Editors Choice

Judge David Hittner is Threatened and Guess Who Defended the Convict? None Other than Magistrate Judge Peter Bray

Public Defender Peter Bray, who is representing Yarbrough said “I expect Mr. Yarbrough to make a statement at the time of sentencing expressing his remorse and explaining his actions.” Bray is now a Magistrate Judge in the Southern District Court, Houston Division.


Former public defender and now magistrate judge Peter Bray reacted to 2 elderly homeowner (Burkes) when attorney Mark Daniel Hopkins of Hopkins Law, PLLC stated in front of the court that the Burkes ‘wanted certain judges shot’. Hopkins would later admit to his lies in court. But not before Bray shouted at John Burke, “are you a criminal?”. Hittner and Bray did not do anything to Hopkins for his premeditated acts. No, quite the opposite, in fact. They covered it up and went on with their prepared plan to dismiss the Burkes case as soon as possible.


Below you’ll read about George Yarbrough, who threatened to kill Judge David Hittner and he was indicted after a complaint was filed by the court/Hittner and Yarbrough was sentenced to 21 month in 2014. His pubic defender was Peter Bray, who is now a Magistrate Judge at the Southern District Court and assigned cases by Hittner, including the Burkes.

Indictment II

Yarbrough is serving heavy time and apparently, he’s been indicted a second time in 2017 for threatening Hittner by letter, despite his mail privileges having been severely curtailed and monitored. That case is pending a stay granted to the government by the Fifth Circuit.

What about Mark Daniel Hopkins?

What is clear and obvious is the fact that Hittner and Bray are fully aware of the seriousness of threats against judges. For them both to ignore Hopkins lies and allegations about the Burkes wanting ‘certain judges to be shot’ is a pure corruption on the bench. There is no excuse here. It was an abhorrent claim by Hopkins and one he repeated twice in Bray’s court. That merits the highest possible discipline and criminal contempt charges, which the court can invoke.

The journey from being ‘civil’ to criminal for inmate who threatened to kill federal judge

January 29, 2015 at 8:57 AM

George Yarbrough, who admitted this week to sending a letter in which he threatened to kill a federal judge.

A story in the Houston Chronicle notes that former state prison inmate George Yarbrough admitted in federal court to mailing a letter from prison in which he threatened to kill a federal judge.

Yarbrough faces up to 10 years for the crime, but could get much less depending on an array of factors.

Former Public Defender, Now Magistrate Judge at S.D. Tex., Peter Bray

Public Defender Peter Bray, who is representing Yarbrough;

told me Thursday that his client will likely explain his actions at his sentencing, which is scheduled for April

“I expect Mr. Yarbrough to make a statement at the time of sentencing expressing his remorse and explaining his actions,” Bray said.

As Yarbrough has not yet spoken publicly, a look into court files shows a journey that spiraled out of control:

The civil rights lawsuit, scrawled by hand inside the walls of Coffield state prison, arrived at the federal courthouse in downtown Houston in October 2005.

Yarbrough, who was doing 25 years for evading arrest and other crimes, accused prison guards of breaking his jaw. Court records show Yarbrough, who authorities said was originally from Houston was no stranger to trouble.

He’d had prior arrests for escape, criminal mischief, parole violation, unauthorized use of a motor vehicle and evading arrest as well as other crimes. Yarbrough spelled out his concerns:

He claims he was handcuffed, had his legs kicked out from under him and broke his jaw, then has suffered flashback, nightmares and other ailments. He goes on to complain about having to eat solid food despite the jaw, not getting time for exercise and several other matters.

He notes he has another inmate. Michael Smith, working as his paralegal. Smith was doing 20 years for burglary.

He ask for nominal damages, punitive damages, compensatory damages and/ or sadistic damages. He ends his filings with an urgent plea:

The suit was channeled by the district clerk’s office to U.S. District Judge David Hittner. The senior judge, a former Eagle Scout who was nominated by President Ronald Reagan, is known for being firm.

Nine days after Yarbrough’s lawsuit arrived at the courthouse, Hittner dismissed it.

Hittner’s three page memorandum on Yarbrough’s suit notes among other things that his claims of excessive force and quest for damages and help was filed after the statute of limitations had run out.

He notes that Yarbrough’s alleged beating occurred in 2002, but that he didn’t file the lawsuit until 2005, more than 15 months after the statute of limitations had expired.

Hittner ordered that Yarbrough’s suit be dismissed and that the Texas Department of Criminal Justice deduct 20 percent of each deposit made into his inmate trust account until he had paid the cost of a $20 filing fee for the lawsuit.

Yarbrough apparently didn’t agree that his court fight was over. He went on to file documents claiming that he was a pauper and therefore should not be charged the $20 filing fee.

Then, with another hand-written pleading, he sought the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals:

That also went nowhere. He ultimately file a dozen items over the next few years, and each motion was denied by Hittner.

Yet again:

The last time Hittner would issue an order regarding Yarbrough’s lawsuit was in 2008 and it was as the others had been.

There is no telling what was going on behind in Yarbrough’s world as he did his time at Coffield and sought and sought again to proceed with his civil suit, and repeatedly failed to get any traction. But at some point in 2014 things changed.

He was charged by federal authorities with sending a threatening letter to Hitter. He allegedly vowed that as soon as he got out of prison (which was still several years away) he would be coming for the judge and his family.

“I’m going to kill you whenever I make parole,” the letter said. “You have ruined my whole life. I have lost all my loved ones.”

