Houston (Palm) Oilers

When you think of cronyism, you don’t immediately think of public defenders. They just don’t seem to fit the profile, for some reason. But an analysis by the Houston Chronicle has found that an elite, favored inner circle of local public defenders, all of whom provide financial contributions to support the judges who dish out public defense appointments in the area, regularly receive nearly half the tax-funded appointments to represent poor defendants in juvenile court. Some of them are pleading 400 cases a year, twice as many as recommended by the National Advisory Commission on Criminal Justice Standards and Goals, and hauling in up to $200,000 a year.

Two top earners, Oliver Sprott Jr. and Glenn Devlin, together earned $1 million from taxpayers since 2005. Both attorneys are longtime friends of Judges John Phillips and Pat Shelton–who, in turn, received more than 90 percent of their campaign contributions from the attorneys they appoint.

Read the report here.


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