The FBI spent Thursday morning carting away boxes and computers from the Houston Independent School District’s administration building and visiting the Spring home of Chief Operating Officer Brian Busby. Philip Hilder and the Firm represent Mr. Busby.
Ex-Judge fights Probation Officer’s Recommendation to Quadruple His Sentence
September 13, 2019
White-collar defense attorney Philip Hilder, who isn’t involved in Delgado’s case, said that because Delgado was a public official when he committed the offenses, his base offense level for sentencing purposes is 14, which brings between 1.25 and 1.75 years in federal prison.
Hilder reviewed Delgado’s objection and noted that it says the presentence investigation report had recommended an additional 14 levels in upward adjustment, which would bring the total offense level to 28. That level brings between six and a half to just over eight years’ imprisonment, he said.
“Even if he’s successful and beats back every one of the adjustments, the judge would still land in Zone D, level 14, which would require incarceration,” Hilder added.
Delgado’s objection said that the probation office recommended the upward adjustments because he took more than one bribe, the value of payment was over $6,500, and his convictions included a charge of obstruction of justice. He is attacking those last two factors regarding the bribes’ values and the obstruction charge, which amount to eight levels of the adjustment.
If Delgado successfully knocks off eight levels, he’d still face between 2.75 and 3.4 years in prison, noted Hilder, a principal in Hilder & Associates in Houston.
Larry Swearingen, who claimed science excluded him as killer, is executed by Texas
August 22, 2019
One issue not raised at trial was the state of Trotter’s body. Although the medical examiner testified that Trotter probably had been dead for 25 days – the amount of time between when she disappeared and when her body was found – numerous forensic experts have since testified for the defense that Trotter had probably only been dead for about two weeks or less. Texas prosecutors argued, and the courts agreed, that the science of “post-mortem interval” was inexact and that the differing time estimates were not convincing. Prosecutors noted that Trotter had the same food in her stomach that she was last seen eating at the college student center and was wearing the same clothes.
Swearingen’s lawyer for the past 15 years, James Rytting, said that if Trotter had been dead for 25 days, the food would have disintegrated; that it wasn’t the same food; and that if she had been held captive, she wouldn’t have been “taken to Macy’s to freshen up.”
Rytting added, “The whole thing is nonsense, forensics at its worst.” Link
Larry Swearingen to be Executed
August 21, 2019
Swearingen’s attorney, James Rytting, said there are too many questions surrounding his client’s case and hoped a last-minute appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court would keep Swearingen out of the death chamber once again. That appeal was denied by the U.S. Supreme Court.
Those questions center around the pantyhose used to kill Trotter. Prosecutors said they came from Swearingen’s home and belonged to his wife. They said half was found in his home while the other half was used to strangle Trotter.
“They were pushed and pulled, until they matched,” Rytting said. “It’s neither science, nor forensic science. It’s about the level of a junior high art project.”
In a letter from the Texas Department of Public Safety crime lab director to Swearingen’s attorneys, Rytting said it retracts the trial testimony from a criminologist that claimed the pantyhose matched.
Rytting also challenges the timeline, arguing that Swearingen couldn’t have killed Trotter because he was in jail at the time. And he points to outside forensic experts who have reviewed the case and who all agree: Trotter’s body had been in the forest anywhere from a few days to two weeks.
“The convergence of opinions have been ignored by the courts, but they have latched on to invalid forensic theories,” Rytting said. Link
Did faulty science, and bad testimony, bring Larry Swearingen to the brink of execution?
August 17, 2019
Two experts in fiber analysis who compared the pieces of hose have since concluded they don’t match when lined up next to each other, and a third said the state technician’s testimony was overstated. And last month, the Texas Department of Public Safety said the technician should not have testified the pieces matched “to the exclusion of all others.”
Swearingen, who has maintained his innocence, is set to be executed Wednesday. His lawyers, citing the pantyhose testimony and other evidence they contend is flawed, are trying to halt it.
Swearingen’s lawyers, James Rytting of Houston and Bryce Benjet of the Innocence Project in New York, contend that a combination of flawed science and overblown testimony has condemned an innocent man. Among their key arguments, in addition to the pantyhose analysis:
Blood flakes were found under Trotter’s fingernails, enough to develop a full DNA profile, which was determined to be from a man – but not Swearingen. But a Texas lab technician testified at trial that the blood came from contamination in the lab, not a possible killer. Earlier this month, the Texas Department of Public Safety issued a second letter saying the technician had no evidence of contamination or knowledge of how that would have happened. Link
SEC Charges Two Houston-Area Men with Insider Trading
The Securities and Exchange Commission today announced settled charges against Balaji Sundarraj of Sugar Land, Texas and David O’Brien of Houston, Texas for insider trading in the stock of Opower, Inc. in advance of the May 2, 2016 announcement that Opower had agreed to be acquired by Oracle Corporation as part of a tender offer. They are represented by Philip H. Hilder and Stephanie K. McGuire.
Halliburton employee accused of hiding camera in first class airplane bathroom
A Houston man who works for Halliburton is accused of planting a camera inside an airplane bathroom and using it to record women. As these devices become more prevalent, I think you’re going got see a lot more of these cases in the future,” said Philip Hilder, a former federal prosecutor.
Cameras are everywhere. Some you can see, some you can’t. Link
Convicted killer Larry Ray Swearingen continues fight to avoid execution
Click 2 Houston
August 5, 2019
Swearingen’s attorney, James Rytting, said he plans to again appeal his client’s death sentence. Rytting said the latest appeal is based on fairly new state law. That law allows a person to win a retrial if the scientific conclusions used as a basis for a conviction can be refuted. “We’re going to challenge it all, all over again,” Rytting said. “We believe that his conviction rests on a pile of junk science.” Rytting has long argued the state got Trotter’s time of death wrong. Testimony during trial stated Trotter died approximately three weeks prior to being found. But Rytting said at least six forensic pathologists have given sworn statements Trotter died sometime after Swearingen was first arrested and therefore he could not be her killer.
Rytting also plans to challenge testimony saying that, on the day Trotter disappeared, cell towers put Swearingen along the route from his house to where she was found.
“There was no way to place him, as the state maintains they could, in very discreet parts of the county,” Rytting said. Link
Texas AG Ken Paxton’s Criminal Case Likely to Face Further Delays as Attorney Revives Fight Over Venue, Prosecutor Pay
July 25, 2019
Even after the state’s top criminal court ruled and ruled again on a long-running side battle to the criminal case against Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, a trial still seems distant. Both defense attorneys and prosecutors this week filed new legal motions with the potential to spell months of further delays. Paxton is represented by Philip H. Hilder, Paul L. Creech and Q. Tate Williams of Hilder & Associates, P.C Link
Carpatsky Cleared To Gather Asset Info Over $147M Award
July 19, 2019
A Ukrainian company’s efforts to nix requests for information about its assets at home failed Wednesday, with a Texas federal judge saying U.S.-based Carpatsky Petroleum Corp. is entitled to round up the details necessary to collect a $147 million dollar arbitral award. Carpatsky is represented by Philip Hilder and Stephanie McGuire of Hilder & Associates, P.C. Link
Criminal case against Attorney General Ken Paxton jeopardized by court ruling
June 20, 2019
The top criminal court in Texas dealt a blow to the special prosecutors who are pressing felony charges against Attorney General Ken Paxton on Wednesday, a new wrinkle in a securities fraud case that has already stretched across four years and is far from resolved.
The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals on Wednesday declined to reconsider an earlier ruling that allowed a $2,000 limit on how much the special prosecutors can be paid for pretrial work. Paxton is represented by Philip H. Hilder, Paul L. Creech and Q. Tate Williams of Hilder & Associates, P.C. Link
Texas AG Fraud Case In Limbo After Prosecutor Pay Ruling
June 20, 2019
The prosecutors in a felony securities fraud case against the Texas attorney general couldn’t convince a Texas appeals court to reconsider its ruling that they can’t be paid $300 an hour, leaving observers to wonder whether they will make good on a threat to withdraw from the case. Paxton is represented by Philip H. Hilder , Paul L. Creech and Q. Tate Williams of Hilder & Associates, P.C. Link
Valero faces air pollution lawsuit at Port Arthur refinery
May 22, 2019
Firm counsel Philip Hilder is a part of the trial team that filed a federal lawsuit against Valero Energy at its Port Arthur refinery for violations of the Federal Clean Air Act. This is the Firm’s fourth citizen lawsuit for air emission violations including obtaining a $20 million penalty against ExxonMobil for violations at its Baytown refinery. Link
Ex-Stockman aide sentenced to 18 months in campaign fund scam
April 5, 2019
Posey’s lawyer, Philip Hilder, said Stockman took advantage of Posey’s abiding loyalty to a man he idolized and considered a father figure.
“He followed him to Egypt-why would anybody do that?” Hilder asked. Hilder also reminded the judge of something Posey said on the witness stand, recalling a day the new congressional aides were going around introducing themselves and their jobs in the office. Posey said, “I’m Jason Posey and I just do what I’m told.”
The judge commended Posey for helping prosecutors try and convict his former mentor, adding that it’s also important that he be held accountable for his actions. Link
Sixth execution date set for convicted Montgomery County killer Larry Swearingen
March 13, 2019
Larry is represented by Firm counsel James Rytting.
“We’ve already proved that Larry Swearingen didn’t commit this crime and the forensics have just been ignored,” said defense attorney James Rytting. “We continue to find serious problems with the technical and scientific evidence used to convict him.” Specifically, he said, the cell phone evidence “was complete junk – and we’re going to demonstrate it.” He also called into question other forensics, including fiber analysis and the use of torn pantyhose from near Swearingen’s home that the state said matched material from the crime scene. “The doubts will be there forever, like another Cameron Todd Willingham,” Rytting said, referencing a controversial 2004 execution. Link
Michael Cohen testifies on Capitol Hill
February 28, 2019
Philip Hilder was featured on Fox 26 to discuss the Michael Cohen testimony of capital hill. Link
DNA testing results released on death row case of Larry Swearingen
February 4, 2019
More than a year after prosecutors agreed to DNA testing on decades-old evidence in a Montgomery County death row case, the results are in – and they didn’t reveal anything new. Currently, Swearingen doesn’t have any appeals pending, but Benjet – who is handling the case along with Houston-based attorney James Rytting – hinted at the possibility of more court filings ahead, including claims questioning the cell phone forensics used to pinpoint Swearingen’s location. Link
Citgo executives, arrested by Maduro, forgotten in Venezuela’s turmoil
January 31, 2019
Typically, the U.S. embassy can work to ensure U.S. citizens arrested in foreign countries receive appropriate legal representation and due process, said Philip Hilder, former federal prosecutor in Houston who specializes in white collar criminal justice. In some special circumstances, the embassy could try to work behind the scenes to expedite a case. But any shred of political legitimacy the United States had with Maduro’s government was destroyed by the Trump administration’s recognition of an opposition leader as Venezuela’s legitimate president.
“Unfortunately these individuals are caught in a political tug-of-war,” Hilder said, “and their fate won’t be determined until the political situation begins to resolve.” Link
Supreme Court rejects appeal from former Missouri City cop on death row
January 8, 2019
The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday turned down an appeal from a former Missouri City police officer convicted of hiring a hitman to kill his wife, one of two Houston-area death row losses in the high court this week.
Though he has consistently maintained his innocence, Robert Fratta was sentenced to death in 1996 after a Harris County jury found him guilty of masterminding a murder-for-hire plot designed to do away with his wife Farah.
“The rule of law is taking another hit,” said attorney James Rytting, who represents the condemned former officer. “Robert Fratta’s trial was deeply flawed, (he) proved that himself and was penalized for figuring out serious problems with his trial on his own and for trying to bring them to the courts’ attention.” Link
Law 360: Biggest Texas Cases of 2018
December 20, 2018: Law360 announced its three biggest Texas cases of 2018. Hilder & Associates, P.C. is connected to two of these cases. The lead case involves the securities fraud charges against Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton. Philip Hilder, Tate Williams, and Paul Creech of the Firm represent Mr. Paxton as co-counsel.
The second case involves the prosecution of former Congressman, Steve Stockman. The Firm, Philip Hilder, Stephanie McGuire, and Sunida Mejia represent co-defendant, Jason Posey. Link
Handling Your First (or Next) False Claims Act Case
November 30, 2018
Firm counsel, Philip Hilder was a speaker at the Texas Bar CLE program on the False Claims Act Case. The presentation, provided below was titled: Ethical Considerations in False Claim Cases.
Texas Justices Slash Hourly Pay For Paxton Prosecutors
November 21, 2018
Prosecutors bringing a felony securities fraud case against Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton were paid an excessive amount for their work by a trial judge who did not follow a fee schedule approved by the county, the highest criminal court in Texas found Wednesday in a split ruling. Philip Hilder, an attorney representing Paxton, deferred comment to Paxton’s spokesman, Jordan Berry. Berry said Paxton was “extremely grateful for the court’s decision.” Paxton is represented by Philip Hilder, Tate Williams and Paul Creech of Hilder & Associates PC. Link
Carpatsky Gets Win In Ukranian Co.’s Contract Breach Suit
November 14, 2018
A Texas federal judge granted a win to Carpatsky Petroleum Corp. Tuesday in a long-running dispute initiated by a Ukrainian oil company over a soured oil and gas development deal. Philip Hilder is local counsel for Carpatsky. Link
Philip Hilder Named to Top Peer-Reviewed Lawyer Lists in White-Collar Defense and Commercial Litigation
The founder of Hilder & Associates, P.C., Mr. Hilder has earned the Best Lawyers listing for his work in the Houston area since 2015. Best Lawyers is the nation’s oldest peer-review legal services guide.
Hilder & Associates named on U.S. News and Best Lawyers Release 2019 “Best Law Firms” List
Hilder & Associates, P.C. has been chosen for U.S. News & World Report and Best Lawyers “Best Law Firms” for the fourth consecutive year. Firms included in the 2019 Edition of “Best Law Firms” are recognized for professional excellence with consistently impressive ratings from clients and peers. Achieving a tiered ranking signals a unique combination of quality law practice and breadth of legal expertise.
Make-or-break Senate hearing day for Kavanaugh, accuser
September 27, 2018
With high drama in the making, Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh emphatically fended off new accusations of sexual misconduct Wednesday and headed into a charged public Senate hearing that could determine whether Republicans can salvage his nomination and enshrine a high court conservative majority. Philip Hilder was asked to comment.
Kavanaugh’s accuser wants FBI probe before she testifies
September 19, 2018
Christine Blasey Ford wants the FBI to investigate her allegation that she was sexually assaulted by Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh before she testifies at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing next week, her lawyers said in a letter sent Tuesday to the panel. Philip Hilder of HIlder & Associates, was asked to comment
Guilty verdict in pipeline spill could have industry repercussions
September 8, 2018
A guilty verdict late Friday against Plains All American Pipeline has left the Houston energy company a convicted felon for its role in causing a large oil spill in California, adding new ammunition to the fight over pipelines, which have become a prime target of the movement against fossil fuels in North America.
Governments frequently launch civil cases against corporations for pollution and other cases when they suspect misconduct, seeking restitution as well as financial penalties. Criminal prosecutions, which require a higher burden of proof, tend to be reserved for high-profile cases, such as the Exxon Valdez spill in Alaska in the 1980s or the Deepwater Horizon explosion in 2010, said Philip Hilder, a former federal prosecutor now in private practice.
It’s unusual, however, that these criminal cases go to trial, Hilder said. For example, BP, which operated the Deepwater Horizon rig, pleaded guilty to several felonies and paid billions of dollars in criminal penalties before the case went before a jury.
“Companies tend to settle cases before trial by paying fines,” Hilder said. Link
Jeff Skilling’s release from prison prompts former Enron workers to think about decision to invest in company stock
August 31, 2018
Former Enron CEO Jeffrey Skilling is heading to a halfway house after spending just eight years in federal prison in Alabama. Skilling was convicted of conspiracy and financial crimes that led to the crash of the company that, for a time, symbolized Houston business success. Of Skilling’s release, Houston attorney Philip Hilder, who represented Enron whistleblower Sherron Watkins, said, “This represents closure that the Enron saga is really coming to an end.”
Watkins later shared a Time Magazine cover with two other whistleblowers in its “Persons of the Year” edition. Link
Jeffrey Skilling, former Enron CEO, released from Alabama prison to halfway house
August 31, 2018
The Bureau of Prisons typically sends inmates to a halfway house in their home city where they resided before incarceration. It helps them re-acclimate to a more normal life and re-establish relationships with their families, said Philip Hilder, a white-collar defense lawyer who represented Sherron Watkins, a former vice president at Enron who went to then-Enron chairman Kenneth Lay to warn him of accounting irregularities she discovered while reviewing Enron’s assets.
Inmates are typically required to get a job while they’re at a halfway house and to report regularly to the federal probation department for up to three years, Hilder said. Skilling’s lawyer could not be reached for comment. Link
Petrobras settles emissions lawsuit against Pasadena refinery
July 27, 2018
Petrobras, Brazil’s state-control oil company, has agreed to settle a lawsuit alleging that the company for years flouted air pollution restrictions at its aging Pasadena refinery. Philip Hilder is local counsel. Link
Pasadena refinery agrees to settle pollution lawsuit environmental group says
Click 2 Houston
July 26, 2018
A Pasadena refinery accused of violating pollution rules on multiple occasions has agreed to settle a lawsuit against the plant, environmentalists announced Thursday.
The lawsuit filed last year accuses Pasadena Refining Services Inc. of several violations of both the Texas Clean Air Act and the Texas Clean Water Act. Philip Hilder is local counsel.Link
Martha Karolyi to provide statement on Larry Nassar abuse at Senate hearing
May 30, 2018
Former USA Gymnastics national team coordinator Martha Karolyi will provide a statement and answers to written questions for a June 5 Senate subcommittee hearing on the Larry Nassar sexual abuse investigation, her attorney said Wednesday.
