Sunday, May 11, 2008

Cry Me a River

I gotta admit that I thought it was pretty damn funny to read the Chronicle's editorial this morning lamenting Ken Magidson's decision to create a media office.

I mean, it just absolutely cracks me up.

Let's see, Jeff Cohen and crew have been calling the prosecutors at the Office racists, corrupt, and stupid for quite some time now, and yet they now seem stunned (just, stunned, I tell you!) that perhaps the Office has decided to exercise some "caution" in talking to reporters.

Don't get me wrong, I will freely admit that as a prosecutor, I love(d) talking to the media about my cases. It was always great to send a link to a website on one of my cases to the folks back at home. Its a sad day that it can't be done anymore, but I think Mr. Magidson's decision is a reasonable and prudent one.

Will it make the jobs of the roving reporters and columnists who work the courthouse more difficult? Yep.

Do I feel sorry for them? Well, yes and no. I like Brian Rogers and Peggy O'Hare and I don't think that they ever abused what a prosecutor had to tell them.

For them, I feel sorry.

For Lisa Falkenberg, Rick Casey, and my boy, Alan Bernstein? Not so much.
(As an aside, I did find the complaint about the "establishment of a fresh layer of bureaucracy" to be pretty funny as well. This is the same Chronicle that allows Falkenberg to write four articles a week advocating the creation of the Public Defenders Office, right?)

And do I feel sorry for the Chronicle as a whole? Absolutely not.

Over the past five months their "institution" has done everything it can to make the jobs of the people at the District Attorney's Office as difficult as they could. I'm not feeling much sympathy if the D.A.'s Office is doing the same thing to them now.

Cohen and Crew are griping about the Office talking to them in a more limited fashion?

Hell, they should be glad that the Office is talking to them at all.

7 comments:

jigmeister said...

I lament the necessity, but the events of the last year necessitate a public information office. At least their will be one position or public statement and the lawyers won't be called upon to make ethical mistakes just because a reporter wants a story.

And I can't count the number of times Holmes or Rosenthal made statements without getting the facts from the trial lawyers.

But, I don't understand why so it is so expensive or why Scott or the 1st assistant can't supervise a journalism type to handle these new duties.

Anonymous said...

I agree ACHL. The Comical runs over the office and the office decides to streamline the public information and those greedy jerks complain. It is the equivalent of a thief stealing from somebody and when the victim finally notices, the thief has the audacity to complain. Maybe not the best analogy but..... You get the concept.

I also find it funny that they note Durfee as the good guy- and he is a good guy... but he has to be insulted by that.

Come on in Alan, Jeff, Lisa, take a look at our work product and spin a few emails out of context and see what kind of mess you can create. Since you guys have so much integrity, I trust you will report things honestly. Which brings up another point, if they had any integrity in their reporting, there might not need to be a public information group.

Who wants to be Pat's PR person? Can you imagine, the first bad PR is that person's last day. Prosecutors should realize that will be a short lived job.

Or Clarence's PR person. They will regularly be told to look the other way and make sure the press doesn't hear about (fill in the blank).

Muck said...

As a member of the media, I've always appreciated the ability to talk to prosecutors. Whether it's a hallway interview at the end of the day or phone call in the morning to find out a bit of case background this courtesy has been invaluable.

I'm obviously not in favor of this; viewing it as one more layer of bureacracy. Jigmeister laments the times that Holmes or Rosenthal made facts without talking to the attorneys involved. Now picture a PR person doing the same. Something going on in your case you didn't want mentioned: the PR person doesn't necessarily know that or understand why. Now your cat's out of the bag (trust me, I've had enough conversations with some sheriff'd deputy friends of mine to know the damage done to some of their investigations by a "media spokesperson').

It's hard enough to get an accurate and fair picture of a case without adding in a person completely removed from it. You'll have defense attornys happily telling the media their side and, if you're lucky enough to get the PR person to respond in a timely fashion, a mouthpiece on the otherside.

Do I understand why the D.A.'s office is doing this? You bet. Do I understand your rancor toward the Chron. Again, yep. I just think the results will not be something you'll long-term like.

As for the salaries to which jigmeister alluded: they're on the healthy side, but not out of line with market. Moreover, that PR will (if they're doing their job) not have a 9-5 schedule. They'll be down there for trials: giving insight daily into trials underway. I don't have to tell you how many happen on any given day. They'll also be answering phone calls before they've even left for work about a possible trial that morning, possible charges, etc. And then they'll be answering them from the next media organization, and the next, and the next because each saw it on the other's air or website and need to get that same information confirmed.

Throw in the fact that you're working for Bradford or Lykos and I pity the person(s) who take(s) that job.

My two cents for what it's worth.

jigmeister said...

I just thought of something. Give that office the responsibility of responding to the open records requests and it might be worth the money. I hear that those requests have damn near crippled the IT guys.

Anonymous said...

WOW! So...Clarence Bradford has been telling folks that he is planning to dismantle the Special Crimes Division and maybe the Public Integrity Division of the DAs office??

I guess it should be expected and no one should really be shocked. He did the same thing at HPD when the Public Integrity Review Group investigated his buddy Lloyd Kelly.

Seems that Kelly was using city computers at the Controller's office for his private law practice. Oops. And what was the name of the lawfirm? "Kelly and Bradford." No wonder Bradford tried to squash the investigation and then dismantled PIRG.

Let it soak in. This is what is coming to the DAs office.

Not to mention the fact that Lloyd Kelly could be the new First Assistant...and that Quanell X and his thugs will have free access to the DAs office just like they did at the Police Department. Think about it. Convicted felons. They were allowed to bypass security and take the back elevator. Didnt even have to sign in.

Ladies and Gentlemen, its going to be a whole new world...

A Harris County Lawyer said...

Uh Jig,
That's what the Office is being designed for. My understanding is that some of what Magidson's design for the office is has been misinterpreted and that ADAs have freedom to speak within the Rules of Ethics about their cases. I think the media should be asking for some clarification at this point.

Muck,
Trust me, the prosecutors love talking about their cases if given the opportunity. Please don't take my post on this as a slam on all of the local media. There are many (yourself included) that provide a neutral picture of how the CJC works. I was just laughing about the Chronical being so nasty towards the office and then griping when the tables were just slightly turned on them.

Muck said...

Heh. No offense taken, either originally or now. I was just trying to say that I think this PIO scenario is one in which the prosectors will ultimately wind up on the short end of the stick.

Of course, I have a vested interest being able to talk to prosecutors directly so take it for what you will.