Thursday, July 24, 2008

Kelly Siegler Writes Again

Kelly Siegler authored another post on the Women In Crime blog website (which if you haven't read yet, you should. It is really really good.)

The topic, I'm sure will generate a lot of conversation, because it stands for the rarely asserted position that prosecutors aren't too aggressive, but, in fact, often not aggressive enough. Now, I'm sure that this proposition will have Mark Bennett, Grits for Breakfast, and PJ spitting coffee on their latest edition of the ACLU Newsletter.

Critics of prosecutors (especially those prosecutors in Harris County) are much more fond of pointing out how prosecutors will attempt any hurdle just to convict, but there is a flip side to that tired old argument.

Sometimes prosecutors are reluctant to take on cases where they are going to have difficulty proving that case. One of my friends who is a prosecutor seemed to take offense at that premise, but I think that everyone who has ever been a prosecutor would have to admit to pleading out a case for less than it was worth because it was going to be very difficult to prove on occasion.

Now before my more Liberal Friends start screaming: "Well you should be reluctant to try cases that you can't prove!", think about it for a second in terms of the truly serious cases. Not the misdemeanor thefts -- the sexual assaults, the murders, the injury to a child cases.

These are the cases that Kelly was talking about. The ones that prosecutors really should be bending over backwards to try to prove if they believe the Defendant is the person responsible for the crime. And, no, my Liberal Friends, there is nothing wrong with working hard to make those cases. There's nothing wrong with re-examining and re-investigating those minute details while trying to get a conviction. It's a lot of leg work, but it's that kind of leg work that was the motivation for a lot of us to become prosecutors in the first place.

And who knows? Sometimes that kind of leg work pays off. If you don't believe me, just ask David Temple.

I think an implied message also exists in Kelly's posting, and that is that sometimes victims' families, and even the detectives themselves will have to keep on kicking and screaming to get a case accepted and put before a jury.

That message may be even more relevant as we are about to have an elected District Attorney who has never tried a criminal case as a prosecutor. Sometimes the victims may need to keep kicking and screaming to get their day in court when a case seems, on first glance, to be impossible to prove.

But that's just my take on it.

39 comments:

Anonymous said...

You should have picked a better example than David Temple.

A Harris County Lawyer said...

Well, you are entitled to your opinion. Just like I, and 12 jurors are entitled to ours.

Anonymous said...

I am inflamed by Ms. Siegler’s latest blog entry entitled “Win at all costs? Not really.” As a native Houstonian, Ms. Siegler commanded my respect. As a young prosecutor, she was my secret mentor. I marveled at her ability to speak to juries. Now, she has chosen to defame my work and state that “the standard, typical everyday problem” at the Harris County District Attorney’s Office involves lazy prosecutors who are not willing to handle difficult cases.

This statement is extremely insulting on various levels. First, I have spent many holidays and weekends personally tracking down witnesses (because no investigator or police officer would help me do so) and making my “evidence stronger.” Many of my friends and colleagues have done the same. If she is speaking to specific individuals then, by all means, please do so. It is insulting for Ms. Siegler to speak in such generalities as to offend her own supporters.

Second, as a child, I realized there were people in this world who broke down others in order to boost themselves. And, unfortunately, this seems like Ms. Siegler’s game in this blog entry. She established a new paradigm for criminal prosecution. She is Harris County’s model prosecutor and, thereby, has the ear of many people (future jurors, witnesses, victims) in our community. Her entry is irresponsible because she is telling her readers that most prosecutors, including her own supporters, are worthless.

Ms. Siegler’s rally cry during her campaign involved her pride in working at such a great institution with gifted and talented prosecutors and staff. After the election, her answer was to abruptly quit the office and, now, tear down others in a desperate attempt to advance her relevance. I wanted to believe that her heart was in the right place. This is beyond disappointing.

Certainly, there are good and bad people everywhere. Some of the most amazing people I have been privileged to know are Harris County Assistant District Attorneys.

wlf359 said...

Well, I disagree that Kelly's post is "really, really good." It's not that she doesn't make some valid points – she certainly does. But her comments also provide a glimpse into what is one of her bigger flaws.

I hear that Kelly is still angry and feeling bitter that the folks at the DA's office did not endorse her candidacy more vocally and with more financial support. And I fear that her perception that prosecutors did not "top to bottom" pound the pavement for her is accurate. Support for her was somewhat less than uniformly enthusiastic and somewhat more than lukewarm. The attitude she shows in her last post explains why this was so.

She makes the point that the media likes to portray prosecutors as out to win at any cost, and, as she puts it, it is the VERY rare despicable prosecutor that is out there trying to convict innocent people. I agree. But then she says that the real problem is that lazy prosecutors are reluctant to pursue difficult cases.

Give me a break. Let's think about what she really said. "Prosecutors get away with rejecting charges because everyone forgets that a lawyer can work up a case and investigate it further just like the police … who initially worked on the case. There is absolutely no reason for someone preparing to go to trial to not try to make the evidence stronger."

Huh? When was the last time Kelly actually worked an intake shift? Or actually worked day to day in a trial court? The DA's office is not primarily an investigative agency. Most cases are worked up by police agencies and presented to the DA's office for filing charges through the intake division. If the police have not been thorough, then OF COURSE the case is rejected at intake. Sometimes officers want to get cases off their desk – and they cut corners to do it. This causes problems later when prosecutors must get ready for trial with an incomplete investigation. It isn't that prosecutors "can't" do the work later. It is that, on a day to day basis for your average line prosecutor assigned to a specific court, no one has the time to do that kind of follow up. When in the world is the felony 2 who has 5 or 6 or sometimes more serious felony cases set for trial on a Monday, with no idea what the judge is going to pick to go on, really going to have the time to do the basic legwork that the police should have done on the front end? And what about recognizing those prosecutors that sacrifice weekends, sleep, and holidays trying to make their cases better even in the face of those odds and that workload?

