Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg – who campaigned on promises to go easier on low-level drug offenders – is under fire for plans to change the way her office handles misdemeanor marijuana cases.
Ogg, who took office Jan. 1, is expected to announce her plan Thursday at a press conference with Mayor Sylvester Turner, Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo and Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez.
Even before her plan was officially rolled out, however, news of the change prompted Montgomery County District Attorney Brett Ligon to attack Ogg, saying was trying to legalize marijuana.
“Unlike Harris County, Montgomery County will not become a sanctuary for dope smokers,” Ligon said in a press release. “I swore an oath to follow the law – all the laws, as written by the Texas Legislature. I don’t get to pick and choose which laws I enforce.”
DA spokesman Dane Schiller declined to give details of the plan. Asked for a response to Ligon’s assertions, he said the details of the initiative would be released Thursday.
Ogg, a Democrat who beat incumbent Republican District Attorney Devon Anderson in the November general election, campaigned as a reform candidate who wanted to reduce the time it takes police to arrest low-level drug offenders and the cost for the county to jail them.
Elected district attorneys are given wide latitude in their discretion about how to enforce laws in their jurisdictions. Diversion programs, like drug courts, have been widely used across Texas.
Ligon, a Republican, said Ogg is trying to legalize pot instead of pursuing violent criminals.
“Despite a rise in violent crime rates in Harris County, Ms. Ogg chooses to focus her attention on the issue of legalization of marijuana,” Ligon said. “I hope it’s a mistake in judgment on her part and not a sign of things to come.
Ligon said he found out about her plans from fliers that went up around the Capitol in Austin this week from Texans for Responsible Marijuana. He said he doubts the study that the organization touts regarding the dismissal rate for misdemeanor cases.
“Experienced prosecutors know that misdemeanor possession cases are usually filed in combination with other charges and are likely dismissed as part of a plea to another matter, or disposed of through pre-trial diversion programs, only after the defendant has had the opportunity to receive drug and alcohol treatment and counseling,” he said.
Original Article via Chron