Okay, so compared to some other articles that Lisa Falkenberg has written, the one in today's Chronicle isn't so bad, and actually has newsworthiness to it.
She apparently met with 10 former and current African-American prosecutors at Vivian King's home to discuss what it was/is like to work at the District Attorney's office. In addition, Lisa also interviewed Joe Owmby for a counter-point to what was said at Vivian's house.
Out of the ten prosecutors at Vivian's house who spoke, only two, Carvana Hicks and Te'iva Bell had the courage to list their names in the article, which in my opinion gives them a lot more credibility than those who don't.
For those of you who don't know Carvana Hicks, she has a sterling reputation within the D.A.'s Office on both sides of the Bar. She is also someone that is truly working to make this community better. The fact that she is raising a red-flag means that the messsage clearly needs to be listened to.
And the fact that Chuck Rosenthal sends out an office wide apology for the "ear kissing e-mails" when they are revealed, yet remains conspicuously silent after the "watermellon e-mail" is offensive.
And in my humble opinion, there's no excuse for that.
Te'iva Bell is a former prosecutor, whom (to my understanding) had a difficult time in the felony bureau with the outcome of some of her cases, and left the Office as a Felony Three (if my information is correct. I can't 100% attest to this). She stated that a Chief told he that she was letting too many minorities on a jury is a little surprising, but it's worth noting that the written evaluation that Te'iva produced stated she needed to be aware of the "make up" of her juries. Falkenberg doesn't specify what the exact phrase of that sentence was, so there's no way to know the complete context.
I will say this, though. All attorneys who litigate have to be aware of the "make up" of their juries. That doesn't mean racial make up. That doesn't mean gender make up. That doesn't mean religious make up.
It just means make up. Folks, the media seems to think that walking into voir dire and saying "I'll take the first 12 jurors" is a fine way to select a jury. Nice idea, but its just not right. If that idea worked, there would be no such industry for The Jury Consultant. In higher powered civil trials and also in capital murder trials, great amount of attention is paid to the "make up" of the juries to an almost ridiculous degree:
"# 3 would be a leader. They've clearly got a dominant personality. That's your foreman."
"# 17 already hates #14. You put them both on the jury and you'll never get a verdict."
"#27 is clearly a follower. He's going to do whatever the rest of them want to do."
These are all part of the analysis of the "make up" of the jury.
Now, one last thing before I go. Two of the former-prosecutors who have chosen to remain anonymous (which is their right, and I'm certainly not the one to be identifying them) are only telling half the side of the story. I will address them as Anon 1 and Anon 2.
Anon 1, who was the prosecutor that was angry with the initial breaking of the "Candadian e-mail" story, was a very talented trial attorney with the D.A.'s Office. He rose and rose quickly to the level of Felony Two within the Office, before leaving for a higher paying job. During his time with the Office, he had two run-ins with the law that were serious. Very serious. Under interpretation, it could even by regarded as felonious. However, in spite of this, the Office kept him there.
He may claim hostile work environment, but the fact is that the Office bent over backwards to keep this talented young litigator in it's employment. Some would say long past the point when it was rational to do so.
Anon 2, on the other hand, may or may not have been a good litigator. We don't know, because he steadfastly refused to go to trial. He was given opportunity after opportunity to go to trial, and would find a reason not to. It is alluded to in Falkenberg's article that the term "trial dodging" was thrown out as a silly excuse for him not being promoted.
Trial dodging in the D.A.'s Office is not a silly excuse. It's actually bordering on derilicition of duty.
Anon 2 became angry when he wasn't promoted to Felony Two (the level where a prosecutor starts trying murders and aggravated sexual assaults of children), and was in fact, skipped over. What he neglects to mention when he is talking to the media is that he only had 3 or 4 other felony trials under his belt when it came to promotion time.
No supervisor in their right mind is going to try and send a prosecutor in to try murders when they only have four felony trials as experience. It would be horribly irresponsible to the victim's family, not to mention the entire community.
Anon 2 became so angry that he wasn't promoted despite his low trial numbers, that he ultimately walked off the job and never returned.
NOTE: I'm sure there are going to be a lot of posts on this story. I ask whoever posts not to name Anon 1 or Anon 2, although I'm sure you know who they are. They want to be anonymous, and they will remain so as far as my blog is concerned. Any comments that name them will not be published.