The reality is that most prosecutors simply don't have the time necessary to work up cases to the extent that each deserves, even were they to work 14 hour days all the time.

Now, you say that you think the cases Kelly is talking about are the David Temples -- the really hard murders and sexual assaults that aren't your typical cases. The problem is that special crimes handles those cases. The special crimes bureau has prosecutors who are dedicated to working with police and helping them make their cases better. I don't get the impression that they are refusing to file hard cases. And if, somehow, they are, it is happening in the bureau that Kelly herself supervised.

Kelly accuses prosecutors of having a "chicken" attitude. And she says it is a personality issue. Brett Favre v. David Carr. Diane Sawyer v. Nancy Grace. She says that personalities drive decision about what constitutes enough evidence to file charges.

Excuse me? It is obviously true that the personalities of people making decisions affect their view of the choices they face. But Kelly implies that if prosecutors don't share HER personality, then they are lazy and chicken and reluctant to file charges.

Well, I actually agree that there are a few lazy prosecutors out there. A few seem to get away with going to trial without talking to their witnesses. There are a few who routinely handle serious cases without ever interviewing their victims. These are people that tend to be flamboyant and personable, and they charm their way through their job. I think they are by far the exception to the rule, but, over time, they also tended to be the people that Kelly touted as being outstanding stars – you know, the "golden" ones. She had a group of younger people close to her that had reputations for being less than diligent in trial prep. She rewarded them, yet she complains now that prosecutors generally have a lazy attitude. The irony is both manifest and depressing.

Kelly is one of the best trial lawyers anywhere. She has a distinctive style that is aggressive and theatrical. She is also book smart – she really knows the law. But her style is not the ONLY style that works. It suits her. Unfortunately, great prosecutors with less dramatic or aggressive styles were not the ones Kelly rewarded with much praise.

Kelly had a tendency to make snap judgments about people. If she liked someone, she would back them 100%. But, if she decided that someone was not a good prosecutor, there was little anyone could do to change her mind. She would make those decisions quickly, and through the lens of her vision of the perfect prosecutor – that is to say, one just like her. There wasn't a lot of room for diversity of personality in her world.

For Kelly to say that "evidence is easily developed after the filing of charges" and that "maybe it's laziness that's the problem" shows how out of touch she had become with the day-to-day life of most prosecutors. I might take her comments more seriously if she spent any time -- at all -- talking about the ridiculous extent to which prosecutors are overworked. Hell, I'd love to see the Chronicle do a story about prosecutors who wish they had more time to spend on each trial. More time to spend making their cases better. More time to really reflect about their trials and developing effective strategies. Instead of spending all their time trying to find and schedule witnesses for trials carried day to day for weeks at a time. Victims deserve much, much better, but Kelly does them a disservice when she focuses on the "laziness" of her former colleagues to the exclusion of the real lack of time and resources that plague the people who are dedicated to the pursuit of justice.

That Kelly is no longer a prosecutor in Harris County is a tremendous loss for its citizens. It is difficult to find words to describe how valuable an asset she was. Non-attorneys, and I’d wager many attorneys, probably don’t really appreciate her skill at weaving independent threads together to tell a convincing story. She could pull together seemingly unrelated details, figure out how and why they were admissible, and combine them in a logical and persuasive narrative.

On the other hand, Kelly had, and apparently still has, blinders on when it comes to evaluating the talent of people who are not like her. She rewarded people who had her flash but lacked her substance. And she apparently still fails to recognize the value of people who were and are different than her. Most prosecutors really are "in the game" as she puts it. Kelly mentions Brett Favre, but, given her tone, I bet it would never occur to her to mention the offensive lines that have made his accomplishments possible. And I don’t expect we’ll see Favre out there any time soon telling people that his linemen were fat and lazy because they weighed more than him and couldn’t run as fast.

Not everyone can be a media darling star, thank God. If Kelly had been elected, the attitude she exhibits in her post would not have served her constituents. Her post provides a glimpse of what her leadership would have rewarded – and penalized.

The DA's office is filled with underpaid, dedicated people. There may be a few lazy exceptions, but, particularly after everything that has happened in the last few months, Kelly should know better than to paint the entire office in such broad strokes. In her post, she's finally stooped to the level of her former opponents. I couldn't be more disappointed.

pro.victims said...

I've worked alongside, and supervised prosecutors who fit the bill Kelly is describing. I've seen some ADA's who look at case files with some holes in them, and take the attitude that it's the cops fault, when in fact, with a little legwork and follow up, we could make the case so much better. It's actually a pretty prevalent problem. I had to step in and salvage a trial date case, pleaing it to much less than it was worth, just last week, because a prosecutor did exactly that - failed to go the extra mile to make the case what it was worth. It should have been a 20 or 30 year case based on the facts and criminal history, but since the trial prosecutor failed to make basic, obvious efforts (beyond what the police did, and frankly, beyond what the police would be expected to have done), we had to plead it to 5, which was less than the minimum, on a case that easily, EASILY could have been shored up and made much stronger by the ADA.

You can tell which lawyers don't fit this bill - they are the ones up there on Saturdays and Sunday's They are the ones who walk in the building at 7 a.m. and leave well after 5 p.m. They are the ones who will adjust their schedules to meet with the witnesses on the witnesses' schedules - that is - after 5 p.m. when the witness gets off work.

Anon 9:17 - if you're doing those things, you shouldn't be inflamed about Kelly's comment that they typical every day problem. I bet you know exactly, by name, which people arrive at 8, leave at 5, never work on weekends or holidays, dodge trials, and cherry pick cases. Most of us who are up there all the time can tell who those folks are - because we never see them there. They consider themselves government employees, who show up 8 to 5 and collect their checks. They aren't really prosecutors though.

