Why Did Repeat DWI Offender Get Sweet Deal? Does the Bible Offer a Clue?

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The staircase to the second floor of the Bexar County Justice Center.

Scott Ball / Rivard Report

The staircase to the second floor of the Bexar County Justice Center.

If you haven’t yet read Sunday’s explosive Express-News story by Brian Chasnoff, don’t do it while drinking your morning coffee. You’re likely to spit it out. Besides, you won’t need the coffee. Astonishment and anger will serve.

The newspaper told the tale of James Preston Green, 37, who has been convicted four times in the past decade for driving while intoxicated. We’re talking stumbling, incoherent, raving drunk. Offering a cop a Rolex to let him go drunk. Whining that he needs to get home to play Easter Bunny drunk. Weaving into the oncoming lane drunk. Warning an officer that he was “personal friends” with the district attorney and the police chief and that the cop would be “fired and be a meter maid and working at Walmart” drunk.

So drunk that he told one arresting cop he “should arrest some real criminals like rapists, drug dealers and murderers.” As if that wasn’t enough, the officer reported Green said he should be arresting some “Mexicans and n——.”

I’m confident Green is unaware of how lucky he is that he is white. One police car video camera showed him responding to an order that he put his hands on his truck by reaching into his pockets – the sort of move that has cost more than one black man his life and convinced a jury that the officer had reasonable cause to shoot.

Yet on Oct. 14, despite the fact that Green’s blood-alcohol level was more than double the legal limit and he was on still on probation for an earlier felony DWI charge when he slammed into the rear of a car on the Wurzbach Parkway and fled the scene, Bexar County District Judge Ron Rangel sentenced him to yet another probation.

Rangel didn’t judge much. He simply accepted a plea bargain worked out by the district attorney’s office. For good measure, the plea deal also included dismissing two felony domestic violence indictments involving two separate girlfriends of Green’s.

Why the sweetheart deal for a guy who clearly isn’t a sweetheart?

It could be because his father enjoys the power that comes with wealth and community standing. Jimmy Green owns J. Green Jewelers in Stone Oak and is a former Rey Feo who raised more than $200,000 in scholarship money to win the crown.

Scott Ball / Rivard Report

James Preston Green (second from left) walks behind his father, El Rey Feo Jimmy Green, before the King Antonio Investiture Ceremony in 2014.

It may have something to do with the fact that Jimmy Green attends a weekly Bible study session led by District Attorney Nico LaHood. Green and the DA’s office say LaHood had no involvement in the plea negotiations.

But on the very day the judge approved the deal, Jimmy Green posted a photo of the Bible session with this lavish endorsement: “Nico LaHood’s mens bible study the best I ever attend!!! Men come join us!!!”

Maybe LaHood played a role. Both Jimmy Green and the DA’s office say he didn’t. Maybe he didn’t even know about the deal. Courthouse sources say he hasn’t exactly been overly involved in office affairs since losing his re-election bid in last March’s Democratic primary.

Bexar County District Attorney Nico LaHood speaks about Human Trafficking Awareness Day in front of City Hall.

Bonnie Arbittier / Rivard Report

Bexar County District Attorney Nico LaHood

Which raises one of two underlying issues suggested by this story. If LaHood was involved in this deal, he should be held accountable. If his employees could offer such a deal under these circumstances without his involvement, he should be held accountable.

But the reality is that LaHood’s bosses fired him on March 6 when Democratic voters rejected his re-election bid by denying him their nomination. And it wasn’t close. He lost by 18 points.

In the private sector, when people are fired there is a fairly conventional ritual. Their access to the company computer is terminated immediately if not sooner, and they are asked to clean out their desk that day before being escorted out of the building by security.

That’s not the way we do it with powerful people employed by the taxpayers. If they lose in a Texas primary, they have just shy of 10 months on the job – or not. (The New York Times‘ front page featured this lead headline Sunday: “GOP lame ducks fade from House as clash looms.” The story says they may not be able to pass $5 billion for the border wall because many of the 40 who lost their seats, as well as retiring members, are not coming to work.)

