Wednesday, December 24, 2008

I'm Done

Well, I am now officially no longer an Assistant District Attorney.

As I mentioned in my goodbye e-mail to the Office, I came to Houston to work here on August 16, 1999, and I've always considered it one of the best days of my life. I hardly knew a soul at the D.A.'s Office, but over the years the people I worked with grew into my family. We've stood by each others' sides through the good times, the great times, the bad times, and the tragic times.

My Dad was a Marine Corps Officer in Vietnam, and he kept re-enlisting (to the point that my grandmother said she felt guilty about praying for someone who was so stupid). The reason he kept re-enlisting, he told me wasn't because he particularly enjoyed being in Vietnam and having people shoot at him, but because he felt a kinship and camaraderie with the people he served with.

On a much smaller scale, I have always felt the same way about the people I worked with at the Office. It's an Office I'm proud to have been a part of, and despite the criticisms it has always taken, I believe it to be one of the best District Attorney's Offices in the world. The prosecutors that I worked with were some of the most talented trial attorneys in the State and the Nation. I was very privileged to work alongside them. If I were to name them all, this post would be about twenty pages long.

I knew that today was going to be my last day. I planned on leaving at noon and going ahead and getting a jump on traffic as I headed home for the holidays.

It didn't go exactly as planned. At eight thirty this morning, Mr. Magidson called me into his Office and told me I was fired effective at noon. He was upset about the blog post yesterday on the Twelve Days of Lykos. He said it reflected badly on the Office and he couldn't tolerate that. Out of respect for Mr. Magidson and the Office itself, I have taken that post down.

I started this blog back in February to defend against the constant barrage of attacks the Office was getting from Lloyd Kelley, Pat Lykos, and the media. Nobody wanted to write anything on behalf of the Office for anything positive, and I figured it would be my small contribution to be one small voice shouting back at all the criticisms that so many good prosecutors didn't deserve.
I didn't think anybody would ever really read it, but it made me feel better to write it.

My intent was to stand up for this Office when nobody else would publicly do so.

I think in the end that it has been productive, and I hope that those people that read it from the outside looking in fully appreciate the good, hardworking, most importantly, human, faces that do the job every day.

It was never my intent to disparage the Office. I have nothing but the utmost love and respect for the people that I worked with. Did I come out swinging too hard against Lykos and Leitner? Perhaps. But I never targeted the Office itself.

I do hope that those who end up working under the new administration will be treated with the respect that they have earned during their years of service, and that Pat Lykos fully realizes the gold mine of talent that she has working for her. The prosecutors aren't children who need to be monitored. They are hardworking public servants that deserve thanks.

I still have no regrets.

This blog has served as a sounding board for people from both the defense, the prosecution, and the general citizenry. I hope it will continue to do so.

I look forward to starting my new criminal defense practice and still getting to see everybody on a daily basis. Although I will be zealously representing my clients, that won't change the respect I have for the District Attorney's Office.

This coming year will bring a lot of changes to the Office and all of our lives.

To the prosecutors, when times do get tough, just always remember that you do this job for the victims of crime in Harris County, Texas, and not necessarily for the person who will be sitting on the Sixth Floor. She's a figurehead, but you all will always the Heart and Soul.

And when all else fails, remember that you always have each other.

34 comments:

Anonymous said...

Sic transic gloria mundi. God bless you, man.

Anonymous said...

Leave with your head up, knowing you fought the good fight and brought justice to many victims.

Good luck in your career as a defense attorney. I'm sure you will do as well there as you did for The State, despite what some nervous defense attorneys might say.

I'm disappointed in Magidson. It's easy to be king for a year, when you have your own retirement and steady paycheck to return to. I thought he had more balls than that. I mean, you're already fired right? Now you get the double-Trumpian You're fired.

Mr. Magidson, You're fired as well, effective 11:59 pm 12-31-08. Your services are no longer needed.

Anonymous said...

I TOLD YOU YOU WERE SO FIRED FOR THAT.

I can see his point. I can certainly see his as well.

Anonymous said...

I'm disappointed, Ken, that you didn't have the intestinal fortitude to prosecute Rosenthal for any of his many tricks. Perjury (yes, a State Court can prosecute a perjury charge that occurs in the Federal Court because it occurred where...wait for it...in the County of Harris and the State of Texas) or misuse of county resources (I really don't have to explain this one, do I?).

In fact, Ken looks more and more to me like he might actually be Wee Man Jim. It also looks like Ken likes being king, so maybe he'll retire from the feds and run as "The man who saved the HCDA's office".

Ugh. Bad ending to a bad story.

Anonymous said...

You spoke the truth as you saw it, and you paid for it.

In this case, the truth had a funny way of setting you free.

Another challenge is awaiting you. Embrace it.

anonymous c said...

You didn't write that post, Murray. We did. But never mind! Who cares! The politics around there turned ugly long ago and I, for one, am very, very glad that you're out of the toxicity and into a place where you can breathe again. What's bad for the Office is good for you and for Luke. You've always carried yourself with honor and grace. You've sacrificed yourself continually and have too often subjugated your own wants and needs for the sake of your job. While it was a great, heroic job, what you're walking towards now is much more freedom and time, much less stress, hopefully more money, and not having to spend the next four years with the f*cking troll and her neutered poodle breathing down your neck. I foresee a run for DA in your future and I'll be the first in line to put up signs and make Open Records requests for you.

Anonymous said...

