Let My People Go

  • Geraldo G. Acosta: 255 juvenile cases / 387 misdemeanor cases/ 278 felony cases / 4.1 times the National Advisory Commission on Criminal Justice Standards and Goals recommended public-defender caseload (i.e. 200 juvenile cases or 400 misdemeanor cases or 150 felony cases per lawyer).
  • David L. Garza: 599 misdemeanor cases / 295 felony cases / 3.5 times the recommended caseload.
  • Ricardo N. Gonzalez: 444 misdemeanor cases / 63 felony cases / 3.2 times the recommended caseload.
  • Humberto Trejo: 470 misdemeanor cases / 278 felony cases / 3.0 times the recommended caseload.
  • Kerry Hollingsworth McCracken: 419 felony cases / 2.8 times the recommended caseload.
  • Juan Aguirre: 603 misdemeanor cases / 184 felony cases / 2.7 times the recommended caseload.
  • Herman Martinez: 495 misdemeanor cases / 223 felony cases / 2.7 times the recommended caseload.
  • Jorge A. Cantu: 929 misdemeanor cases / felony misdemeanor cases / 2.7 times the recommended caseload.
  • Monica Lisa Gonzalez: 395 felony cases / 2.6 times the recommended caseload. (In ten months before she joined the PD's Office.)
  • Page E. Janik: 101 misdemeanor cases / 348 felony cases / 2.6 times the recommended caseload.

(Source, via Robb Fickman.)

That's ten lawyers doing the work of roughly thirty. Some of these people are my friends, and I feel terribly for them, being driven so hard by judges forcing court appointments on them. Some of them have private practices as well; there is no way that this much work—doing a thorough, conscientious job on every case—leaves them any time for sleep or meals, much less fun.

As Paul Kennedy points out, the worst-abused of these poor lawyers, Geraldo G. Acosta, was compelled to take an average of 3.5 new cases a day in 2011, which means that he resolved an average of 3.5 cases a day in 2011. If he spent only 9.5 hours on each case, he got 20 hours off during the entire year.

This can't be good for the health, either physical or mental, of these ten lawyers. It's amazing that they haven't cracked already. It is heartbreaking.

But maybe you and I can make a difference. I urge you to join me in calling on Harris County's judges to stop working my friends like rented mules.

We might even save their lives.

About Mark Bennett

Mark Bennett got his letter of marque from the Supreme Court of Texas in May 1995. He is famous for having no sense of humor when it comes to totalitarianism.
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8 Responses to Let My People Go

  1. Robb Fickman says:

    Herr Bennett –
    You are ordered to shtop your shmartass blogs posts as zay are against zee interest of zee Motherland, zee Fatherland. You may not publish anything zat questions zee operations of zee system, the mpvement of zee cattle or zee Trains. Zee trains musht run ont time and you and zee Fichtman vill BE SILENT OR ELSE!!!!
    Ve have vays of making u talk and ve have vays of making u silent. Never mention the Glorious Crrrrriminal Justice Systemm again or Else!!! You get ze picture shweinholdt.

  2. Mike Trent says:

    Mark, I can say from personal observation that Juan Aguirre does an excellent job for his clients, regardless of caseload. He is one of the most conscientious, well-prepared attorneys I know. Period. He is in-demand for that very reason, and also because he is a Spanish-speaker. Juan does not sell out his clients. He routinely goes to trial and gets good results in both his trial results and non-trial dispositions. The same cannot be said for some attorneys with much lighter caseloads.

    Bright-line numbers are helpful as a general guide, but we should recognize that they are arbitrary and that different attorneys can competently and effectively handle different caseloads. There are many, many variables in play behind these numbers. I certainly do not disagree that some of the numbers on that list are disturbing. But I felt compelled to speak out about Juan and I am sure that anyone who knows him well would agree. He works hard for his clients and does a fantastic job.

    Sincerely,
    Mike Trent
    (1.5 times the recommended caseload for Never-Never Land)

  3. Dan Terrill says:

    I’m curious — what’s a normal-ish caseload for a private defense lawyer?

  4. Ron in Houston says:

    At first I was wondering why so many Hispanic surnames on the list, but it makes sense. I think that often I too much look through a political lens at the decisions people make.

    However, your argument about saving their lives, while I’m sure intended in a light hearted manner, is actually pretty true. I’m sure many of these folks are like the proverbial duck in the beautiful pond. They appear to be simply gliding along but they’re actually paddling like hell underneath.

    Maybe Harris County Criminal Lawyers Assoc should add Spanish language classes.

    • Thomas Stephenson says:

      There could be something else at work here. When I was in Brownsville, I noticed that Anglo attorneys almost never got appointed to represent Spanish-speaking clients, because basically the judges assumed that the Anglo attorneys weren’t fluent in Spanish (even in the cases that they were.) Perhaps the judges aren’t aware that more attorneys than they think are fluent in Spanish?

  5. Thomas Stephenson says:

    I’m going to guess that Harris County needs more Spanish-speaking criminal defense lawyers available for court appointments. When a non-English-speaking defendant needs an attorney, the court is effectively limited to the available lawyers who can speak the defendant’s native language (more often than not in Texas, it’s Spanish.) There probably just aren’t enough of those if I had to hazard a guess.

  6. Diantha Garrett Brennan says:

    How do we accomplish what you propose?

  7. Mr. B., on behalf of the (VOTS) victims of the system (burned clients), we’ll call upon the judges’ of Harris County to stop working your friends like rented mules. If it’ll take a petition to get it done, just let me know.

    Until then, I can’t help but wonder if the 90% + / – plea bargaining madness – aka: Texas TapOut Rate is tied to the decision to ride ‘em hard & put ‘em up wet?
    *Sell outs or not, the poor silly clients’ are doomed when blatant case overload is an accepted practice. Will translate for food. Thanks.

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