For unknown reasons, Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg has reportedly filed a motion to reopen the DWI case against prominent Houston defense attorney Anthony Buzbee, sources, including Buzbee, told the Houston Press.
Buzbee's case was dismissed in controversial fashion last December after former district attorney Devon Anderson personally dropped it. While it is extremely rare for the top prosecutor to intervene in a misdemeanor case, Anderson maintained that she chose to dismiss it because it was "the right thing to do." Buzbee, she said, had successfully completed a pretrial DWI diversion program.
But the circumstances were unusual: Even though Anderson's own diversion program rules stated that it was a year-long program, Buzbee's case was dismissed after only eight months. Furthermore, the judge on Buzbee's case, Bill Harmon, historically had never allowed the DWI diversion program in his court. Making things weirder, Buzbee's defense attorneys also donated nearly $30,000 to Anderson's campaign in 2015 and 2016, yet there is nothing directly tying the donations to the dismissal.
The Press had requested a copy of his diversion-program contract, but Buzbee's lawyers tried to block our records request since they had speedily filed to expunge Buzbee's case in December (even though, again, Anderson's program rules stated defendants would have to wait two years). The decision to release the contract now rests with the Texas Attorney General's Office. But by the end of January, when Ogg was in office, the DA's office already agreed to expunge the case. And that's where it apparently gets messy — again.
According to the expunction order obtained by the Press, Buzbee's entire case file was to be wiped from the district clerk's site, including even the mere fact that he filed for the expunction. The DA's general counsel, Scott Durfee, signed off on the order — yet according to Buzbee, the dispute causing Ogg to reopen the case stems from whether Durfee and other assistant district attorneys listed had Ogg's permission to expunge. Durfee declined comment about the matter. Buzbee, who has no connection to the DA's office, somehow asserts that Ogg did give permission, but says she has apparently "changed her mind."
"I think the entire thing is an utter waste of time," he said. "I don't see any merit in her position."
DA's office spokesman Dane Schiller would neither confirm nor deny that Ogg filed a motion to reopen the case. He said the DA's office did file "a document that was sealed by the clerk. As a result," he said, "we are not at liberty to discuss the document."
On Monday, Buzbee's criminal record reappeared on the district clerk's site.
It is not clear why Ogg would seek to re-pursue Buzbee, or even in what manner she would plan to do so.
Buzbee doesn't get it either. He had thought maybe the press would leave him alone about this whole kerfuffle, but now that reporters are back at it, he said he is "flattered that this 'non — news' continues to be reported just because it has to do with me," he wrote to us in an email. "I have arrived!! I’ve always been a big supporter of the police and the DA’s office; but I do wish Ms. Ogg would spend her time and the resources of her office on something more meaningful. If I weren’t as busy as I am right now fighting corporate America on behalf of those injured and killed, I might engage Ms. Ogg in this frivolity and show it to be what it is — pure bunk. I guess the good news is I have bigger fish to fry at the moment."
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