Former USA Gymnastics president Steve Penny and former Michigan State president Lou Anna Simon have been subpoenaed to testify next week before the Senate Commerce Committee’s Subcommittee on Consumer Protection, Product Safety and Insurance, USA Today report.
Houston attorney Philip Hilder is representing USA Gymnastics in both Walker County lawsuits and in a Harris County lawsuit filed by a former Houston gymnast against the federation, the USOC and the International Federation of Gymnastics. Link
International kidnapping case involving Houston boy brings split verdict from federal jury
May 29, 2018
A federal jury Friday found an affluent Brazilian couple guilty of aiding in the international kidnapping of their Houston-born grandson in a rare prosecution that drew national attention to the U.S. government’s lackluster efforts to return thousands of children taken abroad amid custody disputes.
But, in unusual move, U.S. District Judge Alfred H. Bennett did not formally accept the jury’s decision, saying he wanted more time to consider defense attorneys’ request that the couple should be cleared because of allegations raised in the trial that their daughter was fleeing domestic violence.
It is that so-called affirmative defense – that they were shielding their daughter from what they believed was an abusive relationship – that the judge now is considering.
Veteran defense lawyer and former federal prosecutor Philip Hilder, who is not connected to the case, said the judge’s reluctance to accept the jury’s verdict is a sign that he is weighing concerns.
“It is an indication there’s a viable issue the judge wants to consider,” Hilder said. Link
Former U.S. Rep. Steve Stockman convicted in massive fraud scheme
April 12, 2018
A federal jury Houston Thursday convicted former U.S. Congressman Steve Stockman of being the mastermind behind a wide-ranging fraud scheme, using hefty charitable donations from top-level conservative donors to cover personal expenses and campaign debts. Two former Stockman aides who pleaded guilty to participating in the scheme were among those who testified against the former congressman, who made an unsuccessful run in 2014 for the U.S. Senate against Republican incumbent John Cornyn.
Posey, an aide who knew Stockman for decades, testified he wrote checks, set up bank accounts and moved the money as directed by Stockman into shadowy charities, including one called the Egyptian American Friendship Society and another entitled Life Without Limits, supposedly dedicated to helping people recover from trauma.
Posey testified that he and the former congressman knew they were breaking the law, but Stockman instructed him to push forward, spending charitable money on hotel rooms, plane flights and so-called “burner phones” for secret conversations. He complied, he said, even fleeing to Egypt at Stockman’s request for more than two years when Stockman realized the scheme was under investigation.
Attorney Philip Hilder, who represented Posey, said in the universe of white-collar crime, Stockman’s conduct stood out because he was in office when many of the crimes occurred.
“This was a highly elaborate scheme that was hatched shortly after Stockman was sworn into office in 2013 and continued throughout his term,” Hilder said.
“What makes this unusual is that a member of Congress abused his authority shortly after being given the oath of office,” he said. “Stockman manipulated his staff and squandered a golden opportunity to represent the constituents in his district who obviously placed faith in him.” Link
Aide testifies he lacked character to challenge ex-congressman Steve Stockman about fraud scheme
April 4, 2018
Federal prosecutors concluded their case Tuesday against former Republican U.S. Congressman Steve Stockman, following nine days of testimony in a campaign fraud trial including a statement from a co-defendant and longtime aide that he regretted not questioning widespread misconduct by his ex-boss.
“I’m sorry I had the lack of character to stand up to him and ask why,” testified Jason Posey, one of two former staffers who pleaded guilty and provided key testimony for the government.
Outside of court, Posey’s lawyer, Philip Hilder said his client was blinded by his trust in Stockman, who he’d known since the mid-1990s, when Posey was “a young idealistic intern” at a Washington, D.C. leadership organization.
“Posey found him to be charismatic and over time a mentor and father figure that he believed in and trusted to the extent that it caused an impairment in Posey’s judgment,” Hilder said.
He said his client knew crossed the line and violated the law, and he accepts responsibility for his actions. Link
Own a silicone wrist band? You may have been overcharged
April 2, 2018
Federal prosecutors last summer busted a local scheme to fix the prices of promotional products, obtaining guilty pleas from online sellers of silicone wristbands, customized lanyards and buttons. Now, the clients who bought the overpriced merchandise are queuing up for refunds.
Some legal experts are surprised that the federal government pursued such a small case, dollar-wise. The criminal penalties -which total about $2.3 million -are small, compared to other price fixing cases the government has brought. Citicorp, for example, paid $925 million to settle a foreign exchange anti-trust case last year.
“They tend to go where the big dollars are,” said Philip Hilder, a white collar defense lawyer in Houston and former assistant U.S. attorney in Houston, referring to federal prosecutors.
The government, however, may have thought the behavior in the wristband case was egregious, said Hilder. Or it could have been an easy case make to if a whistle blower brought the case to law enforcement officials. Link
Ex-US Rep. Used Charity Cash For Trips And More, Jury Told
March 29, 2018
A forensic accountant for the FBI told jurors on Wednesday that former U.S. Rep. Stephen Stockman, R-Texas, took a total of $450,000 in charitable donations from now-deceased millionaire and philanthropist Stanford Z. Rothschild Jr., deposited the funds into accounts he controlled and used the money for personal expenses. Jurors were told during opening statements last week that they will hear testimony from two former Stockman staffers who have entered guilty pleas for their role in the scheme.
In October, Jason T. Posey, who had been Stockman’s director of special projects, pled guilty to one count each of mail fraud, wire fraud and money laundering and agreed to cooperate with authorities. In March 2017, Thomas Dodd, who served as a special assistant, entered a guilty plea.
Posey admitted he helped Stockman funnel more than $450,000 to support his 2014 campaign for U.S. Senate. He also admitted falsifying paperwork filed with the Federal Election Commission to cover up the true source of the money. Mr. Posey is represented by Philip H. Hilder and Stephanie K. McGuire of Hilder & Associates, P.C. Link
Houston man pleads guilty in attempt to bomb Confederate statue in Hermann Park
March 27, 2018
A Houston man admitted to a federal judge Tuesday that he planned to bomb the statue of a Confederate war commander in Hermann Park last summer, amid a wave of protests nationally over civic monuments celebrating people touted as heroes of the South during the Civil War.
Outside the courtroom Schneck’s attorney Philip Hilder said, “He pleaded guilty because he recognizes his actions and accepts his responsibility and wishes to move on. He has some health issues that we are dealing with that contributed to the event.” Link
Prosecution strategy backfires in case of trans woman’s death
March 12, 2018
When Bexar County prosecutors presented evidence in a manslaughter case last week during a probation revocation hearing, they had a chance to make the accused serve time in connection with the death last year of a transgender woman. But their strategy backfired. The judge ruled in the defense’s favor, and now Mark Daniel Lewis will not stand trial at all for Kenne McFadden’s death due to double jeopardy provisions, prosecutors said.
Prosecutors made the proceedings murky when they “married” the probation case with the homicide case, said Philip Hilder, a former federal prosecutor who now practices as a criminal defense attorney in Houston. They “botched” the manslaughter case, he said, by presenting the entirety of the evidence in the hearing, rather than sticking to a narrow set of relevant facts that could have secured a probation revocation.
“They put themselves in this situation. They didn’t have to. They didn’t have to present all the evidence,” Hilder said. “They could have accomplished their goal by succinctly presenting the evidence that was relevant to the revocation rather than a shotgun approach. And now they’re suffering the consequences for trying to throw in too much that was not necessary. Link.
Gov. Abbott Commutes Death Sentence Of Bart T. Whitaker
Governor Greg Abbott today issued a proclamation commuting the death sentence of convicted killer Bart Whitaker following a recommendation from the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles.
The execution was set for 6 p.m. Thursday. The announcement from the governor came in just before 5:30 p.m. Thursday. Link
Sugar Land man scheduled for execution Thursday awaits Abbott’s decision
February 22, 2018
A Sugar Land man slated for execution Thursday night is still awaiting a last-minute decision as Gov. Greg Abbott weighs his options: grant clemency or let him die by lethal injection.
“We’re very anxious,” Whitaker’s Houston-based defense attorney, James Rytting said Thursday afternoon.
“Clemency and mercy is for the strong to bestow upon the weak and we believe that this is a case in which the governor will and should summon the strength to grant clemency.” Link
Board recommends life of convicted killer Thomas ‘Bart’ Whitaker be spared
Click 2 Houston
The Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles, in a rare decision, is unanimously recommending the death sentence of convicted killer Thomas “Bart” Whitaker be commuted to life.
Whitaker is set to undergo lethal injection Thursday for masterminding the fatal shootings of his mother and brother at their suburban Houston home in 2003. Whitaker’s father, Kent, also was shot in the attack but survived. He’s said he wants his 38-year-old son to live.
James Rytting, Whitaker’s attorney, said Tuesday’s decision was a major step toward securing his client’s clemency.
“It’s important to understand he is not going to be pardoned. The best he can hope for is a very harsh punishment,” Rytting said. “This is a stunning result, but one that is entirely mature and reasonable,” Rytting said. “Victims’ rights should mean more than revenge in Texas.” Link
Texas parole board recommends clemency for Sugar Land man slated to die for murder-for-hire plot
The Houston Chronicle
February 21, 2018
In a rare victory two days before his scheduled execution, the Texas death row inmate convicted in a murder-for-hire plot to kill his own family won a unanimous recommendation for clemency from the notoriously unsparing state Board of Pardons and Paroles. Mr. Whitaker was represented by Firm attorney James Rytting on appeal. Link
In rare move, Texas parole board recommends clemency for death row inmate Thomas Whitaker
The Texas Tribune
February 21, 2018
In an exceedingly rare move, the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles voted Tuesday to recommend a lesser sentence for a death row inmate facing execution.
The board voted unanimously in favor of clemency for Thomas Bartlett Whitaker, a man who is set to die on Thursday evening. The decision now falls on Gov. Greg Abbott, a Republican who can approve or deny the recommendation to change Whitaker’s death sentence to life in prison. Firm attorney James Rytting has represented Mr. Whitaker during his appeal process. Link
Mexican state alleges ex-governor bought Houston-area homes with stolen money
February 1, 2018
The Mexican state of Veracruz filed civil lawsuits this week alleging that dozens of Houston-area properties were bought with millions of dollars stolen by the state’s now-jailed former governor.
The more common option would be to pursue civil forfeiture actions with the assistance of the FBI, the U.S. Justice Department and the U.S. Treasury Department, said Philip Hilder, an experienced former federal prosecutor who is now in private practice.
Hilder said the challenge in a civil lawsuit will be for Buzbee to prove with little or no assistance from the U.S. federal government that stolen money was used to buy properties named in the cases. Link
Governor Greg Abbott asks Texas Rangers to investigate Karolyi Ranch
January 31, 2017
Gov. Greg Abbott enlisted the Texas Rangers on Tuesday to investigate reports of sexual abuse at the Karolyi Ranch, focusing not only on disgraced USA Gymnastics team doctor Larry Nassar but anyone who may have enabled Nassar’s crimes against female gymnasts.
With Nassar already facing a lengthy prison term in Michigan on top of a 60-year federal prison term on child pornography charges, Houston attorney Philip Hilder, a former prosecutor, said the Rangers probe will likely focus on whether charges are warranted against others.
“They will try to determine who knew what when and what they did or what they had an obligation to do by coming forward,” Hilder said. “The Rangers have a reputation of being thorough. Their findings will have credibility.” Link
Philip Hilder on Good Morning America
January 26, 2017
Philip Hilder appeared on GMA to comment on the upcoming local investigation into local US Gymnastics training center and possible criminal liability.
Judge to ex-gymnastics doctor: ‘I just signed your death warrant’
January 24, 2017
As a Michigan judge ensured Wednesday that former USA Gymnastics team doctor Larry Nassar will spend the rest of his life behind bars, the focus of the worst sexual abuse scandal in the history of American sports turned to a barrage of investigations, including one in Texas, into who knew of Nassar’s conduct and what they did or did not do to stop him.
Nassar, 54, who molested women and girls as young as 6 under the guise of medical treatment over two decades, was sentenced to 40 to 175 years in prison.
In Lansing, Mich., Circuit Judge Rosemarie Aquilina, who presided over a seven-day hearing in which Nassar was confronted by more than 150 survivors of his crimes, including Olympic gold medalists Aly Raisman and Jordyn Wieber, said, “I just signed your death warrant.”
The U.S. Olympic Committee announced plans for an independent probe in which it said it expects cooperation from USA Gymnastics, which employed Nassar from the mid-1990s until 2015.
Houston attorney Philip Hilder, a former federal prosecutor, said the local probe likely will attempt to gather details of crimes that Nassar committed at the ranch and try to determine whether he was allowed to do so by the ranch’s owners, Bela and Martha Karolyi, and other USA Gymnastics national team staff members or coaches.
“If criminal activity occurred on the property, there needs to be a thorough vetting as to how much oversight was exercised,” Hilder said. “Were they present, or were they mere landlords?
“If individuals were aware that felonies occurred and had the duty to come forward and did not, there is criminal exposure,” Hilder added. “So it is incumbent on the local authorities to determine whether other individuals were aware or complicit or involved.”
Given the length of the sentence imposed on Nassar in Michigan, Hilder said, filing charges against the ex-doctor in Texas would be a waste of time and manpower. Link
Enviros Lack Standing For Exxon Pollution Suit, 5th Circ. Told
January 23, 2018
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, National Association of Manufacturers, and other trade associations and energy groups urged the Fifth Circuit on Friday to overturn a $20 million judgment against ExxonMobil Corp., saying in an amicus brief that the lower court’s decision would unfairly penalize companies that took proactive environmental measures.
The brief argued that the Sierra Club and other environmental groups that sued Exxon over air pollution were only able to prove standing for five alleged emissions events, but that the district court judge levied damages based on 16,000 days of alleged violations. The judge also factored in unrelated improvement projects when calculating Exxon’s economic benefit, which served as the basis for the award, the brief said. The Sierra Club is represented by Philip H. Hilder of Hilder & Associates PC. Link
Texas Oil Refinery Must Face Enviros’ CAA Emissions Suit
January 12, 2018
A Texas federal judge on Thursday refused to dump a suit that alleges Pasadena Refining System Inc. is violating the Clean Air Act by spewing toxic chemicals from its oil refinery, saying the environmental groups that brought the suit have adequately alleged harm from the refinery’s emissions.
PRSI, which is part-owned by Brazilian state-owned oil giant Petrobras, had argued that the court didn’t have jurisdiction to hear the case because, among other reasons, the Sierra Club’s Lone Star Chapter and Environment Texas hadn’t proved that the injuries sustained by their members were caused by the refinery’s emissions. The environmental groups are represented by Philip Hilder of Hilder & Associates PC. Link
Sealed brief: Paxton prosecutors ‘misled grand jury’ to secure indictment
The Texas Monitor
November 20, 2017
The special prosecutors in the case against Attorney General Ken Paxton “fabricated” a date in order to secure an indictment, according to a sealed brief just made public for the first time.
That’s one of several reasons that Paxton’s defense attorneys gave for throwing out an indictment on a securities registration charge. Those arguments were rejected without comment in a March 29 order by Judge George Gallagher, who has since been removed from the case. Link
Exxon Slams $6M Fee Request In $20M Pollution Suit
November 29, 2017
Philip Hilder, a lawyer for the groups, reiterated that argument in a Wednesday email to Law360. “Exxon’s criticism of our fee application is baseless considering they were responsible for driving upcosts through aggressive litigation,” Hilder said. In October, Hilder said in an email to Law360 that the oil company “fought every inch,” admitted to nothing and was unyielding in its defense. That drove up the fees, he said. Link
Texas sheriff concerned about truck with anti-Trump message
November 15, 2017
A Houston-area sheriff said Wednesday he’s concerned the driver of a truck displaying an expletive filled message against President Donald Trump and those who voted for him is creating a situation that could lead to confrontations with people offended by the sign. In a Facebook post, Fort Bend County Sheriff Troy Nehls said he discussed with a local prosecutor the possibility of a disorderly conduct charge – a misdemeanor – against the driver.
Legal experts say the driver has a constitutionally protected right to express the message on the truck. “It would be dangerous to our freedoms if you start going that route where a sheriff has the right to start censoring people about what might be offensive,” said Philip Hilder, a Houston criminal defense attorney and former federal prosecutor. Hilder said he doesn’t think Fort Bend County – located southwest of Houston – would have a case for disorderly conduct against the driver of the truck. “Is (the sign on the truck) tasteful? No. Is it dignified? No, but it’s still a person’s statement that is constitutionally protected,” Hilder said.
Ill. Man Admits Money Laundering Role In Call Center Scams
November 14, 2017
Philip Hilder, a Hilder & Associates PC attorney representing Praful Patel, told Law360 on Tuesday that “Mr. Patel accepts responsibility for his actions, offers his sincere apology for any financial harm related to his activity and wishes to get this matter behind him so that he can return to being a productive member of the community.” Praful Patel is represented by Philip Hilder and Quentin Tate Williams of Hilder & Associates PC. Link
Houston-area man in family murder plot gets execution date
November 7, 2017
A 37-year-old suburban Houston man on Texas death row for arranging the shooting deaths of his mother and brother in 2003 so he could collect a $1 million inheritance has received an execution date. Mr. Whitaker is represented by Firm counsel James Rytting.
Investigators comb lake for new evidence in Swearingen death row case
November 2, 2017
Nearly 20 years after the murder of college student Melissa Trotter rocked Montgomery County, dive teams are out searching for more evidence in the county’s only death row case.
The renewed search efforts come weeks after word of an abandoned confession plot between Larry Swearingen – who was convicted in Trotter’s slaying – and Houston serial killer Anthony Shore threatened to cloud the case and pointed to the possibility of more evidence. Firm counsel James Rytting is lead counsel for Larry Swearingen. Link
Lawyers agree to DNA testing in Swearingen’s death row case
October 29, 2017
After years of courtroom wrangling, lawyers from both sides are finally agreeing to move forward with DNA testing in the 1998 rape and murder of Montgomery College student Melissa Trotter.
