Laws In Texas

Texas Lawyer Indicted for Violent Attack on His Girlfriend, a Harris County Hearing Officer

A Houston-area attorney, Oliver Brown, was indicted by a grand jury Wednesday after being accused of trying to strangle his girlfriend—a county magistrate—last summer.

Texas Lawyer indicted after he’s accused of trying to strangle girlfriend

Published; Jan. 9, 2020

A Harris County grand jury has indicted a Houston-area attorney with assault after he was accused of trying to strangle his girlfriend, a county magistrate.

She told police that Oliver Jason Brown, 40, became enraged on Aug. 27, when she couldn’t calm their daughter, who was crying in a bedroom.

Brown pushed the woman into a bathroom and punched her in the face, according to court documents. He covered her mouth and nose with his hand for 60 seconds, preventing her from breathing, she said, but she was able to move his hand away from her mouth.

He then put pressure around her neck until she managed to escape his grasp and run to her car, where she waited for police, the documents show.

When they arrived, authorities noticed visible injuries on the magistrate’s face and neck. Brown was uncooperative and wouldn’t leave the house, stating he was a lawyer and that deputies would “need a to-be (warrant) to get me,” according to court records.

Brown, who practices criminal, family and civil law, was charged in August with assault of a family member, impeding breathing, and posted a $5,000 bond. A grand jury indicted him Wednesday.

His defense lawyer, Chukwudi Egbuonu, would only say: “We just look forward to proving his innocence in court,” he said.

The allegations against Brown highlight a dangerous form of domestic violence where someone has, in essence, practiced homicide, said Kelsey McKay, a consultant to the Harris County District Attorney’s Office and founder of the nonprofit RESPOND Against Violence.

People who survive an attempted strangulation are almost between six and eight times more likely to be killed by the abuser within a year, according to multiple studies.

McKay said attempted strangulation is an escalated type of domestic violence.

“It’s done not just to physically assault another person, but it’s done to install the fear and feeling of what it’s going to be like when they die,” McKay said.

Brown’s girlfriend is a Harris County hearing officer, and often determines initial bond amounts for defendants in probable cause court, including in domestic violence cases. The Houston Chronicle does not typically name victims of assault.

Judge Abigail Anastasio recused herself after the case was assigned to her court. She said she has no personal bias against Brown, but couldn’t be on the case as a matter of “propriety,” according to court documents.

Brown is currently representing Cynthia Bailey, who is at the center of a legal fight about her eligibility for the District B runoff. She finished second in the Nov. 5 election and qualified for the runoff, which has been postponed. A 2007 felony conviction for theft is the subject of litigation that led county officials to remove her race from the ballot.

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