ED Magedson – Founder
Judge Joan Campbell, STAR Drug Court1201 Franklin Street Houston, Texas United States of America
This is the story of what can happen when church and state mix inappropriately. It is also the story of a right-wing, female judge and a bunch of male victims.
In late 2007, I was the victim of a defendant, Lindsay McAllister whose family is associated with Chapelwood United Methodist Church / Mercy Street, who stole and crashed my car through a parking gate, and stole many other items from me, my friends, my neighbors, and many others. To say this defendant destroyed many people's lives over a 1.5 year period from the summer of 2006 to the end of 2007 would not be an understatement - one young man was fleeced of almost all his savings, and now living with his parents again. Another was embarrassed at his workplace, with career threatened. Many other suffered as well. To date, this women, Lindsay McAllister, has not paid back a single victim she stole from, pillaged, and then, defamed them all to protect / hide her own actions.
Despite the fact the Court's counsel admitted there were irregularities and improprieties in the case, specifically revolving around the actions of the Drug Court Manager Mary Covington who sought a special deal for the defendant and Mercy Street Church staff, Covington still works for the drug court system and the court system still has a relationship with this quote, unquote "recovery church" named Mercy Street - a church composed largely of ex and current drug addicts (yes, you heard me right..!!!). What next? Here are some facts regarding the case.
FACT 1: The general counsel for Harris County conducted an "investigation" into the case yielding after I raised concerns to the top-levels of Harris County government, among other results, that the STAR Drug Court Manager Mary Covington acted "inappropriately," "advocated for the victim," and "sought special treatment" for the defendant outside of due process. This activity, by the way, occurred in the 248th, a non-drug court - Ms. Covington had to traipse her way over from the druggie courts to Judge Campbell Criminal Court - making me wonder what happens in the drug dockets for STAR's church "partners," if this is happening in a non-drug docket. This general counsel "resigned" later in the week, whether related to this case or not is not clear. Amazingly, despite the actions detailed, which were not only unethical but break state statutes, Ms. Covington continues to run the STAR Drug Court to date. We have someone the court system admitted engaged in activites which are not only unethical, but illegal, running our drug court. Part of this 25-30 minute conversation is uploaded to Youtube.com... Search STAR Drug Court. Apparently, the rules and laws do not apply to those that work at the Court House, just everyone they drag into it - especially, when their non-profit is bringing thousands or millions of dollars in state and federal funding to the Harris County Court system to deal with drug offenders.
FACT 2: A witness in the courtroom, a credible professional (an accountant for a large energy company), signed a legal affidavit under penalty of perjury that he was ordered to "shut up" or leave the courtroom when attempting to make my wishes, as the victim, known to the prosecutors by the pastor of Mercy Street Church, Matt Russell.
FACT 3: The defendant's mother, who is associated with Mercy Street Church, asked me to write a letter as the victim in the case seeking that the defendant be assigned to Covington's STAR program, even though her charges did not qualify for it. When I would not do so, she asked that I refer to Covington in a letter to the court (I could not make the trial). My letter included both the actions of the defendant, but also a request for leniency.
FACT 4: Judge Campbell assigned the defendant to a rehab facility with which Mercy Street has a relationship, and one which she does not regularly use, at a cost of tens of thousands of dollars to taxpayers. When the defendant's time was up, she was to wait in jail for a halfway house, but Russell and her family petitioned for a return to the rehab, which was granted for another 5+ months. When you know people, why should you expect to sit in jail for over a day like the common criminal... That felony, by the way, was driving my car through a parking gate (yes, you heard me correctly once again). Those tens of thousands of dollars in payments to the rehab have a few other agencies more than quite interested in this case right now, as well as the tens of thousands owed to other victims, as well as the grant writing and other monetary relationships between the drug court and churches.
FACT 5: The defendant's lawyer, in my presence, made a call from the courtroom, DURING THE TRIAL, seeking Russell's assistance with the rehab center. In addition, there is a pile of other evidence which I am not going to talk about publically.
FACT 6: Despite repeated requests for restitution, none has even been awarded either in court or outside. Not a single victim of the defendant's has been paid back a single penny of the tens of thousands, cumulatively, she stole from them or destroyed in 2006 and 2007. There seems to be a lot of effort among churches and the STAR Drug court focused on the druggies, and little focused on the victims. Maybe we need a church focused on the victims of crime too!! You would think the church and druggie court would be concerned about all the victims lives destroyed by this women... Should the victims not be the FIRST priority?