In the wake of his defeat, LaHood strongly indicated he was taking his firing personally. He announced he was no longer a Democrat and said, “The party today has been hijacked by a leftist ideology, a neo-Marxist ideology, that is really fascist in nature.”

Not all lame ducks have a bad attitude, but 10 months is a dangerous amount of time to keep rejected people on the job. Texas does it because they want to have increased influence in presidential elections, but you have to wonder how many lame ducks – whether they are judges, DAs, or constables – are using their offices to settle scores or ingratiate themselves with potential employers or clients.

The other issue raised by this mystery is encapsulated in a quote the newspaper received from Rangel: “Judges in most circumstances don’t really have the ability to reject a plea bargain. When it comes to plea bargains, they never tell me what the strengths and weaknesses [of a case] are. I never have any idea.”

My question is this: If criminal district judges can’t reject plea bargains – which represent the vast majority of matters that come before them – why are we paying them $158,000 a year? A Walmart greeter could handle the job.

People who know him say Ron Rangel is a a good guy. And he apparently is sensitive enough to be embarrassed by the story of Green’s serial DWIs. On Monday, Rangel issued a warrant for Green’s arrest for allegedly violating his probation by drinking – something he has repeatedly done on his earlier probations.

Still, when a repeat offender such as Green comes before a judge with a plea deal like this after multiple priors, doesn’t that judge have a responsibility to question the prosecutors about why they are letting the defendant off so easy? It’s not unimportant. In one of Green’s arrests, an officer said he watched Green swerve into the oncoming lane and narrowly miss another vehicle. The people in the car he rear-ended in his last arrest were lucky not to suffer serious injury.

The fact is, some judges do occasionally reject a plea agreement. Often these judges are former prosecutors. If Rangel is right that prosecutors never tell him why they don’t want to go to trial, he should start asking them.

41 thoughts on “Why Did Repeat DWI Offender Get Sweet Deal? Does the Bible Offer a Clue?

    • Checks and balances. Prosecutors are supposed to seek justice and hold people accountable, defense attorneys are supposed to zealous advocate and represent their clients, and judges are to be impartial and just. Here the district attorney office gave such a sweet deal ( for whatever reason) and it was wrong for them to do that. Of course the defense didn’t say anything because they got a good deal which is what they are supposed to try to get always. The judge ( not knowing the specifics of the strengths and weaknesses it is true because remember they are impartial) approved the plea bargain. If the judge wants to know specifics then yes he can ask but both sides are entitled to know what is told to the judge so in this case if judge was told we can’t price this case because we don’t have a w crucial witness then the defendant would NOT plea because now he knows the state is offering a sweetheart deal because of evidentiary or witness issues. Defense would want a dismissal instead. However if DA did this because DA is friends with defendant then they his deal would have happened regardless because it is the DA himself offering a great deal. A prosecutor should prosecute & hold people accountable based on evidence alone, not play favorites. Here the one party that failed to do their job was the DA.

  1. I’m so tired of the race card being played. It’s low hanging fruit and lazy on both reporters part and it doesn’t correspond to statistics about what race gets shot by police more often. But it’s easy and popular, talk about lazy and not doing your job.

    • Please stop with your “race card” whining. You want to talk about laziness but your claim in itself demonstrates a lazy disregard for looking at the big picture of how race,specifically white saviorism and preference, has EVERYTHING to do with American law,Christianity and politics. The values are ingrained in every fiber of this country in every position of authority and the statistics reveal this preferential treatment by contrast with the sentiments and sentencing toward non white people. If you don’t want to analyze statistics, listen to the people who know this from experience. Tell them their experience isn’t real and you’re just playing your role as another white exceptionalism,sympathizer and apologist. Beside the facts of the history of corruption l, you only need look at every detail of this case that screams corruption and enough is enough. Stop being lazy and do your research or at least read the article.

