This just keeps getting weirder.
“It appears to have been an under-the-table deal with Devon Anderson,” said Tyler Flood, the president of the Harris County Criminal Lawyer’s Association. “I already have clients calling me saying they want the ‘Tony Buzbee deal.'”
Flood and other defense lawyers have questioned the treatment Buzbee received from Anderson and the judge presiding over the case.
A request to the district attorney’s office for a copy of the pretrial diversion contract, which outlines conditions and consequences of failing to meet those conditions, was sent to the office’s general counsel, who said lawyers for Buzbee have objected to its release. Such contracts generally are publicly available. The office of general counsel said Buzbee’s lawyers have informed it that they will seek an order from the Texas Attorney General’s Office forcing the district attorney to withhold the contract.
Another reason this case and its resolution is unusual is that the judge presiding over it is the only jurist in Harris County who does not allow pretrial diversions for DWI cases. County Court-at-Law Judge Bill Harmon is opposed to any DWI pretrial diversion program and often cites Harris County’s record number of drunken-driving fatalities as the reason.
When a DWI case eligible for the pretrial diversion program lands in his court, it is often transferred to a different court. That did not happen in Buzbee’s case.
Earlier this week, Harmon acknowledged that he signed the dismissal forms and said he had not approved any diversion for DWI suspects. He said he would continue to refuse to participate in the program.
It’s those inconsistencies that bother Flood and other members of the Harris County Criminal Lawyers Association.
“Our target is not Tony Buzbee. That’s not what HCCLA is about. He hired good lawyers and got a good result,” Flood said. “Our problem is the appearance of impropriety between the district attorney and the judge.”
The deal Buzbee was able to obtain from Anderson was extraordinary, Flood said.
“He’s the only person in the whole county who is not excluded from filing for an expunction immediately after his case is dismissed on a DWI on a pretrial intervention.”
See here for the background. It’s weird enough that any of this happened, but it’s possible to imagine that there’s nothing untoward about any of it, it was just maybe handled in a clumsy fashion. But for Buzbee’s attorney to then file to keep the normally-public pretrial diversion contract under wraps, I mean that’s like putting up a giant blinking neon sign saying “THERE IS SOMETHING SUSPICIOUS HERE THAT WE DON’T WANT YOU TO SEE”. Under no circumstances should that file be withheld from public scrutiny. Let’s make the facts known, and then we can see if there’s something that requires a response.