By Doug Wyllie
DaSean Jones is an elected judge presently presiding over the 180th Criminal State District Court in Harris County, Texas.
In the 2018 general election, Jones—a member of the Houston Democratic Socialists of America (DSA)—defeated incumbent Republican Catherine Evans by a tally of roughly 54 to 46 percent. In a hotly contested 2022 re-election race, Jones very (very, very) narrowly held onto his post over Republican Challenger Tami Pierce. More on that matter in a moment.
His current term ends on the final day of December 2026. However, a growing number of people in the Houston metropolitan area—specifically, people living and working in the jurisdiction of the 180th District Court—want to show him the door pronto and post-haste.
Notable among those seeking to oust Judge Jones from his post is the Harris County Deputies FOP Lodge 39, which in August issued a tersely worded open letter on social media for Jones’ resignation. At issue was/is the matter of Terran Green.
Even One is Too Many
Regular readers of this space will recall that we’ve covered the subject of Terran Green in rather vivid detail, so there’s no utility in reiterating it chapter and verse. In summary, Green was free on bond when he shot and wounded Deputy Joseph Anderson in a de-facto ambush attack, fled the scene, and unleashed another armed assault on members of the US Marshals and the Gulf Coast Violent Offenders Task Force attempting to arrest him.
FOP Lodge 39 said in their letter, “This never should have happened. In March, Mr. Green was arrested for aggravated assault of a family member while exhibiting a gun and felon in possession of a weapon in separate incidents. The District Attorney requested no bond but a low bond was granted by Judge DeSean Jones and Terran Green was on the streets again.”
Indeed, that bond amount was a meager $55,000. With that sum, Green was at liberty to severely wound a Sheriff’s Deputy and two US Marshals. All three—by God’s grace and some good fortune—were treated for non-life-threatening injuries and subsequently released from an area hospital.
Lodge 39’s letter correctly concluded, “Judge DaSean Jones does not have the judicial competency to remain on the bench. Judge DaSean Jones has a history of refusing to consider public safety. Judge DaSean Jones must resign or be removed. He has no place on the bench and Harris County deserves better.”
Sadly, Terran Green is only one of many individuals to have been set loose into the general public by Judge DaSean Jones. Green is the only one—but even one is too many—to make national newscasts in recent months. Nor is Jones the only judge in the ecosystem of the Harris County Courts to have made similar rulings.
According to KTRK-TV News, 63-year-old Randal Burton went before Judge Natalia Cornelio in May 2021 after being charged with pointing a gun at a family member. Citing a prior felony conviction prosecutors asked the Court to deny the bond altogether, but Judge Cornelio granted bond $30,000. Just over three months later in August of that year, Burton reportedly opened fire on law enforcement officers, and was fatally shot as a consequence of his actions.
According to KPRC-TV News, 38-year-old Mario Watts was briefly stopped by an officer with the Houston Police Department for some manner of motor vehicle violation—reportedly, “illegal tint” on the windows. Instead of complying with commands to exit the vehicle, Watts drove off and dragged the officer some 50 feet down the road. Watts was out on five bonds at the time, all of which were granted by Judge Ramona Franklin. Three of those were charges of evading arrest, reportedly including attempts to drive off during traffic stops.
There are many more instances than just those involving Judges Jones, Cornelio, and Franklin.
According to KRIV-TV News, Judge Chris Morton, Judge Lori Chambers Gray, Judge Hilary Unger, Judge Josh Hill, and Judge Frank Aguilar all have released repeat violent offenders on multiple felony bonds, all of whom have gone on to become murder suspects. Others released on low- or no-bond have used their cheaply won freedom to commit a variety of other crimes including arson, assault, battery, burglary, carjacking, kidnapping, manslaughter and murder.
The number of these crimes committed by offenders freed by these judges is practically incalculable—but even one is too many.
Elections, Consequences, and Outcomes
The method of electing district and appellate judges by popular vote was introduced in Texas in 1845 and was then adopted by constitutional amendment.
This remains one of only two ways in which individuals are placed on the bench in the Lone Star State—the other is through appointment by the Governor, who may fill vacancies between elections without oversight or outside input. More on that matter in a moment.
We mentioned at the top that Judge DeSean Jones very nearly didn’t win re-election in 2022. That’s an understatement.
According to Ballotpedia, the margin was just 449 votes of the 1,068,471 ballots cast. That’s just a shade over forty-two one-thousandths of a percentage point.
According to the Houston Chronicle, Pierce led by more than 1,200 votes the morning following the election. A week later, as “new mail and provisional ballots were counted” that number had dwindled to 165 votes. By the time the Harris County Commissioners Court canvassed and certified the results, the scales had somehow tipped in Jones’s favor.
Actually, not really.
The axiom “elections have consequences” is widely credited to then-President Barack Obama, who reportedly gloated, “Elections have consequences and I won” during a 2009 meeting with Congressional leaders gathered at the White House.
Lost to history is the fact that Obama stole that little zinger from John McCain, his opponent in the 2008 presidential election. McCain used that line twice inside 30 seconds during a televised debate in October of that year.
Regardless of its origin, the expression is lacking an important element—outcomes. For entirely too many people in the Houston metro area—innocent people who just want to go about their lives in peace—the outcome of the consequences of those elections is tragedy.
Those people are victims of crimes committed by violent repeat felony offenders after criminal district court judges like DaSean Jones release them on low- or no-bond.
The Harris County Deputies FOP Lodge 39—and a host of others—would like to see DaSean Jones vacate his position on the Bench. With his next re-election bid still years away, what recourse (other than his outright resignation, the odds of which happening are infinitesimally small) do Houstonians have?
Notably, the Texas Constitution includes in its scope of disciplining judges the removal from office for “willful or persistent violation of rules promulgated by the Supreme Court of Texas, incompetence in performing the duties of the office, willful violation of the Code of Judicial Conduct, or willful or persistent conduct that is clearly inconsistent with the proper performance of his duties or casts public discredit upon the judiciary or administration of justice.”
That process begins in the Legislature (where Republicans currently hold a majority of seats), and is completed when the Governor (also currently held by a Republican) names a replacement, which as noted above is the only other way judges are selected.
The odds of that sort of administrative replacement actually happening are also infinitesimally small, but it wouldn’t hurt matters for Houstonians to begin making contact with their elected leaders in support of Harris County Deputies FOP Lodge 39’s call for Jones’ removal.
Given the judge’s track record, it would be the most desirable—and suitable—outcome.
This article originally appeared at the National Police Association and was reprinted with permission.