The agreement, expected to be finalized in court papers in the coming weeks, comes just days after a judge called off the pending execution of death row inmate Larry Swearingen, who was convicted in the slaying nearly two decades ago and has since repeatedly professed his innocence.
“They’re doing the right thing,” defense attorney James Rytting said Sunday, pointing to another death row inmate’s alleged plan to confess to the crime as evidence of the need for testing.
A lab would likely evaluate the rape kit, the ligature used to strangle Trotter, finger nail scrapings and hair. Link
Judge Who Called in the Feds Says Witness Tampering Allegations In Civil Trial New To Him
October 18, 2017
Philip Hilder, of Hilder & Associates in Houston, said witness tampering may be exposed more in criminal cases because of the clearly defined parameters that need to be followed in criminal cases. For instance, when individuals are charged with an offense, they are usually admonished by the court to not have contact with witnesses, and are warned that to do so would be considered witness tampering or obstruction of justice.
But in a civil suit, people may innocently contact witnesses under the belief that it is okay to talk to them about their testimony, said Hilder, a former federal prosecutor for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Texas and the U.S. Department of Justice.
“That’s why you hear a lot more about it in criminal cases. The definitions are more pronounced as to who you can contact and talk with and who you can’t. In civil cases, it’s blurred,” Hilder said. Link
Mueller’s Opening Moves Show Focus on Trump-Russia Collusion
October 31, 2017
The first charges unsealed in Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s probe of the presidential election suggest a sweeping investigation, but one focus is clear: He’s building a case that Donald Trump’s campaign was in close touch with Russian officials who aimed to defeat Hillary Clinton. That hypothesis begins with a cooperating witness, George Papadopoulos, a 30-year-old junior foreign-policy adviser to the Trump campaign who pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about contacts with Russian operatives.
“People thought there was smoke, but this is evidence there was fire,” said Philip Hilder, a former federal prosecutor who specializes in white-collar criminal defense.
Before laying out the charges against Papadopoulos on Monday, Mueller unsealed indictments against former campaign manager Paul Manafort and an aide, Rick Gates, who have been put under house arrest. Those indictments focus on their business dealings without mentioning Russian collusion, and the Papadopoulos charges don’t name the campaign officials said to have received his information. But Hilder sees a connection.
“This may not look like it’s related to Manafort, but they’re all intertwined, and the several roads lead to the same location,” he said.
Man charged in Confederate statue bomb plot in Hermann Park headed to mental health lockdown
October 24, 2017
The Houston man charged with plotting to bomb a Confederate statue in Hermann Park this summer will be transferred to a mental health facility in Louisiana while he awaits trail, a federal judge ruled Tuesday.
Schneck, who is being held a federal detention facility in downtown Houston, will likely be fitted with an electronic monitoring device later this week before his transfer to Lake Charles Memorial Hospital.
Defense attorney Philip Hilder declined to discuss his client’s mental health history, other than to say, “I think he just needs a complete workup.”
Schneck’s parents — whose South Hampton home, near Rice University, was searched by investigators for bomb-making materials after his arrest — were not present in court. But Hilder said that wasn’t because they were not in contact with him.
“His family is extremely supportive of him and is concerned for his well being,” Hilder said. Link
Paxton ‘family friend’ a big donor for GOP candidates
October 24, 2017
Attorney General Ken Paxton says the man who shelled out the most money to help him combat securities fraud charges is a “family friend,” but a review of campaign finance records show his main financier is also a major Republican donor for candidates up and down the ticket. Paxton’s legal team has said he has done nothing wrong. A spokesman for the attorney general’s office said Paxton had no knowledge of the investigation and the office participated little in the investigation. Paxton has fully cooperated with the investigation and “all the donations given to the Paxton legal defense effort are in full compliance with state law,” said Matt Welch, Paxton’s legal defense and campaign spokesman. Paxton is represented by Philip Hilder, Tate Williams and Paul Creech of Hilder & Associates P.C. Link
Judge grants 90-day stay of execution for ‘Tourniquet Killer’
October 19, 2017
Notorious Houston serial killer Anthony Shore won a stay Wednesday hours before his scheduled execution, after he agreed to tell prosecutors about other murders he may have committed and divulged plans to falsely confess to one he didn’t.
The last-minute push for the Tourniquet Killer’s reprieve came after the condemned man revealed that fellow death row inmate Larry Swearingen begged him to take responsibility for the 1998 Montgomery County slaying of college student Melissa Trotter, according to prosecutors.
Instead, Shore came forward and confessed to the plot.
“We agree with the Montgomery County District Attorney’s Office that the governor should reprieve Anthony Shore so that his involvement in the Trotter case can be examined,” Swearingen’s attorney, James Rytting, said Wednesday.
He expressed hope that a stay could expose Shore’s “potential involvement in the Trotter case, but also in other possible murders since he is a serial killer and there may be other victims out there.” Link
Ex-Congressional Staffer Admits To Fraud, Money Laundering
October 12, 2017
A former congressional aide agreed Wednesday to plead guilty to participating in a scheme to steal hundreds of thousands of dollars from charitable organizations in order to fund his boss’ political campaign. “Mr. Posey freely and voluntarily admits being involved in criminal activity that is the subject of the indictment,” Philip H. Hilder, an attorney for Posey, told Law360. “By pleading guilty at this stage of the proceedings, Mr. Posey accepts his responsibility for his misdeeds and seeks to move forward becoming a productive member of society.” Link
Second aide to ex-lawmaker pleads guilty to fraud
October 11, 2017
A top aide to former U.S. Rep. Steve Stockman claimed in federal court Wednesday that the congressman directly instructed him to write hefty checks from a charitable donor to himself, another aide and Stockman’s own campaign funds.
Jason T. Posey, 46, pleaded guilty to wire fraud, mail fraud and money laundering in a hearing before Chief U.S. District Judge Lee H. Rosenthal.
“My guy was a player, but he’s not the only player involved,” said Philip Hilder, who represents Posey. “He’s accepting early responsibility, he realizes that he has done misdeeds and is prepared to accept that responsibility and move forward becoming a productive member of society.” Link
Enviros Want $6M In Fees From Exxon In $20M Pollution Row
October 6, 2017
Environmental groups told a Texas federal judge Thursday that Exxon Mobil Corp. should pay about $6 million in attorneys’ fees and costs stemming from the thousands of hours of work and years of intense, hard-fought litigation that resulted in a nearly $20 million civil penalty against the oil giant. And Exxon’s legal strategy was a big reason so much work was needed, the application said.
Philip Hilder, an attorney for the environmentalists, reiterated the environmental groups’ perspective of Exxon’s legal strategy.
“Exxon fought every inch, admitting to nothing and unyielding in its defense. The other citizen suits of refineries ended in settlements where the companies accepted their responsibilities, which was not the case here, driving up fees,” Hilder told Law360 in an email.
Exxon said it was reviewing the application for fees.
The environmental groups are represented by Philip J. Hilder and William B. Graham of Hilder & Associates PC. Link
Paxton’s legal defense fund under investigation, special prosecutor says
October 5, 2017
Government officials are broadening their investigation of Attorney General Ken Paxton by looking into his $500,000 legal defense fund, a special prosecutor said Wednesday. “We are confident that we fully complied with the law and look forward to the Kaufman County district attorney’s review being completed soon,” said Matt Welch, Paxton’s spokesman who said the legal team has “fully cooperated with this inquiry since it began.” Link
Paxton’s criminal trial delayed until 2018
October 4, 2017
Attorney General Ken Paxton won’t face trial on a trio of criminal felony charges until next year, possibly right after the primary election, a Harris County district judge ruled Wednesday. Philip Hilder, one of Paxton’s other criminal defense lawyers, said he is sympathetic that the special prosecutors not getting paid but, “that’s not Mr. Paxton’s problem.”
Judge Robert Johnson granted a motion for continuance in the case at the behest of special prosecutors who pointed to the disruption Hurricane Harvey has had on the Harris County court system and said they are still waiting to be paid for building a case against the attorney general. Link
Prosecutors Get Delay In Paxton Securities Fraud Trial
October 4, 2017
A state district judge in Houston on Wednesday afternoon granted a request for a continuance from the special prosecutors in Attorney General Ken Paxton’s securities fraud case, over the objections of the defense team representing the attorney general. State District Judge Robert Johnson granted the state’s motion under Texas Code of Criminal Procedure Article 29.03, which states that a continuance can be granted “upon sufficient cause shown.” When attorney Philip Hilder of Hilder & Associates PC, who represents Paxton in the case, asked the court to clarify the reasoning, Judge Johnson declined to do so. Paxton is represented by Philip Hilder, Tate Williams and Paul Creech of Hilder & Associates PC. Link
Paxton’s attorneys: AG, public deserve speedy trial
October 3, 2017
Attorney General Ken Paxton’s lawyers are pushing back against efforts to delay the high ranking Republican’s criminal trial for securities fraud, saying he and the public deserve a swift resolution to the two-year-old case. Ken Paxton is represented by co-lead counsel Philip Hilder, Paul Creech, and Q. Tate Williams. Link
The Court of Criminal Appeals, the highest criminal court in Texas, granted a request on Monday from the special prosecutors in Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton’s securities fraud case to put a hold on an order from the state’s Fifth Court of Appeals that would block them from being paid. Ken Paxton is represented by co-lead counsel Philip Hilder, Paul Creech, and Q. Tate Williams. Link
Southampton Place neighbors fretting about alleged would-be Confederate statue bomber on block
September 26, 2017
Catherine Dickerson wanted to make sure that Andrew Schneck, who was arrested in August for attempting to bomb a Confederate statue in Hermann Park with his own stash of potent chemicals, was not headed back to her sister’s neighborhood while he awaited trial. Philip Hilder, a seasoned defense lawyer with a gentle manner, listened to her questions and concerns and — in so many words — reassured her she had nothing to worry about. Hilder had asked U.S. Magistrate Judge Mary Milloy for a second postponement of Schneck’s detention hearing, now set for Oct. 12. “The neighborhood is perfectly safe now,” Hilder said. “I do respect your concerns. We’re studying alternatives.” He indicated that he would be pushing for his client to spend his pretrial time under unique circumstances other than traditional detention at a federal facility. “I appreciate the concerns that the neighbors have,” said Hilder, Schneck’s lawyer. “We completely understand and we respect that.” Link
Houston Confederate statue bombing suspect appears in court
September 19, 2017
The 25-year-old charged with trying to bomb a Confederate statue in Hermann Park appeared briefly Tuesday morning in an olive green jail uniform before U.S. Magistrate Judge Mary Milloy in Houston and said he understood the charges against him. Philip Hilder, his defense attorney, said afterward, “We look forward to ultimately resolving this matter.” Link
Another pleads guilty in pet medication scam
September 14, 2017
Philip Hilder, attorney for Lam Ngoc Tran, a California man who was one of several fake packaging manufacturers convicted in the case, said the conspiracy was fueled by greed.
“Other than money, I don’t know what the motivation would be,” said Hilder, whose client is serving a four-year federal prison sentence. “He repackaged a product that he knew was not manufactured in the states but was under the belief it was the same product manufactured abroad. He knew that he had violated the law and accepted his responsibility by not contesting the charge.” Link
Death row inmate from Willis gives his first ever TV interview to FOX 26
August 22, 2017
In Swearingen’s mind Karma’s target is the Montgomery County District Attorney’s Office. Swearingen has maintained his innocence for many years.
“From the very beginning I’ve testified about that, yes,” the death row inmate said. Swearingen is represented by James Rytting.
5 Facts about Texan Charged for Allegedly Attempting to Bomb Confederate Statue
August 22, 2017
Schneck’s lawyer, Phillip Hilder, responded to an inquiry from Breitbart Texas Monday afternoon saying that “This is an evolving situation in an ongoing investigation. It would be premature for me to comment before any evidence is presented.” Link
Man Charged for Trying to Plant Nitroglycerin Bomb on Confederate Statue
The Epoch Times
August 22, 2017
Schneck’s lawyers did not provide further details on Monday.
“This is an evolving situation, with an ongoing investigation,” said Philip Hilder, Schneck’s attorney. “It would be premature to comment at this time since we have not seen the evidence.”
Hilder also represented Schneck in 2013, in a case where Schneck was convicted of storing explosives. Link
Houston man charged with trying to plant bomb at Confederate statue in Hermann Park
August 22, 2017
Lawyers for Schneck offered few details about the case.
“This is an evolving situation, with an ongoing investigation,” said Philip Hilder, who is representing Schneck and who represented him in the previous case. “It would be premature to comment at this time since we have not seen the evidence. Link
The Latest: Home cleared in attempted statue bombing probe
August 21, 2017
Authorities have collected and disposed of hazardous materials found at the home of a man accused of trying to damage a Confederate statue at a Houston park with explosives. Schneck is charged with attempting to maliciously damage or destroy property receiving federal financial assistance and he remains in custody.
Schneck was arrested Saturday night and made his first court appearance Monday. Philip Hilder, Schneck’s attorney, declined to comment.
Texas man charged with trying to blow up Confederate statue
August 21, 2017
Authorities in Houston charged a 25-year-old man on Monday with trying to blow up a Confederate statue, federal prosecutors said, following demonstrations and fierce debate in the United States about race and the legacy of America’s Civil War. “It’s an evolving situation and the investigation is continuing,” Schneck’s attorney, Philip Hilder, said by phone. “So far I have not seen any evidence and it would be premature to comment at this time.” Link
Dallas court voids six-figure payment to Ken Paxton prosecutors
August 21, 2017
The prosecutors pursuing charges against Attorney General Ken Paxton haven’t been paid in more than a year and a half – and they will continue to wait on a payday.
On Monday, the 5th Court of Appeals in Dallas voided a $205,000 invoice dating back to January 2016, saying state laws and local rules did not allow the three special prosecutors to be paid the $300-an-hour rate they were promised. Philip H. Hilder is co lead attorney for Ken Paxton. Link
Judge sets death date for Montgomery County killer
August 10, 2017
Larry Swearingen, convicted of killing Montgomery College student Melissa Trotter in 1998 and dumping her body in the Sam Houston National Forest, is slated to meet his fate in Huntsville’s death chamber on Nov. 16, a judge ruled late Wednesday. Firm attorney James G Rytting represents Mr. Swearingen. Link
Judge denies ExxonMobil request to reduce $20 million air pollution fine
July 31, 2017
A Houston Federal Judge rejected ExxonMobil’s bid to reduce a $20 million civil penalty for releasing air pollutants from their Baytown refinery which exceeded permitted levels. The Plaintiffs are represented locally by Philip Hilder and William Graham of Hilder & Associates, P.C. of Houston, Texas. Link
Ken Paxtons’s Trial to Begin in December in Houston
July 28, 2017
On Thursday, State District Judge Robert Johnson set Paxton’s trial for December 11 in the 177th district court; jury selection will begin December 1. Paxton appeared in court with his crew of lawyers, headed by Philip Hilder and Dan Cogdell, two prominent Houston white-collar defense attorneys. Link
Texas AG Paxton Set To Stand Trial in December, Judge Rules
July 27, 2017
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton will face trial in December for the first of three criminal charges, a Houston judge ruled Thursday.
Jury selection will begin Dec. 1 and testimony will start on Dec. 11 for the single count of failing to register as an investment adviser with the state. Mr. Paxton is represented by Firm counsel Philip Hilder, Tate Williams and Paul Creech. Link
5 Issues To Watch In The Texas Special Session
July 14, 2017
When the Texas Legislature reconvenes July 18 for a special session, lawmakers will first debate keeping intact several key state boards that oversee the medical industry, then wrestle with a controversial transgender bathroom bill that has drawn the opposition of major corporations. First up for lawmakers will be renewing five state boards as part of what’s known as the Sunset process. The Texas Medical Board, the Texas State Board of Examiners of Psychologists, the Texas State Board of Examiners of Marriage and Family Therapists, the Texas State Board of Examiners of Professional Counselors and the Texas State Board of Social Worker Examiners are all set to expire Sept. 1 if the Legislature doesn’t act to extend their authorization.
Philip Hilder of Hilder & Associates PC said the TMB reauthorization is “the most critical piece of legislation coming up in the special session” and one the health care industry is taking seriously.
“Without it, there’s no licensing board for doctors in the state,” he said. “That would be disastrous.” Link
Public works director ensnared in HCC bribery case, made payments to indicted trustee
July 11, 2017
Houston Public Works Director Karun Sreerama made $77,143 in unlawful payments to a Houston Community College trustee who faces up to 10 years in prison after pleading guilty to bribery, according to federal court records
Philip Hilder, a Houston lawyer and former federal prosecutor, said the extortion and bribery charges are similar but distinct.
“In bribery, you have to have a quid pro quo. In other words, the payment is for something particular that the individual is going to deliver on,” Hilder said. “In the Hobbs Act violation, you don’t need that. You need to be in a position of authority.”
On the mention of a “victim” in the indictment, Hilder added, “Something like this is indicative of somebody who may have exposure themselves for the activity but is choosing to cooperate with the government prior to charges being brought.” Link
Judge delays decision to set Texas AG Ken Paxton’s Trial Date
June 29, 2017
The judge presiding over Attorney General Ken Paxton’s criminal cases did not set a trial date Thursday, instead asking the parties to meet again in about a month for more discussion.
