Old Ways Die Hard

A state law can't break up a juvenile courtroom gang

Malazzo agrees with Ellis, saying the county is paying more but not necessarily getting improved legal services.

"There's no doubt about it, this system is extremely costly," she says. "And I don't believe that the children are getting any better representation than they were before."

Meanwhile, county criminal court judges, whose courts have long been a bastion of jurist-lawyer cronyism, are reportedly preparing to junk the rotation process completely and return to having judges pick appointees off a much shorter list. Assistant county courts manager Wayne Bowling says he's waiting to hear from judges Analia Wilkerson and Jean Spradling Hughes on which direction the courts will go.

Senator Ellis's Fair Defense Act has some judges yelling foul.
Deron Neblett
Senator Ellis's Fair Defense Act has some judges yelling foul.

Democratic activist and criminal attorney David Jones figures the judges just want to keep their pet stable of lawyers, who tended to value their relationships with the court as much as their defense of clients.

"My guess is they've lost an element of control off their dockets and they're seeing too many new faces who are not sympathetic to the status quo arrangements of working cases out," says Jones. "Maybe certain cases are being set for trial that under normal circumstances would be pled out."

Jones is advising Democratic candidates for criminal courts in November to jump on the attorney selection issue. "There are two or three hundred lawyers who've just been told to go fuck themselves," he notes.

On the other hand, incumbent judges who campaign for re-election on the slogan "Screw the Lawyers" just might wind up with landslide victories.

Jew Don's New Gig

Just when we were wondering how former mayor pro tem Jew Don Boney Jr. was making a living since getting term-limited off City Council, an anonymous correspondent helpfully mailed The Insider a draft contract.

The proposed pact between the Port of Houston Authority and Boney will be considered by the Port Commission board June 24. According to the paperwork, Boney would provide "professional services" in the areas of community relations, development of emerging markets and outreach to small businesses to get them involved in port programs. Boney is one of 19 unpaid members on the port's Small Business Advisory Council.

The draft of the one-year contract does not specify how much Boney will be paid.

A port insider scoffs at the arrangement, calling it a political plum for a former council ally of Mayor Lee Brown -- one being pushed by Kase Lawal, the Port Commission vice chairman and friend of the mayor.

Port Chair Jim Edmonds denies that the proposed contract would be political pork for Boney. "I don't view it that way," he says. "He's going to earn what we pay him."

The Insider traded phone messages with but was unable to contact Boney, who was in Los Angeles on business.

So we consulted his Web page, Jewdonboney.com, which headlines the many talents of Boney: political consultant, activist, lecturer and motivational speaker -- and it still lists him as City of Houston mayor pro tem and District D councilmember.

It offers Boney lectures on "Socio-Economic Strategies for the Next Millennium," price-tagged at $800 to $1,250, plus travel and lodging. Leadership development training for community-based organizations can be had for $1,800 plus T&L.

Next week, we'll likely find out the cost of those professional services he'll be providing for the port.

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