Muck said...

And once again I'm reminded why I enjoy this blog so much. I actually had no idea prosecutors put in so much legwork. Should have but didn't.

I also really appreciate the posts of the two people who obviously worked with Kelly and have respect for her but offer a different perspective than the one I've seen covering her from the reporter side.

Anonymous said...

I only have one problem with the post. To the extent she seems like she's abdicating her discretion, I can't go with her. Part of the legitimacy of the role of the prosecutor comes from the wise use of broad discretion. Yes, prosecutors need to be zealous and advocate for victims, yes prosecutors need to look under every stone to make their case better, yes you need to fight the suppress issue rather than assume it won't go your way, yes you need to see things from the victim's perspective. But we proceed all the time without the victim's wishes and it can't just be a one way street. To the extent she seems to advocate going ahead on principle because "you know he did it" without reference to the evidence you have is dangerous and I can't agree with that, despite my admiration for her courage, passion, and dedication to prosecution.

I also think speculating about her ulterior motives is counterproductive to the discussion.

Anonymous said...

Thank you, Anon 9:17 and wlf359, for expressing what so many have felt, but so few have been able to articulate.

There was no hidden meaning in Kelly's post. While I respect the loyalty of those who supported her, those who didn't have finally been validated. Ironically, by Kelly herself.

Anonymous said...

Those that are offended are the ones that do not do the extra and are the "8 to 5ers". Those people have struggled with Kelly this whole time. Those are the people that are trying to get part time gigs so they don't have to work as much. What Kelly brought to the office was a complete disdain for mediocrity and the government attitude. She pressed every single division to get better. Without that, the office will slide quickly into mediocrity. Look at who has recently been promoted. Inside the halls, prosecutors are laughing.

The Division Chiefs (excluding a few) are the ones that don't let you plea cases that you should because they want to cover their own butts. They moved up by not "rocking the boat", laying low, and following rules. That sounds good but justice needs decision makers, flexibility, and "balls".

Seniority rules again at this office and it will be the downfall of the office. If you were offended, you have a guilty conscience. I certainly wasn't offended.

Anonymous said...

I am upset too.....(And I respected and supported Kelly) I am one that will work hard at the hard to win cases....however....no one up high ever looks at the amount of evidence you had, or the issues in your case. It's simply a counting scalps basis.... Promotions have been, and always will be given out on who wins the most trials, and Kelly wonders why most people at the office are "chicken" to try cases. That doesn't apply to me... but then again...look at my trial record...

HPD 101 said...

WLF359,
Kelly put herself out there to try and salvage an office she loved that was decimated by an arrogant selfish Chuck Rosenthal. She chose to get in the arena rather then stay in the stands and critique the combatants. She's not the type to sit on the sidelines of justice. I'm sure she hoped to garner more substantive support from her peers for her risk; but a wise man once said, "never expect gratitude in life and you won't be disappointed". Kelly's flaw, if you will, is sometimes overestimating the good in people. Too many folks are out for themselves...afraid of commitment or to take a stand when personal risk is at stake. I believe Kelly now appreciates retrospectively more fully the apathy of many of her co-workers not just in their respective job descriptions but more importantly in the character that defines them. It is often said that a campaign reveals one's character it does not give one character. Kelly shouldn't feel beholden to defend the indefensible. Kelly represents excellence and wanted the DA's office to reflect that principle. Chuck Rosenthal, ironically, was the antithesis of Kelly. Her frustration on rewarding mediocrity is self evident in her post. I believe she saw an opportunity to instill her work ethic as standard operating procedure at the Harris County District Attorney's office. Our county suffered a great loss, Kelly will be fine.
Parenthetically, as for Kelly not working intake??? The DAs working intake knew they could call Kelly at any time to ask her the tough questions and often did. The only difference is she did't get paid for those frequent late night calls. She answered the cop calls when others at Special Crimes couldn't be reached, she drove to the office to do pocket warrants when the prosecutor up was't reachable....I know because she was often the only one I could reach after hours even when she wasn't assigned. Why wasn't David Temple filed before Kelly Siegler filed it?????? How long was all the David Temple evidence languishing in Special Crimes with Kelly's predecessor and never filed. Maybe you should check with her predecessor. As for Kelly's offensive line, it was represented by the cops and witnesses she worked many long hours with. If you don't believe me ask any of the ones that worked with her. Do your homework before you cast stones at one of the greatest prosecutors Harris County had the privilege of using and casting aside. As Jack Nicholson once said, "you can't handle the truth".

wlf359 said...

Hpd 101,
You know, I agree with most of what you’ve written. I said that most people, even many lawyers, don’t realize what a loss Kelly’s departure has been. I tried to emphasize some of the many, many strengths she has. You’ve mentioned more of them. There is no question that Kelly set the highest standard when it came to working up difficult cases. She left no stone unturned, and she was always willing to work with and help investigators that needed her. Whatever long hours were needed, she put in. In that regard, I don’t really understand what homework I haven’t done.

Parenthetically, as for why David Temple was not filed sooner, I can’t say from personal knowledge. I suspect that, as you point out, it was because her predecessor chose not to file it. If you made your point directly, I doubt I would have occasion to quibble with it.

