DA Candidate Mary Nan Huffman: The problem with Kim Ogg is lack of LEADERSHIP, prosecutor training and office morale

Tom Kennedy, Editor
Mary Nan Huffman, in mask, stays on the campaign trail.

Mary Nan Huffman should be out on the campaign trail as well as taking the fast lane on the fundraising path in her effort to unseat Kim Ogg as the Harris County district attorney.

But under the social distancing requirements in place to combat the Coronavirus outbreak, Huffman is taking advantage of social media, the telephone and video conferencing to get across her campaign message.

That message:

  • Holding criminals accountable by enforcing the laws of the State of Texas while administering fair punishment
  • Protecting the public by supporting the efforts of law enforcement
  • Being a voice for victims
  • Rebuilding a broken and dysfunctional District Attorney’s Office by restoring credibility, predictability, and dependability.

Ogg’s Numerous Flaws

Ogg lacks the leadership gene needed to lead crime-fighting in Harris County. Huffman can easily cite countless examples of the current DA’s ineptitude, but her challenge lies in getting out the message during the current COVID-19 health crisis. Huffman knows she must connect with health-safety-loving, crime-fighting citizens from both political parties to communicate her message.

Were you to access Facebook, read an email, or talk to her on the phone, she would stress the crucial lack of leadership of the incumbent Democrat. It manifests in Ogg’s inability to retain the most highly respected and experienced prosecutors in the DA’s office and her failure to train new assistant DAs. “Ogg is not giving the prosecutors the ‘tools they need’,” Huffman pointed out.

Huffman specifically cited the PR bond controversy and Ogg’s failure to communicate with the county’s criminal judges about the importance of keeping the public safe.

The case of David Cruz was one of the more outrageous examples that we have seen in a string of poor public safety choices, she said. Cruz was a convicted felon when he was charged with murder in August 2018. Judge Dasean Jones of the 180th District Court in Harris County gave Cruz a PR bond for the murder charge because he was “afraid” of the Coronavirus, so without having to post any bail he was back out on the streets.

In late March, Gov. Greg Abbott signed an executive order to prohibit the release of violent criminals on PR bonds. However, Harris County judges found a way to circumvent that order by approving bond amounts that could be the lowest in modern history, like in the case of habitual violent criminal Timothy Singleton. Singleton was released on a bond of – yes, this is a fact – 50 bucks, in connection with an aggravated assault charge.

Despite Singleton’s prior record of convictions for violent crimes, Magistrate Jennifer Gaut and District Judge Chris Morton each approved the incredibly low bond amount.

After release, Singleton broke into his ex-girlfriend’s home and attacked her. He then threw the woman’s grandmother to the floor before fleeing the scene. Now the violent criminal – who bought his freedom for $50 – is a wanted fugitive.

In the case of Singleton, Ogg should have taken extreme measures to ensure the public’s safety before he was released. Singleton was a habitual felon, so a motion for no bail should have been filed and heard, Huffman said.

Low Morale Continues

She cited the law backing her position.

Under Article I, §11a (a)(1), of the Texas Constitution, any person accused of a felony less than capital and who has theretofore twice been convicted of a felony, with the second conviction being subsequent to the first, and both in point of time of commission of the offense and conviction therefore, may be denied bail if the order denying bail is issued within seven days of incarceration.

“Ogg’s inaction resulted in Singleton assaulting two more people,” the Republican challenger said.

Huffman stresses that law enforcement throughout the county must be extra diligent about releasing suspects with violent backgrounds like that of Singleton. She also cited a case in Florida, where an inmate with a history of violent crime was released from the county jail and committed murder a day later.

Huffman believes we will continue to see examples like these because Ogg falls short on all standards of practical leadership and will continue to “blame the judges” instead of acting as an advocate for victims.

“The Harris County District Attorney’s office has the potential to be the best DA’s office in the state of Texas,” Huffman said. “We want to be a place where young lawyers get years of experience and become great trial lawyers. Prior to Ogg’s administration, many prosecutors used that experience to go on to be judges.”

Huffman vows to restore leadership and integrity that has not been present under Kim Ogg’s watch, “We will fight to keep the people of Harris County safe.”

Huffman is not shy about pointing out the need to retain experienced prosecutors and the responsibility to train new ones. “Ogg’s lack of leadership and inability to retain experience has proven to be a disaster. She is not providing the training and the mentorship these younger prosecutors need,” she said.

Ogg has been at odds with the more experienced non-partisan prosecutors who have been the backbone of the DA’s office for many decades. She fired 37 prosecutors, or 685 years, of experience since taking office. “Ogg hasn’t been able to keep a full staff since she let go of some of the best prosecutors in the state,” Mary Nan pointed out.

Kim Ogg was recently involved in an investigation, what many courthouse observers are calling “a witch hunt,” to uncover the prosecutor who leaked a photograph of a color-coded worksheet used to keep track of absenteeism in the DA’s office during the health crisis. One part of the chart suggested that if an employee were to die from the virus, they should contact the office or – as one person suggested – “call in dead.” The chart got into the hands of a defense attorney who posted it on Facebook.

Instead of devoting her time finding ways to combat the new problems brought on by COVID-19, Ogg ordered her investigators to find out which “disloyal prosecutor” was responsible for embarrassing her. Seven veteran prosecutors were accused and one was fired.

Huffman said that no such pettiness would exist when she is elected to succeed Ogg in November. She reiterated her respect for experienced prosecutors, saying Ogg’s “actions have deepened the moral chasm.”

Mary Nan, left, in mask, delivers supplies to a place that provides hot meals for seniors.

Fundraising and Name ID

Besides the lack of campaign appearances due to the virus, Huffman talks about the challenges of fundraising.

“I understand the financial problems that the pandemic has caused for so many county residents,” Huffman said. “I need help increasing my name ID on TV and in the media. There are many people out there that are concerned about our public safety issues.

“I want them to get to know me, but it’s difficult when we are being told to stay home. We need the financial resources to reach people in their homes.”

Huffman welcomes all donations no matter how small.

Mary Nan knows that taking back the DA’s office is very much within grasp, but that it is going to take a tremendous effort from all the law-abiding citizens of Harris County. “We deserve better and I want the voters to know that together we will make Harris County the safest, greatest place to live.”

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