Be wary. Dan Simons makes a number of seemingly authoritative public assertions that are false or questionable. Here are several examples:
Dan Simons’ website claims that he will be “returning honor, integrity, and honesty back to our criminal court”.
Under Judge Karahan, honor, integrity and honesty are alive and well in Court 8. Judge Karahan has been consistently ranked in the top 25% of Harris County Criminal Court-at-Law judges by the attorneys that practice in the criminal courts since his election in 2002.
Mr Simons’ track record as an assistant District Attorney raises questions about his honor, integrity and honesty. Mr Simons’ supervisor at the District Attorney’s office wrote this about Mr Simons’ integrity and honesty:
- “Dan appears to make some decisions based on a desire to “win” rather than a desire to seek justice. He has demonstrated this decision making process to the ADA’s he supervises and this gives me serious concerns regarding his ability to teach and train junior prosecutors. I cannot trust Dan to seek justice in every case.”
- “I have serious concerns regarding Dan’s judgment.”
- “On more than one occasion. I observed him to be unprepared, not having considered relevant evidence necessary to make an informed decision regarding a case. I also observed his presentation of the facts to be selective at best, or intentionally misleading at worst.”
- “This behavior is disconcerting and consistent with a desire to prosecute indiscriminately rather than to seek justice.” (November 2016 Performance Evaluation, Harris County District Attorney’s Office)
Mr Simons was hauled before the District Attorney’s office disciplinary committee when it was alleged that he instructed one of the assistant district attorneys under his supervision to lie to a defense attorney in an attempt to plea bargain a case that was unwinnable because of the lack of an essential witness. Simons denied that charge but that did not allow him to escape responsibility for the charge of unethical behavior. While ordering Simons to take a course entitled, “A Prosecutor Roundtable: Prosecutors and the Search for Truth”, the disciplinary committee concluded:
“It appears to me that, regardless of the merits of the allegations, ADA Wood believed that you (Simons) instructed her to do something unethical. In my [First Assistant District Attorney, Belinda Hill] judgment, you must exercise greater care in your communication with those who you are supervising, particularly with regard to how to handle ethical issues when they arise.” (October 2016, Disciplinary Memo, Harris County Disciplinary Committee)
Mr Simons has been reprimanded by a Court for violating the Court’s order to not meet jointly with witnesses for the State in an effort to keep their stories straight. Mr Simons was caught in a case he was prosecuting, photo shopping evidence in an attempt to make a victim’s injuries seem more severe. Only when caught by defense counsel did Mr Simons withdraw the tainted evidence as an exhibit.
Dan Simons falsely asserts that his “views have always been Republican”.
Mr Simons is a Republican In Name Only since he was a registered Democrat as early as 2005 while living in Utah. In fact, he has not even shown up at the polls to vote for Republican candidates very often. Voting records show he has only voted in 1 Republican primary and 2 general elections since his return to Texas from Utah in 2010.
Dan Simons falsely asserts that Judge Karahan has a “side business” performing “over 500 weddings during court time”, “has a website dedicated to this”, “advertises these services”, and performs weddings, which should be “left to the civil courts”.
Since 2003 Judge Karahan has been honored to promote the sanctity of marriage and the creation of families by performing weddings for fee, as is his right under the Texas Family Code. These weddings are performed during lunch hour, periodic court recess, after court hours or on weekends, in the same manner as many other judges and JPs perform weddings at their offices across Texas. Judge Karahan has a campaign website, as do many judges, with informational tabs, only one of which discusses how to obtain a marriage license, logistics for parking, times and locations etc. He does not and has never actively advertised his wedding services. Judge Karahan conforms to the law that states that he may not discriminate against marrying couples based on race, ethnicity, or sexual orientation. There are 13 other Republican judges listed at the Harris County Clerk’s offices as being available to perform weddings. This requires that they be prepared to officiate same-sex weddings (which many of them have done) or be removed from office for violation of the Judicial Canons of Ethics by the Texas Judicial Conduct Commission. There is no credible Republican principle or Texas law requiring that only civil judges perform weddings or prohibiting criminal judges from performing weddings.
Dan Simons claims that Judge Karahan raises money “primarily from defense attorneys”, and that “[Of the County Criminal Judges] 15 of them have raised almost zero, a couple of those have raised some money…[Defense attorneys] aren’t giving [money] to Judge Wilkerson, they’re not giving to Judge [Renee] Magee or Judge [Catherine] Evans, they’re not giving any money to them ”. He also claims that “[Judge Karahan] hasn’t had an opponent since 2003”. He also implies, via a baseball analogy, that Judge Karahan may show favoritism to lawyers who donate to his campaign.
Mr Simons further claims, “I’m not taking, I haven’t raised any money, I’m not going to be indebted to anyone”, “I’m self funding my campaign”.