      • I read the article, it didn’t need the race card to point out the corruption of privilege. Everyone but recent college grads and community school dropouts understand the vacuousness of Foucault and his social construct theories. But the buzzwords of white privilege, supremacy, institutional racism/corruption covers a multitude of poor scholarship and, in fact, contrary research findings. I don’t expect you or reporters to relinquish the rhetorical flourish provided by placarding those phrases in your jeremiads but there is no there, there. Sorry.

        • Spare us the thesaurus words, Good Will Hunting. No one says jeremiad in normal conversation unless they’re just trying to sound smart while arguing a dumb point.

        • Wow! I think we have a sesquipedalian on our hands folks! Lol. Please tell me that was written for humor sake? Except for the part about Foucault- even babies are familiar with western political philosophy. I’m definitely going to be sharing this one. Thanks for the midday comic relief pal!

      • Wow, 1 paragraph of over 20 paragraphs mentions race and you call this playing the race card? That paragraph wasn’t even using race as a justification for his actions or the court’s leniency…you know, what the article was actually about. Talk about bad tunnel vision making you miss the whole point.

    • Stop being lazy and playing the “race card”? To be fair, the 2 possible reasons Mr. Casey outlines for Green’s repeatedly getting away with this endangering behavior are not about race: 1) “It could be because his father enjoys the power that comes with wealth and community standing.” and 2) “It may have something to do with the fact that Jimmy Green attends a weekly Bible study session led by District Attorney Nico LaHood.” This is about money and hobnobbing. There is only one mentioning of race: “I’m confident Green is unaware of how lucky he is that he is white. One police car video camera showed him responding to an order that he put his hands on his truck by reaching into his pockets – the sort of move that has cost more than one black man his life and convinced a jury that the officer had reasonable cause to shoot.” That is a simple truth, not a race card, and serves to illustrate the multiple facets of Green’s privilege. 100% valid and 0% lazy. Rather comprehensive, actually. Even so, the author clearly attributes the leniency shown to Green in sentencing (which was the main topic of the article and clearly the reason it was written) to his family ties and social circles. The author only (briefly) credits Green’s being white to preventing him from being shot and killed doing something others have been shot for doing.

      • There’s some fair in what you say. He doesn’t revisit the opportunity. However, what you claim is a simple truth is not so simple. More white men are shot and killed by the police than any other ethnic group. That’s an incontrovertible fact. It’s also true that popular media chooses which policing stories to cover and which they don’t and they pander to popular mood in determining what will be reported. They aren’t interested foremost in unbiased reporting and educating the public they’re interested in eyeballs and editorial bias. That’s fine for what it is but everyone needs to understand that those are predominate factors in play.

        • African Americans make up just 12.7% of the population. Non-Hispanic whites make up 61.3% of the population. You are correct that just over half of all individuals shot by police are white, but that doesn’t actually mean anything! If you want to get an idea of the actual ranking of individuals killed by police by race, here you go- 7.9 Native Americans per million were killed by police. 7.2 African Americans per million were killed by police. 2.9 White Americans per million were killed by police. This is a radically disproportionate number. Do you need it to be explained further?

          • “That doesn’t actually mean anything!” Over half of all people killed by police are white but you think that doesn’t mean anything and you’re certain you’ve got that trumped by your per capita ratio without regard to other variables. Let me show you how this works in statistics marshalled for political purposes, “ethnic minorities predominate among welfare recipients and defraud the system.” Well the reality is that poor whites predominate the welfare system but according to your statistical reasoning ethnic minorities are the real abusers and overwhelming recipients of welfare cuz per capita the percentage eclipses that of whites. Because of manipulative dynamics such as this, total volume becomes on of those numbers that actually has bearing on reality. Should you require further explanation holla.

  2. For all his faults, LaHood is right about the current Democratic Party.

    Going back to the original story, before the odd rant about politics, yeah the guy with multiple DWIs should have faced punishment harsher than probation. It has nothing to do with race (in a latino-majority city, mind you) and everything to do with money. Has always been like this- always will be. The odd “is it because of the Bible?” headline makes me laugh. Tip of the fedora to you, Rick Casey.