But, the truth is, I’m not really in a position to intelligently comment on the inner workings of special crimes. I don’t doubt that Kelly was always available if others were not. It sounds to me like you are saying that there are other people who have been assigned to special crimes that you wished were more diligent and committed. People that you could not reach when you needed them. If that’s the case, then why don’t you give some better guidance on that? It would be useful for ADAs to know that there are investigators working difficult homicide and other complicated cases that can’t reach the prosecutors that are assigned to help them. I wrote that it was my impression that special crimes wasn’t really reluctant to file hard cases. I suppose David Temple might be a counter example, but that’s just one case. Are you saying that there is a pattern of not pursuing tough cases? Look, I’m not asking you to mention specific people or cases, but if you are seriously having problems with getting support from the DA’s office, then people should know.

I’m also not trying to “cast stones” at Kelly. It’s interesting (sorry, I know that’s a lousy word) that you describe her as one of the greatest prosecutors Harris County has the “privilege of using and casting aside.” I think that is spot on. The great irony of the campaign was that her opponents cast her as Rosenthal’s handpicked successor. We all know how much of a lie that was. Chuck’s implosion guaranteed that no one from the office had a snowball’s chance in hell of getting the nomination. The republican machinery was so intent on distancing itself from Chuck that it happily “cast her aside.” And, even in the face of that, Kelly WON the primary. Go figure. She devoted the same intensity and drive to her campaign that she brought to those hard cases that you mention. And she almost pulled it off. The problem was that the runoff demographics were never going to favor her, because they were always going to favor who the republican insiders wanted. As for Kelly’s character in the campaign, I think she demonstrated a poise and grace under fire that we didn’t always get to see. In the courtroom, Kelly always kicked ass and was more or less in charge. In the political arena, she came under relentless and unfair personal attacks, something that would never have happened to her in a courtroom, and she handled herself with genuineness and integrity.

And that gets me back to the point of my post and why I was so disappointed with Kelly’s comments. She literally cast her comments at the ENTIRE OFFICE. She said, “Everyone always forgets that lawyers can always work up a case and investigate it further.” That’s just not true. Everyone does not always forget this. There is a much broader dynamic at work than you are (or she was) considering.

Let me throw out an example. Let’s say you are a patrol officer and you run a license plate and get a stolen hit. You pull the guy over, do a felony stop, and verify that it’s stolen. What do you do? Call intake and file UUMV charges, right? Well, it’s not that simple. Because the head of intake has stressed that it takes more than that to file a UUMV. Prosecutors have to have the officer call the complainant to be sure that the he really didn’t give this guy permission to be operating the vehicle. (I imagine those calls go something like this: Hello, this is Officer Smith, I just need to make sure that you didn’t give Lothar permission to operate your car. Response: What, you moron? I reported it as STOLEN. Of course he didn’t have permission. Except for those calls where it becomes obvious that it was a crack rental….) And we have to ask some questions about the defendant’s story – does he have the keys and a plausible explanation for why he is driving the car?

Kelly’s comments suggest that, in her opinion, prosecutors should be filing those cases immediately and doing the follow up themselves. Or maybe filing those cases and asking the officers to do the follow up that would be needed.

I’m not entirely convinced that the policy on these kinds of cases is what it should be. But I think it’s driven by a couple of realities. ADAs don’t get a lot of success in getting officers to follow up on day to day cases after charges are filed. The officers that investigate them have their own crushing workloads. And for the line prosecutor that has to do the legwork to sort out the UUMV (for example), that is taking time away from other pressing matters.

Can you see how the special crimes intake paradigm doesn’t translate so well to day to day intake? Thousands of UUMV cases get filed, and more calls than that come in constantly. Regular intake rejects cases that aren’t thoroughly investigated because, in the typical case that is filed routinely, to do otherwise creates a nightmare later on. A nightmare that no one really has the resources to deal with. It’s not that you have a DA’s office that is full of lazy people. The office filed something like 115,000 criminal cases in 2006. Of those, 228 were murders. Only a very small percentage of the total workload involves the Temple style problems. And that is why I felt compelled to respond to her post.

The DA’s office, like any large organization, has a few bad apples. But it also has a lot of dedicated, hard working, underpaid people who feel called to make our community safer. Kelly cast stones at an institution that I care deeply about. She painted the office with the same broad strokes that her opponents used on her. And that brings me finally to the point about her “blinders” when it came to evaluating people. Maybe you are right, and she overestimated the good in people. She certainly favored some people who, in the end, didn’t share her work ethic.

Let me throw out an example. There was a prosecutor assigned to special crimes and was working major drug cases. This person no longer is at the office, but the situation is a pretty good illustration. This prosecutor went into a court and attempted to plea out one of his major drug cases. But one of the people assigned to the court had to remind him that there was a minimum fine on his case. This was someone who was personable, charismatic, and charming with juries. But he attempted to dispose of a case where he didn’t even know the range of punishment. I can’t fathom why Kelly put up with that. He had a style that was similar to Kelly’s, but not the substance or the work ethic. I guarantee you that Kelly never went into court to handle a case without knowing the range of punishment. So why did she back him?

The reputation of this person was one of not really working up his cases, but still managing to slide by and get good results. He was rewarded – he wouldn’t have gotten into special crimes without Kelly’s support. But, he would never, never have been able to successfully work up a David Temple type case.

Can you try to imagine how that kind of thing impacts morale across the organization? Particularly when you add the other side of the equation where Kelly made snap judgments about people. She would bad mouth them, and, as you can imagine, Kelly’s opinion carried weight. But she didn’t always recognize good people when they had styles dissimilar to her own. When one of the best lawyers in the building is backing people who don’t have substance and bad mouthing some who do, it does not foster a healthy working atmosphere. If Kelly had made the point that there are some lazy people that need to get their act together, I’d be cheering. But that isn’t what she did or said.

