Looks like we’re not done with this yet.
Prominent Houston lawyer Tony Buzbee on Monday accused Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg of “playing politics,” saying prosecutors are trying to revive a DWI case against him that has already been expunged.
Buzbee said Ogg’s office has filed a sealed motion seeking to reopen the criminal case by overturning a decision last month by a civil court judge that expunged the case files.
The district attorney’s office declined to comment on the details of the motion.
“We have filed a document that was sealed by the clerk,” said First Assistant District Attorney Tom Berg by e-mail. “As a result, we are not at liberty to discuss that document.”
Buzbee said Ogg singled him out because outgoing District Attorney Devon Anderson personally dismissed his case in the days before she left office at the end of the year.
“Ms. Ogg’s new position is that she didn’t personally sign the agreed motion, and the assistant DA who did so lacked her express permission,” he said Monday by email. “Of course, he says he did have that authority. So, I guess those two can fight about that.”
He called information that has been released about his case “bunk” and said his driving while intoxicated case last year was dismissed not as a political favor by the outgoing Republican but “due to multiple irregularities.”
Buzbee was arrested a year ago on suspicion of DWI and vowed to go to trial. Instead, Anderson personally dismissed the case, saying the attorney had fulfilled the obligations of a pre-trial intervention program.
However, his conditions were less onerous than the obligations for others who went through Anderson’s DWI intervention program, called DIVERT, which typically lasted a year. And he was allowed to expunge his case immediately, though others have been required to wait two years.
The diversion contract, which typically is placed in the public court file, was not filed publicly. The Houston Chronicle filed a request under the Texas open records law to obtain a copy of the contract, but Buzbee was able to block the request by claiming a third-party interest.
The DA’s office under Anderson then sent it to the Texas Attorney General’s Office for a ruling on whether it was public information; the ruling is pending.
Last month, the public file was sealed by an expunction approved by civil court Judge Robert Schaffer. The criminal file reappeared online Monday, however, on the Harris County District Clerk’s website.
Buzbee said Monday that a motion has been filed under seal in the civil case to reverse the expunction.
“In that motion to set aside, the DA takes a position that her assistant DA had no authority to agree to the expunction – which is an outright misstatement of the law, and which is factually untrue because he claims he did in fact have her express permission,” Buzbee said.
See here and here for the background. The way this case was handled sure looked weird, and the timing of it all, which was after Devon Anderson lost her bid for re-election but before Kim Ogg was sworn in, was awfully convenient. It may well be that there was nothing untoward and that the case against Buzbee was a loser that was never going anywhere, but I’m not inclined to just take his word for it. That said, Kim Ogg has a lot of big fish to fry, and she started out with a big target on her back as the first Democrat to be DA in a million years who has big reform plans and who fired a bunch of her predecessor’s people. Oh, and she’s also a lesbian, which drives some people absolutely crazy. My point is, she already has plenty of enemies, and plenty of obstacles to achieving her goals as DA. Tony Buzbee is an obnoxious blowhard, and the circumstances of his case are extremely fishy. But unless some actual malfeasance is uncovered, I don’t know how much time and energy it’s worth to pursue.