FACT 7: Judge Campbell called me, the victim, a bad influence as I, as a 20 something male, went into the dance club where the defendant worked at. As I was in court for the second hearing, stupidly, at the request of the family to help seek leniency, Judge Campbell decided to point me, the victim, out, you know, because I like 98.5% of other males in this town walked into a strip club during my life (pause - shock and awe - I should be struck by the lightening of the God immediately??) Apparently, I was supposed to be so embarrassed over going to the dance club that they assumed I would not pursue the impropriterities in the case any further (Christian right wing ethics vs. the LAW). Judge Campbell highlighted me in court, as a bad influence, and put a probation order against contact between me and the defendant calling me of "bad character." At the time I wanted to see the defendant again, but certainly no more at this point anyhow given what she has said about me and what I have found out after doing a little digging, but after being the VICTIM I would not expected to be treated in this manner by a Judge (Judge Campbell and the church do not seem to understand who the victims are - or HOW MANY there are for that matter!!). After making a bunch of untrue statements about me to family / POs in 2008, which I later found out about, the defendant continued to call and visit me AFTER the probation order was passed - rather interesting, if everything she said about me was true. Ironically, this person of bad character has no criminal record, has never done a drug, hardly drinks, has not had sexual intercourse (because I am a true Christian, although no logner a Christian due to the actions of Mercy Street Church) and is involved in non-profit and beneficial work all around town. This "bad character" also paid for the defendant's rehab (there are receipts), threatened her drug dealers (referred to in emails to police), got her job interviews for jobs outside of dancing, called the police to report her dealers, did not have a sexual relationship with her (evidenced in writing), and even emailed the police (nice to have a nice written track record of HPD's incompetence - I'm gathering someone was getting paid off since I reported heroin dealers on a solid tip a total of 4 times). He has also allowed 4 other people to live with him in the past 2 years, who were not strippers or even female for that matter, who were in trouble. I am, truly, the devil in the flesh of the Christian right wing nutjobs.
Sub Fact 7a: At the 2007 hearing, Judge Campbell placed no restrictions on defendant from speaking to her friend and ex-boyfriend Paul Russell, who being the evil person I am I also tried to convince to go to rehab and let live me with (because, you know, I figured the best way to take advantage of the defendant was to have her ex-boyfriend present too). Despite the fact that the ex-boyfriend introduced her to one of her dealers, introduced her to her drug of choice, shot her up, and rammed my car into a parking gate on video tape (the very same videotape used to convict the defendant, by the way). It is unclear where the defendant got the idea to ram the car into the gate, but I am guessing, the ex's effort 20 minutes earlier may have helped with the technique. He was on the very same videotape used as evidence in court - really, there are no excuses on this one for either the Judge or prosecutors or the probation officers.
Sub Fact 7b: In the 2007 hearing, Judge Campbell placed no restriction on the defendant from speaking to her father, who was a concurrent drug addict in the 2nd half of 2007, when the defendant was also using and I was trying to help her. In addition, the defendant claims her dad was a big gambler, and thus, no surprise, before her career in the adult industry, she was a waitress and dealer at an underground poker pallor. The Defendant's Dad also ran the rehab at the church which our drug court is STILL associated with after this case, REMARKABLY, despite its well-documents efforts to rig the case. Trying to sweep, sweep, sweep it under the rug like it all never happened ... now, I know where the defendant learned how to lie, knive and twist!! Ironically, she told me she used the word kniving as one of three words to describe herself in a rehab assignment. Dad must be a good influence though - he goes to church!!
Sub Fact 7c: In 2007, Judge Campbell placed no restriction on the defendant from speaking with her sister, a former "exotic dancer" (isn't that bad character and ill repute, by the way - I mean, I just went into a club a few times -- the sister was a full out stripper) and also drug addict, who the defendant claimed to me (as well as others) introduced her to one of her heroin dealer. There are also lovely family photos of the defendant, the defendant's sister, and the defendant's sister's kids with the drug dealer on myspace. Clearly, another great influence that Judge Campbell and staff think should be in the defendant's life.