At a hearing in Houston, Harris County Criminal District Court Judge Robert Johnson asked Paxton’s attorneys and the prosecutors to return July 27. He could set the trial date then or further delay the decision. At the Thursday hearing, the three special prosecutors picked to pursue the charges against Paxton asked Johnson to put the entire case on hold until a Dallas court makes a decision in a separate lawsuit over their pay. Paxton’s attorneys disagreed that a delay was necessary. Putting the case on hold would violate their client’s right to a speedy trial, they said. Paxton is represented by Philip H. Hilder, Paul L. Creech and Tate Williams of Hilder & Associates, P.C. Link
Rookie Judge Faces ‘Trial By Fire’ In Texas AG’s Fraud Case
June 23, 2017
The newly elected Harris County district judge who is now overseeing the felony securities fraud case against Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton is in store for a “trial by fire” that will force the rookie jurist to navigate choppy political waters and unclear law on the charges at hand, experts say. Paxton is represented by Philip H. Hilder, Tate Williams and Paul L. Creech of Hilder & Associates, P.C. Link
Aide to ex-U.S. Rep. Stockman returns from abroad to face conspiracy charges
June 15, 2017
Federal agents quietly arrested Jason Posey, a former congressional aide who’d been wanted for two months on charges that he helped ex-U.S. Rep. Steve Stockman carry out a criminal conspiracy to bilk millionaire donors, violate elections laws, and illegally divert hundreds of thousands in campaign cash.
Posey and Stockman were both indicted March 28 on 28 federal charges including mail and wire fraud, conspiracy, making false statements to the Federal Elections Commission, excessive campaign contributions and money laundering
Posey voluntarily returned to Houston to turn himself in on May 23, according to Philip Hilder, a Houston lawyer appointed to represent Posey.
“He voluntarily came back to the United States to face the allegations levied against him,” said Hilder, who is known for his work representing whistle-blowers and other witnesses and defendants in high-profile white-collar crime cases, including Enron. Link
New Judge Assigned To Texas AG Securities Fraud Case
June 13, 2017
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton’s felony securities fraud case was assigned to a newly elected district judge on Tuesday, a move Paxton’s defense team had been pushing for since April, when a different judge presiding over the case ordered it moved south from Paxton’s home county to Harris County.
Judge Robert Johnson, of the 177th District Court and one of 22 criminal district court judges in Harris County, was randomly assigned the case Tuesday. Paxton is represented by Philip Hilder, Tate Williams and Paul Creech of Hilder & Associates PC. Link
Texas A.G. Prevails in Kicking Judge Off His Criminal Case
June 9, 2017
As reported by Breitbart Texas, special prosecutors in the criminal trial against Paxton appealed the Dallas Court of Appeals removal of the judge. On Wednesday, the majority of the court denied the prosecutor’s motion for a stay and denied leave to file their writ of mandamus challenging the booting of the judge. The majority denied the extraordinary writ without an opinion and without allowing briefing by the special prosecutors. Paxton is represented by Philip Hilder, Tate Williams and Paul Creech of Hilder & Associates, P.C. Link
Appellate court voids recent decisions by judge in Paxton criminal case
May 30, 2017
The decision vacates all decisions made by Tarrant County Judge George Gallagher after his April 11 ruling to move the case across the state amid concern about Paxton’s political connections in the attorney general’s home county. The unanimous decision amounts to a victory for Paxton who had sought to remove Gallagher from the bench presiding over his case for weeks.Paxton is represented by Philip H. Hilder, Paul L. Creech and Q. Tate Williams of Hilder & Associates, P.C. Link
A Texas appellate panel on Tuesday granted a request from Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton to stay felony securities fraud proceedings against him as he seeks to challenge orders surrounding a change of venue from Collin County to Harris County and prohibit the judge who ordered the venue change from presiding.
Paxton is represented by Philip Hilder, Tate Williams and Paul Creech of Hilder & Associates, P.C. Link
Justice Department Orders Tougher Criminal Punishments
May 12, 2017
Federal prosecutors were instructed by U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Friday to prioritize stronger charges and stiffer sentences, reversing guidance issued by the Obama administration to take a less aggressive stance on certain crimes.
In a two-page memo, Sessions rescinded guidance issued by Eric Holder, former President Barack Obama’s longtime attorney general, that told prosecutors to avoid moves that would require harsh sentences for nonviolent drug offenders and other low-level criminals.
Philip Hilder, a white collar defense lawyer at Hilder & Associates PC, said the policy could frustrate prosecutors and judges as well as defense lawyers by making it harder to bargain. He said he hoped the policy would not derail legislative reform efforts.
“I think society is recognizing that one size does not fit all in the criminal justice system and there needs to be flexibility,” he said. Link
AG Paxton Attorneys Again Seek New Judge in Securities Trial
May 11, 2017
Attorneys for Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton told an administrative judge Wednesday that the order from the judge presiding over Paxton’s felony securities fraud trial sending the Collin County case to Harris County is void because it was issued after the judge’s authority over the case expired. Paxton is represented by Philip Hilder, Tate Williams and Paul Creech of Hilder & Associates PC. Link
Paxton lawyers say judge didn’t have authority for 2017 rulings
May 10, 2017
Lawyers for Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton are seeking to void a number of major rulings in the securities fraud case against him, arguing the judge who made them did not have the authority to do so.
Paxton’s team on Wednesday asked a higher judge to throw out the rulings, which included an order to change the venue – a major setback at the time for the attorney general. His lawyers now say state District Judge George Gallagher should not have overseen the case beyond 2016. Link
Experts: Convicting ex-officer in teen’s death will be tough
May 7, 2017
Authorities who’ve charged a white suburban Dallas police officer with murder in a black teenager’s death face a tough task in getting a conviction as few of these cases go to trial and, when they do, juries remain reluctant to second guess an officer’s decision to use deadly force, legal experts said Saturday.
Roy Oliver is free on bond after being charged Friday in the death of 15-year-old Jordan Edwards. Investigators say Oliver shot into a car of teenagers leaving an unruly party on April 29, killing Edwards. Oliver was fired by the Balch Springs Police Department three days after the shooting.
Philip Hilder, a Houston criminal defense attorney and former federal prosecutor, said the issue of race will be “in the back of everybody’s mind going forward in this case” but whether it’s brought up at trial will be up to the judge.
“The fact (authorities) moved as rapidly as they have indicates confidence in their case and that they believe they will be able to prevail on the murder charge because in a situation like this, it’s very unusual to have a charging decision so soon after the shooting,” Hilder said.
Judge orders Exxon to pay $20M in air emissions suit
April 27, 2017
A federal judge in Houston has ordered Exxon Mobil to pay a nearly $20 million civil penalty for releasing 10 million pounds of pollutants into the air from its Baytown refining and chemical complex from 2005 to 2013.
In a Wednesday ruling, U.S. District Judge David Hittner said evidence showed the Texas oil company’s emissions had put it in violation of the Clean Air Act 16,386 times.
Philip Hilder, principal of Houston law firm Hilder & Associates, who helped represent the plaintiffs, said he believes it’s the largest judgment of civil penalties returned under a Clean Air Act citizen suit.
“We’re thrilled with the ruling and excited Exxon is finally being held accountable for thousands of violations,” said Luke Metzger, director of Environment Texas. “We’re glad they’ll face significant penalties and hope that’ll serve as a warning to other companies.” Link
Paxton’s defense team maneuvers to get a new judge
April 26, 2017
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton’s lawyers worked to get a new judge over his criminal securities case this week by adding it to Harris County’s criminal docket, according to a letter released Tuesday. The letter, from defense attorneys Philip Hilder and Dan Cogdell, requests that the district clerk put the case on the revolving wheel that randomly assigns judges to new cases.
The position of the defense, according to the letter, is that Texas law requires a judge to get written consent from the prosecutors, the defense team and the defendant to continue presiding over the case. The defense is not giving written consent, according the letter. Link
Ex-investigator who stole comics must pay $157K
April 19, 2017
Lonnie Blevins, the former Harris County DA investigator who testified against his partner after they were caught stealing high-dollar collectibles in evidence, has been sentenced to five years probation.
He also has to pay more than $157,000 in restitution.
Blevins testified last month that he and former partner Dustin Deutsch stole hundreds of thousands of dollars in collectible comic books and sports memorabilia that were being held as evidence in a criminal case.
In the embezzlement case, Blevins and Deutsch were investigating a con artist posing as a lawyer who stole from international crane maker Tadano. With his ill-gotten gains, the con man bought millions of dollars in collectibles to launder the money. Blevins and Deutsch stole the comics from one of his storage units.
Hilder & Associates represents Tadano America in this case. Link
Texas AG Paxton Cant Swap Judges in Securities Fraud Trial
April 17, 2017
Attorney General Ken Paxton lost his bid for a new judge to preside over his felony securities fraud trial that was ordered moved away from his home turf of Collin County to Harris County last week, a spokeswoman for State District Judge George Gallagher said Monday.
Citing Texas Code of Criminal Procedure Article 31.09 – which requires written consent of attorneys for both parties and the defendant in order for a judge to maintain and preside over a case after a change of venue – Paxton told the court in his motion last week “he will not be giving the statutorily required written consent” to allow Judge Gallagher to preside over the case.
Paxton is represented by Philip Hilder, Tate Williams and Pail Creech of Hilder & Associates PC. Link
Local couple appear in federal court for $24 million Medicare fraud scam
April 14, 2017
The couple pled not guilty in Houston federal court Thursday following an indictment for multiple counts of health care fraud totaling more than $24 million.
Oluyemisi Amos’ attorney, Philip Hilder, said his client looks forward to “resolving this matter by having her day in court.” Link
Home Health Co. Owners Pled Not Guilty to $24M Fraud
April 13, 2017
Oluyemisi Amos, 35, also pled not guilty, according to her defense counsel, Philip Hilder of Hilder & Associates PC.
“Ms. Amos has pled not guilty to the charges and looks forward to receiving her day in court to resolve this matter,” Hilder said. Link
Texas AG Paxton’s Securities Fraud Trial Moved To Houston
April 11, 2017
A Texas judge on Tuesday ordered the felony securities fraud trial of Attorney General Ken Paxton to be moved to Harris County and away from his home turf of Collin County, after prosecutors alleged the jury pool there was tainted, postponing what had been a May 1 trial date.
Hours after State District Judge George Gallagher’s decision, Paxton filed a motion for a new judge from Harris County to be appointed in the case, citing Texas Code of Criminal Procedure Article 31.09, which requires “written consent of the prosecuting attorney, the defense attorney and the defendant” in order for a judge to maintain and preside over a case after a change of venue.
Paxton is represented by Philip Hilder, Tate Williams and Paul Creech of Hilder & Associates PC. Link
Ruling will Come Soon on Paxton Trial Delay, Venue Change
March 29, 2017
A Texas state judge said he would decide by noon Thursday whether to delay the felony securities fraud trial of Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton or to move it out of Collin County, during a Wednesday hearing at which Paxton cited a recent poll he said shows no bias in his home county. Paxton attorney Philip Hilder of Hilder & Associates, PC said Paxton has a constitution right to a speedy trial, and the prosecutions compensation shouldn’t interfere with that. Paxton is represented by Philip Hilder, Tate Williams and Paul Creech of Hilder & Associates, P,C. Link
Texas AG Paxton Slams Bid To Pause Securities Trial
March 13, 2017
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton on Monday hit back at a recent bid made by special prosecutors to delay a spring trial to determine whether he committed securities fraud by soliciting investments for a tech startup, saying the request violates his right to a speedy trial.
Paxton is represented in the criminal case by Philip Hilder as co lead counsel, Tate Williams and Paul Creech of Hilder & Associates PC. Link
Drug charges still possible in Memorial Villages after county says it will not prosecute
March 13, 2017
Drug charges still possible in Memorial Villages after county says it will not prosecute
On the surface, Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg’s new marijuana diversion program, which allows for possession of four ounces or less without criminal charges, may seem like a green light to travel with small amounts of the drug throughout Harris County.
But if you’re caught in the Memorial Villages, dreams of lighting up without fear of consequences could go up in smoke. That’s because the decision of whether or not to refer a suspect to Harris County or seek prosecution in the municipal court where the incident took place rests on the discretion of the police officer and his or her judgement of the case.
“Municipalities have their own ordinances and it could be a violation of an ordinance,” saidPhilip Hilder, a criminal defense attorney with Hilder & Associates in Houston. “Cities can charge separately to the exclusion of Harris County.”
Texas AG’s Win Over SEC Raises Doubts About Criminal Case
March 6, 2017
The toss of a civil securities fraud suit against Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton could signal trouble for prosecutors pursuing related criminal charges, who face a higher burden to prove that Paxton should have disclosed potential commissions to investors and may lack the evidence to clear that hurdle, experts say.
Dismissing the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission’s fraud claims against Paxton with prejudice, U.S. District Judge Amos Mazzant III found Thursday that Paxton didn’t owe a fiduciary duty to a group of investors to whom he had promoted stock, and thus wasn’t required to disclose he would be paid a commission. It was the second time Judge Mazzant had dismissed the SEC’s case against Paxton, after giving the agency a chance to amend its complaint with additional supporting facts. Philip Hilder is co-lead counsel for Mr. Paxton. Link
Environment Texas, Sierra Club sue Pasadena Refining System Inc. over air pollution
March 3, 2017
Two environmental groups on Thursday filed a federal lawsuit against the owners of a Pasadena refinery alleging the facility consistently violates clean air laws.
The lawsuit, filed by attorneys representing Environment Texas and Sierra Club, alleges the Pasadena Refining System Inc. facility has routinely spewed unpermitted levels of soot, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxide and other air pollutants over the past five years.
The lawsuit is the fourth case filed by the two environmental groups against oil refineries and petrochemical facilities along the Houston Ship Channel since 2008.
“Repeated mechanical breakdowns and operator errors have plagued the Pasadena Refinery for years, and illegal releases of pollution have been allowed to recur for far too long without being corrected,” said Neil Carman, clean air program director for Sierra Club’s Lone Star Chapter. “Even after receiving notice of our intent to file this lawsuit two months ago, the Pasadena Refinery has reported at least six more emission events that resulted in unauthorized air pollution into the surrounding communities.” Philip Hilder is local counsel for the Sierra Club and Environment Texas. Link
At Ken Paxton pretrial hearing, prosecutors say they’ll hold two separate trials
Dallas Morning News
February 17, 2017
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton appeared Thursday in court, where his lawyers argued against a request to move his upcoming criminal trials out of Collin County. Judge George Gallagher, who is presiding over the case, said he intended to “at least try to choose a jury here.” But he did not formally rule on whether to move the trials elsewhere.
In another development, the three prosecutors pursuing charges against Paxton said they will hold two separate, back-to-back trials, on Paxton’s separate charges. Paxton’s trial attorney fumed over this development, saying he was unaware there wouldn’t be just one trial.
Philip Hilder of Hilder & Associates is co-lead counsel for Ken Paxton. Link
Lawyers, aiding those caught in Trump travel ban, sense new respect
February 11, 2017
Houston Chronicle, The Texas Lawbook
After enduring decades of comparisons to sharks and pit bulls, lawyers recently have earned new respect as they have rushed by the hundreds to airports to represent those affected by the controversial ban. Crowds at airports in New York and San Francisco chanted, “Let the lawyers in” during the first weekend of the ban.
“Lawyers have been the butt of jokes for many years,” said Philip Hilder, a Houston white collar defense lawyer, “but I think people realize the stakes are high.”
The American Leadership Forum: Criminal Justice Reform
February 10, 2017
Firm counsel, Philip H. Hilder moderated The American Leadership forum breakfast on Criminal Justice Reforms with Harris County’s newly elected District Attorney Kim Ogg and Sheriff Ed Gonzalez.
Prosecutors: Effort to taint jurors requires Ken Paxton trial move
February 10, 2017
Arguing that Attorney General Ken Paxton and his supporters have led a coordinated campaign to taint potential jurors, prosecutors on Thursday asked the judge to move Paxton’s securities fraud trial out of Collin County.
Paxton’s lawyers said they will fight the request.
“On behalf of Mr. Paxton, we vigorously deny the twisted and distorted allegations contained in the Motion to transfer venue, most of which pertain to actions taken by law-abiding taxpayers in the exercise of their free speech and access to the courts,” said defense lawyer Philip Hilder. Link
Paxton prosecutors want change of venue in fraud case
February 9, 2017
The prosecutors in Attorney General Ken Paxton’s securities fraud case are asking for a change of venue, arguing they cannot get a fair trial in Collin County.
The prosecutors say Judge George Gallagher should move the case out of Paxton’s home county because he and his associates have waged a “22-month siege” against the prosecutors, witnesses and the court. The trial is set to begin May 1.
Mr. Paxton is represented by Philip H. Hilder and Firm. Link
February Second Friday Breakfast: Criminal Justice Reforms
Date: February 10, 2017 Time: 7:30 am – 9:00 am Location: Show map The Merrill House 2502 Algerian Way Houston, TX
Register Here: ALF February 2017 Second Friday Breakfast Payment Form Join Harris County’s newly elected leaders District Attorney Kim Ogg and Sheriff Ed Gonzalez (Criminal Justice 2) for a dialogue on Criminal Justice Reforms. Philip Hilder (Criminal Justice 1) Attorney, Hilder & Associates PC, will moderate the dialogue.
Limited to Fellows, Senior Fellows and their invited guests.
Accounting misdeeds at Houston firm now a case study in bad behavior
January 19, 2017
A new 30-minute program for PBS station WLIW re-examines the accounting scandal at Enron to report what happens when workers refuse to stand up to management until it’s too late. The program features Sherron Watkins, a vice president in corporate development, who did speak up just five months before what was then the world’s largest bankruptcy.
For those of us who came to Houston after Enron, the program is a short primer on perhaps the biggest financial scandal in the city’s history. More importantly, it prompts the viewers to consider what they would do under the same circumstances. The documentary features Philip Hilder, attorney to Sherron Watkins. Their interviews were filmed at the Hilder & Associates office. Link
New Documentary Explores the Rise and Fall of Enron in Series on Corporate Scandal, Fraud and Business Ethics
To this day, the Enron collapse remains a case study in how quickly bad business ethics can bring down a company. The film features candid interviews with Sherron Watkins, then a vice president in corporate development, who sounded the alarm bell at the time, writing a letter to Enron founder and chairman Ken Lay on the serious nature of the accounting fraud hiding the company’s investment losses. Viewers will also hear from several other experts and key players relevant to the case-including Philip Hilder, former Justice Department official and Watkins’ attorney .