The office is entering a very difficult time. We will have many, many more inexperienced felony prosecutors. We are going to need chiefs who are willing to sit with their people and teach them how to try cases. The hard workers, the prosecutors with passion and integrity, ought to be rewarded even if they don’t have Kelly’s star trial persona. Because that is not the only style that gets results. I guarantee you there are people working at the DA’s office today who could take that David Temple trial and win it. The tone in the courtroom might be different, but there are still a bunch of very, very talented lawyers at the office. I’m very disappointed that Kelly felt it necessary to throw everyone under the bus.

Let me put it this way. There are dozens of people who are dedicated enough to work the kind of hours that Kelly did. People who would make themselves available to you after hours. People that would (and do) dedicate themselves to knowing the law and rising to the challenge. Kelly may have realized that some of her colleagues were more apathetic than she thought, and there may be some truth to that. But it is also true that not everyone that she disparaged was lazy or undedicated. The office is in transition. If you can point out things that you need and things that the office can fix, I think most prosecutors would like to hear about it. Kelly is not the only person that was/is interested in “salvaging the office.”

I can handle the truth. What I can’t handle are broad stroke attacks that only masquerade as the truth.

outraged said...

HPD 101...really, really great response, but you missed a few points.
Sounds like wlf359 is the bitter one. She ought to be more disappointed with her Chuckie Poo. He's who single handedly destroyed the Harris County DA's office.
Why is wlf359 so angry that Kelly would have rewarded merit over seniority? The nation wide campaign theme today is change. What better change could be advocated then to replace complacent mediocrity with excellence? Look who's been promoted since Kelly resigned! PLEASE!!! Who cares if the slugs oppose a change in their routine? What changes are Bradford or Lykos going to impose? Who will give them guidance in their cluelessness....you guessed it, the cream of the crop leaders with integrity and principle aren't staying.
How did the troops respect Chuckie and his leadership? NOT! Am I to believe wlf359 believes Chuckie, Lykos or Bradford would REALLY be better to lead the DA's office then Kelly? If so, she needs to quit smoking crack. Who in her infinite wisdom would be better then Kelly to be DA? We don't live in a vacuum and we all have baggage....leadership involves evaluating the risks and benefits of the situation at hand and allocating resources accordingly. True leadership requires difficult decisions that are often unpopular. Kelly wasn't running for cheerleader. The question should have been what is in the best interest of the citizens of Harris County not the preservation of the petty politics of disgruntled government employees.
Kelly mentored many junior prosecutors to be the best they could be. Everyone is not a star. The problem with DA evaluations is that many prosecutors feel entitled to be a 5. It's not a perfect world.....wake up girls and boys. When Kelly ran Special Crimes she selected coworkers who represented a VERY diverse group of "prosecutorial" style. Kelly demonstrated her respect for "the eye of the tiger" attitude which can be manifested in many styles as evidenced by the diversity of expression represented in her staff. Wlf359 obviously lacked that attribute based on her resentment of those more gifted in advocacy then her. Willie Shakespeare spoke to wlf359 when he said, "Ye who does protesteth too much...".
There are great prosecutors at the Harris County District Attorneys Office and even more potential great stars and super stars....Kelly advocated realizing their potential not dumbing them down. Careful what you wish for......

Anonymous said...

Don't prosecutors have enough people calling them names? Is it really productive to start calling each other names? One prosecutor dispute the point of view. Another responds substantively and then adds, "sounds like you're the one she's talking about". Is there any way to have this argument without making things personal?

HPD 101 said...

wlf359,
Maybe you should take the time to talk with Kelly directly to see what the intent of her post was rather then judge her anonymously. You may be surprised. Through the years I've known Kelly she has always had the highest respect for the DA's office and most of the people that work there. The philosophy of promoting prosecutors primarily on seniority rather then merit always offended her. I would suspect the broad brush of disparaging comments she made on her post were not intended to taint the majority of prosecutors but rather the significant and growing number of those that fit the bill. We all know that both sides of the coin exist at the DA's office. The dedicated hard workers are generally empathetic with Kelly on this issue while the others seem to be "inflamed". To judge Kelly on a single blog posting in light of her incredible career is revealing of the character of those passing judgment. As for your issues on intake. An in-service would be useful with representatives from the various law enforcement agencies and prosecutors on a regular recurring basis to work issues out before they have significant impact on the administration of justice in Harris County. Inter-agency as well as intra-agency focus groups are essential. Prosecutors and cops need to stop passing the buck and focus on taking care of victims rather then acting like victims themselves. Overall, I appreciate your kinder words for my good friend in your 2nd post.

Anonymous said...

Everyone seems to agree that Kelly painted most prosecutors with a broad brush in her latest posting. While we all know that some prosecutors are lazy and ignorant (as are some police officers…and defense attorneys…and judges) most of the prosecutors at the Harris County District Attorney’s Office do NOT find themselves in this category.

Speaking for myself, a hard worker, I do not appreciate this broad brush because I believe the general public (who rely on Kelly for forthright courthouse information) would translate her statements to mean that all prosecutors are lazy and do not do their jobs properly. I have the utmost respect for her prosecutorial work; however, I perceived her posting to be a marketing ploy for her services as a “prosecutor-for-hire” while painting her friends, supporters, and former co-workers as lazy oafs.

No one is judging Kelly on a single blog posting. To me, the entire purpose of a blog and the related comments is to foster ideas and communication. It is a sad state of affairs when comments on a criminal justice blog are similar to the puerile utterances on the Chronicle.

To state an opinion, especially when it varies from the crowd, is valiant. I would hope that readers of this blog could formulate logical, impersonal arguments without the vituperations against someone who may feel differently about an issue or situation.

Dirt Road said...

