The arrest of Hervis Rogers is a travesty

You should be very mad about this.

Hervis Rogers

A Houston man who made headlines last year for standing in line six hours to vote at Texas Southern University was charged this week by Attorney General Ken Paxton with casting that ballot illegally while on parole.

Just a day before Republicans forced a special session of the Texas Legislature to tighten voting restrictions, Hervis Rogers, 62, was jailed on $100,000 bail in Montgomery County on two counts of illegal voting, court records show, even though he lives and voted in Harris County. Rogers is due back in court on July 20 in what a legal expert called a “symbolic prosecution.”

“The argument of voter fraud is very hot right now, the statistics don’t seem to bear out that it is widepsread but this case will certainly stick, I suspect, in people’s memories as a cautionary tale of why you should never consider doing it,” according to criminal defense attorney Christopher Downey, who is not affiliated with this case.

An indictment filed last month with the Montgomery County District Court claims Rogers was still on parole for a 1995 burglary conviction when he voted in both the March 2020 Democratic primary and November 2018 general election.

He had been released from prison in May 2004 after serving nine years of a 25-year sentence, according to the Texas Department of Criminal Justice. He voted in the March elections less than four months before his parole was set to expire on July 1, 2020.

Texas Election Code states that someone on parole for a felony conviction is ineligible to register as a voter, and that violations of election law may be prosecuted in the county where the alleged crime was committed, or an adjoining county. Because Rogers has three prior convictions between 1986 and 1995 — all for burglary or robbery — he is potentially facing between 25 years to life in prison, Downey said.

The charges against Rogers are “extremely unusual” to Downey, who said in his nearly 30 years in criminal law he’s never come across a voter fraud case. The choice to prosecute in more conservative Montgomery County instead of Harris County, where the alleged fraud occurred, also “reeks of forum shopping” and “strengthens the argument that its a symbolic prosecution,” even if the move is legally sound.

If Rogers was indeed ineligible, his only point of contention could be that he was unaware of the restrictions on his eligibility, Downey said, though he noted that ignorance of a law does not amount to much of a legal defense.

“The Hervis case demonstrates why we need to make sure people who have been disenfranchised fully know their rights when it comes to voting, but we also need to change the laws to fully restore voting rights.” said Stephanie Gomez, associate director at Common Cause Texas, a self-described “pro-democracy” group. “There is already a lack of clarity around voting rights restoration for people who have been disenfranchised by the criminal justice system.”


“When you push forward bills that criminalize our elections, that hurts Texans and people like Hervis,” Gomez said. “It’s not lost on me that the governor has called a special session where they are chasing these claims of widespread voter fraud across Texas … the timing is not lost on me at all.”

See here for when we first met Hervis Rogers. Note that he is being held on $100,000 bail.

Really tells you something about Ken Paxton’s priorities, doesn’t it? I can’t think of a valid reason to hold this guy, or anyone like him, on that level of bond. Among many other things, this is a good example of why the cash bond system is unconstitutional and needs to be completely overhauled.

Look, we all know the reason Ken Paxton is doing this, and why he’s doing it now, more than a year after Hervis Rogers cast that vote, and why he picked Montgomery County as his preferred venue. Hervis Rogers didn’t hurt anyone. In nearly half the states in the country, he’d have been free to vote at this point in his life. He did nothing wrong, and he’s in danger of having his life destroyed for a mistake by a deeply corrupt Attorney General who wants to make and example of him. As a schoolkid I used to hear about this sort of thing happening in scary totalitarian places like East Germany and the Soviet Union. And now it’s happening here. I’m sick just thinking about it. KUHF, which was first to report this, and Reform Austin have more.

UPDATE: Thankfully, Hervis Rogers has now been released on bail. Everything about this is still a goddamned travesty.

UPDATE: Here’s the Trib story.

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10 Responses to The arrest of Hervis Rogers is a travesty

  1. Bill Daniels says:

    The left has been doing this same kind of lawfare for quite a while. Remember the twenty something armed to the teeth federal SWAT team folks it took to arrest Roger Stone live on CNN? Remember pulling Rudy’s law license in D.C. and New York for representing his client? We cheered and reveled in that. Was elderly Roger Stone any more of a threat than Hervis?

    I agree with Kuff that criminalization of politics is reminiscent of totalitarian commie societies. That’s absolutely true, and it’s absolutely scary. We should look at how we got to this point, and either the left and right agree not to do it, or the other option is to keep going, and maybe every so often negotiate hostage exchanges. If we’re going to keep going, then Texas needs to up its game and start putting numbers on the board.

    What are you willing to give up to free Hervis?

  2. Ross says:

    Once again, Bill pulls out his what about card and deflects from the topic at hand.

    Stone’s arrest was not handled in an abnormal manner. Stone had threatened to kill a witness and had the means and motive to flee if he had advanced notice of arrest, or was instructed to turn himself in. He was also convicted of the crimes for which he was indicted.

    Giuliani lost his license for making false statements. Attorneys don’t get to do that.

  3. Bill Daniels says:

    One other point:

    “Hervis Rogers didn’t hurt anyone.”

    That’s not actually true. He was on parole for a 1995 second degree felony offense conviction for burglary. Wow. That’s a long time to be on parole for burglary. Let’s delve into that. I suspect it has to do with his previous crime spree in Texas, including arrests in 1986, 1989, 1985, and then the felony burglary in 2005. Keep in mind it’s harder to pick up new crime charges when you’re locked down in TDCJ, which explains the time lapse.

    Hervis is a revolving door of crime, and yes, he hurt people. I wonder if he’d burglarized one of us, threatening the lives of our kids, and our wives, if we’d feel differently about Hervis?

