NOTICE: Due to this blog putting newest articles on top, please scroll down to WTF - I and read it before reading this.
Okay, now I've had breakfast and three cups of coffee, so I've calmed down a little bit with my fury towards the Chronicle. But only just a little bit.
I would now like to address the column on Pat Lykos. There are many things that I like in life, one of the things I like the most is when I experience one of those rare moments when I'm right about something. In yesterday's article on Reality vs. Perception, I pointed out that Pat Lykos is not a good candidate for the D.A.'s Office, because she gives over broad and general answers to questions that sound lovely to the voters, but aren't really worth a bucket of pee pee to those who know the litigation side of the Criminal Justice System.
The "puff piece" on Lykos in today's Chronicle proved me right. Although, undoubtedly, the voters probably loved it.
Here's what she listed:
1. "She proposes that the agency establish an ethics office to provide guidance for achieving the right kind of justice" - cute idea. And what exactly would this "ethics office" do? Would it be staffed full time? Would it have a hotline?
"Hello, you have reached Harris County District Attorney's Ethics Office. Do you have an ethics crisis? Are you up on a ledge and thinking of acting unethically? Let our experienced professionals talk you down."
This is a weak-minded and political attempt to win over the public.
The right answer - sending more prosecutors to more ethics classes. If you want to make a difference in the public opinion, make sure that prosecutors aren't getting just minimal CLE, but even more than required. Prosecutors that get in trouble with the Office? Make them take a CLE that might directly relate to what they did.
2. "that (the Office) get more concerned with stopping human trafficking, organized crime and drug cartels" - this one is awesome, and thus my favorite. I have this vision of her dispatching prosecutors like Vic Wisner, armed to the teeth, down to Columbia to focus on the drug cartels. There's something about that visual that just cracks me up.
Um, Judge, the people who do that are usually called the Feds. True, sometimes HPD and other agencies do get involved with the major cases when human trafficking, organized crime, and drug cartels come into Harris County limits, but this is the cops job.
True, there should be a specialized division that helps handle major cases like this. Oh wait, there already is one.
It's called Special Crimes, and Kelly Siegler is the head of it.
Nice shot with the pandering and a good try at re-inventing the wheel.
3. "and less concerned with imprisoning low-level offenders who have problems with addiction, homelessness or mental disease" - Lykos also made several other controversial statements such as "the sun is hot", "cancer is a bad thing", and "I like puppies."
My response to this portion: "Well, duh". Jim Leitner said in his speech at the Spaghetti Warehouse that "a change is coming no matter what". He was so right about that. I would argue that only a trial lawyer would know how to effectively put "less concern" into drug cases. What does that mean, Judge? More 12.44(a) or (b)? Class Cs on all crack pipe cases? Not taking residue cases at all at intake?
All of the above are interesting solutions. I know which one I like best, but it would be naive to think there aren't also, at least some, downsides to them, as well. Don't forget that in neighborhoods where the use of crack cocaine is a problem, there are a lot of good people there who want that stuff off their streets in their neighborhood. These are the people clapping when the cops arrest a guy for walking in the street where a sidewalk was provided (and subsequently found a crack pipe). Why are they clapping? Because that guy just got taken away from their house.
Somewhere, a balance must be struck between protecting neighborhoods, and also not over-charging and ruining people's life. It takes careful thought and consideration. Not just a glib answer from a candidate.
4. "make sure convicts are sentenced consistently, with no regards to whether their lawyer is a high-paid private practitioner or a relatively inexperienced lawyer supplied by the county?!?!?!?"
Okay, loyal readers (this means you, Bennett). You blasted me for my "faint praise". You blasted me for my explanation of Batson and the African-American juror. You gotta be jumping all over this quote.
"Relatively inexperienced lawyer supplied by the county?" Oh, and who does she mean by that? Folks like that poor, slow Jerry Guerinot? The barely functioning Ricardo Rodriguez? How about that half-wit, Rob Morrow? Is that a little bit of drool running down Charlie Brown's chin? And that Skip Cornelius guy just doesn't get it, does he? Poor old Pat McCann still screws up the alphabet doesn't he?
I don't mean to be pandering to those members of the Defense Bar that take appointments, but who in the hell does Lykos think she is to insinuate that y'all are anything other than some of the best attorneys in the State of Texas, and thus the world.
Maybe once you guys get a little more experience you can do as good as Dick DeGuerin.
What happened on his last murder trial, by the way?
5. She presided over the Karla Faye Tucker trial - Ann Richards once stated that George Bush taking credit for the end of the Cold War is like the rooster taking credit for the sun coming up in the morning. A Judge presiding over a high-profile death penalty case and then claiming it like Lykos always has is a little bit silly, if you ask me. But the sad thing is that it seems to be effective.
The Karla Faye Tucker trial was before my time at the Office, although I'm certainly familiar with the facts of the case. But for the life of me, Lykos has done so much crowing over it over the years, that she's the only name I know associated with the case. Some of you older (um, I mean seasoned) lawyers help me out here. Who were the prosecutors? Who were the defense attorneys? You know -- those people who actually did all the work on the case while the Lykos presided? The ones who's names she seems to eclipse.