WLF 359 makes some truthful points. Prosecutors are overworked. Kelly led the charge to get more prosecutors and get higher pay (in case she/WLF forgot). Kelly didn't do the leg work but she sponsored the idea and pushed it hard.
But the bottom line is, part of the job is going the extra mile and not making excuses. WLF is an excuse maker. If she can only point to one promotion of someone who lacked substance then it seems Kelly did a pretty good job of promoting.
You don't get to try a David Temple unless you do the time in the trenches. Kelly did the time and didn't go to Special Crimes and rest. She continued to try hard cases and set an example. That is why I wish she would be our boss next year. Let's hope for the best and try and stay positive.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps its the tendency of her and her followers to personally attack people who disagree with their view of the case that led to the unwillingless of more people to pound the pavement on her behalf. It's one thing to take a "if you're not with me you're against me" attitude, it's another to affirmatively attack folks who disagree.

Anonymous said...

Kelly made a comment on a blog addressing her perception of the work ethic at the Harris County DA's office. In my opinion it was over reaching but nevertheless it was her opinion and was made in general terms.....no one was singled out and crucified. Kelly's work ethic and talent is an ominous standard to be measured against. The general apathy at the DA's office in failing to support her candidacy for DA more then likely was a stimulus for her post.
Notwithstanding, whatever anyone's feelings for Kelly may be, no one can say that Kelly did not give her all to the job and to her campaign.
Kelly was crucified on all fronts during her campaign but she never faltered. Kelly stood strong for what she believed in and very few from our office stood strong for her.
So why did Kelly REALLY run for DA?
1. Was it the money? Kelly is financially secure whether she works or not. If she decides to hang out a shingle let's hope she doesn't practice criminal defense. My bet is she has too much integrity for that and will clean up on the civil side if she so chooses.
2. Was it the publicity? Who got better publicity then Kelly during her career? Kelly was the media's golden girl. Everything would change if she became a candidate and everybody knew it. The record speaks for itself on this issue.
3. Was it position and power? Kelly is a trial lawyer at heart not a bureaucrat. Kelly's dream job was running Special Crimes and working up the tough cold cases. Her compassion for victims and the families they left behind drove her more then most will ever know. Anyone who knows Kelly would agree she'd rather be in District Court taking care of business then Commissioner's Court.
4. Job security if she didn't run? By not entering the race for DA, Kelly would have been assured her dream position as Bureau Chief of Special Crimes. She would have wielded more power, if you will, then ever before. Kelly not running would assure the new DA that she had no political aspirations and would therefore not be a threat. The new DA's complete and total lack of experience would place Kelly in a high profile position.
5. Was winning a slam dunk? Chuck Rosenthal. Enough said.
So why did Kelly run. Kelly knew all the risks and benefits of her running. When her candidacy became an option and she was deciding whether or not to make the sacrifice every political consultant, without exception, felt confident that it was very unlikely that a current Harris County prosecutor could overcome the Rosenthal scandal. The caveat being that if anyone could, Kelly was the most viable. Kelly's decision rested on whether or not to sacrifice her family's privacy and her career to protect an institution she cherished. She gave all and we gave so little. I for one am ashamed. Maybe giving our Kelly a little latitude is not too much to ask. Who of you would have stood up to the plate so gallantly? Kelly represented our office with class and dignity; why is it so hard to offer her the same as she goes through this difficult transition in her life.

Anonymous said...

I'm watching a female defense attorney at a seminar talk about putting on a punishment case for the defense. What strikes me is just how casually she suggests doing things that she knows are not permitted. "I got an objection, but it didn't matter because I asked the question."

Didn't Kelly get raked over the coal for saying something similar?

How skewed is that.

Anonymous said...

Correct me if I'm wrong, but Kelly didn't mention anyone specifically, right? She just pointed out what she percieves to be a problem at the DAs office.

So, why is it that some of those who claim to be prosecutors on this blog are taking this so personally and are getting SO upset?

It seems to me that Kelly struck a nerve with some of you. Your own guilty conscience has betrayed you. Obviously, if you are not a "lazy" prosecutor, then Kelly was not talking about you!

What is most telling, however, is that you yourselves have identified your own work ethic with Kelly's assertions.

You thought she was talking about you because you see some of the alleged behavior in your own actions...or non-actions as it may be.

Kelly was right. But its not a problem singularly experienced by the DAs office. Any police department will tell you, 10% of the officers do 90% of the work. That's probably true in the business world as well.

In any industry, there will always be go-getters and over-achievers who just love what they do. And there will always be those who just hang on and do the bare minimum...because they can get away with it. After all...they get paid the same no matter if they work hard or hardly work.

Do you really think the DAs office is immunce from typical human nature?

Anonymous said...

Anon 7/30 @1103,
Amen to that. Right on point.
Wlf359 aka RP should take note...

Anonymous said...

Guilty conscience or feeling unappreciated? A person who works long hours and gets called lazy is also likely to be outraged. This kind of speculation is not productive.

BL01 said...

WLF359's initials are NOT RP. Shame on you, anon10:25, for speculating as to the identity of the poster, and attempting to shift this conversation from being quasi-productive to being wholly personal. And shame on you, ACHL, for not censoring that comment. It added NOTHING to this discussion.

Anonymous said...

I find all these comments fascinating. Are you prosecutors still really arguing "he who smelt it dealt it"? This is just hilarious! Keep it up! It's highly entertaining.

A Harris County Lawyer said...

Oh give me a break. This topic is beating a dead horse. I haven't had this many posts on a single article since the election!

Now we are shaming the Blog writer for the commenter's statements?

What are we really accomplishing here, other than giving the general public a nice view of how much ass-biting we can all do.

The "friend" I mentioned in my original post and I agreed when we first talked about Kelly's post that we would just have to agree to disagree on this topic. Amazingly, we have yet to get in a fist fight or call each other any names. Coincidentally, we are both grown ups.

It's time to move on to a new topic.

Save your energy for Mark Bennett.