As the indictment notes:

October 22, 2014

Inmate Indicted for Threatening Federal Judge

HOUSTON—George Yarbrough, 42, a former resident of Houston, has been indicted for mailing threatening communication, announced U.S. Attorney Kenneth Magidson.

Yarborough, who is currently in custody within the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, is expected to be transferred to federal custody and make an initial appearance before U.S. magistrate judge in the near future.

The indictment alleges that on or about Sept. 26, 2014, Yarbrough knowingly mailed a threatening communication to a federal judge in Houston. The communication was received at the Bob Casey U.S. Courthouse at 515 Rusk St. in Houston and contained a threat to kill a specific U.S. District Judge, according to the allegations.

If convicted, Yarbrough faces up to 10 years in federal prison and a possible $250,000 fine.

The case was investigated by the FBI and the U.S. Marshal’s Service. Assistant U.S. Attorney Mel Pehachek is prosecuting.

An indictment is a formal accusation of criminal conduct, not evidence. A defendant is presumed innocent unless convicted through due process of law.

After the Grand Jury indictment in 2014, George Yarbrough went before Judge Nancy Atlas at the Southern District and received 21 months at trial. Only after, did the court tack on additional probationary requirements. Yarbrough in the interim appealed by letter the conditions and confinement he was now enduring, in his eyes at the request of Judge David Hittner, which included segregation and further inhumane punishment. Yarbrough appealed the additional post release probationary requirements and the 5th Circuit reversed these requirements. No further update is shown on the court records after this appeal.


Pretrial conference held as to George Yarbrough; GRANTED 17 Unopposed MOTION to Continue.

The Court makes speedy trial findings: Counsel for Defendant seeks additional time for analysis of the Governments evidence and preparation of a defense.

Failure to grant the requested continuance in this proceeding will likely result in a miscarriage of justice. 18 U.S.C. § 3161(h)(7)(B)(i).

Thus, the interests of justice served by granting the continuance outweigh the best interests of the public and the Defendant in a speedy trial. 18 U.S.C. § 3161(h)(7)(A).

The Court finds that a period of excludable delay commenced on November 26, 2014, and will continue until trial in this matter. See 18 U.S.C. §§ 3161(h)(7)(A) and (B).

Appearances: Melvin R Pechacek, Peter Joseph Bray. Ct Reporter: ERO.

( Pretrial Conference set for 1/28/2015 at 01:30 PM in Courtroom 9F before Judge Nancy F. Atlas)

( Signed by Judge Nancy F. Atlas)

Parties notified. (sashabranner, 4) Modified on 6/22/2015 (sashabranner, 4). (Entered: 12/09/2014)

Minute Entry for proceedings held before Judge Nancy F. Atlas:

Sentencing held on 4/15/2015 for George Yarbrough

(1), Count(s) 1, 21 months custody of BOP; 3 years SRT; no fine.

Court recommends Defendant be placed in a halfway house upon his release from custody.

Court recommends vocational training while at BOP and thereafter.

Court recommends that there not be duplicative conditions of release with his State mandatory release and Federal SRT.

Appearances: Melvin R Pechacek, US Probation – H, Peter Joseph Bray. (ERO:Yes)

Deft remanded to Custody, filed.(sashabranner, 4) (Entered: 04/15/2015)




Texas inmate charged with second death threat against Houston federal judge

Friday, July 7, 2017

A Texas prison inmate has been charged for the second time with threatening to kill U.S. District Judge David Hittner, who dismissed the inmate’s civil rights lawsuit more than 10 years ago against the prison system.

George Yarbrough — who pleaded guilty in 2014 to sending a threatening note to Hittner — sent another death threat in April to the Houston-based federal judge, according to the federal indictment.

The latest letter was dated April 19, the anniversary of the bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City. The contents of the note were not disclosed.

Hittner, who has been a federal judge since 1986, declined to comment about the case.

The handwritten note sent in September 2014 also arrived by U.S. mail.

“I’m going to kill you whenever I make parole,” it said. “You have ruined my whole life. I have lost all my loved ones.”

The note also threatened to “get” Hittner’s relatives.

Yarbrough, now 45, had faced up to 10 years in prison for the threatening communication but was sentenced instead to 21 months. The order from Senior U.S. District Judge Nancy F. Atlas allowed him to serve the sentence in state prison alongside a 25-year sentence for burglary and a 15-year sentence for theft from Denton County on 1999 convictions.

Yarbrough was ordered to undergo mental health treatment in prison, but a federal appeals court concluded he was not given a proper chance to challenge the requirement and it was later dropped.

In a letter he sent in September 2016 to Atlas, Yarbrough accused Hittner of using “the power of his position to influence the Texas Prison System” to put him into an administrative segregation unit.

The Texas Department of Criminal Justice has restricted his mail since 2014. The latest threat was mailed while Yarbrough was being transferred between units, spokesman Robert Hurst said Friday.

“His outgoing mail is closely monitored,” Hurst said. “We are investigating how this happened.”

Yarbrough is currently housed in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice’s Coffield Unit in Tennessee Colony in East Texas, prison officials said.

He was first sent to state prison in October 1991 for a five-year sentence for possession of cocaine in Dallas County. He was released in 1996 but sentenced again in 1999 on the Denton County charges.

In the latest case, Yarbrough is charged in federal court with mailing a threatening communication. Court records indicate he is representing himself and does not have a lawyer.

Judge David Hittner is Threatened and Guess Who Defended the Convict? None Other than Magistrate Judge Peter Bray
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