So what happened with the original Woodfill investigation?

Good question.

Five years ago, Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg appeared poised to prosecute Jared Woodfill, a prominent local attorney and Republican activist, for serious financial crimes. Ogg’s office received a judge’s permission to conduct a raid of his office, accusing him of stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars from former clients.

But then the case died with no explanation.

Prosecutors never even asked a grand jury to consider charges against Woodfill — a decision now under fresh scrutiny as Ogg, a Democrat, faces a tough primary election, and as Woodfill challenges an incumbent state lawmaker in the Texas House of Representatives.

Ogg said in a recent interview with the Chronicle’s Editorial Board that she “put the brakes on the whole thing” because she thought the allegations against Woodfill wouldn’t hold up in court. But her account is contradicted on several points by a Chronicle review of hundreds of pages of court documents, internal emails, and more than a dozen interviews.

Ogg said her own investigators didn’t have legal justification to seize some of the evidence from Woodfill’s office in the first place. But a state district judge ruled they did, and an appeals court upheld the decision.

She also said she’d lost confidence in the prosecutors dealing with the case, but the attorneys in question were assigned high-profile cases and got promoted before eventually leaving the office.

An internal office memo written by one of the prosecutors in 2021, John Brewer, says Ogg knew about every step of the investigation and appeared supportive of it, telling her staff to “follow the evidence wherever it led.”

In an interview, Brewer said he disagrees with Ogg’s recent statements about the Woodfill case and pointed to court documents authored by her own office that contradict her explanation. He added that he is legally forbidden from discussing more details.

Meanwhile, Woodfill’s accusers say they’re still waiting for justice. Earlier this month, two of them asked the FBI to look into the case and accused Ogg of dropping it “for reasons contrary to the interests of justice.”

“They have completely defiled the court system,” said Amy Holsworth, who complained about Woodfill to the Houston Police Department back in 2017 and sparked the DA’s initial investigation. “They’ve made a mockery of it.”

See here for some background. There’s a lot in the story so go read the rest. It’s not the kind of news coverage Kim Ogg would want at this point in time, but there it is anyway. Two points of interest for me:

1. According to the story, the case was eventually dropped because the statute of limitations had expired. I’d like a better understanding of that, as in would the DA’s office be barred from reopening this case at a later date? I presume that the matter is different in federal court, where this could end up if the FBI chooses to take action. How likely that is, I have no idea.

2. I’ve said some version of this before and I’ll say it again: If Jared Woodfill manages to knock off Rep. Lacey Hull in the primary, Dems really need to go all out to win that seat. Woodfill would be vulnerable in a way that the more or less run-of-the-mill Rep. Hull would not be, and this is not a deep red seat. I don’t know who needs to hear this, but someone needs to drop half a million or so on this race if it’s against Jared Woodfill.

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5 Responses to So what happened with the original Woodfill investigation?

  1. Meme says:

    Greg, no comment on this?

  2. Bill Kelly says:

    Totally agree on the Hull take. If Woodfill wins the primary, game on.

  3. DA Ogg explained her decision but, based on the media reports, I would not have closed that investigation. We don’t know whether the allegations against Woodfill have merit but, like Kuff, I hope the FBI or Texas Rangers decide to pick up the investigation.

  4. mollusk says:

    Whether limitations ran or not depends on what the charge is. The time limit runs from 2 years for most misdemeanors up to never for serious felonies, with stops at several points along the way for various offenses. That said, unless the charges were already (or just about to be) time barred at the beginning of the investigation, letting limitations run is pretty sloppy at best. Not a good look.

  5. C.L. says:

    Boss Ogg strikes again !

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