Law Breakers

County prosecutors and the sheriff target a controversial judge

He prefers to couch his position as simply being for Harris, who previously worked directly for him. "I think she's a fine lawyer, and that's the reason I'm supporting her, as opposed to being against Judge Law."

Rosenthal, Thomas and former D.A. Holmes posed with Harris for a group picture for her campaign. "I am positive that people who see that will say, 'Oh, the D.A.'s office is supporting this candidate,' " Holmes said from his ranch in the Brenham area. "Yeah, I don't think there's any question about that. But quite frankly, that doesn't offend me. We're in a friggin' democracy."

At the same time he understands Law's complaint.

"I don't feel pissed off that Judge Law is taking that position. That would be the very same position I would take, were I so situated."

Construction company owner Al Keller, the C-Club activist and father of Bert Keller, calls his personal experience in Law's court an eye-opener. The councilman admitted he was intoxicated when he crashed his vehicle into a parked truck and left the scene last year. It was what followed that incensed the elder Keller.

He cites her handling of the probation portion of the case as "very unfair." He says Law appeared ignorant of the difference between scheduled urine tests and random tests, in-town or out-of-town traveling rights and proper accounting of community service hours.

He says the bar poll echoed his own experience. "I'm not a one-guy or one-issue person," says Keller. "Her 5 percent ranking is just pretty outstandingly poor."

Lawyer Harmon, the husband of federal judge Melinda Harmon, says the Keller case also played a role in convincing him that Law has to go.

"She showed a shocking degree of judicial incompetence," says Harmon, who represented Keller with attorney Rusty Hardin. "When we started asking questions, I was informed she'd revoked somebody's probation for having a parking ticket. The Bert Keller situation was only filed because she ordered the D.A.'s office to do it. They didn't on their own do it." Keller eventually agreed to extra community service hours just to avoid the possibility that Law might sentence him to jail.

Jansen called up Harmon recently to seek support for his wife. Harmon gave him an earful. "I called him back about four weeks later, figuring he had cooled off. And again we had another hour or longer about the Keller case," recalls Jansen. He says Harmon also told him Hotze would not support her because the doctor was close friends with Keller. Al Keller dismisses that claim as "hogwash."

"Instead of worrying about Bert and Al Keller," retorts Harmon, "they ought to ask themselves, 'Why does the Houston Bar Association rate you the worst judge in Harris County?' and 'Why is the sheriff and the current and two past D.A.'s opposed to you and supporting Harris?' "

Judging by the firepower lined up against Law, it appears likely the first GOP incumbent to be defeated will be taken down by her own party in March -- before the Democrats get a chance in November.

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