Judge rescinds no-probation order
Text of Judge Kerry Neves' order
On July 18, 2016, I put in writing an Order dealing with a policy to be used in very specific circumstances. It was prompted by my reaction to the death of a number of police officers in Dallas and Baton Rouge, as well as numerous other attacks on law enforcement reported in the media. The primary factor leading me to do so was hearing spouses of officers say the money they should be using on their children was being spent on upgraded body armor, or officers talking about enhancing their personal weapons.
he policy was written to apply only when a defendant agreed to plead guilty to certain charges, and in which the District Attorneys assigned to my Court would recommend probation. It would then require the defendant to convince me he or she deserved that, rather than incarceration.
My intent was purely to protect the people who protect us. It was not a political statement.
Unfortunately, it has become viewed by some as an indication I cannot be fair to all who appear before me. After trying 70 cases over the last four years, that has not been the case - to the contrary, I believe and have been told by many local attorneys that I am always open and fair to every argument in any trial. I have been particularly gratified by the number of local attorneys who have come to me and discussed this policy, and have told me how much they like appearing in my Court, but who feel I went too far in the policy adopted. I have also noted the comments of attorneys whom I like and respect in the various media reports who were shocked at my action.
After considering those comments, and after talking with a number of people whose opinions I respect, I have concluded the policy does more harm to the administration of Justice than good, and possibly creates appearances of impartiality which I never intended. I am, therefore, by this Order, rescinding the policy adopted on July 18, 2016.
Although I deny I have ever shown favoritism to law enforcement, I remain a strong supporter of the men and women who do that dangerous and difficult job every day, and of their families who stand behind them.
Posted: Friday, July 29, 2016 11:15 pm
By SCOTT E. WILLIAMS The Daily News
A state district court judge on Friday rescinded an order issued 11 days earlier, in which the judge stated he likely would not consider probation for people pleading guilty to attacking or fleeing police.
Judge Kerry Neves, who presides over the 10th State District Court, announced on July 18 that he had issued an order stating that he would not approve a plea agreement that sentences a defendant to probation for assault of a peace officer, resisting arrest, evading arrest, or "any other offense in which a member of law enforcement is threatened or placed in danger."
Neves told The Daily News last week he hoped the order would deter violence against police after officers were killed in Dallas and Baton Rouge, La. However, he also said that he remained aware that each case had specific facts that could affect his decision.
"Make me a pitch," Neves said last week. "If there are mitigating circumstances, I'm willing to hear them. Certainly, I'd much rather have a person on probation than in jail."
Neves on Friday issued the statement rescinding the previous order, but declined to comment further.
The Texas Criminal Defense Lawyers Association, the largest statewide organization of defense attorneys, earlier this week called on Neves to rescind the order.
Susan Criss, a criminal-defense attorney who served as judge of the 212th State District Court from 1999 to 2013, said she was considering whether to continue pursuing a motion she filed earlier in the week, seeking to recuse Neves from a case in which she was defending a person on drug charges in his court.
"I still have concerns about several of his statements in support of law enforcement, which could show a bias in favor of police, but it's something I'll only be able to decide after some deliberation and discussions with my client," she said. "I will say, however, that one of the judges I respected most was Judge Allan Lerner, and Judge Lerner was always willing to admit when he had made a mistake. In that sense, I respect Judge Neves for correcting his initial order."
Defense attorney Mo Ibrahim, who served as first assistant district attorney in the 2000s, also said that he respected Neves' willingness to correct himself publicly.
"Every time I've ever appeared before Judge Neves or had a chance to observe him, I always found him to be very conscientious and fair, and when I read the original order, I was a little stunned," Ibrahim said. "But I think that his rescinding the order shows that he's a man of honor, willing to acknowledge that even though his heart was in the right place, he might have overstepped. A lot of judges - not just judges, but public officials in general - would have held their ground. This is a testament to the conscientiousness of Judge Neves, in wanting to be fair and impartial."
Full article from the Galveston County Daily News: