demand compliance with the remaining sentencing conditions, Hardin said.
Davis recommended some creative sentencing of her own, suggesting that Poe should be required to walk with a sign that reads "Shame on Me, I Lied to Victims."
has more on the Davis case, noting that Poe went on the "Oprah" show in 1997 with Barbara Davis to discuss his sentencing of Michael Hubacek, the drunk driver in question. At the time, she supported Poe's efforts with Hubacek. Not any more.
In January 2000, Hubacek asked Poe to amend his probation. He wanted permission to drive to work. (According to court records, he was working at his dad's business, just two miles from his home.) He also wanted to drive to community college and Alcoholics Anonymous meetings.
Poe never even contacted Davis.
He just said yes.
Three years after that, Hubacek asked Poe to let him remove the interlock device that prevented him from driving after drinking. He also asked to be allowed to travel outside Texas. If that was too much freedom, Hubacek suggested an alternative: permission to visit in-laws in Mississippi for one week.
Again, Poe never contacted Davis. And he didn't go for the more restrictive alternative. So long as Hubacek checked with his probation officer, Poe ruled, he could leave the state whenever he wanted. Davis learned of that new freedom only when contacted by the Houston Press last week. The Department of Public Safety says Hubacek now has no restrictions on his license, though Poe says he's kept the locking device.
Last January, Hubacek made his boldest request. He asked to be taken off probation entirely.
Finally, the judge said no. But it wasn't Poe who turned him down. By then, Poe had left the bench to run for Congress; the denial came from his successor, Judge Marc Carter.
That's sure some git-tuff-on-crime justice from Poe, isn't it? Read all the way through the article and compare Hubacek's treatment to that of Jose Martinez.
By the way, Lampson has some new ads of his own out, which I saw last night. They feature John Walsh, host of "America's Most Wanted" and a self-proclaimed Republican, who lauds Lampson for his leadership on missing and exploited children. It's a positive and I think pretty effective spot, and contrasts nicely with the NRCC attack ad.
Posted by Charles Kuffner on October 07, 2004 to Election 2004
I can tell you a story coming from the other side of the fence, where Judge Ted Poe does over sentencing (of course within the guide lines of the law, but is it moral?). My son has been in prison for over 9 years now. He was 17 when he was sentenced (if the crime was committed 2 months earlier, he would not have been charged as an adult). He had two charges against him - aggravated sexual assault and aggravated robbery, which he received life and 99 years in that order. The aggravated was that they said he told her he had a knife and the sexual assault was that they said he penetrated her with his finger (this is what was said in court). My son signed a confession without a lawyer present or his mother. He was told that it would take a few days to get a lawyer in and they didn't think that he wanted to go back into the cell with the men they had put him in with (sounds a little coercing to me). Anyway he was 17, without a lawyer or parent and he signed the confession that he was guilty (which he was). I didn't have money and we had a very inexperienced lawyer for the case. She figured we stood a chance by going before the judge (we didn't have a jury trial) because it was his first offence, they did a background check in which he had never been in trouble in school, got good grades, the assistant principal of the school spoke on his behalf at his trial and we had letters from around the country (about 25), including a letter from our pastor (Kirbyjon Caldwell). We know that he should have been punished, but not to they extent. I would like to know if the Texans for True Sentencing would help someone on the other side of the fence? By the way this was a black on white crime.
More from the other side of the fence...
My nephew was sentenced April 16, 2002 by former Harris County Criminal Courts Judge Ted Poe to serve 13 years in prison as a result of probation violation from an alleged case of sexual misconduct - a crime that was NEVER conclusively proven, and for which my nephew was released for time served.
The family maintains that my nephew was wrongfully convicted. The prosecution presented NO evidence - physical or otherwise - and the entire case was seemingly based on ONE medical examiner’s interpretation of the questionable testimony of three children who were asked to recall events that allegedly occurred over TWELVE months prior.
These children, ranging in age from 8-14 years of age, were allegedly traumatized by the unfortunate circumstance of finding their father dead of a self-inflicted wound. Neighbors said these children were left unsupervised for long stretches of time, and that they'd been seen around the apartment complex where they live actually playing with their mother’s sexual paraphernalia.
But none of this came out in court. Like the previous person who posted, the attorney representing my nephew was inexperienced, and sent an unknown “associate” to visit my nephew in jail, seemingly to coerce him into pleading “no contest.” We believe that because he is legally an adult, the decision was left up to him. However, we are absolutely sure he did not understand the consequences of that plea because he has a severe learning disability.
His mother did not learn of this advice until she was called into Judge Poe’s chambers on the first day of jury selection. At that time, Poe told her if the trial were to proceed, my nephew would likely be found guilty and receive an extended sentence.
Eventually, one of two charges of sexual abuse was dropped, my nephew agreed to plea no contest, and he was eventually released for time served on December 31, 2001. He was also told he’d have to check in with a probation officer for the next eight years.
But, upon his release, and at his first meeting with his probation officer, my nephew learned that not only would he have to check in with the officer for several years, but would also have to register as a sex offender and that a sign would be placed on the front door of his mother’s apartment saying that a "sex offender" was in residence there.
Sadly, the probation officer explained that most attorneys fail to fully explain the stipulations of a "no contest" plea.
My nephew could not live where there was a child under 17 years of age, meaning that he could not return to his mother’s home because his then-15 year old brother lived there. His father, who is remarried, also had a minor child in his home, effectively leaving my nephew homeless.
My nephew was allowed to stay with his father temporarily while the probation officer tried to find placement for him. However, afraid of going back to jail, my nephew left his father’s home, and was not heard from for over a month. He showed up on his mother’s doorstep on February 4, 2002 - not even aware that it was his 21st birthday that day.
My nephew understood that he would likely be penalized for not reporting back for probation, but continued to maintain his innocence, and said that he was afraid. He would eventually be picked up by police and taken back to county jail to await sentencing.
That sentencing - 13 years in prison - came on Tuesday, April 16, 2002 in Judge Poe’s courtroom.
My nephew is now in a correctional facility in Beaumont. Upon visiting him today, his mother learned that he was exposed to the virus that causes AIDS - not from an unwanted sexual encounter, but as he tried to defend himself against a fellow inmate who instigated a fight with him. That inmate is HIV positive. As he was fighting my nephew, blood was drawn and splattered and seeped into an exposed cut or wound.
My nephew was HIV NEGATIVE when first incarcerated. Now, thanks to Ted Poe, he has effectively been sentenced to DEATH, as he is now HIV positive.
This is the legacy of Ted Poe.
After reading this, I wonder, do Texans really want to support Poe's candidacy?
I was really losing confidence in Ted Poe, what with the accounts of failures to follow through on his "creative sentences". But after reading these more recent accounts of rapists and kiddie molesters having their social lives somewhat inconvenienced by Poe's choosing to enforce probation terms and conditions, confidence is restored.
I can't believe that people are complaining about sentencing being too severe for sex offenders. Put yourself in the place of the victim, or the victim's parents. The victim's life is forever scarred, so should be the convict's.
"You are doomed! You make unjust laws that oppress my people.
That is how you prevent the poor from having their rights and
from getting justice. That is how you take property that belongs
to widows and orphans. What will you do when he brings disaster
on you from foreign country? Where will you hide your wealth?
You will be killed in battle or dragged off as prisoner. Yet
even so the God's anger will not be ended; his hand will be
stretched out to punish". Isaiah 10:1-4.