I've often pointed out that Chuck Rosenthal "keeps his own counsel" when it comes to taking ideas from his staff. One of the more noteworthy ideas that he shot down was an idea from Kelly Siegler that the Office hire a media representative. Chuck's theory behind not hiring one was that ADAs should be allowed to talk about (and subsequently take credit for) their own big cases. It's a good thought, and I think that Chuck meant well, but what he failed to see was the downside of not having one.
If Kelly is elected, she certainly won't make the same mistake that he did.
Where am I going with this? Have a little patience, I'll get there.
Yesterday, Quannel X and a pretty sizeable group of protestors were in front of the CJC protesting. As I've pointed out, some of things they said were valid. Some were not.
But what was impossible to ignore was the fact that there was a vast vast disconnection between the (mostly) African-American protestors and the Criminal Justice System (specifically the HCDA's office). There were many things that were said by the multiple speakers, where I couldn't help but think "they just don't understand".
And then I realized that I may have just stumbled onto something. They didn't understand. Why not? Because the way the Harris County D.A.'s Office has been run for the past 8 years, it has made no successful attempts to help anyone understand. Chuck took the action that he deemed best for the Office, and made no attempt to explain his actions to anyone. From what I understand, he's still doing it now. Granted, he has other things on his mind at the moment, with the Federal case, but other than an e-mail to the entire office that he sent after "E-Mail Scandal Part 1" broke, he's been absolutely silent. Do you think its bad that he isn't explaining himself to the general public? He's not even explaining himself to the people who work for him.
What the Office lacks is "transparency", because, as I've said before, "preception is reality". If a group of this community feels alienated and discriminated against by the Criminal Justice System, then they are alienated and discriminated against for all intents and purposes.
Think about the situations where a little bit of explanation would have gone a long way:
1. The Andrea Yates case
2. The Supreme Court sodomy argument
3. The Houston Police Department DNA scandal
4. The "Crack pipe" policy
5. Um, the E-mail scandal
If Chuck had thought it out a little further, a PR representative could have been a big help to him, too. A PR rep would have given information to all the media outlets at the same time. If the Chronicle chose to sit on a story (as they seem to like to do quite frequently), the PR rep could call them out to the other media outlets.
And no, I'm not applying for a PR job.
I guess what I'm getting at here is that there have been multiple situations over the years where the community deserved a real explanation and failed to get one.
It's no wonder that there is such a disconnection with the D.A.'s Office and the African- American community.