I'm sure by now that all of you have heard that Kelly Siegler resigned, effective immediately from the Harris County District Attorney's Office.
I know that death penalty opponents nationwide are rejoicing that the most effective voice for victim's advocacy has retired, but I think that there are many more who fully realize the tremendous loss that Harris County has suffered today. There was probably no person who tried harder to assure that justice was done, regardless of where and when a crime was committed, or who the Defendant was (or who he hired to represent him).
The cynics may laugh and say that it's not like she could completely stop crime in Houston. Fair enough, I suppose, but if there were more hours in the day, she just damn well might have.
Without Kelly Siegler:
-A man who fired a shotgun into the head of his eight-month pregnant wife may still be going to work every day without ever feeling a single repercussion of his actions.
-a young man who killed a woman in a wig shop so he could experience "the thrill" of taking another human's life might be still partying it up in college.
-a man who paid another man to kill his wife, rather than divorce her, might be relaxing at home.
-the man that took that money to kill may have done other unspeakable acts to finance himself.
-the murderer of a Precinct One Deputy Constable may be sitting around, having a beer, bragging to his friends about "that cop he killed".
-one of the murders of Jennifer Ertman and Elizabeth Pena may have been the grand leader of the gang he was joining that night.
And that doesn't even begin to scratch the surface of all she has done.
I'm proud to call Kelly Siegler a friend and a mentor to me. She was a prosecutor's prosecutor who could pick up a file and understand the pain that a victim or a victim's family had been through.
She never thought of doing anything other than being a prosecutor.
I mean, hell, look at it. Her first day as a private practitioner and she picks up a gig as a special prosecutor in Wharton County. It may not make good business sense, but it speaks volumes of who Kelly is, and who she always has been.
You can't be a prosecutor anywhere without picking up some enemies along the way, and I'm sure that the family members of murderers and criminals that she put in prison are having a cathartic release over on the Chronicle message boards. Members of the Defense Bar have recognized her talent as a formidable opponent, and only those with a bitterness that bred classlessness took joy in her departure.
But for those families whose lives she touched- the ones she drove out to talk to-the ones she met with for hours in her office-the ones that she would spend her time consoling during every break in a trial-they know that the job of being a prosecutor is one where you make a stand for what you believe in.
She was accused of being "win at all costs" - an easy phrase from ill-informed critics. I think she's more aptly described as a prosecutor who gave everything she had for a case she believed in.
Seriously, what did her critics expect?
"Hey Kelly, would you mind kind of half-assing it during the cross of the defendant? Thanks."
Kelly Siegler never did anything half-assed in her life, and the Harris County Criminal Justice System and the District Attorney's Office has never had another prosecutor with more dedication or talent.
In the history of the Office, there has probably never been a prosecutor more deserving of the name "Legend".