Sub Fact 7d: The Judge placed no restrictions on the defendant contacting anyone else in Mercy Street Church, despite the fact many are concurrent or past addicts, because, well, if you go to church and that church happens to support your drug court which also happens to be lobbying for the defendant in your courtroom, it's the same thing as not breaking the law, right?
Sub Fact 7e: The Pastor who used to run Mercy Street Church in 2007 has confessed to be an ex-crack user, an ex-thief, and also, clearly took actions to affect this case outside of due process along with his friend Mary Covington. Apparently, since he got away with all these crimes (he apparently talks about them in his sermons), he thinks other druggy criminals should be able to as well. Basically, this is why I am not a Methodist by the way... This is also why religion doesn't belong in the courtroom. All these activities are criminal in nature. When Mr. Russell walks into a courtroom, this is exactly how the court system should look at him - we have a church of LAW, not a church of Christian Right-Wing Ethics. My actions were not criminal in nature. I am thinking courts should focus a little more on the law, and a little less on Christian ethics. But, then again, the churches are helping to fund the drug court, Judges has been invited to sit in on Mercy Street services, and Mercy Street pastors sat in on drug docket trials (according to STAR newsletters), so we can't offend them now can we... Just a bit of a conflict of interest, no??
There is a really great article on the blind leading the blind by a priest speaking about the failures of churches run by ex-drug users: http://www.religion-online.org/showarticle.asp?title=963. Lindsay and her sister grew up in this church, and surprise, surprise, they both became addicts. Seems to be working really well. Judge Campbell decided it was a great idea to return the defendant to this church environment, and take her away from someone who made her take responsibility (versus giving her more excuses and "outs"). Nothing like a female judge blaming male victims, pandering to the Christian right, expecting no accountability (no one has been paid back to date), and further enabling a drug defendant. The court managed to add a probation order a month post-convction saying I am on bad reputation (because, once again, I join the 98.5% of men who have walked into a strip club in their life), but seems to have a problem, despite repeated requests, adding restitution!!
FACT / OPINION 7: First, my opinion. Generally, when I walk into a store and am treated poorly by an employee, I would expect an apology from the manager and generally some action is taken re: the employee. The employee is also usually asked to apologize to the customer, or fired, or some action is taken that the customer is later made aware of - this is, generally, the way things work. As a taxpayer in Harris County and one of the crime victims, I would expect the same from my government. The general counsel (see FACT 1) expressed that the Criminal Court Judges would review the issues at hand, including the church relationships, and get back with me. That, never happened. If I had just gotten an apology from some people, the order changed or reworded as promised, and some action on the church and Covington or some type ("follow through") - an acknowledgement of wrongdoing - this would all be over right now. Nothing like a court system expecting accountantability from criminals, but shirking it itself. Further, Covington still works with the court system despite THEIR VERY OWN findings (not my claims). Further, that which I enjoy most, NEITHER the church nor the court system have entertained a request by me to meet with some (a group) of the victims of the defendant's actions to date despite repeated requests. We are now circulating a petition which has accumulated a large number of names demanding justice in this case - that is, everyone who was involved in rigging it be brought to justice, or at least, are disassociated from the court system - working for a court system or as a priest does not entitle someone to be able to break the law. It is clear justice is going to have to come from above, as Harris County will not do the right thing in this case. All want to work together and cover-up an illegal bailout plan, but no one wants to look the victims in the face. No one wants to look in the face the man embarrassed at his work by Lindsay's actions. No one wants to look in the face the young man near bankruptcy and now living with his parents because of Lindsay.. No one wants to consider the embarrassment to me of Lindsay's actions in front of friends, family, and 800 neighbors in my condo, the risks to my safety, the losses of my neighbors, insurance payments, money stolen from others and stores. The first concern is bailing out the druggie, the second is the victims, who are treated more like the criminals (when you know the right people that is).
INTERLUDE: For everyone participating in the drug court, should you test positive for a UA, I would recommend that you just suggest to your Judge it was a "mistake" and refer to the 3 minutes excerpt of my conversation with the Court's general counsel on YouTube. Surely, if a mistake is acceptable for Ms. Covington, the head of your program, it is OK for you too. OK, on to the next point...
