In 1988, voters narrowly elected a former tax master named Mark Davidson to the bench. And the rest is history -- years, decades, even centuries of it, as Davidson continues his studies of the rich legacy of law and justice in Harris County. Of course, Davidson has more than earned his robe in the regular work of ruling on civil cases through the years. But his dedication to the courts, and county, really comes alive in his never-ending fascination with the foundations of law in Houston. In this era of ever-changing judges and utter lack of regard for the past, it's more than a little refreshing to see that kind of reverence for what was. As for his standing among his peers, Davidson was elected chief administrative judge for the county -- the historian becoming part of the rich heritage he treasures.

Dating is like ordering tapas: You try a whole bunch of different things and you hope you get something you like that agrees with you and doesn't make you sick. Mi Luna is a fun "first date" -- it's like a fancy mall food court, because you each can get whatever you want, from baby clams and poached salmon to stuffed zucchini and veal tongue. (We recommend the B'Stilla, a Moroccan chicken pie with cinnamon almonds wrapped in crisp phyllo dough. It sounds like a bad idea, but you'll like it.) You can tell a lot about someone from what they order. Do you want to date a guy who gets a bowl of goat cheese and mushrooms as his main meal? What about a girl who eats oxtail? Can you kiss her goodnight? If you decide that you can't, Mi Luna is located smack in the middle of Rice Village, right next to Urban Outfitters. If you hate your date, you can go shop away the irritation, pick up a novel at Half Price Books and head home. Or if you're feeling brave, walk a block to The Ginger Man and meet a new person. Maybe he or she will be that special someone who orders something you want to share.
So the bloom's gone off the rose, has it? Her laughter has become annoyingly loud. She ends every sentence with a verbal question mark. You can't bear to watch another episode of Sex and the City. It's time for you to move on. But you also have a healthy fear of public humiliation -- and loneliness. So take her somewhere noisy, crowded and brimming with energy: Jillian's. With a raucous bowling alley upstairs and myriad video games down, plus food, drinks and dancing till 2 a.m., Jillian's is the perfect place to start your single life. And with a dozen pool tables, it's also a great place to make a clean break.

Waiting at a red light, a Press editor hears honking coming from a truck in the next lane. The news type looks over and sees the face of the prosecutor he'd written about only days earlier. Kelly Siegler leans out her window and grins. "Pull over," she says. "Pull over and I'll kick your ass."

"Didn't you like the story?" he asks.

"Yes," she says, laughing. "Now pull over and I'll kick your ass."

At least he can leave when the light changes -- death row is the typical destination for most of Siegler's targets. In 16 years the diminutive assistant district attorney has become the most feared opponent of even the finest of the defense bar. She dominates the courtroom with a presence that defies anyone -- lawyers, witnesses, judges, jurors -- to challenge her. With equal parts moral outrage, all-encompassing trial preparation and plain-talking sensibility, she sways the toughest of critics. She credits her success to her childhood spent in her daddy's barbershop -- he was a justice of the peace in tiny Blessing -- as he conducted court with the regulars. With that mudflats bond to the common folk, this Mensan has mastered the not-so-simple art of motivating 12 citizens to decide to kill a defendant. When Siegler says she'll kick your ass, you better believe it.