    • Again though, whoever first brought that up did so because of the dashcam footage. He jumped out of his truck when the officer told him not to, he turned his back to the officer and reached into his car, kept reaching into his pockets, disobeying orders… In the last few years we have seen again and again black men shot and killed for far less, often doing only one of the above listed actions, or none at all. It’s just too easy to make the obvious comparison. And the numbers don’t lie.

  3. Obviously LaHood isn’t just a lousy District Attorney, his knowledge (or lack of) of political ideology is clear too. Fascists are right wingers, not Leftists!
    The practice of letting off affluent white drunks is standard practice in San Antonio. Remember County Commissioner Kevin Wolf?
    Conor you say that you’re tired of the race card. We are too. We’ve been putting up with racist double standards for 300 plus years in San Antonio.

  4. Great expose’ Rick. Make em accountable! No doubt the guy is an alcoholic, guess he’ll get help after he takes someone’s life. HOPE HE and HIS DADDY read this!!!!

  5. LaHood will be back in private practice not soon enough spending the rest of his career in municipal court fighting parking traffic tickets.

  6. Pancho, if that’s the case, and it’s not, talk to your local hispanic councilperson, judge, representative, et al. You are the racial and political majority and have been for a looooooong time. That’s the why of PuroSA and celebration of all things Mexican heritage in SA since forever. Try again.

    • Obviously you haven’t a clue as to what you are talking about.
      Economic power, political power is still in the control of the white minority!

  7. It’s par for the course for leftist reporters to implicate the Bible in smearing a Democratic foe with no proof of a special favor. Leave the Bible and my faith out of your titles please.

    • The father of the repeat offender attends Nico Lahood’s (the district attorney) bible study, this is known because the morning Green received probation on his 4th DWI charge his dad posted on facebook, Nico LaHood leads the best bible study ever, or something along those lines. Ever since this story came out, questions are being asked about what sort of connections Green might have in order to gain such leniency. This is simply one of those connections. It has nothing to do with the Bible or Christianity, no one is criticizing your religion. The story is about their connection, not where they connect. Are reporters no longer allowed to even reference religion? Come on.

  8. Rick, I am very disappointed in you, no, I’m damn mad that you saw fit to infer he would have been shot if he was black. That was unnecessary, uncalled for and inflammatory. I would never have believed you would stoop so low. Green is scum and needs to be in the joint. Rangel has violated many rules in his comments and should be sanctioned by the Commission on Judicial Conduct and hopefully will not be re-elected.

    • Suzanne, do you not read the news? Unarmed black men and women are shot by police officers for reaching into their pockets. It’s fact, and it needs to be in our faces constantly until it stops, until police officers guilty of this are held accountable.

          • It’s related to show race has nothing to do with it. Your talking about such a small statistic you’d probably save a lot more lives of all races by focusing on swimming pool safety for children or driver safety

  9. J P Green looks like a habitual offender and a general loser. Daddy’s attorneys and a crap ton of favors called in saved him some jail time. Something tells me the next DWI will stick. I agree with the others here; this has nothing to do with religion. Good to see the race baiting, village idiot, Pancho, chiming in on this article.

  10. Not surprising what happened to Green. It is the way a lot of our society works. The well to do often control who gets the key public jobs and those who get helped in the courts. Look at people like Hope Andrade. I believe she became Secretary of State, VIA Chair, and whatever other prominent public positions she has held based on who she knew. Look at the Board of Regents for our public universities and the examples could go on and on so it does not surprise me that a prominent person was able to influence the DA and judge to help his son.

  11. “I’m confident Green is unaware of how lucky he is that he is white.” I’m so tired of hearing this crap. The majority of the police officers, judges and prosecutors in San Antonio are Hispanic. How would being white help him?

  12. This loser, 37 year old James Green should be in jail! Shame on ALL of the people involved in letting this criminal go free – and God willing he won’t kill someone or permanently maim an innocent person that just happens to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.

  13. To be fair, the RR should do another article on Kevin Wolff. My understanding is he violated his terms of sentencing countless times-was he arrested for that?

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