Just kidding, Mark.

Anonymous said...

Bottom line: We prosecutors are suffering the largest image crisis I have seen in the many years I have been in the profession. I think this is due in large part to the likes of Nifong, and here in Texas, to Rosenthal and the Dallas exonerations.
I think the blog did a good job at attempting to refute the stereotype that we are all out to win at all costs. Good work there. However, I do believe that it is counterproductive to us all to replace one undeserved and unearned stereotype with another (that most are lazy bureaucrats), equally undeserved and inaccurate stereotype. That's all.

Anonymous said...

RP,
Your outrage is a bit hypocritical don't you think?
You openly condemned Kelly Siegler by name countless times. You provided substantial information to identify a former fellow prosecutor and then summarily condemned him in a jealous rant. And now you have the audacity to rail on the blogmaster as you hide behind the cowardly cloak of anonymity. What makes you so uniquely immune to criticism Missy?

"Anonymous"

Anonymous said...

I am not wlf259. In fact, I abhor blogs. Thank you to the gutless, anonymous individuals who continue to post my initials in an attempt to improperly attribute verbiage to me (I do believe that I am the only female prosecutor at the office with the initials RP). When I have something to say, I will speak directly to you.

Rachel Ann Palmer

Anonymous said...

Anon 7/31 @ 1206,
Correct me if I'm wrong. I believe Kelly's reference to "lazy' prosecutors stated "way too many..." prosecutors were lazy. That is a far cry from "most prosecutors are lazy". There are ~ 260 prosecutors employed at the Harris County District Attorney's office. We all know there are "some" lazy prosecutors at the office. The question, therefore, is how many is too many?
I would argue that if 25 of our ~260 prosecutors meet Kelly's definition of "lazy" that is way too many. Yet that is a far cry from most; since that would leave greater then 90% of the Harris County prosecutors as hard workers. So what am I missing here?

Anonymous said...

NEW TOPIC, DAMN IT! LET IT GO!

Anonymous said...

NEW TOPIC:

RESPONSIBILITY AND CONSEQUENCES

Now it's time to grow up boys and girls. It's 9:05 AM, time for all the hard working government employees to get off the blog and get back to work.

Anonymous said...

JAGJO writes:

And who said that fireworks were just for New Years Eve and July 4th?

" They're baaaaack" ( Go AHCL!)

LOVE IT! LOVE IT! LOVE IT!

I would say place nice kids, but it's much more interesting when you don't. Blogs are opinions. Opinions are like making stew. The more ingredients you toss in , the better, the more tasty the stew. Less ingredients, the same ingredients, maketh a boring and oh so bland stew.


I was hoping someone would come up with a link to a video with a man dressed like Kelly crying hysterically into the camera...
" Leave Britney, er, Kelly alone"
"Leave Britney, er, the ADA's alone"

*LOL*

Anonymous said...

Hey JAGJO,
Who would've thought there were soooo many cry baby prosecutors. I can't wait to see how they cower when Lykos roles in. And they thought Kelly was a bitch! Look out, the fireworks haven't even started.

Anonymous said...

JAGJO writes:


Anon 8-01-08 2:06p -
I need to be clear that I was not doggin' any of the posting ADAs in the least. I was just adding a bit of satirical humor on the longevity of the posts and the sparks were flying just like the good ole' days ( er, a few mos back during the elections).

Rationally, a few ADA posters on here that were offended by Siegler's blog post make up a mere miniscule number of the 260 ADAs on staff. In any professional setting there are will never be a group of people in total agreeance and giving 110% 24/7. Getting into topic what determines 110% is where the nitty gritty gets even more grity. That's were the fur beings to fly! I know some that do give it their all and some that have given just enough.

As for when Lykos rolls in.. that's a matter of "IF" not "when". The voting public is being presented two chalices to drink from in Nov. Neither drink will offer a cure for what ails the HCDAO. Which drink is less toxic is the question. Personally, I think Lykos will be looking at retirement brochures. Lykos might have been tough in her copper days and akin to a school yard bully on the bench,but that is not going to be enough to stop the Obama train from pulling into the Harris county station and all those that will be hanging on for the ride on his coat tails. Courtesy of straight party ticket voting and democrat voter registration out numbering the GOP.

Then again, what do I know! :-)

outraged said...

Jagjo,
I concur with your impression of "Crazy Pat" to the extent that she will be a worthless leader for the office. Those of us unfortunate enough to have had any professional (I use the term loosely) contact with that woman are amazed she might actually be our next DA. I for one shutter at the thought. Notwithstanding, I strongly disagree with your character assessment that she will abruptly change if the election goes her way. If an old mean megalomaniac is all of a sudden given a vast amount of absolute power her natural inclination will be to abuse it not shrivel up and do crossword puzzles and select a retirement home. Her vitriolic demeanor will be sad news for ALL the ADAs. That would be an unfortunate result for the vast majority of ADAs who are great people and shouldn't suffer because of the handful of lazy little "victims" that seem to chronically complain about everything that doesn't suit their perceived entitlement philosophy.
I hope you're correct in your prediction that the democrats will sweep Harris County. Bradford has a lot in common with "out of town Brown" and I expect he will not meddle too much with the ADAs day to day business.
The real issue will be leadership.
With Brad we'll get an overdose of political correctness and with crazy Pat we'll get an arbitrary hell. Brad's form of incompetence will at least provide a stable work environment.
Who's going to be left after the election to give guidance to the newly elected DA IF he/she even asks for it?
Which senior prosecutor will have the gonads and be sober enough at the end of the day to step up...after all, we're prosecutors let's act like it.

Anonymous said...