Best Houstonian You Didn't Know Was a Houstonian

Jeff Martin

You're probably saying to yourself, "Who the hell is Jeff Martin?" Well, there's a good chance the man, a highly successful television comedy writer, has made you laugh on more than one occasion. After all, this is a former Houstonian (and former AstroWorld employee) who started out writing for that temple of subversive, relentlessly hilarious comedy, Late Night with David Letterman. After he left that show, he immediately jumped over to The Simpsons, penning some of the show's most memorable episodes. (Remember when Marge stars in a theater production of A Streetcar Named Desire? That was his.) And we're not pointing him out now in hopes that he'll read this and send the entire staff of the Houston Press copies of the Simpsons' second season, just released on DVD. We're just glad to say he's one of us. We wouldn't be so shallow as to ask for such a thing, over here at the Houston Press, 1621 Milam, Suite 100, Houston, Texas 77002.
Joe Jamail is an attorney with ethics. Former Texas attorney general Dan Morales tried to lure the Houston civil icon into a scheme involving the most lucrative of cases, a suit against tobacco companies. But Jamail blew the whistle when Morales attempted to shake him and others down for $1 million. Now Morales is heading off to prison, a vindication of sorts for Jamail's virtue. While legions of greedy upstart lawyers try to lay claim to Jamail's long-standing title of the "king of torts," they'd do better to take a lesson from this brash and brilliant attorney. Jamail's made his many millions, but he's done it with immense compassion for those who need his help most: the little as well as big guys. There may be another tort king some day, but there'll never be another Joe Jamail.
There's no telling where Cynthia Flood and her two children would be living today if they hadn't crossed paths with Mark Davis. Last October, Davis read a story in the Houston Press that recounted how Flood's $250-a-month apartment in the Fourth Ward was in the path of a city-sponsored redevelopment project and was destined to be demolished. She was denied a government-subsidized apartment in the new Historic Oaks of Allen Parkway because of credit problems. Flood had taken out a student loan to attend Hargest College a decade ago, but dropped out when she became pregnant with her son. Her government checks, however, kept going to Hargest, which kept cashing them. Flood, a single mother earning $7.15 an hour checking groceries at Kroger, managed to whittle an $8,000 debt down to $1,700, but the city housing authority nonetheless rejected her application for housing. Enter Davis, a bankruptcy lawyer and estate planner who knew someone with a contact at the U.S. Department of Education. Davis helped Flood with the paperwork for a deferment, which removed the delinquency from her credit report. He also pestered city housing officials until they reconsidered Flood's application. In May, thanks to Davis's generous donation of time and expertise, Flood and her kids moved into a new apartment at the Historic Oaks of Allen Parkway. "She just needed someone to cut through the red tape," says Davis, a solo practitioner. "I think attorneys have an obligation, when they can, to provide assistance to people who need it."
4739 Buck RoadTucked at the end of Buck Road in the Fifth Ward is the oddest but coolest shotgun house in Texas. World-renowned Houston artist Bert Long, known to many for his massive public ice sculptures, lives there with his partner Joan Batson, a painter from Scotland. The house, rehabbed as part of a thesis project by Rice University architecture student Brett Zamore, was built in the 1920s. The 950-square-foot space is actually two shotgun houses merged into one. The wooden wall that once separated them is still there, and so are the sliding bathroom doors. And the corrugated tin roof is a close match to the original. The space is small, but Long and Batson have done their best to utilize every nook. Ivy covers exposed beams, and the art inside is rotated so often the place is almost a miniature museum. In the large backyard is a well-tended garden where Long grows watermelons, tomatoes and five kinds of eggplant, which he regularly gives away to students at the local elementary school and to neighbors on his street. Long, who grew up in the Fifth Ward, says the house is a way of connecting him to his past. And it sure is cozy, too.
Maybe we're being a little optimistic -- as of this writing, new columnist Rick Casey has not yet filed a story for the Houston Chronicle. But hey, who's his competition? Leon Hale and Thom Marshall? Seriously, though, if you've read Casey in the San Antonio Express-News, you know that his unique feel for the pulse of the city coupled with his ability to turn a clever phrase makes for lively reading. Will he be able to get to the heart of Houston? And will he continue the city government coverage that's made him famous in S.A.? We're keeping our fingers crossed.

As the fall TV season approaches, the ultimate worth of Houston Medical remains under debate. But one thing is certain: The media has picked up on our Med Center excellence. Case in point: Fortune magazine, that bastion of biz lists, heralded St. Luke's Episcopal Health System as one of the nation's top 100 places to work. The chronicle of commerce cited St. Luke's generous benefits and compensation (the starting salary for a day nurse is $42,636) and a "commitment to teamwork." Rather than a cheap "cake and ice cream day," St. Luke's throws an employee appreciation week, featuring massages, karaoke contests and snazzy polo shirts. The hospital system even threw a "Fun Fest" for employees when it was named to Fortune's list. But it is perhaps the staff's performance during Tropical Storm Allison, when nurses waded through waist-deep water to salvage food for patients, and staff formed "human chains" to funnel medical supplies through 25 flights of stairwells, that admitted St. Luke's to the winner's circle.

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