FACT 8: Our drug court is supported by a host of churches, which write grant requests for it and others which provide "recovery services." In exchange, it appears, at least some of them get bailout plans for their parishioners in return. In the case of Mercy Street, criminal judges were actually invited to the church (which is composed significantly of drug and ex-drug addicts) which obviously creates opportunity for bias. When I mentioned this, the newsletter on the Drug Court site referring to that relationship was taken down within 48 hours.
FACT 9: Very few of the drug courts, besides our own, are actually associated with churches. This is evident in a google search. Only our own and one other comes up in the first five pages of a google search of "churches" and "drug court(s)" despite the 2100 drug courts in the US. There is a reason for this. It is completely inappropriate - "separation of church and state" and the establishment clause! I know people in Texas seem to have a really hardtime - repeatedly - understanding this little document call the US Constitution. When I mentioned this to a drug court employee, I was told that they are structured as a non-profit, separate from the court system, but when they walk into a non-drug court to help rig a trial for one of their friends, I would argue the public / non-profit border is now crossed.
FACT 10: I received an email from the head pastor of the church saying I was be stupid to say anything more, and if I did, they would request for charges against me. Sounds like they are getting miffed about all the true facts coming out. Apparently, they plan to run to their friends in the court again and ask for some more favors. I would actually enjoy the opportunity to subpoena all the info in facts 1-9 and put Lindsay, Russell, and Covington on the stand... :-) My lawyers would have an field day with Lindsay on the stand. And I could probably fill the back of the courtroom with witnesses and victims ... literally.
FACT 11: A good transition from FACT 10. The prosecutor's office, which used to be housed in the same office as the STAR Court and from which the STAR Drug Court sends its press releases (also appreciate the news items online between the DA office and Mary Covington for joint events such as this one - www.newsrouter.com/NewsRouter_Uploads/72/drugcourt.pdf), conducted a "thorough" investigation of the case. The investigation was soooo "thorough" that it took 19 days and cumulated with a letter from the DA totaling one whole line stating "After a thorough review of all the documentation you provided the Public Integrity Division of the Harris County District Attorney's Office and investigation there are no criminal charges that will be filed." The 31 word letter was also "thorough" by their standards... My documentation, was, by the way, thorough, totaling over 250 pages, just to clarify the word thorough for the DAs office. Their investigation was so "thorough" the phone records of calls made in the courtroom were never pulled. It was also so "thorough" that many of the people listed on my witness list were never called. It went on the pile titled "Harris County Friends and Family Plan" (I call it the HCFFP for short) where it collected dust for two and half weeks, to give the impression it was looked at. The junior ADA was nice enough to comment to me that I "should not have filed" with other agencies - is that any of her business? In other words, we are pissed off because we can no longer control the investigation and protect our friends. Further, the head DA of the Public Integrity Division worked with Covington on cases as a general prosecutor, and, if my facts serve me correctly, was a ADA at the same time at Campbell in the 90s. Certainly no bias present. Because of this, I asked the DAs office not to investigate the case in my complaint (which at 250 pages was THOROUGH, by the way, haha), but rather, as a matter of procedure to just transfer jurisdiction to the State AG. Of course, they did not do that because that would be the honest and ethical thing to do, but alas, I have other agencies looking at it anyhow and we will get justice on this case. Wasn't there something about "restor[ing] public trust and confidence in the DAs office in Patsy Lykos's inauguration speech?? Interestingly, in that tape recorded conversation with the court system's general counsel, the GC told me Judge Campbell was furious that special favors were asked of her. The GC also claimed that these requests did not affect her decision. If that is the case, and the Judge is sooo miffed, I would expect her to demand a full investigation into everything that happened in her courtroom in this case...including all the calls made for special favors in the courtroom, people kicked out of the courtroom, etc. Its interesting she does not seem to be pushing to see what sent on..
