You might think by the title that this would be about Lykos, and normally you may have been right. Instead, I've decided to take a closer look at a person who is quick to take cheap shots even at his friends, ban people from commenting on his blog just because they disagree with him and call him on his mistakes, and whose off the cuff statements are logically and often legally incorrect. It's a good thing Mark Bennett claims not to blog for profit, because if his clients saw the inaccuracies in his posts they would surely jump ship faster than ADA's in Harris County over the next couple of months.
My first run-in with Bennett was when I said a defendant should probably have had his bail revoked. His response was to claim that the Texas Constitution does not allow a defendant to be held without bail. Ever. He even went so far as to tell me htat it was clear that I'm not a criminal lawyer.
So I figured, man, I must have really put my foot in my mouth. I better research stuff a little better, and I'll start with this because although Mark Bennett is president of one of the largest criminal defense lawyer organizations in the country and he won the prestigious ABA Blog Poll Award (by a whopping 20 or so points with a total nationwide of about 200, but still...), something didn't seem right to me. So, as a non-criminal lawyer it only took me 30 seconds to find out that you can, in fact, be held without bond in Texas. For several reasons, even. Did any of them apply in this case? Who knows, because we didn't have all the facts. But his statement wasn't that it couldn't be done in that particular case, it was that it could never, ever, be done. Wow. It was like learning that there was no Santa Claus. Mark Bennett, MR. Blog, president of the HCCDA (or whatever), was wrong about something? I was crushed.
In all truth, however, I was amused. Who in the Holy Hell is this guy? He's been practicing criminal law for how many years and he thought the state couldn't hold one of his clients without bail? And then he tells me it shows that I'm not a criminal lawyer? Are you kidding me? How can he have been a criminal lawyer for a single day and held that misunderstanding of the law? How could he have gotten out of law school and not known? I quickly realized that he was our local defense attorney version of Sharon Keller. They were both elected to whatever position they hold, and they both blow hard when challenged, but when it comes down to it they both seem to be hacks who don't understand the fundamentals of even their own profession.
Another example was my favorite run in with him, and this is the one that got me banned from his blog and for which he even attempted to have me listed as a spammer for all Wordpress blogs. After threatening to hold prosecutors and even judges accountable for their misconduct by reporting them to the bar and/or Commission on Judicial Conduct our friend was then confronted with exactly the sort of scenario he threatened them about. The funniest part is that it had to do with a motion to hold his client without bail, which he had just recently told me was a legal impossibility in Texas. It seems that an ADA had filed a motion to withhold bail on one of Mark's clients, represented to the court that Mark had been made aware of it, when in fact Mark had never even seen or heard about the motion (and I guess was still under the mistaken impression that no such motion could even be filed in Texas). On top of that, the ADA ex-parte'd the judge and got him to sign the motion. Now, that's one of the most egregious filings I've ever heard about and because Bennett had so recently railed against prosecutors and judges doing such improper things, I felt sure he would make the appropriate authorities aware of it.
When I questioned him on it, he banned me from his blog (which is fine, since I think most readers will agree that I shouldn't be posting on my own blogs, much less others). Just for pointing out that he says one thing should be done by defense lawyers, but when it has to do with him putting his balls on the line, he doesn't do a thing.
And by now you may be thinking that these mistakes must be isolated events, right? Well, as it turns out, Houston's top defender didn't even know that if a judge sustains a Batson challenge the CCP says that a new jury has to be empanelled. So, he doesn't know that a defendant can be held without bail, and now doesn't know the cure for race-based strikes by a DA? Is this guy really a criminal defense lawyer AT ALL? Bail is one of the first steps in a criminal prosecution, and jury selection is the first step in a trial (not counting pre-trial), and he doesn't know the ins and outs of either? Now, I'll grant you that I didn't know that the judge has the discretion to excuse the entire panel either, but the statute that mandates it is is in the Code of CRIMINAL Procedure. You know, the code that criminal lawyers operate within as a part of their job. Something the HNIC should be aware of, right? I'll remember it from now on, but I'm a civil lawyer. Why doesn't a criminal lawyer know the proper way to fix Batson violations?
So I gotta' tell ya that if Mark Benett says you're not a ciminal lawyer, or that you fail miserably at thinking like a defense lawyer (that was, in my opinion, the biggest chicken-shit pot shot he's taken at anyone), I wouldn't be offended. And this was only a couple of posts that I could easily recall as being miserably incorrect. I'm guessing that if you looked harder, you could find more.
Maybe he should stick to posts about Zen. That way, when he argues with someone and tells them they completely misunderstand what he's saying, at least there will be room for interpretation. And as a side note to Mr. Bennett, if people don't understand what you're saying, and it happens often, maybe the message, and not the reader, is the problem. That certainly seems to be the problem with the very few criminal law posts you've actually made.
There Goes a Man
6 months ago