Mental health court coup


Judge Jan Krocker

Citing problems with the administration of Harris County’s mental health court, a board of judges has ousted the court’s founder and presiding judge, Jan Krocker, officials confirmed Friday.

“There were a lot of valid complaints about Judge Krocker’s administration of the court, and she didn’t like the idea of oversight,” said Michael McSpadden, Houston’s most senior felony court judge. “We are all behind a mental health court. We just want it run the correct way.”

Krocker will continue to preside over the 184th State District Court, a bench to which she was first elected in 1994, but two other judges, David Mendoza and Brock Thomas, will oversee the mental health court.

Krocker said the move was the natural evolution of the program.

“Once we knew the court would be funded for another year, I had hoped to reduce my involvement because it had become so time-consuming,” she said in an emailed statement. “I would have been glad to transition out and turn it over to Judge Mendoza and Judge Thomas. It is too bad this wasn’t handled differently.”

What’s interesting about this is that the mental health court has only been in existence since October. That’s an awfully short period of time for everyone to lose patience with the person who brought this thing to reality. Or maybe there was something else going on.

The abrupt removal may have been spurred by Krocker releasing a statement in December accusing another judge and newly elected District Attorney Mike Anderson of trying to kill funding for the court.

Last year, Krocker said then-District Attorney Pat Lykos had promised $500,000 for the court to continue. When that promise dried up days before Lykos left office, Krocker blamed Anderson and state District Judge Belinda Hill.

Anderson and Hill, who was the chief administrative judge over the 22 district judges and is now Anderson’s first assistant, have both publicly supported the mental health court.

The problem was not the court, McSpadden said. It was Krocker.

“She wasn’t following the mental health advice of the people we hire, the doctors we hired,” McSpadden said. “There were a lot of complaints, from inside and outside the court.”

As a non-lawyer I have no insight into this, so let me throw this out to those of you who who may have some insight for your comments. What do you think?

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4 Responses to Mental health court coup

  1. Jim Henley says:

    I have known Judge Krocker for years. Though we are of different politicial parties, I have always admired her professionalism on the bench. I do not know the new DA, Mr. Anderson. I voted for him even though he is a Republican a rarity for me.
    I voted for him even though lawyers told me of his negative disposition. The Democratic candidate for DA was unacceptable.
    With all this said, it looks like Mr. Anderson will brook no criticism from Judge Krocker. The mental health court was her idea and it is sad to see it taken away.

  2. Ron in Houston says:

    I think some of it is the “new sheriff in town” sort of attitude. The knee jerk reaction is that if Lykos was behind it and it’s not tough enough on crime, then it is something that should be opposed. You’d probably have to really dig behind the scenes to see if that is true or not.

    On a more philosophical level, prosecutors generally aren’t going to be fans of things like mental health courts. Prosecutors tend to favor black and white. They want to prosecute people and have them found guilty. They don’t tend to like the big grey area caused by things like mental health courts.

    Whether you liked Lykos or not, she did a fair amount of “out of the box” thinking. At least for an elected DA.

  3. joshua bullard says:

    The story of judge jan Krocker begins from the point she was in private practice as a criminal defense lawyer,from 1990 threw 1994,the current judge at that time was old democrat judge named bob burdette184th(might the reader remember,he was the drunk judge that kept falling out of his car alll the time because he was drunk half the time,This guy was very mean to attorney krocker for a number of years,in political,legal retailiation- she decided to run against him in 1994,at that time no one gave her a second thought that she could take him down,judge burdette ran a highly negative camp against krocker,he was very very mean to her,however, in the end,against the current belief, she won,along with a number of other rep- judges,shes been there now for almost 20 years,i would suspect that the mike anderson team doesnt think she would be a political threat in 4 years,i wouldnt be so sure,if a political interest draws her as an opponent in a republican primary for da,krocker would unseat anderson in a primary,my thoughts our this,thats alot of money to be moving around right before a da elect takes office,so in that regards i can understand there may be a need to hold and wait type pattern from the das office,however,leaving judge jan krocker feeling spited isnt “the player move” and i wouldnt reco this to any politician.Traditionally when a judge left the bench in 1995 there was to be a painted portrait of the former judge placed on the wall in the courtroom,if you take a look at the 184th, bob burdettes never made it(wonder why?????

    i composed it,because ive lived it.
    joshua ben bullard

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