Filming of Mr. Hilder and Ms. Watkins took place at Hilder & Associates.
Two Businessmen Settle Bribery Charges Linked to Venezuela Probe
January 10, 2016
Wall Street Journal
Two businessmen pleaded guilty Tuesday to foreign bribery charges for their roles in a scheme to secure contracts from Venezuela’s state oil giant, the latest admissions in a broad investigation. The two men, Juan Jose Hernandez Comerma of Florida and Charles Quintard Beech III of Texas, each pleaded guilty in Houston federal court to a conspiracy count, and Mr. Hernandez also pleaded to one substantive count of violating the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, which bars the use of bribes to get or keep business. They are scheduled to be sentenced July 14. Mr. Beech is represented by Hilder & Associates, P.C. Link
Environmentalists plan to sue Pasadena refinery for Clean Air Act violations
December 22, 2016
Firm client Sierra Club and Environmental Texas have announced in a statement that they intend to file suit against Pasadena Refinery System, Inc. which is controlled by Petrobus, the state-controlled oil company of Brazil. The law suit will allege the refinery violated the emission standards of the Clean Air Act. Philip Hilder “is local counsel representing the Sierra Club and Environmental Texas”
Houston’s new police chief: Body cameras should start recording automatically after police leave vehicles
December 15, 2016
After just two weeks on the job, Art Acevedo, Houston’s new police chief, is calling for two major changes in department policy to improve transparency. He wants body cameras to start recording automatically when police officers exit their vehicles, and he plans to create a specialized unit this spring that will investigate officer-related shootings and alleged wrongdoing by police.
“To me the relationship between a police department and a community starts with legitimacy,” Acevedo told the Houston Chronicle this week. “Cameras and the way we investigate officer-involved shootings … is absolutely the most important aspect of what we do to build that legitimacy and to build that trust. That’s why I’m starting there.”
Philip Hilder, a member of the city’s Independent Police Oversight Board and a former federal prosecutor, said he thought a specialized unit would be more effective and “create the independence that is sorely needed.” Link
AM 720 Radio: Voice of Texas
December 2, 2016
Firm counsel Philip H. Hilder was a guest on Voice of Texas AM-720, Houston, to discuss the Court’s ruling against the Montrose Management District regarding tax collection. Link
Former HISD president participated in bribery scheme, jury finds
November 16, 2016
A bribery lawsuit that kept a cloud of suspicion over the Houston school district for six years ended Wednesday with a jury finding that former board president Larry Marshall participated in a kickback scheme that caused millions of dollars in damages to a local construction contractor.
No criminal charges have been filed. But the civil lawsuit caught the attention of federal authorities several years ago and the verdict could reignite interest in the case.
“As in any civil case, there is a long trail of evidence that’s left in its wake,” said Houston attorney Philip Hilder, a white-collar criminal defense attorney and former federal prosecutor. “You can bet that investigators will be combing over that to see if there’s any basis for them to follow up criminally.”
Marshall’s age and health also would be considered, Hilder said. Link
Exxon, Enviros Tangle Over Refinery Pollution Liability
November 22, 2016
Exxon Mobil Corp. and environmentalists crossed swords Monday over what the oil giant’s liability and civil penalties for alleged pollution at a Baytown, Texas, refinery should be, in a Clean Air Act citizen suit that was recently revived.
The Fifth Circuit in May had revived the long-running suit brought by Environment Texas Citizen Lobby Inc. and the Sierra Club, which contended that ExxonMobil should have to pay penalties for environmental law violations stemming from the Baytown refinery’s emissions. The appellate panel found that the Texas federal judge unevenly analyzed the groups’ claims.
On appeal, the environmentalists said Judge Hittner erred by not finding that the company’s own reports proved more than 18,000 days of actionable violations. Moreover, he did not order any remedy for 94 violations of the law that he did find actionable, the groups said. They said the judge wrongly used a larger number of smaller violations as grounds to discount more-serious violations.
For its part, ExxonMobil argued that even though its massive Baytown refinery will never be able to operate completely pollution-free, it remains a “leader in environmental compliance.” The Clean Air Act takes that inevitability into account by allowing industrial facilities like the Baytown complex to emit a certain level of pollutants during their normal operations, the company argued.
The appeals court sided with the environmental groups, concluding that Judge Hittner had ruled on one aspect of the environmentalists’ case that the violations listed in ExxonMobil’s own reports were undisputed but in another portion of his ruling found them to be “uncorroborated.”
The Fifth Circuit also took exception with Judge Hittner’s finding that though there were 94 actionable violations by his count in the record, no penalty was warranted. The appeals court ordered the court on remand to tally up penalties to match the actionable violations found.
The appeals court subsequently denied ExxonMobil’s en banc rehearing request in August.
The environmental groups are represented by Philip H. Hilder of Hilder & Associates PC, Charles C. Caldart and Joshua R. Kratka of the National Environmental Law Center, and David A. Nicholas. Link
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton exhausts indictment appeals, prepares for securities fraud trial
Dallas Morning News
November 1, 2016
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton has exhausted his options for appeal and is preparing to stand trial for securities fraud sometime next year.
“We are preparing for trial in the state matter and have confidence in the strength of our case,” Paxton’s attorney Philip Hilder said Tuesday in a prepared statement. “We look forward to trying the case in Collin County.”
While the criminal court’s denial to quash Paxton’s indictments marked a loss for the first-term Republican, Hilder said his client was encouraged by a federal judge’s recent decision to temporarily throw out the civil charges.
“The federal judge’s recent dismissal of the SEC case highlights the challenges the special prosecutors will have, as the fraud allegations in the dismissed SEC case mirror those in the state case. Moreover, the burden of proof in the criminal case is far greater than that of the SEC case,” Hilder said. Link
Paxton moves closer to trial in criminal fraud case
The Texas Tribune
November 1, 2016
Lawyers for Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton are no longer asking to have a state securities fraud case against him dismissed, moving him closer to a trial on the criminal charges.
Paxton’s legal team confirmed Tuesday that it was getting ready for a trial, five days after a deadline passed for it to try one more time to persuade the state’s highest criminal court to look at the case. They apparently passed on that opportunity.
“We are preparing for trial in the state matter and have confidence in the strength of our case,” Paxton lawyer Philip Hilder said in a statement.
Death row inmate sues state’s highest criminal court over DNA testing
October 31, 2016
A death row inmate has sued the state’s highest criminal court and its nine judges, arguing that they have deprived him of the opportunity to prove his innocence.
Lawyers for death row inmate Larry Swearingen argue that the Court of Criminal Appeals adopted a flawed and unconstitutional interpretation of a state law intended to allow inmates to seek DNA tests, particularly if modern testing techniques were not available when they were convicted. Mr. Swearingen is represented by Firm counsel, James Rytting
SEC Whistleblower Awards Rise, Surpassing 100 Million
October 13, 2016
In the past, whistleblowers were forced to remain silent and were viewed as pariahs, said Philip Hilder, a white collar criminal defense attorney who is founder of Hilder & Associates in Houston and a former federal prosecutor who has represented whistleblowers in Enron, Countrywide, News Corp., Imperial Sugar, Dynegy and the Jack Abramoff scandals. Nowadays, they have become a protected class.
“The SEC has elevated whistleblowing to new heights,” he said. “No one sets out to be a whistleblower. In essence, the SEC program turns ordinary employees into undercover detectives if they see an impropriety and turn in bad behavior.” Companies must address this issue and make sure their culture respects and listens to whistleblowers and adheres to a code of conduct with a compliance department that is open and receptive to them. “They need to face a new reality,” Hilder said. “They need to be responsive and make sure their policies are not just on paper.”
In many cases, employees want to be heard and their first line of defense is to bring it to management’s attention. “Managers should be responsive and conduct an internal investigation and either provide feedback or correct the situation,” he said. “If they fail and don’t have that openness about them, its quite foreseeable that employees wont feel loyal to the company and will go immediately to external sources and report it.”
Court rejects Paxton appeal of criminal charges, making trial likely
Austin American Statesman
October 12, 2016
The state’s highest criminal court on Wednesday rejected Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton’s request to dismiss securities fraud charges against him, setting the stage for a trial that could begin as early as spring. Defense lawyers, arguing that the charges against Paxton lacked merit, said they will ask the court to reconsider its decision.
“We anticipate filing a motion for rehearing because we have tremendous confidence in our case,” Paxton lawyers Philip Hilder and Bill Mateja said in a written statement. Philip Hilder is co-lead counsel for Mr. Paxton.
Terrorism suspect may change his plea
September 28, 2016
Al Hardan, 24, an Iraqi-born Palestinian, immigrated to the Houston area as a teenager. At the time of his arrest, he was living with his parents, his wife and the couple’s 10-month-old baby.
Al Hardan was indicted in January on allegations he was attempting to provide material support to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, a designated foreign terrorist organization.
Terrorism cases have been tougher to defend since the Sept. 11 attacks, according Philip Hilder, a former federal prosecutor who now represents white collar defendants.
“In this environment representing an accused terrorist is extremely difficult because emotions run high. I think people are rightfully anxious. There is heightened concern and heightened awareness for these types of cases throughout the country,” Hilder said.
For a defendant who intended to have a jury trial – as records indicate Al Hardan did – prosecutors sometimes offer some concession in exchange for a plea.
They may dismiss some charges or ask the judge issue a reduced sentence.
In striking a plea deal, prosecutors may, in turn, ask for a defendant’s cooperation with their investigation, Hilder said. “The stakes are high in a terrorism investigation because there could be others involved that the government doesn’t know about.” Link
Weatherford to pay $140 million fine to settle allegations of accounting fraud
September 28, 2016
The Securities and Exchange Commission hit Weatherford International with its biggest financial penalty of the year, alleging that deceptive accounting practices used by the oilfield services company to inflate profits extended beyond gross negligence to outright fraud.
In an email, Hudgins’ attorney, Philip Hilder, said his client “cooperated fully with the SEC’s investigation and settled the matter without admitting to any charge, including fraud. He is pleased to have the matter behind him.” Link
Weatherford Pays $140M SEC Fine Over False Tax Accounting
September 27, 2016
Oil field services giant Weatherford International PLC has agreed to pay a $140 million fine to settle U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission charges it inflated its earnings by more than $900 million over five years by using deceptive income tax accounting, the SEC announced Tuesday.
Weatherford paid the fine without admitting or denying the SEC’s allegations that it fraudulently lowered its year-end provision for income taxes by as much as $154 million on financial statements released in 2007 through 2011 in order to meet its previously disclosed effective tax rate, which Weatherford had touted as a competitive advantage.
In a press conference Tuesday discussing the settlement, SEC Enforcement Director Andrew Ceresney said Weatherford had committed a “major accounting fraud,” and touted the charges against Hudgins and Kitay as proof that the SEC is holding individual actors accountable.
An attorney for Hudgins, Philip Hilder of Hilder & Associates, said his client had cooperated fully with the SEC investigation and noted that Hudgins also reached a no-admit, no-deny settlement with the agency.
“He is pleased to have the matter behind him,” Hilder said. Link
Weatherford International to pay $140 million for accounting fraud
September 27, 2016
Oil services company Weatherford International LLC has agreed to pay a $140 million penalty to settle charges it inflated earnings between 2007 and 2012 by using deceptive income tax accounting, U.S. regulators said on Tuesday.
Weatherford’s former vice president of tax, James Hudgins, and former tax manager Darryl Kitay made numerous adjustments to their final calculations “to fill gaps” to match the average tax rate on pretax profit that Weatherford disclosed to investors, the SEC said.
“Our client cooperated fully with the SEC’s investigation and settled the matter without admitting to any charge including fraud,” said Philip Hilder, Hudgins’ lawyer in Houston, Texas.
Hudgins and Kitay neither admitted nor denied the allegations, the SEC said. Link
Houston’s police oversight group called a ‘toothless watchdog’
September 19, 2016
Leading the current reform charge in Houston is Philip Hilder, a member of the oversight board and former federal prosecutor, who has publicly called for the board to have the power to initiate its own investigations with paid staff, limited subpoena power and a security clearance so that it can monitor highly intrusive new electronic spying technology used to intercept cellphone calls.
“I believe that the oversight board needs to be reconstituted to be given clear, independent authority to investigate independently of the police department, and make recommended policy changes directly to the police department, the mayor’s office and City Council,” Hilder said. “As the board is currently constituted, its mission is to review a body of cases that have been referred to it by HPD’s Internal Affairs. True independence would be gained if the board has the ability to initiate its own investigation when appropriate.” Link
Former federal prosecutor calls for broader evidence dump investigation
September 7, 2016
A former federal prosecutor says the time is now for the FBI and others to get involved in the Precinct 4 evidence dump. He calls the situation “horrible” and one that needs immediate intervention.
“You absolutely cannot run a law enforcement agency like that,” said former Assistant US Attorney Philip Hilder.
He believes the Precinct 4 evidence dump, which has already resulted in the dismissal of at least 142 cases, warrants a federal investigation.
“This appears not to be an isolated incident,” said Hilder. “There are hundreds of cases that are affected, and because of that, it’s a system-wide failure,” he added. Link
Hilder: Houston’s Police oversight panel needs more teeth
Philip Hilder was a featured in the Houston Chronicle regarding the Police Oversight Board. Link
Federal Judge Questions SEC Case Against Texas AG Paxton
September 5, 2016
Houston lawyer Philip Hilder, one of the attorneys for AG Paxton told Breitbart Texas, “The SEC sued Mr. Paxton for securities fraud in a complaint that fails to allege that he made a single false statement. The court was skeptical of the Government’s theory by stating that the allegations where akin to attempting to ‘fit a square peg into a round hole’.” Link
HISD cuts ties with its chief auditor
September 1, 2016
The Houston school district’s chief auditor was notified Wednesday afternoon that trustees were dismissing him, ending a relationship that had become increasingly fractured in recent months.
Patton’s attorneys are likely to argue in court that the decision not to renew the auditor’s contract is evidence of further retaliation, said Houston attorney Philip Hilder, who has represented several high-profile whistleblowers in lawsuits.
“If he’s had a good performance history over the years, the fact that the contract was not renewed may be viewed skeptically,” Hilder said. “But there may be valid reasons that are going to have to be determined. It can’t be viewed in a vacuum.” Link
5 Conversations Lawyers Should Avoid At Work
For lawyers working long hours, it’s not an uncommon occurrence to talk to colleagues more than some close. While that camaraderie can lead to lasting relationships, conversation that takes a hard turn into gossip or touchy personal business can just as easily spoil workplace connections.
Philip Hilder, founding partner of Hilder & Associates PC, says unless you’re certain of a colleague’s stance on a political issue, and you’re certain that it’s in line with your own beliefs, it’s best to leave that talk outside the office.
Hilder says topics like politics can be “divisive and highly emotional” and can end up driving a wedge between colleagues.
“I think it’s common sense and it’s what I’ve observed over the years by others making missteps and getting involved in heated discussions – they leave nothing other than bad feelings on the table,” he said.
Hilder says making jokes about some bigger missteps and gaffes from the presidential candidates could be safe in an election year, as “novel” as this one has been, but getting into policy discussions is often not a good idea. Link
Best Lawyers in America
Philip Hilder has been selected for the 23rd Edition of the The Best Lawyers in America in the practice areas of: Commercial Litigation and Criminal Defense: White-Collar
Paxton Prosecutors Say AG’s Case Should Head For Trial
August 9, 2016
The AG has said that a trial judge impermissibly screened a pool of potential grand jurors by asking who among them was “willing to serve,” saying the question rendered the grand jury void because the question was outside the parameters of grand jury selection outlined in state law. Paxton’s defense team includes Philip Hilder, Tate Williams and Paul Creech of Hilder & Associates P.C . Link
Ken Paxton files final appeal to dismiss fraud charges
Austin American Statesman
August 3, 2016
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton has asked the state’s highest criminal court to dismiss felony charges that he defrauded investors during private business deals in 2011.
Said Philip Hilder, Paxton’s lead appellate lawyer: “This petition was filed with the Court of Criminal Appeals to not only correct the lower court’s error but to end this improper prosecution.” Link
HISD’s Chief Officer Reinstated
August 3, 2016
The Houston Independent School District’s chief auditor was allowed to return to work Wednesday, five months after the board suspended him for alleged misconduct and ordered an investigation.
Houston attorney Philip Hilder, who has represented several whistleblowers, including former Enron executive Sherron Watkins, said the district’s reinstatement of Patton is “clearly a move to mitigate damages in a lawsuit.”