JAGJO writes:

Outraged: Not sure what you meant when you wrote," Notwithstanding, I strongly disagree with your character assessment that she will abruptly change if the election goes her way. "

I never gave any indication that LIEkos would be the next DA or that if she were, that she would abruptly change. In fact, I wrote the opposite. What I did say, "Personally, I think Lykos will be looking at retirement brochures". Translated: She will not win the election and therefore enter into a much needed retirement phase. Hence, the reference made to retirement brochures.

Sorry for the delay in my follow up on this one. Been super busy but I wanted to be clear that I am in no way indicating LIEkos to win
or change her stripes in the event that she would.

And for what it's worth, this is coming from a republican... :-)

Read said...

I am not a lawyer, prosecutor, judge or police officer. I am a citizen listening and watching with interest. Kelly Siegler made choices. Along with choices come consequences. Her posting on Women in Crime is her opinion, but it's interesting how she's willing to crucify the very group she was so "hot" to lead.

While Ms. Siegler has been touted as an outstanding prosecutor, it's no secret that being an outstanding lawyer does not mean one has leadership abilities. In this case I wouldn't want a leader like Ms. Siegler who snipes at colleagues in a public venue.

Sure, she inspired younger prosecutors, was an ardent advocate for justice, and has also displayed a fervent desire to be the center of attention as the "superstar" prosecutor of HCDA. She also was paid to do a JOB.

To be a leader you must be respected. One who is so willing to slander those she sought to lead has displayed her true character. The public saw it and we made our decision. Perhaps being a superstar prosecutor isn't the only qualification for becoming the leader in the HCDA's office.

You whine and sigh in disdain about the two candidates for DA. Can either one be as bad as Chuckie-poo?

Now the public will get to see the hard working DA's who do their jobs everyday without superstar status. They will hold that office together, and continue to prosecute criminals without "experienced" leadership...because that's what they've been doing everyday anyway.

But then, what did those experienced leaders give us...stupid love letters on the county computers and whiners who did a job and have now CHOSEN another career path.

outraged said...

Read,
No one can argue that "Chuckie Poo" was not a horrible DA and leader. However, if Obama continues to implode and "Crazy Pat" gets in on the coattails of the Harris County Republican Machine in November; she'll make the Chuckster's tenure personify great leadership.
I wholeheartedly concur that Kelly Siegler disdained mediocrity. Chuck Rosenthal epitomized mediocrity (or less) veiled by a persona of utter arrogance. Had Chuckie not been so out of touch with reality, including, but not limited to his leadership skills, the slugs Kelly referred to in her article would not be an issue of contention.....they'd have been fired long ago. No reputable private law firm would tolerate such behavior. Snookems, since you claim not to be a police officer, lawyer, judge or prosecutor you really have no basis to make a 1st hand judgment on Kelly Siegler's ability to lead in the capacity of DA. Had you worked in the HCDA office or even taken the opportunity to follow Kelly Siegler on the campaign trail you would have observed 1st hand that one of her main themes was to promote prosecutors based on merit rather then seniority. Kelly Siegler's position to reward ability over mere endurance was a consistent stance throughout her career. The Chuckster rarely bumped the "seniority rules" principle of promotions in spite of Kelly's persistent protests. On those rare occasions where Rosenthal followed Kelly's or other DA Chiefs' suggestions on merit promotions the results speak for themselves. During the campaign when Kelly Siegler spoke at fund raisers or community groups throughout Harris County, the attendees were SHOCKED that job performance was not the controlling factor by which prosecutors were promoted at the Harris County District Attorney's office. Kelly advocated changing that policy by preferentially rewarding ability. Obviously, the "many" (not all or even most)lazy prosecutors Kelly referenced in the article took offense to the public revelation as if it were novel. Had the lazy whiners bothered to attend a campaign function, not necessarily to support Kelly, but to see what her platform to the public was so as to make an informed decision; they would not have been so "shocked" at the article's condemnation of their slack work ethic. One would think that "Liekos'" theme that the culture at HCDA was based on racism and that ALL, not many or most (I'm not sure how that applied to the non-whites)of the prosecutors were racists would have been more offensive. Kelly Siegler is not unique in advocating change. The difference was she knew what needed changing. In reality, those who fit the bill feared Kelly as DA because they knew they would then have to start carrying their own weight or hit the door.
Kelly DID her JOB and that's precisely why she stood out as a superstar....at the office and to the public. Lots of people "desire" to be a superstar but very few succeed at actually being one. Wanting to be like Bill Gates is not the same as being like Bill gates just like wanting to have the advocacy skills and courtroom presence of Rusty Hardin isn't enough to be a Rusty Hardin.
Hey Snookems, who do we know that was a police officer, then a lawyer, then a judge and now wants to be a prosecutor? The subliminal denials are revealing. I hope it's three (3) strikes and you're out.... HCDA can't afford the same work product you demonstrated in your past stints.
Snookems, as for your defamatory assertion that Kelly Siegler committed slander (sic libel) when revealing the truth about a certain element at the HCDA office in a printed article; may I remind you that 1. Kelly Siegler is entitled to her opinion and 2. Truth is an absolute defense to defamation.
Being liked and being respected are two (2) distinct issues. The traits overlap at times but often are at odds. Great leaders garner respect over kudos. General George Washington was not liked by many of his troops and the colonists during the latter part of the American Revolution but he was always respected as a great leader. The United States' ultimate victory in that conflict led to enormous popularity for our 1st POTUS.
Calling Kelly Siegler a "whiner" rings hollow to ANYONE that knows her. To risk and not prevail demonstrates more courage then to sit on the sidelines and criticize the combatants. Kelly chose to jeopardize her JOB for the sake of her community and an office she cherished in spite of some bad apples. As the saying goes "careful what you wish for". I believe everything happens for a reason and that at the end of the day Kelly and her family will have "won" after all......