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Posted: 16.3.2012 11:05

MONTGOMERY COUNTY DISTRICT ATTORNEY COURTHOUSE BLOTTER

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Brett Ligon, the District Attorney since 2009, is responsible for the pursuit of justice and the efficient prosecution of crime in Montgomery County. To facilitate the effective prosecution of these cases, Ligon hires prosecutors, investigators, victim’s advocates, and support personnel. Ligon also provides information to victims of crime, law enforcement, courthouse personnel, and the public in general through his website and in general releases of public information. Ligon and his staff daily strive to be professional advocates for the people of the State of Texas and Montgomery County. The blotter is another effort by Ligon to inform public on a weekly basis of as many criminal matters as possible.

Trial Division

The trial division was actively involved in preparation of trial cases and the handling of hundreds of criminal cases this week. Due to the spring break schedule, there were no trials scheduled this week by Montgomery County Courts. During the month of January, 272 felony charges were filed by criminal complaints. During the same period, 137 charges were disposed of in the trial courts. The most active felony court in terms of numbers was Judge Lisa Michalk of the 221st District Court with 100 cases assigned and 64 cases disposed. Upcoming trials may be found on the Ligon’s Twitter feed on that website at MontgomeryTXDAO where case names, case types, and court information can be found.

Vehicular Crimes Section

Because of spring break, area events, and St. Patrick’s Day celebrations, the Vehicular Crimes section was busy. In spite of many warnings and public notices including those posted on the freeway advisory signs, too many people failed to adhere to impaired driving publicity. This information is compiled as soon as possible so it should be considered as preliminary information. Official numbers will be posted on the office website.

Last weekend, 24 drivers were arrested for the criminal offense of DWI during the No Refusal event. These charges resulted in 19 first offender charges and 5 repeat or felony offender charges. In addition, the scientific evidence refusal rate dropped from the 45% average to 29% which is a significant improvement in the quality of evidence collected for judges, trial division prosecutors, and juries. For those arrested for DWI who refused to provide scientific evidence as required by law, No Refusal prosecutors drafted 7 search warrants , all of which were reviewed by a judge who found that probable cause existed. Ligon is pleased to announce that, once again, no innocent victims were killed by an impaired driver during No Refusal operations last weekend. As of this printing, scientific evidence collected revealed that none of the individuals arrested were under the 0.08 legal standard. During an MCDA Texas Department of Transportation sponsored No Refusal event, prosecutors and staff work late night hours during the weekend to work closely with police to ensure that scientific evidence is obtained in as many DWI cases as possible. No Refusal enforcement will be in effect starting at 5pm on Friday and continue until 5am Sunday morning this weekend.

Sadly, this Wednesday morning, MCDA Vehicular Crimes Chief, Warren Diepraam, was called to respond to a crash investigation near Caney Creek High School involving two teenagers. Diepraam worked closely with DPS from 3am throughout the remainder of that day. The investigation revealed that a male driver struck at least one telephone pole on the side of the road resulting in the death of the 16 year old female passenger. The facts leading up to the crash are still under investigation by DPS and the MCDA Vehicular Crimes Section. As of this writing, no charges have been filed.

Intake Division

Ligon’s Intake Section reviews all adult (17 years of age and over) arrests for Class B offenses and above. Ligon, Division Chief Mike Shirley, and Trial Division Chief Warren Diepraam, have instituted multiple new procedures to ensure the efficient consideration of charges for all those arrested in the above category. Rather than allow felony arrestees to sit in jail with no charges until a grand jury investigation is completed often months away, Ligon instituted the “direct file system.” Under this system, criminal charges are instituted almost immediately when a suspect is arrested. This results in a faster resolution of the case and therefore savings to the taxpayer of thousands of dollars since inmates are released faster due to convictions, bonds, dismissals, and speedier court dockets.

Last week, the Intake Division filed 66 felony charges and 138 misdemeanor charges. The documents related to the arrest and filing of charges are generally public records subject to discovery by any person searching courthouse records, local media, or the internet. Generally, the Montgomery County District Attorney’s Office does not publish these public records on its website. However, all charges filed for any period are automatically published on other websites such as the websites maintained by the clerk’s offices, the sheriff’s office, and local media outlets such as this one. All public records requests for this office should be submitted to the MCDA in writing at the address listed on the website at www.mctxdao.org