Judge Karahan’s campaign contributors include civil lawyers, criminal defense lawyers, business people, professionals and other individuals who are interested in good government. It takes money to run a successful campaign and judges, particularly those in contested races, raise money to win elections. Judges Wilkerson, Magee and Evans and most others, contrary to Mr Simons’ false assertion, have in fact received campaign contributions from numerous criminal defense attorneys in their campaigns. Judge Karahan has had opponents for all of his elections: in 2002, 2006, 2010, 2014, and now in 2018.
Judge Karahan has been ranked in the top 25% of County Criminal Court Judges in every Houston Bar Association poll since he was elected to office. A judge that shows favoritism for anyone, defense or prosecution, could not achieve those high ratings. The best evidence of no favoritism? Judge Karahan has the endorsements of all major law enforcement associations.
Under Mr Simons’ philosophy of campaign financing, only wealthy individuals could afford to run for public office. However, he recently added a “donate” tab to his campaign website which makes no statement about not accepting money from defense attorneys.
Dan Simons falsely claims that Judge Karahan improperly testified as a “quasi-expert in a DWI case” which ended in an acquittal. He further asserts that “I will do everything I can to quash a subpoena to testify if I am every asked to testify in a court like that”, and that “character evidence is not in the guilt or innocence, it is always in the punishment phase of a trial…once someone is found guilty is when character evidence comes in”.
Judge Karahan properly testified as a character witness (not an expert witness), under subpoena (a court order). Dan Simons misstates and feigns knowledge of basic law. Mr Simons is just wrong about when character evidence is admissible under the law. The Texas Rules of Evidence and Texas Code of Criminal Procedure absolutely permit character evidence during the guilt-innocence phase of a criminal trial.
It is not new for Mr Simons to claim he knows the law and be just wrong. As a prosecutor, Mr Simons was observed to claim he knew the law when he didn’t.
- “While I find Dan is certainly willing to learn, he more often than not feigns knowledge of the law he doesn’t solidly possess yet.” 3/31/15 Performance Review, Harris County District Attorney’s Office.
- “However, Dan is sometimes unable to distinguish between areas of the law he is and is not familiar with. There have been instances I have observed in private and in public where Dan has communicated the law incorrectly with complete confidence.” 11/16/16 Performance Review, Harris County District Attorney’s Office.
Dan Simons claims that “you gotta be efficient, you gotta be effective, and you gotta be hard working and you gotta dedicate everything to that court…the court down there [court 8], maybe it is in the average, I don’t want to be average.”
Under Judge Karahan, Court 8 is one of the most efficient courts in Harris County. Criminal Court 8 performs well above average and has the 5th lowest number of pending trials, 4th highest case clearance rate, and the 3rd lowest number of active pending cases. The truth is, Court 8, under Judge Karahan’s leadership, is among the front runners in courtroom efficiency and case management in Harris County.
Simons falsely asserts- that he has done everything “well above expectations, and I have done it with zero help”.
Mr Simons’ superiors at the Harris County District Attorney’s office were not as impressed with Mr. Simons’ performance. On critical aspects of a prosecutor’s job, Mr Simons performed well below the expectations of his superiors in many instances:
Does NOT Meet Expectations/Unacceptable Performance:
Improvement Needed/Performance Somewhat Below Expectations:
- “Shows some issues with judgment.” 3/18/14
- “He would benefit mightily from humbling himself enough to acknowledge what he doesn’t know.” 3/30/15
- “He more often than not feigns knowledge of the law he doesn’t solidly possess yet.” 3/30/15
- “Dan appears to make some decisions based on a desire to “win” rather than a desire to seek justice.” 12/16/16
- “I cannot trust Dan to seek justice in every case.” 12/16/16
- “Dan needs to learn to identify serious problems in order to get help when needed.” 12/16/16
- “Dan is sometimes unable to distinguish between areas of the law he is and is not familiar with.” 12/16/16
- “Dan has communicated the law incorrectly with complete confidence.” 12/16/16
- “I have serious concerns regarding Dan’s judgment.” 12/16/16
- “I have observed his presentation of the facts to be selective at best, or intentionally misleading at worst.” 12/16/16
- “This behavior is disconcerting and consistent with a desire to prosecute indiscriminately rather than to seek justice.” 12/16/16
- “Dan is at times unreceptive to critique due to his own perceived high level of expertise in trial advocacy.” 12/16/16
- “[I]t should be noted that a number of his peers have voiced their concerns regarding Dan’s suitability to be a prosecutor.” 12/16/16
Simons left the Harris County District Attorney’s office in 2017 because he thought it was a “hostile working environment”, he had “Supervisor Issues” and he believed he was not promoted in a “timely” fashion. Mr. Simons was probably right about not being promoted in a “timely” manner. Simons was with the Harris County District Attorney’s Office for nearly 3 ½ years and had not been promoted to felony #2 prosecutor. Judge Karahan, however, was promoted to felony #2 prosecutor at the Harris County District Attorney’s office after only 2 years and then went on to serve as an Assistant United States Attorney with distinction and received the U.S. Department of Justice Special Achievement Award for Sustained Superior Performance.