FACT 12: I have invited both the church and the court system to meet with some of Ms. McAllister's victims repeatedly, many of whom's lives were decimated, by McAllister's actions. I also suggested the senior pastor of the church take a collection to pay back some of the victims (not myself, but the others who truly need the money). In the Christian Church I grew up in, there was this little thing called repentance and the golden rule. I mean, if they want to come in and rig a trial, they could at least pay the victims back. The senior pastor threaten to filed charges against me if I "said or did anything more" following that email. The court system just never bothered to respond to my THREE request to meet the many victims. It's interesting - the court system wants defendants to take responsibility, but does not want to take any itself or encourage its members to do so... I don't really need the money, but let's see the great Mercy Street Church, Chapelwood, and/or STAR Drug Court come to the plate and pay back Ms. McAllister's other victims or encourage its own member to take responsibility for her actions if they also want to come in and interrupt the trial. I mean, where I grew up at least, that is the "Christian" thing to do. Perhaps these "recovery churches" have some new take on Christianity I am not aware of? I think the church has a problem understanding their member is the offender not the victim. She choose to use drugs of her own free will, then became a drug addict after repeated use, then a stripper, and then committed a range of crimes against many people over a 1.5 year period. I'll repeat that...she CHOSE to use drugs. Drug use is a choice, not a disease!! This is why drug use is illegal. Also, a short take on drug use as a disease. Here is why drug use isn't a disease...a druggie must use a first, a second, a third (several times) knowingly before they get addicted. This is precisely why we need strict punishment, not "treatment" and "recovery services" and "drug courts." In using that first, second, and third time, they put others safety and property at risk. Countries like Singapore and the Dominican Republic with strict sentencing guidelines have virtually no drug issues, and also, a LOWER proportion of their prisons are filled with drug users. People get the point not to use when the consequences are great enough! Further, many counties have seen three-fold increases in drug arrests following the introduction of drug courts (even if the courts work, which is questionable, I would argue the lenient consequences cause more people to use). 3-fold increases in drug arrests were noted in some Colorado and California towns in the years following the introduction of drug courts. 3-fold!!!
FACT 13: I understand the defendant now goes around telling people I stalk her and am just angry because I "spent a lot of money on her and didn't get any sex." Well, at least she can't say I've taken advantage of her now...!! Also, I have made no attempt to contact her in the last 6 months and will never again. Why would I? Interestingly, that's the same things she had to say about many of her prior victims. Secondly, maybe someone that pays for your rehab, threatens your drug dealers, and gives you a place to live for 4 months, money and sex free as she has now admitted actually cares about you (apparently more than the family that was nowhere to be found). Lastly, this girl I am stalking called me multiple times and visited me after the probation order was passed not to contact me - I never expected to hear from her again. I did send her messages a year ago, all positive, encouraging her and 4 or 5 months ago telling her the actions I was taking to get this case investigated, but only because, I knew two things 1) the inproprietaries in the case and 2) that others probably acted, based upon lies from Lindsay (it is no secret the defendant is a masterful bullshit artist and lier) .... I figured she would feel guilty and confess up , but apparently, not. Further, no matter what lies come out of Lindsay's mouth, or what they believe or don't believe, neither Covington nor Russell's actions in the courtroom were appropriate. An UNBAISED court is supposed to fetter through the evidence from all - some evidence was not even presented with people told to shut up, feedback from the rehab was likely biased, the Judge was biased by attempts to inappropriately seek favors (even if she didn't comply, as she argues, there is an indirect effect to such requests in the back of her mind as there would be with any human). The INTEGRITY of the system was destroyed by this Drug Courts interference in a non-drug docket case as well as Mercy Street's interference. As an additional item, when the defendant told me she left something at her last victim's house (I did not know at the time he was also a victim), and I suggested we pick it up, she freaked out, then started tell me how he was crazy, took advantage of her, stood over her at night when she was sleeping, picked a fight with her boyfriend, and on and on and on. This young man, who also allowed Lindsay AND her boyfriend to live at his place and tried to help them both, is now living with his parents largely due to Lindsay.
FACT 14: The defendant was given deferred adjudication. While on probation, I understand that she either failed to take, or failed, UAs. She was also witnessed clubbing (when you pull the kinds of stunts Lindsay does in front of a lot of people, including driving a car through the parking gate of a condo with over 800 residents, you get noticed around town) at a rave - this is apparently part of the defendant's concerted efforts to change her life. Amazingly, despite getting only one charge despite many actions, and then a sweet deal (largely worked by kniving the main victim, namely me, with some inside hel p from Russell and Covington), when she was rearrested for probation violations, Judge Campbell gave the defendant YET ANOTHER CHANCE, made some comment about the poor thing being scared to go to take a UA, and put her in the WHO rehab (at a cost of a whole bunch more money to taxpayers). She also made some comment about Lindsay trying to change her life - apparently, going to a rave is part of a concerted effort to change one's life... As is her lack of any apologies or any attempt at reparations to any of her victims (isn't there a step 8 in AA about making reparations by the way?).