“The fact that he was reinstated, I think, is indicative that he has credibility,” Hilder said. “They would not have reinstated him otherwise.” Link
Texas AG: Charged by a Rigged Grand Jury for a ‘Crime that does not Exist’
August 2, 2016
Lawyers for Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton have filed an appeal arguing that the AG was indicted by a rigged grand jury for a crime that does not exist. Paxton’s lawyers are challenging the formation of the grand jury that returned all three indictments. Philip Hilder told Breitbart Texas, “These criminal charges came out of a specially-selected grand jury that allege a crime that does not even exist under law.” Link
Judge Drops Charges Against Anti-Abortion Activists Behind Covert Recordings
July 26, 2016
A district judge in Texas has dismissed the last remaining criminal charges against two activists who covertly recorded videos of themselves attempting to buy fetal tissue from Planned Parenthood. “The grand jury initially had their target, Planned Parenthood, but I think after reviewing the evidence, they were deeply troubled by it and that’s why they turned the tables and indicted the videographers. I mean, it’s a very unusual turn of events here,” Texas criminal defense attorney Philip Hildertold NPR at the time. Link
Greens Fight Exxon En Banc Bid In 5th Circ. Pollution Row
July 25, 2016
Environmentalists on Monday told the Fifth Circuit that it is not necessary to have an en banc review of a recent decision reviving a $641 million Clean Air Act citizen suit brought against ExxonMobil over alleged emissions at the company’s Baytown, Texas, refinery. The environmental groups are represented by Philip H. Hilder of Hilder & Associates PC, Charles C. Caldart and Joshua R. Kratka of the National Environmental Law Center, and David A. Nicholas. Link
Ex-Baseball Exec Gets 46 Months for Hacking Into Astros Data
July 18, 2016
Philip Hilder, a former Houston federal prosecutor who was in the courtroom when Correa was sentenced, said Hughes handed down a relatively harsh sentencing in the hacking case because of its high profile nature. “The judge used this as providing deterrence value and giving him a sentence that was higher than the low end of the guidelines and one that was enough to reflect what was the seriousness of the hacking,” Hilder said. “The judge felt like it was not confined to a $1.7 million loss, but society loses when something like this happens.” Link
Ex-Cardinal executive gets stiff sentence for hacking Astros-
July 18, 2016
Houston attorney and former prosecutor Philip Hilder, who predicted Correa would face as much as four years in prison, based on federal sentencing guidelines, said the actual 46-month term was higher than he expected for a first-time offender. “It is within the guideline range but a bit higher than anticipated for a first-time offender,” Hilder said. “Usually, a defendant in a similar situation would receive a sentence on the lower end of the range, but here a bit more time was given in order to use this as a teachable anti-hacking lesson that will act as a deterrence to others. This being a high-profile case worked against Mr. Correa.” Link
Ex-Cardinals exec to be sentenced in Astros hacking case
July 17, 2016
Although federal guidelines allow judges considerable sentencing leeway, a former federal prosecutor says former St. Louis Cardinals executive Christopher Correa could face a prison term of more than three years Monday for his guilty plea to gaining unauthorized access to the Astros’ computer database. Houston attorney Philip Hilder, who formerly was in charge of the Houston office of the Justice Department’s Organized Crime Strike Force and worked with the Presidential Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force. But based on Hilder’s knowledge of federal sentencing formulas, he predicted the former Cardinals executive will face a sentence of 36 to 47 months. “He is looking at real time,” Hilder said. Link
Will HPD Start Using Its Bomb Squad Robots for Lethal Force, Too?
July 12, 2016
Dallas Police Chief David Brown defended his department’s use of the robot, saying that any other options would have exposed more officers to grave danger. He reportedly said at a news conference Monday, “This wasn’t an ethical dilemma for me.”
Others across the country, like Houston lawyer Philip Hilder, fear that the advent of using robots as police-hired hit men could lead to irresponsible use of the technology. Hilder, in a statement, questioned whether the technology was appropriate even in the Dallas situation, in which the suspect was surrounded, talking to authorities and holding no hostages. “Clear rules of engagement to utilize this new policing technology must be established to prevent a slippery slope of killing citizens without the benefit of due process,” Hilder said. Link
Dallas court again denies Ken Paxton appeal to punt indictments
Dallas Morning News
July 1, 2016
A Dallas appeals court that has already denied one attempt by Ken Paxton to do away with his three felony indictments again rejected on Thursday a request for the judges to reconsider. Philip Hilder, one of Paxton’s attorneys, said they anticipating appealing the entire case to the Court of Criminal Appeals. “We are evaluating our options but anticipate petitioning the Court of Criminal Appeals as we strongly disagree with this Court’s reasoning and rationale.”
ExxonMobil May Face Many Millions In Fines After Court Reverses Baytown Refinery Decision
Houston Public Media
May 30, 2016
Six years ago, two groups, the Sierra Club and Environment Texas, filed a citizens’ lawsuit against ExxonMobil’s huge refinery in Baytown, one of the biggest in the country. The groups said they had to take action because government regulatory agency had not.
Two years ago, after a civil trial, a federal judge in Houston said despite evidence of thousands of pollution violations, the company was not liable for any penalties.
ExxonMobil had won.
But then, the Fifth Circuit federal appeals court reviewed the case and late last week it said the judge was wrong.
“This is huge news. We took on the world’s biggest energy company,” said Luke Metzger with Environment Texas, talking with reporters in front of the federal courthouse in downtown Houston. “We think this is great news for anyone downwind of polluting facilities.”
The case will now go back to the trial court with orders that the judge re-think assessing penalties, penalties which could be in the many of millions of dollars. Hilder andAssociates counsel Philip Hilder and Will Graham are local counsel for the plaintiffs.
A Texas Eye Clinic lost its bid to dodge a False Claims Act suit alleging that is billed Medicare for $807,000 in fraudulent reimbursements when a Texas federal judge ruled Friday that the government’s allegations are specific enough to allow the case to proceed. The whistleblower Qui Tam relator is represented by James Rytting, Paul Creech, and Philip Hilder. The matter it Sorensen, ex rel., et al. v. Outreach Diagnostic Clinic et al. Case pending in the United District Court Southern District of Texas. Link
The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals has vacated the district court’s judgement and has Remanded for Assessment of Penalties Against Exxon Mobile Corporation in an Environmental case brought by Plaintiffs Environmental Texas Citizen Lobby, and Sierra Club. Hilder and Associates, P.C. counsel Philip Hilder and Will Graham represent Plaintiffs as local counsel. Exxon Mobil Corporation will have to face a $641 million suit brought by environmentalist over emissions at its Baytown Refinery. Link to Story
Why Some Montrose Residents Protested Those Chopped-Down Trees
May 25, 2016
The trees brought the neighbors together again last week when the Montrose Management District sent over some tree cutters to chop several of them down.
Philip Hilder, a white-collar criminal-defense attorney whose office is on that block, was among the first to notice the trees falling. He ran outside and, seeing that the tree cutters were finished chopping down the trees in one Lovett Boulevard median esplanade and were moving on to the next esplanade, hurried over and physically blocked the tree cutters from going through with it.
“When you look at and appreciate something for years like I have those trees, you take them for granted until they’re no longer there,” said Hilder. “It became very apparent to me when the trees were coming down. I felt like something was being taken from me.” Link
Appeals Court Asked to Toss Paxton Charges Over Grand Jury Selection
May 12, 2016
Texas’ 5th Court of Appeals, in an unusual hearing with every available judge present, on Thursday questioned whether the criminal securities fraud case against Attorney General Ken Paxton may be flawed because of the way the grand jury that indicted him was chosen.
Paxton’s attorney asked the court to dismiss the felony charges because a judge included “volunteers” on the grand jury, instead of randomly quizzing potential jurors. He also argued that the law under which Paxton was indicted is preempted by a federal law and effectively has been repealed. Hilder & Associates, P.C. represents Mr. Paxton with Philip Hilder as co-lead counsel. Link
Press Release: Philip Hilder selected for Nation’s Top One Percent
Philip Hilder, of Hilder & Associates P.C., has been selected to the 2016 list as a member of the Nation’s Top One Percent by the National Association of Distinguished Counsel. NADC is an organization dedicated to promoting the highest standards of legal excellence. Its mission is to objectively recognize the attorneys who elevate the standards of the Bar and provide a benchmark for other lawyers to emulate. Members are thoroughly vetted by a research team, selected by a blue ribbon panel of attorneys with podium status from independently neutral organizations, and approved by a judicial review board as exhibiting virtue in the practice of law. Due to the incredible selectivity of the appointment process, only the top one percent of attorneys in the United States are awarded membership in NADC. This elite class of advocates consists of the finest leaders of the legal profession from across the nation. Press Release
Texas Still Embraces Its Rogue Politicians
April 25, 2016
Legal troubles facing Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton seem to have little effect, Philip Hilder is co-lead counsel defending Mr. Paxton who is under criminal indictment for securities fraud. Link
Ethics Panel May Strip Anonymity from Those Asking for Rulings, Such As in the Ken Paxton Case
Dallas Morning News
April 21, 2016
Firm attorney Philip Hilder, co-lead counsel for Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, arrive at the courthouse together.
Why Did the U.S. Government Give Bahram Mechanic a Get-Out-of-Jail Free Card?
April 14-20 2016
Imprisoned Iranian-American who had long run afoul U.S. Export laws, was given a pardon by the US Government for murky reason. As a federal prosecutor, Philip Hilder received a conviction of Bahram Mechanic.
“To get prosecuted by the U.S. government is a very physically and emotionally disruptive procedure for a defendant,” said Hilder, who left the U.S. Attorney’s Office and now runs a private practice white collar criminal defense firm in Houston. “Mechanic is very fortunate that the judge saw it fit not to give him prison in the first prosecution. His luck has obviously followed. Getting a pardon at that stage of the proceedings is akin to winning the Powerball lottery.” Link
Two are indicted in federal kickback Inquiry
April 21, 2016
A federal grand jury in Houston indicted two men on charges of international money laundering and wire fraud in conjunction with an eight-year scheme stretching from Houston to London to Cameroon to the Cayman Islands, U.S. Attorney Kenneth Magidson said Thursday.
There are several reasons federal prosecutors may not identify individuals in a criminal complaint, said Philip Hilder, a white-collar crime defense attorney with Hilder & Associates in Houston.
The government might be protecting their identity because they are cooperating with the prosecution, or they may be criminal targets, said Hilder, a former prosecutor who is not involved in this case. Link
Houston lawyer Phillip Hilder, one of the attorneys who represents the AG told Breitbart Texas, “Mr. Paxton vehemently denies the allegations in the civil lawsuit and looks forward not only to all of the facts coming out, but also to establishing his innocence in both the civil and criminal matters.”
Hilder, who represented Enron whistleblower Sherron Watkins added, “While it is not surprising that the SEC filed this identical civil lawsuit, because it happens almost all of the time, it is surprising that the SEC chose to file this civil lawsuit nearly a year after the Collin County special prosecutors filed their criminal case, particularly where the civil lawsuit mirrors the criminal case. The timing is also questionable since there are writs before the Court of Appeals that if successful, would throw out the criminal charges. The timing of the SEC suit appears to be an attempt to adversely influence the Court.” Link
Ken Paxton appeal could have limited impact
April 8, 2016
Philip Hilder, one of five Paxton lawyers and the attorney in charge of his appeal, said too much time has passed since the crimes allegedly occurred in 2011 to give prosecutors another crack at indictments.
“If we are successful, we believe that they will not have the ability to re-indict. They have a statute of limitations bar,” Hilder told the American-Statesman on Thursday. Hilder said Paxton’s defense did not intentionally focus on the lesser charge.
“We address the issues as we see them. We’re not putting an emphasis on one charge over another,” Hilder said. “We are addressing the fatal flaws and weaknesses of the different aspects of the indictments.”
By limiting potential members to volunteers, Oldner destroyed the random nature of grand juries in violation of Texas law, Hilder said in a brief to the appeals court.
What’s more, Hilder wrote, Oldner’s actions placed Paxton at risk because of the heavy media scrutiny given to the investigation and potential indictment of the attorney general. “This publicity and the court’s selection of volunteers to serve as grand jurors assured that anyone who wished to serve specifically to indict Paxton could do so,” he told the court.
Federal Suit Threatens Oil Merger
April 6, 2016
Halliburton and Baker Hughes face antitrust concerns after the Justice Department plans to file an antitrust lawsuit that “could take years” said Philip Hilder, a formal federal prosecutor and founder of Hilder & Associates, P.C. in Houston. “There’s quite a but of money at stake here”. Link
Ken Paxton Appeal Given Rare Treatment by Court
April 2, 2016
In a highly unusual move, the entire 5 th Court of Appeal will decide on whether to dismiss criminal securities charges against Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton. Paxton co-lead counsel, Philip Hilder said the courts announcement shows that it “recognizes that these are imports issues to consider.”
Attorney: New Grand Jury Takes No Action Against Texas Attorney General
March 23, 2016
Attorney Philip Hilder said Wednesday that Special Prosecutors told him no action will be taken against Paxton, who has faced two grand jury investigations since becoming Attorney General.
Hilder said the outcome confirms the investigation was meritless. Mr. Hilder and Hilder & Associates, P.C. are co-lead counsel to the defense of Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton Link
Aubrey McClendon’s indictment signals energy industry crackdown
March 3, 2016
The energy industry can expect to see more federal prosecutions in the wake of the U.S. Department of Justice’s indictment of Aubrey McClendon, the former CEO of Chesapeake Energy Corp. (NYSE: CHK) who died in a singe-vehicle car crash in Oklahoma City on March 2.
The DOJ’s pursuit of McClendon is a sign of an overall crackdown on the energy industry that will likely result in more prosecutions, said Philip Hilder, founding partner of Houston-based white-collar crime firm Hilder Associates PC and former head of the DOJ’s Houston field office.
“I think this case represents a coming trend of DOJ antitrust prosecutions,” said Hilder. “The antitrust division, along with the rest of DOJ, is putting an emphasis on individual accountability and responsibility.”
Furthermore, the oil and gas sector, and the area of bid-rigging in particular, is perhaps seen by the DOJ as rife with targets, resulting in the federal body increasing its footprint in the industry, said Hilder.
“The fact that the DOJ is expanding its footprint is, I think, a manifestation of also additional forays into areas that they haven’t been involved in before that may be target-rich environments,” said Hilder. Link
ABA Annual National Institute on White Collar Crime
March 2, 2016
Firm counsel Philip H. Hilder, moderates Antitrust Prosecution Trends at ABA Annual National Institute on White Collar Crime, San Diego, CA Link.
Johnny Manziel’s domestic violence complaint referred to Dallas DA’s office
February 25, 2016
Philip Hilder is asked for comments on the referral of the complaint to the DA’s office. Houston attorney Philip Hilder, a former federal prosecutor, said it was unusual for police to refer a misdemeanor case to the district attorney, who now has the option of taking it to the grand jury. “Given (Manziel’s) celebrity status and popularity from when he played football, going to a grand jury is a way to insulate the authorities from criticism from either acting or not acting on the case and allowing a body of citizens to make that determination,” Hilder said. Link.
Paxton lawyers optimistic over Perry ruling
February 25, 2016
Wednesday’s appeals court decision that spared former Gov. Rick Perry from trial on criminal charges has given hope to defense lawyers for Attorney General Ken Paxton, another elected official facing possible prison time.
“We are analyzing the opinion and are optimistic that portions of the ruling will be supportive of our position,” Paxton lawyer Philip Hilder said.
Experts: Paxton Appellate Arguments Come Too Soon
February 24, 2016
Philip Hilder, counsel for Mr. Paxton, gives a few comments on the appeal filed on his behalf Link
CBS News/Houston Chronicle: Cold Case Involving priest faces obstacles
February 13, 2016
Philip Hilder gives commentary regarding cold case involving Priest and a woman killed in 1969 after confession.
Fifth Circuit Appeals Court
February 2, 2016
Environment Texas and Sierra Club presented oral argument before the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals relating to an adverse decision handed down after a three-week trial with ExxonMobil. The foundation of the argument was that ExxonMobil should be sanctioned for violating their Clean Air Act permits. Hilder & Associates, P.C., Firm attorneys, Philip H. Hilder and Will Graham, were local trial counsel to Sierra Club/Environment Texas. Link
U.S. v City Nursing Service of Texas
January 27, 2016
Hilder & Associates P.C. represents the Whistleblower, Relator in the US v City Nursing Services of Texas. The U.S. District Court issued an opinion and order that the Governments Motion for Summary Judgment against defendant is granted.
National Public Radio (NPR)
January 27, 2016
Firm counsel Philip H. Hilder was a guest on NPR to provide analysis relating to the indictments of anti-abortion activists linked to the Planned Parenthood videos. Link
Houston Public Radio
January 26, 2016
Firm counsel Philip H. Hilder appeared as a guest on Houston Public Radio; Houston Matters, to provide legal analysis relating to the indictments of anti-abortion activists linked to the Planned Parenthood videos. Link
Wall Street Journal: Jury Indicts Two Anti-abortion Activists Linked to Planned Parenthood Videos
January 25, 2016
Firm counsel, Philip Hilder provided legal analysis relating to indictments of anti-abortion activists linked to the Planned Parenthood videos.
Philip Hilder, a criminal defense attorney in Houston and former federal prosecutor, called the circumstances of the indictment “highly unusual.” He was not involved in the Planned Parenthood case.
Mr. Hilder said that the grand jury likely uncovered new evidence during the course of their investigation that not only led them to clear Planned Parenthood but to also determine that the activists’ actions amounted to a crime. “The grand jury started out looking at one entity and realized they were being used and turned the tables,” he said. “And that is what a grand jury is supposed to do. They are supposed to be an independent investigative body.” Link
Ken Paxton appeal to stretch into spring, if not longer
• The charge of failing to register as an investment adviser representative should be dismissed because Paxton was registered with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, trumping the state registration requirement.
• The state failure-to-register law should be thrown out as unconstitutionally vague because it does not provide sufficient notice about what acts are prohibited.
• The failure-to-register law should be thrown out because it unconstitutionally infringes on commercial speech by “regulating who and when a person may solicit clients for an investment adviser.”
• All three charges should be tossed out because the Collin County grand jury that indicted Paxton was improperly formed.
Both sides also designated the lead lawyers for the appeal – prosecutor Brian Wice and defense lawyer Philip Hilder.
Texas Lawyer- News Makers
HONORS: Philip H. Hilder, principal Hilder & Associates, P.C. has been named one of the 2015 top 50 “White Collar Crime Trail Blazers” by The National Journal and was named the “ABA White Collar Crime Division Executive Director”
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton is now facing a grand jury investigation related to a Collin County, Texas, land deal back in the mid-2000s
January 20, 2016
New special prosecutors have been appointed to investigate.
