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Judge, County Criminal Court at Law No. 05

CHOOSE TWO CANDIDATES FROM BELOW TO COMPARE
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    David M. Fleischer (Dem) Criminal Defense Lawyer

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    Armen "Hammer" Merjanian (Dem) Criminal Defense Lawyer

  • Aaron James Saldana (Dem)

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Biographical Information

What are the most critical administration of justice issues facing the court for which you seek election as judge?

What criteria will you use when making the final decision about assigning attorneys to represent indigent defendants? Please discuss selecting attorneys from the Public Defender’s Office vs. the selection of private attorneys.

A large percentage of inmates in the Harris County jail are pre-trial detainees. Other large metropolitan areas in Texas are increasingly using no-cost personal bonds for defendants who are accused of non-violent crimes but pose little flight risk; thereby, enabling them to be released while awaiting trial. Do you support the use of personal bonds and Harris County’s Pretrial Services Department for defendants awaiting trial? Why or why not?

Education/Degrees David Fleischer received a B.S. from University of Houston and received his J.D. from Western Michigan Cooley Law School.
Professional Experience David Fleischer has been practicing for over thirteen years and represented over six thousand four hundred people. His practice consists of criminal defense, representing people charged with felonies and misdemeanors. He is fluent in Spanish.
Community Involvement David is a member of the League of Women Voters, Association of Women Attorneys, and is also active with many other organizations. He volunteered for the State Bar of Texas Grievance Committee for 6 years, which disciplines unethical lawyers.
Campaign Email fleischology@hotmail.com
Campaign Phone (713) 828-2033
We must strive to ensure that justice is sought and provided to everyone, equally, without regard to status, economic position, color, gender or orientation. We must also address the revolving door of criminal justice that has plagued our youth for so long. I would like to take a proactive, progressive approach to tackle the underlying issues that affect our youth to dissuade them from accumulating criminal history. Amassing criminal history has many collateral consequences that can add life-long barriers, such as inability to obtain gainful employment and loans, or losing valuable rights (like the right to vote or to own a gun). The disparity in sentencing must also be addressed. Not all accused are sentenced equally. Not only is this unfair but undermines our criminal justice system and defiles the trust the public has toward judges, defense attorneys and prosecutors.
Two things I will look at closely are competence of the lawyer to provide effective representation and caseload of the attorneys under consideration. Every accused person should be afforded competent and quality representation. There are many fine lawyers that are private attorneys and that work for the public defender’s office (PDO). The issue is not whether one is more competent than the other, but, whether the caseload is too large. The PDO has a limited budget and number of attorneys. They are not staffed with enough attorneys to handle the extensive number of cases in Harris County. Therefore, we need to determine the number of cases they can handle and share them with the private attorneys so that the lawyers are not overloaded with cases.
Bail reform is extremely important to help those who cannot afford to post bond by releasing them from custody to fight criminal charges. The prior bond system places indigent persons at a great disadvantage. Criminal charges can take months to resolve. If a person is in custody and has been offered a plea bargain that carries a low sentence, many people would rather plead guilty than potentially wait longer for evidence to come in to exonerate them. The sad reality is that people do plead guilty, whether they are innocent or not, just to get out of jail. They do this without thought to future consequence. It is terrible and bail reform tackles this problem. I agree with bail reform and believe society is better served by having innocent people fight their charges instead of pleading guilty. While accused persons are on bond awaiting trial, pretrial services can monitor them to ensure that they are not a danger to the public.
Education/Degrees South Texas College of Law Houston - Juris Doctor (December 2012); University of Florida - Bachelor of Science in Finance & Bachelor of Arts in Economics (December 2004)
Professional Experience Armen Merjanian, Lawyer - Criminal Defense Lawyer; Midland County District Attorney’s Office - Prosecutor; Rocket Rosen Law Firm - Associate; Harris County District Attorney's Office - Intern; Nature Coast Technical High School - Math Teacher & Coach
Community Involvement Mexican American Bar Association; Harris County Democratic Lawyers Association; Houston Young Lawyers Association; Pro Bono College of the State Bar of Texas; Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo; Harris County Criminal Lawyers Assoc.; Houston Gator Club.
Campaign Email armen.merjanian@gmail.com
Campaign Phone (713) 252-4393
Twitter @armenthehammer
1) The lack of Personal Recognizance bonds granted by misdemeanor judges. 2) The mandatory appearance of the citizen accused for pretrial settings. 3) The disproportionate number of cases being given to certain court appointed lawyers. 4) The interference and/or systematic denial of pretrial diversion agreements by some judges. 5) The lack of accountability for prosecutors who delay turning over evidence, violate court orders, and seek convictions over justice. 6) The absurd jail sentence recommendations by prosecutors for petty crimes. 7) The unreasonable bond conditions set by misdemeanor judges for people who are presumed innocent. 8) The unnecessary pressure judges place on defense lawyers to move cases for the sake of "docket control". 9) The lack of understanding on behalf of prosecutors of what it's like to represent people accused of a crime or crimes. 10) The lack of training and resources of most lawyers on the court-appointed list.
I'm a graduate of Gideon's Promise (www.gideonspromise.org), the country's most prestigious training program for public defenders. There are 25 other graduates of Gideon's Promise in private practice, like me, in the Houston area. However, these lawyers rarely get appointed indigent defendants because these lawyers FIGHT. They file motions, request court funds for investigators/experts, and set cases for trial instead of pleading them out. Fifteen out of the sixteen judges in Harris County would rather have us "meet em and plead em" so that we don't clog up their precious dockets so they can make their 2:30 tee time everyday. The Public Defender's Office in Harris County is excellent! However, they are very small compared to most PD offices and focus on taking serious felony cases vs. misdemeanors. I will ensure Gideon's Promise lawyers get appointed to more cases and that no lawyer gets more than the recommended amount of cases set by the Texas Indigent Defense Commission.
YES! Freedom should be the norm while awaiting trial on a misdemeanor case! Innocent people who are poor have pled guilty for too long in Harris County simply to regain their freedom! The bail reform lawsuit is one of the best things to have ever happened to help reform criminal justice in Harris County. However, despite the injunctions in place, Harris County judges continue to deny PR bonds for non-violent offenders and continue to waste taxpayer money to defend an indefensible lawsuit. A lawsuit they've spent more than $4,000,000.00 defending. That money would've been better spent investing in Harris County teachers, mental health professionals, and social workers to help reduce crime!
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