As a final thought, how is it that the court system can conduct an investigation, conclude their employee "advocated" for a party in a case, "sought special treatment," and "acted inappropriately," and this women - Mary Covington - still has a job with the court system and/or her organization is still associated with the court. Ohh, I forgot, when you have the church lobby writing grants for your drug court (at least one of which got a bailout package for its church member in return) and those grants bring in millions to the county from the state and federal governments to deal with defendants, everyone just looks the other way... Isn't our court system supposed to be teaching accountability, because I see none whatsoever as a result of this case. The court has just further enabled the defendant's actions and lack of accountability. To this date, not a SINGLE victim of Ms. McAllister has been paid back a penny of the tens of thousands of dollars in damage caused to her victims. I haven't seen much effort to apologize to any of these people. The defendant, court system, and church are all pretty mum on this topic... I mean, what can they say now that their GC admitted both the impropretaries in the case and that the way I was treated / portrayed (probation order) was wrong! If you are going to admit that, shouldn't you do something about it next, btw??? Why conduct a review/investigation, come up with results, and then do nothing...
Just as I, and others, stood up and paid for this women's rehab, reported and threatened her dealers, and fed her - we stood up and did the right thing - I am now going to stand up and fight for what I believe and say the way I and the other victims have been treated is COMPLETELY and UTTERLY UNACCEPTABLE. This is a result, at least partially, of Ms. Covington's and Mercy Street Church's inappropriate intrusion in this case. Through their own actions of not taking responsibility, Covington and Russell serve as a poor example of what we should expect from drug defendants, which is for them to start taking responsibility for their own lives and actions. The "victim" and "diseased" mentality for drug users is just plain unacceptable. They need to take accountability for their actions, which for all, include their initial decision to use before becoming addicted, which puts not only themselves, but others, at risk and unnecessarily wastes society's resources on rehabbing them and correcting the damage they cause through THEIR OWN choices. As we are now lobbying for in Washington, they must also be made to take responsibility for their monetary damages, and also, pay into a fund to support the expenses they cause in the system and for a drug victim's fund. They must be held fully ACCOUNTABLE for their actions. You want to fund a drug court .. how about the druggie's pay for it for the privalege of being about to go through it versus going to jail?
Some ending questions:
- How much longer is Ms. Covington going to be allowed to continue running the drug court given her actions as detailed by the court's very own general counsel (there are very clear statutes against trying to influence a trial outside of due process, abuse of official capacity, etc)?
- How much longer is the court system going to continue to be associated with a church who attempted to rig a trial for one of their parishioners and was founded by a self admitted ex-drug user?
- Does the Mercy Street / Chapelwood United Methodist church intend to step in and either a) accept accountability for the victim's losses or b) demand that the victim and her family (who were former leaders and used to run the rehab at the church) make reparations to the victims considering they took steps to interrupt the trial? Because a slam-dunk deal was arranged LESS THAN ONE WEEK after the arrest, the victim's could not even ask for restitution.
- Why does an ex-crack user, ex-thief's church composed largely of drug addicts have more rights than a citizen who has a clean record and doesn't even drink, just because he walked into a strip club and why does the religious right have the ability to bring that issue into a courtroom (separation of church and state)?
- How many more petition signatures do we need and points of contact before the local government does the right things and fires their own employee and disassociates from this "church"? Or is that not happening while the drug court and churches continue to bring in millions of outside funding into Harris County? In Harris County, we have a druggie church, a druggie court, and the druggies have more rights and are treated better than their victims - especially when you have a female Judge and male victims and a church that supports the drug court!
This report was posted on Ripoff Report on 10/16/2009 09:18 PM and is a permanent record located here: http://www.ripoffreport.com/r/Judge-Joan-Campbell-STAR-Drug-Court/Houston-Texas-/Judge-Joan-Campbell-STAR-Drug-Court-Harris-County-Refuses-to-Investigate-and-Prosecute-O-510551. The posting time indicated is Arizona local time. Arizona does not observe daylight savings so the post time may be Mountain or Pacific depending on the time of year.
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