This investigation is unrelated to the securities law violations that Paxton is presently under indictment for, issues previously reported by Breitbart Texas. The securities fraud case has been placed on hold by the criminal trial judge while issues related to the propriety of the indictments are on appeal
One of Paxton’s lawyers in the securities fraud case, Philip H. Hilder from Houston told Breitbart Texas, “The trial Court has stayed further proceedings until all of our writs to dismiss the indictments are considered by the Court of Appeals. Litigation issues not involved with the appellate issues may still be considered by the trial court. Our appellate pleadings are solid and meritorious. We remain optimistic that we will prevail in the higher court.” Link
Efforts to Cap Paxton Prosecutors Fees
January 18, 2016
Philip H. Hilder, Attorney for Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton declined to comment on efforts to cap prosecutor fees that would deviate from the normal fee schedule.
Click For Texas Lawyer Story Angela Morris
Texas AG To Fight Securities Fraud Charges In Appeals Court
January 4, 2016
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton will be appealing a lower court’s refusal to toss felony securities charges against him and is seeking to limit how much his prosecutors are being paid, according to documents he has filed in state district court in Texas.
In filings separate from his Dec. 31 notice of appeal, the embattled attorney general objected to the special prosecutors’ pay.
Mr. Paxton is represented by Philip H. Hilder of Hilder & Associates. Link
Texas AG Can’t Dodge Securities Fraud Charges, Judge Rules
December 14, 2015
A Texas state judge on Friday refused to toss a grand jury’s felony indictments accusing Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton of breaking state securities laws by misleading investors and failing to register as an investment adviser.
The attorney general on Thursday filed a brief arguing he had exposed flaws in the indictment process that “reveal questionable actions and poor judgment” by the judge who oversaw the grand jury. He said it was disingenuous and dishonest to characterize his questioning of alleged deficiencies in the grand jury process as a “Machiavellian plot.”
Paxton is represented by Philip Hilder, Tate Williams, Paul Creech, Sunida Mejia and Stephanie K. McGuire of Hilder & Associates PC. Link
Judge declines to throw out Paxton indictments
December 14, 2015
The judge presiding over Ken Paxton’s criminal case has denied the attorney general’s attempts to have his three felony indictments thrown out.
“Yes, all the motions we filed have been denied,” said Philip Hilder, one of Paxton’s attorneys. “We are extremely disappointed with the court’s ruling today as we believe that each of the motions was well founded. And we are currently reviewing options at this point which may include appeal.”
Hilder said it is up to Gallagher whether he would put a trial on hold during the appeals process. Either way, he said the team thinks they will prevail: “We believe at the end of the process Mr. Paxton will be exonerated.” Link
Lawyer Bickering in Paxton Case Rare In Criminal Law
December 3, 2015
The latest pleadings in Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton’s felony case have devolved to include nasty attacks and harsh rhetoric between the special prosecutors and Paxton’s defense lawyers. Experts say that type of bickering is rare in criminal cases.
Philip H. Hilder, who has been a main author of pleadings on Paxton’s side, said he doesn’t like to see the discourse “get into the mud.” He noted that the case is under public scrutiny and intensely monitored by the media.
“We have found ourselves responding to pleadings that were over-the-top in rhetoric,” said Hilder, principal in Hilder & Associates in Houston. “We intend to win this in a court of law, not in a court of public opinion, and I do think that the pleadings we have had to respond to were written with the court of public opinion in mind and for the snappy media bite, as opposed to focusing on the law and the merits. We’re not hiding and we are not running from the facts. We intend to hit them right on, because when the facts are known, we have full confidence that Mr. Paxton will be exonerated.” Link
Fighting Words: Lawyers Don’t Hold Back in Paxton Pleadings
December 3, 2015
Special prosecutors and defense lawyers in Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton’s case have attacked each other and bickered in recent pleadings which experts say is rare in the world of criminal law.
Special Prosecutors used references to Mad Men and Animal House. Paxton’s legal team responded.
“Paxton responds to the State’s bombastic and diversionary pleadings with additional evidence and legal analysis. Reply that repeatedly misrepresents both Paxton’s arguments and the law,” wrote Paxton lawyer Philip Hilder. “They are under the misguided belief that sound bites and quotes from fictional characters somehow trump Texas law and documented facts, and that they can project the failings of their own legal positions onto Paxton’s well-reasoned analysis. The reply is deeply troubling in that it also showcases attorneys’ pro tem misconception of their role as special prosecutors.” Link
Texas attorney general Ken Paxton back in court over fraud indictment
December 1, 2015
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton is expected back in court on felony charges of defrauding investors.
The hearing Tuesday in Paxton’s hometown of McKinney marks the first court appearance for the Republican since formally pleading not guilty in August. His attorneys have asked a judge to void the indictments handed up by a grand jury this summer.
Lawyers for Ken Paxton, prosecutors clash at hearing
December 1, 2015
Clashing at a pretrial hearing Tuesday, lawyers for Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton blasted the criminal case against him as a “rogue prosecution,”
Gallagher, however, declined to issue any rulings on defense lawyers’ multiple requests to dismiss three felony charges against Paxton, saying he will release written orders at an unspecified future date.
Philip Hilder is co-lead counsel for Ken Paxton.
Texas AG Calls Securities Pleadings Bombastic
November 19, 2015
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton on Thursday said that the prosecutors bringing felony securities charges against him were using “bombastic and diversionary pleadings” laced with sarcasm and fiction to disguise flaws in the indictments against the state’s top lawyer.
In his latest volley in an attempt to quash three felony charges alleging that he misled investors and failed to register as an investment adviser, Paxton contended that the prosecutors bringing the case against him were trying to hide weaknesses in their indictments – including that a Collin County district judge violated grand jury secrecy – with drama and “fictional analogies” rather than law and facts, according to the response filed on Thursday.
Philip Hilder is co lead counsel for Ken Paxton. Link
Paxton’s Attorneys Fire Back at Prosecutors
November 19, 2015
Lawyers in Attorney General Ken Paxton‘s ongoing securities fraud case have fired back against special prosecutors in the latest in a series of back-and-forth court filings.
In their Thursday filing, Paxton’s attorneys called the prosecutors’ reply to their motions to drop three felony charges “bombastic and diversionary.”
“Attorneys Pro Tem attempt sarcasm and inappropriate fictional analogies to mask their unsubstantive Reply that repeatedly misrepresents both Paxton’s arguments and the law,” the court filing said. “They are under the misguided belief that sound bites and quotes from fictional characters somehow trump law and documented facts.” Link
Prosecutors Defend Securities Laws Challenged By Texas AG
November 17, 2015
Prosecutors on Monday defended Texas securities laws that state Attorney General Ken Paxton attacked as unconstitutionally vague, saying that when Paxton was a state representative, he voted for the law and can’t escape it now that he is charged with felony securities law violations.
“The motion filed by Mr. Paxton focuses on overbroad and vague language found in the Texas Securities Act,” defense attorney Philip Hilder of Hilder & Associates PC said Monday. “The state’s reply uses diversionary tactics to avoid addressing the substantive issues.” Link
Double Jeopardy Doesn’t Apply in Texas, State Says
November 13, 2015
Prosecutors said Thursday that because their thorough investigation with the Texas Rangers into Paxton’s business dealings turned up information that state securities regulators did not possess when Paxton was fined in 2014, the fact the TSSB did not refer the matter for criminal prosecution does not mean the AG is off the hook.
“The State Securities Board has the sole responsibility for administering and enforcing the indicted violation,” Paxton’s defense attorney Philip Hilder of Hilder & Associates PC said Thursday. “They passed on the prosecution and did not refer the matter to the special prosecutors who have no authority to pursue that charge.” Link
Texas AG Is Trying To Change Conversation, Prosecutors Say
November 11, 2015
Paxton is represented by Philip Hilder of Hilder & Associates PC, Dan Cogdell of Cogdell Law Firm, Terri Moore and Heather Barbieri of Barbieri Law Firm PC, and Bill Mateja of Fish & Richardson PC. Link
Ken Paxton’s lawyers push to dismiss criminal charges
November 3, 2015
Defense lawyers launched a broad attack on the criminal charges against Ken Paxton late Monday, arguing that misconduct by prosecutors and a previous judge subverted the grand jury process and required the indictments against the state attorney general to be thrown out.
The co-lead of Mr. Paxton’s defense team, Philip Hilder, said the intent was to “bring to the court’s attention serious matters related to this prosecution.”
Indicted Texas AG’s lawyers ask judge to throw out charges
November 5, 2015
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton claims that his felony indictment on securities fraud charges this summer was bungled by grand jury leaks and a flawed investigation and has asked a judge to throw out the case. Philip H. Hilder of Hilder & Associates, P.C. is co-lead counsel for Mr. Paxton.
Texas attorney general’s lawyers ask to dismiss charges
November 3, 2015
Lawyers representing Texas’ attorney general are seeking to have the against him dismissed as they are accusing a judge of leaking secret grand jury information to his wife, who – in turn – shared details of the pending indictment. Philip H. Hilder is co-lead counsel for Mr. Paxton. Link
Texas AG Says Grand Jury Flaws Should Quash Charges
November 3, 2015
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton on Monday launched an avalanche of motions aimed at knocking out felony securities fraud charges against him, arguing a state court judge took a series of cumulative actions during grand jury selection that violated his due process rights. Philip H. Hilder is co-lead counsel for Mr. Paxton. Link
Attorney General Ken Paxton Files Motions to Dismiss Criminal Case Against Him
November 2, 2015
Attorneys for Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton filed motions late Monday to throw out the criminal case against him in Collin County, citing alleged flaws with the grand jury process that led to his indictment. Philip H. Hilder of Hilder & Associates, P.C. is co-lead counsel for Mr. Paxton. Link
Texas Criminal Court of Appeals Rejects Request of new DNA testing
October 28, 2015
The Texas Criminal Court of Appeals has rejected the request of additional DNA testing on evidence by Larry Ray Swearingen, currently on death row. Mr. Swearingen is represented by Firm counsel James G. Rytting. The Court order denies Mr. Swearingen forensic evidence testing.
Judge sides with Paxton over grand jury subpoenas
October 16, 2015
A Texas Court granted Attorney General Ken Paxton’s request to subpoena records of how the grand jury that indicted him for securities fraud was selected. The special prosecutors moved to quash the subpoenas. The Paxton briefing supporting release was done by Hilder & Associates, P.C.
Philip H. Hilder is co-lead counsel for Mr. Paxton’s defense team.
10th Annual National Institute on Securities Fraud
October 2, 2015
Firm attorney Philip H. Hilder moderated a panel on whistleblowers, Retaliation and Awards to the ABA National Institute on Securities Fraud in New Orleans. Included on the panel was former client Enron Whistleblower Sherron Watkins. Mr. Hilder is co-chair of the program.
Harris County Deputy Constable Indicted
September 26, 2015
St. John Barned-Smith
The chief deputy of Harris County precinct 1 Constables office was indicted on charges of violating private security rules. “Indicting Mr. Maples was unnecessary,” said Philip Hilder, Maples’ attorney, on Friday afternoon. “The security company was operated on his own time. Being a deputy, he did not realize he needed to have yet another license to run his business. But when he learned of that, he immediately sought to become in compliance.
Philip H. Hilder Appointed to Texas AG’s Defense Team
Houston: Texas Attorney General appoints Philip H. Hilder as co-lead counsel to represent him in a criminal case accusing Mr. Paxton of securities fraud.
It’s High Time the 9/11 Five Were Brought to Trial
Philip Hilder and Gordon Mehler
As we approach the 14th anniversary of 9/11, we can marvel at the rebuilding of Ground Zero and the opening of the Freedom Tower and a moving memorial and museum. We can be comforted knowing that Osama bin Laden was taken out and that American soil has been spared further mass assaults.
And yet, a critical element of closure is missing knowing that the five defendants accused of orchestrating that historic crime, including its alleged mastermind, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed (KSM), have not yet been brought to trial.
Houston Attorney Philip Hilder Named to Top Lawyer Lists in Texas and US
Hilder honored for both white-collar criminal defense, commercial litigation
HOUSTON – Noted white-collar criminal defense attorney Philip Hilder of Houston has earned selection in the most recent editions of The Best Lawyers in America and Texas Super Lawyers, two widely respected guides to the legal industry.
The founder of Hilder & Associates, P.C., Mr. Hilder was selected for the 2016 edition of Best Lawyers for his work in commercial litigation. This marks the second year he has been recognized by Best Lawyers, the nation’s oldest peer-review listing. Mr. Hilder earned a spot in the 2015 edition of Texas Super Lawyers for his white-collar criminal defense work. He has been recognized in that publication since it debuted in 2003.
Both Best Lawyers and Texas Super Lawyers make their selections based on nominations submitted by attorneys, independent research by the publications’ editors, and evaluations conducted by lawyers in the same practice areas. No more than 5 percent of the lawyers in Texas are chosen for the Texas Super Lawyers list.
Mr. Hilder has represented a variety of clients, from energy industry executives and defense contractors to elected officials. He helped his high-profile whistleblower clients prevail in financial scandals involving Enron Corp. and Countrywide Financial Corp. He also assists companies with internal investigations.
A former federal prosecutor in Houston, Mr. Hilder often is called upon by the media for his opinions on some of the country’s highest-profile criminal cases. Appointed by the mayor to the Houston Independent Police Oversight Board, he recently has spoken out for the privacy rights of individual citizens based on law enforcement’s use of cellphone tracking systems and video cameras.
Hilder & Associates, P.C., provides a comprehensive range of legal services for individuals, corporate officers, businesses, and legal and financial professionals. The firm’s attorneys focus on white-collar criminal defense matters and related complex civil and administrative litigation, corporate compliance programs, grand jury investigations, attorney grievance defense, qui tam claims, whistleblower representation, internal corporate investigations, trials, and related parallel administrative and civil litigation and appeals. See more at /.
An American family saved their son from joining the Islamic State. Now he might go to prison
The Washington Post
September 6, 2015
Julie Tate and Alice Crites
Hilder & Associates, P.C. represents one of the individuals mentioned in the article.
DC Circuit Protects Secret Gov’t Programs In NSA Ruling
August 28, 2015
The D.C. Circuit’s decision to lift a lower court’s injunction against the National Security Agency‘s phone metadata collection will have limited practical impact on the program soon to be curtailed by Congress, but attorneys say the ruling established a precedent making it difficult for plaintiffs to challenge other secret government programs.
Public interest groups and private citizens who suspect that the government and law enforcement are engaging in secret surveillance will have difficulty proving standing in future suits, former federal prosecutor Philip Hilder of Hilder & Associates PC said, but it will only be a question of time before someone can demonstrate that his data has been pulled by the government and resulted in a conviction.
“A clever defense attorney will try to get to the bottom of this and try to ferret this information out,” Hilder said.
Hilder pointed out similarities between the NSA’s program and law enforcement’s use of “stingrays,” which are tracking devices that mimic cell towers and allow police to gather information from anyone whose phone connects to the tracker.
Like with the NSA’s program, eventually a plaintiff will be able to come forward who can show her data was used by the government, Hilder said.
“The police are anything but transparent about that because I think they realize they may be skating on thin ice ,” Hilder said. “If they were sure, they wouldn’t need a warrant, they wouldn’t be keeping it as hush-hush.”
Court Ruling Another Blow to State Medical Regulators
Austin American Statesman
July 16, 2015
Texas court overturned a ruling in the State’s favor that Antoine Dental Center of Houston, Texas, had committed fraud. The ruling established that the state did not show fraud and that the practice should get its money back that has been subject of a hold.
Hilder and Associates, P.C. were trial co-counsel for Antoine Dental. Philip Hilder, James Rytting and William Graham were part of the Antoine trial team. The ruling was a blow to the State’s prosecution of dentists and orthodontists.
Corn Wars: The Farm-by-Farm fight between China and the United States to dominate the global food supply
August 16, 2015
Mo. Hailong, the director of international business at a Beijing company who was indicted for allegedly stealing genetically modified hybrid corn seeds. Hilder & Associates P.C. is local counsel for Mo Hailong.
Experts: Hacking probe will stretch if Cards execs involved
June 17, 2015
The federal hacking investigation of the St. Louis Cardinals could take longer if high-level executives are implicated in the breach of the Houston Astros’ database, according to legal experts.
The investigation is likely several months old, with much of the computer forensics work likely already complete, said Philip Hilder, a Houston criminal defense attorney and former federal prosecutor. Much of that forensics work would include scouring Astros servers for information about who logged on and whether any IP addresses — numbers that identify a particular computer on the Internet — lead back to someone inside the Cardinals organization.
“At this stage in the investigation it will be key to determine, as to where the trail goes, who may have ordered or was aware of the activity,” Hilder said.
“If the trail ends at rogue employees, obviously the investigation will conclude quicker,” Hilder said. “If they implicate higher-ups, there will have to be a fair amount of corroboration and that may take a while.”
Click For Full Story Here
Astros defend Ground Control and take breach seriously; Cardinals vow to “get to bottom” of FBI probe
June 17, 2015
The Astros emphasized Wednesday that they consider the breach into their computer database “a very serious matter” and defended the original design of their system.
Many federal court cases are disposed of by plea bargains, but the high-profile nature of the Astros case may give the government a platform to send a harsh message, with prison time instead of probation for offenders, said Houston attorney Philip Hilder, a former federal prosecutor.
“For any defendant in this case, it may be a dangerous place to be,” Hilder said. “The government will want to set an example to deter others and show that this is not a game.
“Given the potential of hacking on such a wide scale, the government will never have the resources to deal with all hacking in an efficient way. Relying on sending a deterrent message in a high-profile case would be a vehicle for them.”
Questions Grown About Handling of Waco Biker Cases
June 10, 2015
More than three weeks after Waco police arrested 177 bikers following a deadly shootout at a local restaurant, no charges have been filed in the killings, nearly half the bikers remain in jail on unusually high bonds, and more than a few legal experts – including former prosecutors – are starting to wonder what is going on in McLennan County.