  4. Bill Daniels says:

    For what it’s worth, Hervis would have lost his voter registration because of his felony convictions and subsequent incarcerations, so in order to vote in the 2018 general election, he would have had to fill out an application to vote that includes this prominent language:

    “I understand that giving false information to procure a voter registration is perjury, and a crime under state and federal law. Conviction of this crime may result in imprisonment up to 180 days, a fine up to $2,000, or both. Please read all three statements to affirm before signing.

    I am a resident of this county and a U.S. Citizen;

    I have not been finally convicted of a felony, or if a felon, I have completed all of my punishment including any term of incarceration, parole, supervision, period of probation, or I have been pardoned; and

    I have not been determined by a final judgment of a court exercising probate jurisdiction to be totally mentally incapacitated or partially mentally incapacitated without the right to vote.

    Please verify your data is correct before you “Submit.””

    A guy as familiar with the justice system as Hervis, who has been on parole multiple times, would certainly know whether he was “on paper” or not. And yet, he attested to the fact that no, he wasn’t a felon on parole right there on his voter application. So this excuse of, “gee, poor Hervis just didn’t know he couldn’t vote,” seems to fall flat. Did he really not know he was still on probation in 2018? He was visiting his parole officer just for fun each month in 2018, 2019, and 2020?

  5. policywonqueria says:


    Re: “feel differently about Hervis?”

    A fundamental critique here, and that goes for both sides: How we “feel”…. Why should emotions determine what happens? Have we collectively lost our minds, or just retired them? And if so, whose feelings should be vindicated, and determine outcomes?

    — What happened to the idea of basing an opinion on reason, taking proper account of facts and applicable moral/political principles, values, and existing law? Not to mention due process and impartiality.

    Re: “He did nothing wrong.”

    How can we legitimately reach that conclusion, based on the facts as reported?

    First, we have to distinguish between the prior conviction and ensuing jail sentence and the current charge under one of the criminal provisions of the Election Code.

    As for the former, the general presumption is that a criminal conviction is valid. But it is also well-known that quite a few convicts were actually innocent, and were eventually exonerated, including people on death row. So even if that doesn’t apply in one particular case, it can’t be ignored in a broader discussion of policy. Egregious errors — miscarriages of justice — do occur in the criminal justice system. It’s been shown time and again, often with the help of science.

    As to the latter, we are not supposed to say that he is guilty (certainly not the media) because he has not been convicted of the charged offense. But to say that “he did nothing wrong” doesn’t comport with the reported facts, assuming they are true. And that assumption is hardly unreasonable here. After all, the relevant facts regarding the duration and end of parole can be validated with public records, and the fact that (and when) Mr. Rogers voted is not in dispute.


    The real problem here is the strictness of the Election Code. Why should a person in Hervis Rogers’ position — a parolee — be barred from voting if he is a U.S. citizen? Shouldn’t participation in elections be part and parcel of rehabilitation and reintegration into society as a “good citizen” after having served his sentence and having paid for the crime? So as to thereby also give the reformed offender a stake in the system, as opposed to living the life of an outcast? — That, of course, is a question of what the law *should* be; not a question of what the law currently forbids or requires.

    And, more fundamentally, why should inmates not be allowed to vote if they are citizens and compos mentis?


    If prosecutions are handled by locally-elected prosecutors, and they are in Texas, a policy of automatic disenfranchisement upon felony conviction creates an incentive to prosecute and put away presumptive supporters of the opposition party. Not desirable to have such an incentive structure to distort the impartial application of the law, from a good-government perspective.

    And as for innocent folks sent to prison because of prosecutorial misconduct or a failure of the judicial system for some other reason, they can be financially compensated under the Tim Cole Act (though they may have to fight AG Paxton to get the Comptroller to process payment), but their right to vote in past elections can never the restored with retroactive effect. Such unjust deprivation of the right to vote has no remedy under the current policy regime.

    And, the deprivation of the right to vote also deprives all convicts — including the innocently convicted — of any political clout, making them susceptible to abuse by jailers with little incentive for jail administrators to take steps to rein in jailers in the absence of political accountability. That leaves prisoner litigation as the only avenue for relief, which is not only an inefficient means to ensure minimal standards in the humane treatment of inmates (protection against cruel and unusual punishment), but is also costly to the public fisc, both for defense of prisoner litigation by the State, and the burden imposed on the state and federal courts that have to process and adjudicate such cases.

    BOTTOM LINE: There are good reasons to rethink the policy of disenfranchisement of inmates (& parolees) even if doing so does not offend the federal or state constitution.

  6. voter_worker says:

    In addition to the wording on the voter registration application, his status should have been flagged by the system used by Harris County and the Secretary of State to verify applications. No reporting I’ve read has delved into a possible failure in that process. Bill, I am sure your affairs are in perfect order and your checkbook balances to the penny every month. Most of us are not operating at that level of perfection and that’s why the VR and SOS are required to thoroughly vet each and every application, and reject those that are flawed (with the notable exception of the usage of non-residential addresses, which apparently will be enforced after September 1).

  7. Robert says:

    I don’t get why felons lose their right to vote in the first place……

  8. mollusk says:

    $100,000 bond for a non violent Class B misdemeanor with a $2,000 maximum fine…

  9. Jason Hochman says:

    mollusk, he’s very lucky to have a bond. A person on parole is still serving a sentence. They have been given a release to live in the community rather than in prison, but they are still under the supervision of the court. A parole violator could be ordered back into prison for a technical violation, not to mention a new charge. I suspect that he was able to get a bond because he has now completed his original sentence.

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