Former district judge Woody Densen was indicted today for criminal mischief after getting caught on video keying a neighbor's car. It's a state-jail felony charge, since the car damaged was expensive, so he's facing up to two years in jail.
And around the courthouse, among veteran lawyers, there is much cackling. Schadenfreude is the Word of the Day.
Densen came on the bench in 1983 with high hopes from his criminal-defense colleagues; he quickly squandered all that good will with ineptitude, a hard-ass attitude and a seeming indifference to case law.
KPRC legal analyst Brian Wice is, as usual, the most quotable on the subject, but he's not alone in his opinion.
"In almost 30 years of doing criminal-defense law, if ever there was such a thing as a four-man judicial bobsled team from hell, he'd be riding point," Wice says.
"He hadn't read a case since Plessy vs. Ferguson and he didn't care," he says. "His feeling was always 'You can reverse my ass [on appeal] but you can't make me read the opinion.'"
Channel 13's Miya Shay broke the story this week of Densen getting semi-caught on a surveillance camera keying the car of his neighbor, apparently out of annoyance because he considered it to be blocking the sidewalk.
After the Range Rover had been keyed a few times, the neighbor installed the camera.
Densen, back when we were covering the courts, had a reputation for being a court to avoid; indigent defendants generally were represented by the judge's fund-raising cronies. The Harris County Criminal Lawyers Association brought a complaint against him after he had been deafeated and was serving as a visiting judge; it was resolved without much publicity.
The Chronicle's story today notes that after that 2007 move by tje HCCLA, Densen "stopped accepting courtroom assignments."
We're guessing he wasn't getting inundated with offers.
No trial date has been set for Densen, but a lot of veteran lawyers will be enjoying the show, you can be sure.