The sluggish process of sorting out the guilty from the innocent raises civil rights questions, and potentially exposes the county to significant costs for arresting and detaining people who had no involvement in alleged crimes, experts said.
“In Waco, the situation was a bit different because it was reactionary and it was done in the heat of a catastrophic event,” said Philip H. Hilder, a former federal prosecutor who now works in Houston as a criminal defense lawyer. “But the principle remains, there has to be probable cause to arrest an individual.”
Hilder pointed to a 2002 mass arrest in Houston that ended up costing city officials there more than $1 million. A botched attempt to crack down on drag racing netted 273 arrests in a Kmart parking lot, though many of those arrested were passers-by and customers. Federal civil rights lawsuits forced the city to pay up more than $800,000 in settlements.
Use of video visits for inmates grows, along with concerns
Juan A. Lozano
May 20, 2015
Four-year-old William Cole saw his father’s face and reached out to touch it during a jail visit. But he could only feel a video screen.
The facility in Fort Bend County, southwest of Houston, is among a growing number of jails and prison systems across the U.S. in which video visitation has replaced the more familiar in-person visits, where people are in the same room but separated by thick glass.
Officials who run the facilities say video visits have improved security and increased visitation hours. However, prisoners’ rights advocates worry the trend is to eliminate free in-person visits for a system they say is full of technical glitches and could eventually require families to pay a fee.
Philip Hilder, a Houston criminal defense attorney and former federal prosecutor, said while the Supreme Court has found that jail and prison visits can be restricted, the rise of video visitation could mean it’s time to revisit the issue.
“There is room for technology to play a role here,” Hilder said. “But to say that technology should supplant personal visitation would be a grave error. I think it would create a lot more problems because people will feel much more disconnected by not having that human element.”
Enviros Urge 5th Circ. To Revive $641M Exxon Pollution Suit
May 18, 2015
Environmental groups on Friday urged the Fifth Circuit to revive their $641 million suit against Exxon Mobil Corp. over alleged violations of the Clean Air Act by excessive toxic discharges from an oil refinery.
Plaintiffs are represented by Philip H. Hilder of Hilder & Associates PC, Charles C. Caldart and Joshua R. Kratka of National Environmental Law Center, and David A. Nicholas.
Philip Hilder hosted a brunch for Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ). The event attended by Houston Mayor Annise Parker. Congresswoman Sinema is on the Financial Services Committee and recently became the Chief Deputy Whip for House Democrats.
NSA Data Collection Ruling To Fuel Congressional Action
May 7, 2015
The Second Circuit’s finding Thursday that the National Security Agency’s bulk telephone data collection program is unlawful will provide privacy hawks in Congress the necessary support they need to curtail the agency’s controversial information-gathering powers as lawmakers face a June 1 deadline to renew the Patriot Act provision in question.
“This Second Circuit opinion cannot be ignored in the reauthorization debate,” said Philip Hilder, the founder of Hilder & Associates PC and a former federal prosecutor. “It’s likely to give further support to those that wish to have the program curtailed and have some of the controversial data collection provisions gone.”
Family in GET-THIN probe fights for $109 million in seized funds
April 24, 2015
Federal agents have seized $109 million in cash and securities during an ongoing investigation of the businesses and individuals behind the 1-800-GET-THIN ad campaign for weight-loss surgery – and lawyers are fighting to get it back.
An attorney representing three people behind the defunct Lap-Band surgery enterprise said the seizure was unjustified and frustrating to his clients because U.S. government officials have refused to disclose why they were entitled to take the money.
Philip Hilder, a former federal prosecutor who now practices white-collar defense in Houston, said prosecutors should not be allowed to hold onto such a large sum of money without proving that it was the proceeds of a crime.
“There are certain constitutional protections people have against unreasonable search and seizure,” Hilder said. “While they might have the right to file the seizure warrant, they just can’t do it indefinitely without following up with a civil action or moving the seized items into the criminal case.”
The WSJ story focus is the Government’s use of surveillance tactics in an alleged industrial espionage case. The allegation is that Mo Hailong, an Executive, sought to pilfer seeds from U.S. Agribusiness. Firm counsel Philip H. Hilder is assisting the defense team.
The Houston Police Department needs to be transparent and accountable to Houstonians regarding its policies, training and current protocol as it relates to the use of technologies that track phone calls and record actions of citizens. Houston taxpayers deserve answers and should demand them.
Our Police Department sought to equip 3,500 officers with $8 million in body cams and already has technology that can capture cellphone location and information. HPD needs to explain training and policy for these potentially invasive devices.
Court: Man on death row for killing Corpus Christi officer can die
Krista M. Torralva
The Fifth (5th) Circuit Court of Appeals has decided Firm Client Daniel Lee Lopez us competent to make his decisions and ruled no additional appeals will be allowed unless Lopez makes the request. Mr. Lopez is represented by Firm Counsel James Rytting.
Court upholds ruling on ‘seaman’s manslaughter’ in BP case
San Antonio Express
March 11, 2015
A federal judge correctly dropped 11 “seaman’s manslaughter” charges against two BP supervisors in the deaths of workers killed when the Deepwater Horizon exploded in the Gulf of Mexico, a federal appeals court ruled Wednesday.
A three-judge panel of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said the federal law does not apply to Robert Kaluza and Donald Vidrine, the top BP employees on the rig when it blew wild in 2010 and started the nation’s worst offshore oil spill.
The decision could open the way for their trial on 11 counts of involuntary manslaughter and one of violating the Clean Water Act, if federal attorneys don’t ask for a rehearing or go to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Philip Hilder, a Houston-based defense attorney for people accused of white-collar crimes who wrote in 2011 that there had been a resurgence of cases invoking the seaman’s manslaughter charge, said he has not noted a continued increase since the case against Vidrine and Kaluza was filed.
“It’s certainly in the prosecutor’s arsenal. But it’s not widely utilized,” he said. He described the panel’s ruling as a common-sense analysis.
St. Patrick’s spirit in H-Town: Traditions and celebrations abound on day when everyone’s Irish
Culture Map Houston
March 3, 2015
How do Houstonian Irish Americans celebrate their Irish heritage on St. Patrick’s Day? We asked three notable locals with Irish ties to fill us in on how they uphold Irish traditions, and where they’ll be celebrating the patron saint come March 17.
“Although I’m not Irish, myself, I’ve always celebrated St Patrick’s Day. I grew up in Chicago where they turn the river green,” says Philip Hilder, a Houston lawyer and former federal prosecutor.
Now married with four children, Hilder met his wife in her hometown of Ballymote, Ireland (their children, along with Hilder, have dual citizenship). Every summer since their first child was born 16 years ago, the Hilders travel to Ireland to keep cultural ties alive (and escape the Houston heat), ensuring that the kids grow up with a good sense of understanding of the Irish culture.
Also an annual occasion, at home in Houston the family heads to their favorite Irish pub every year on St. Patrick’s Day. “It’s a tradition,” Hilder says. “It’s family-friendly and they have activities the kids enjoy such as Irish dancing and music. Since the kids spend every summer in Ireland, hanging out there reminds them that summer break is around the corner.”
Attorneys React To High Court’s Sarbanes-Oxley ‘Fish’ Ruling
February 25, 2015
“The high court ruled that Section 1519 targets not all manner of evidence, but records, documents and tangible objects used to preserve them, e.g. computers, servers and other media on which information is stored. ‘Tangible object’ in Section1519, the Supreme Court concluded, is better read to cover only objects one can use to record or preserve information, not all objects in the physical world.” – Philip Hilder Hilder & Associates, P.C.
S&P to Pay $1.5 Billion to Resolve Crisis-Era Litigation
February 3, 2015
Timothy W. Martin
Wall Street Journal
The Justice Department detailed efforts by Standard & Poor’s Ratings Services to relax standards to win business, shedding fresh light on the firm’s crisis-era behavior just as the two parties marked the end of a multiyear battle.
S&P on Tuesday agreed to pay $1.5 billion to resolve litigation alleging it knowingly issued rosy grades of risky mortgage bonds before the crisis. As part of the deal, the government backed off demands that S&P admit to violating laws, reducing the firm’s exposure to future lawsuits.
Investors rely on ratings from S&P, Moody’s Investors Service and Fitch Ratings when deciding whether to buy bonds. Collectively, they issue about 95% of ratings globally.
That dynamic makes punishing S&P a tough task, said Philip Hilder, a Houston-based lawyer and a former federal prosecutor. “You can’t come down too terribly hard on S&P without wounding the financial system,” Mr. Hilder said.
The legal fees to defend Texas Governor Rick Perry since he was indicted by a grand jury last August for two felony charges have passed the one million dollar mark, according to the latest campaign finance report filed by his PAC, Texans for Rick Perry.
“These are high stakes; very complicated; requires a lot of research and writing. But, you know, whether these fees are justified would depend on an analyzation of the billing records,” said Philip Hilder, a former federal prosecutor who now represents white-collar criminal defendants. “Because of attorney client privilege-well, we will never know.”
Philip Hilder Honored by the White Collar Crime Professional Blog
December 31, 2014
The White Collar Crime Professional Blog has honored Philip Hilder for work in the White Collar Crime area by bestowing him “The Collar” for 2014. The Collar was given to Mr. Hilder for “White Collar Integrity” for his outside counsel representing of University of Texas System “…whose written report exposed the legal absurdity of the Texas Legislator’s Wallace Hall Witch Hunt Referral.”
New Lawsuit in Comicbook Case
December 22, 2014
Tadano America Corporation filed suit against Harris County over expensive comic books that resulted in criminal charges against two Harris County Law Enforcement Officers. Tadano is represented by Hilder & Associates, P.C.
Houstonia has named Philip H. Hilder a 2014 Top Lawyer as determined by AVVO rating service.
Investigator indicted in comic book case
November 25, 2014
On Tuesday, a Harris County grand jury indicted Dustin Deutsch, 41, for felony theft by a public servant and tampering with evidence.
Deutsch and Lonnie Blevins, 39, his former partner at the Harris County District Attorney’s Office are accused of stealing thousands of dollars worth of vintage comics that were evidence in an embezzlement case they were investigating.
The FBI arrested Blevins in February 2013 – about two months after he left the district attorney’s office. Federal prosecutors said he “cooperated substantially” in their inquiry.
Mount, a special prosecutor assigned to the case against Deutsch, said he didn’t know why federal prosecutors chose to concentrate their case on Blevins.
“They have turned over their evidence to us. They no longer need it,” Mount said.
Mount was assigned to the case as an independent special prosecutor because at the time both men were investigators with the Harris County District Attorney’s Office.
“These guys worked a number of things together over the course of their careers,” Mount said.
Deutsch was suspended after Blevins was arrested and later resigned. They also own a private investigation business in Humble.
Hilder & Associates represents the company and victim in the embezzlement case, Tadano America Corporation.
American Bar Association 9th Annual National Institute on Securities Fraud
On November 13-14, 2014 The ABA 9th Annual National Institute on Securities Fraud took place in New Orleans. The event is co-chaired by Firm attorney Philip Hilder.
Are financial whistleblowers worth it? Study says yes – to the tune of $21.27bn
November 19, 2014
Firm client Sherron Watkins is quoted in this piece on whistleblowing. She is pictured above with Philip Hilder
A new study tracking the economic effects of whistleblowers has found that people who come forward to report wrongdoing helped the US government secure $21.27bn more in fines over 35 years.
The study, conducted by researchers from Arizona State University, American University, Texas A&M University and University of Iowa, set out to discover if the costs of promoting and maintaining programs set up for financial whistleblowers were worth it. It found that in cases where whistleblowers were involved:
Firm penalties were $90.16m to $90.88m greater.
Penalties imposed on executives and employees averaged $50.22m to $56.50m more than if no whistleblower was involved.
The prison sentences for those involved were on average 21.86 to 27 months longer.
The $21.27bn collected thanks to involvement of whistleblowers accounts for 30% of the $70.13bn collected from 1978 to 2012.
In an article regarding the Texas Grand Jury system, Philip Hilder was asked to comment:
Grand jury service can be onerous and time-consuming on many working people, and prosecutors argue it would be hard to find enough randomly selected citizens willing to serve. Harris County grand juries, for instance, serve several hours twice a week for three months.
“It’s a burden. But that’s our system. There’s no way around it,” says Philip Hilder, a former federal prosecutor for nearly seven years, focused on organized crime and drugs. He said federal juries can meet up to 18 months, often for one week per month, possibly several hours per day.
Because of the hours, those grand jurors skewed older, just like they do in the state system, Hilder said, but in terms of race, religion and occupation, federal juries seemed to represent a cross-section of society, as the law requires.
He saw everybody from construction workers to small business owners. He doesn’t recall ever seeing a police officer.
“I’m not saying that the federal system is perfect,” Hilder said. “But I do think it’s a vast improvement to how the county operates.”
“IQ doesn’t equate to common sense,” says Hilder, the former federal prosecutor. “You have people of high intellect and they may have no common sense. And you have someone who’s not educated and they have a lot of common sense. That’s the beauty of the system.”
Anti-corruption lawyers in high demand at Houston companies
Houston Business Journal
October 14, 2014
The U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act of 1977 (FCPA) and the U.K. Bribery Act of 2010 are perhaps some of the most sweeping anti-corruption legislation currently known to man. In short, both stipulate that parent companies are liable for the unscrupulous dealings of subsidiaries and even individual contractors at home and in other countries.
As a result, Houston’s increasingly international companies and law firms are shoring up their supply of lawyers with expertise in compliance with FCPA and Bribery Act regulations.
Phillip Hilder, founding partner of Hilder Associates PC, said the onus is increasingly on companies to self-report compliance issues.
“There’s a growing awareness of improprieties and payoffs,” said Hilder.
The need for compliance programs that increase a company’s chance of catching wrongdoing before a regulator does is driving the demand for compliance lawyers, said Hilder.
Defense lawyers for Gov. Rick Perry have asked that a transcript of the grand jury witness testimony that led to his indictment be made in the event there was information provided that could prove his innocence.
The motion filed Friday asks that a transcript be ordered and that visiting Judge Bert Richardson view it privately to determine if grand jurors heard testimony about Perry’s actions that might help his case. A transcript would also force the special prosecutor to provide information favorable to Perry to his lawyers as required by law, the defense team argues.
Typically, a transcript of grand jury testimony is not released unless a witness who testified before that panel testifies at trial, said Philip H. Hilder, a criminal defense attorney in Houston. However, it’s not an unusual request to have the transcript made before a trial begins.
“It’s a perfectly acceptable tactic by the defense because it may enlighten the court as to arguments that were made,” Hilder said. But Hilder said the judge will likely stick to the law, not what the grand jury testimony shows, when deciding whether the indictment will stand.
“The fact that the testimony itself might be exculpatory isn’t going to help the arguments that are already teed up before the court,” Hilder said.
The Lawyer who embezzled $9 million to buy collectables is disbarred by the New York Bar on September 27, 2014. The case was investigated by Philip Hilder and attorneys from Hilder & Associates, PC. who brought the matter to the district attorney’s office for prosecution. The lawyer was the General Counsel of Tadano America Corporation.
Gov. Rick Perry’s lawyers have filed a second challenge to the governor’s indictment on Monday, asking a judge to dismiss the charges against him on the grounds that the charges are unconstitutional.
Although the new filing bears some of the same arguments offered in a writ of habeas corpus filed a week ago by Perry’s defense team, lawyers observing the case say there’s a reason to file both.
“They say the same thing but they’re very different things,” explained Philip H. Hilder, a Houston defense attorney. “The writ is saying the judge doesn’t have the authority to move forward on the indictment, while the motion to dismiss is acknowledging that the court has the authority to act on indictment but it ought to be dismissed as a matter of law.”
The judge’s decision on the motion to quash cannot be appealed by the defense, Hilder said. His decision on the writ can be and an appeal could freeze action on the case for months.
“The danger of filing the writ here is the losing party will appeal, and that is going to slow matters to a grinding halt for a while,” Hilder said, adding that all action in the trial court would stop until the appeals court makes its ruling on the writ.
Philip H. Hilder recognized as one of the top lawyers in the nation and in Texas
September 5, 2014
Firm counsel, Philip H. Hilder is recognize as one of the top lawyers in the nation and in Texas by two respected attorney rating services. The Best Lawyers in America, the preeminent listing of leading attorneys in the U.S. includes Mr. Hilder in its 2015 edition. He also has earned a spot in the 2014 Texas Super Lawyers consisting of the state’s top legal counsel. Super Lawyers is recognizing him for his white-collar criminal defense work. Mr. Hilder has been on the Super Lawyers list each year since it was created in 2003.
The recent indictments of Governor Rick Perry has brought attention to the criminal justice system in Texas. The question of who selects special prosecutors and grand jurors, and how a criminal case runs its course through the criminal judicial system, are all in the mind of the public. Tom Delay’s appeal was recently argued in the highest criminal court in Texas, but many voters are not acquainted with that court, or its candidates. More voters are now seeing the significance of their vote in these races where the constitutional issues of life, liberty, due process, and the death penalty are at stake.
Phillip Hilder, a criminal defense lawyer who represented Sherron Watkins in the famous Enron whistleblower case, told Breitbart Texas “The Court of Criminal Appeals has perhaps the most direct impact on the criminal justice system in Texas, yet its members are virtually invisible to voters who elect them. The Judges are elected solely on party label. Other than the Court itself, one would be hard-pressed to find a single voter in the state who could name the full Court let alone anything about them. Voters must educate themselves, because the standard of criminal justice is just too important to blindly elect the Court.”
Lawyers: Perry’s Dismissal Arguments Strong, But Unlikely to Succeed
August 27, 2014
As the prosecutor and judge in Gov. Rick Perry’s case mull over the governor’s recent request to dismiss his indictment, analysis by three longtime criminal law attorneys reveals the most legal merit in one of Perry’s arguments to dismiss his coercion of a public servant