So if they fired you immediately for what they didn't like on the blog, why did you take it down? What are they gonna do, fire you a third time?

Anonymous said...

Thanks for this post. It is a good reminder of why we do what we do and a morale boost for those of us that are still lucky enough to call ourselves Harris County Assistant District Attorneys.

Anonymous said...

I understand boldy proclaiming that you don't regret anything, but I would hope you at least regret the post you just removed for this reason: It was a base personal attack devoid of your keen insight and signature sense of humor.

It was beneath you.

Of course, given the situation you're in, it's understandable that you did it anyway and that you probably don't see it that way. I hope, in time, however, that you will.

A Harris County Lawyer said...

Anon 1:51 pm,
I'm not trying to absolve myself of responsibility for the post, because it is my blog. However, I think it is worth pointing out that I didn't create the post, nor did I request that somebody start it. A couple of commenters started it, and I found it amusing. Ultimately, however, I take responsibility for putting it up as its own post. I did put the tag of "humor" on it, but I guess Mr. Magidson didn't find it funny.
It was something that I did on my own free time, and ultimately I was punished for it.
Like I said, I didn't remove it out of regret. I removed it out of respect to Mr. Magidson and the Office. Although I strongly disagree with the idea that I should have been fired for a post that I did during my own time (especially when today was my last day anyway), I tried to take the high road.
Getting fired when I was already leaving was a slap on the way out the door.
As for keeping the post up and getting fired a THIRD time this month, I think that since I'd never been fired from a job before that I will just stick with twice. I'm kind of new at it.

Anonymous said...

Put the 12 days back up, along with a poll, and we'll see if it is funny or vindictive

Anonymous said...

I vote to put a poll up to see if it was humorous or vindictive.

As an aside, let me ask you: What kind of guy, during the middle of the holiday season, stays at work at a job he is going to have only for 7 more days, because he is returning to his job as an AUSA?

A guy that really, really, really wants to be DA and can't stand the prospect of giving it up, even for a job with about the same money and much better retirement and much better job security.

It is regretable that Kenny didn't have the nuts to tell wee "nutless" Jim that he found your post amusing, and that in any event, your last day was today and no, I'm not going to fire him AGAIN just because The Queen and her nutless poodle are upset.

It's almost like he expects a job or something in the future from Patty. I don't know, I'm just saying...

Happy Holidays, Mr. Freedom of Speech.

Anonymous said...

Censorship at its finest. Give Bennett the hits and let him post it. It was hillarious. Ken caved to the pressures. A real character test. He caved to the same people who have refused to listen to him in their personell moves. Why would he cave? Because he is a true fed. He just doesn't have the fight in him. Keep in mind, he was the 5th choice for the job. Sorry Ken, you failed your last test and caved the:

1. Troll
2. Leitner Balls
3. Washed out judges who took over
4. Mr. Police Integrity, Clint Greenwood
5. Smoke Balcony Contractors...

Could somebody please complete the list of people Christmas Ken caved to?

THE SAME PEOPLE WHO "IGNORE" HIM. I say Ken the KOWARD.

Disclaimer, this is not Murray making the post. It is a prosecutor who remain anon bc I don't want to get fired.

Anonymous said...

Look, it is common knowlege there is a morale problem.... You want people to fix it, then don't make them show up for your trivial swearing in. Don't make vindictive moves, don't fire people for no good reason, don't motivate by fear, and most importantly, you will not gain morale until YOU (lykos and leitner) accept the fact that you were not wanted by the ADAs. Once you gain that perspective, you may actually try and EARN respect rather than DEMAND it. Simple concept for some adults that have made some simply STUPID choices.

I must say I am sad Ken did that.

Anonymous said...

Anon 3;21,

Ken has been critical of the new administration. It seems two faced that he made such a petty decision. He was talking about runnning in four years, what could he gain from Lykos?

Anonymous said...

Hey -- so is the rumor that Lykos is going to build a balcony for smoking true? If so, how is she going to pay for it? Where is the media on this one? Surely they should be covering this story if she is going to use taxpayer money for this.

Also, what happened to the 12 days of Christmas post?

Anonymous said...

It seems two faced that he made such a petty decision.

Not really. Think of all of the people who dislike President Bush, but respect the Office of President. Magdison's point was that no matter what side you take on Lykos, the post put the entire office in a bad light. And it did.

Mark Bennett said...

Ask, and ye shall receive. Not for the "hits"; I don't care about hits. I want repeat readers, and if anyone here isn't already a regular reader of Defending People, the Twelve Days aren't going to change his mind. No, not for the hits, but because the result of the government trying to suppress speech should, on principle, be more of that sort of speech.

Merry Christmas, you crotchety bunch of government-lovin' anonymites.

Anonymous said...

No, not for the hits, but because the result of the government trying to suppress speech should, on principle, be more of that sort of speech.

They didn't suppress his post, he took it down voluntarily. Like civil disobedience, some actions have repercussions. He is free to say whatever he wants about the office. But an employer can fire you for it, even if they're a gov't agency.

Merry Christmas, you crotchety bunch of government-lovin' anonymites.

I want to make sure to distinguish myself from that group. I personally loathe the HCDA. I feel that they do injustice at least as often as justice. But from a professional standpoint you can't have one of your lawyers so openly hostile to the incoming administration, posting personal and derogatory attacks. I think Magdison made the right call. But that is in no way intended to support him in general, or the office as a whole. It was just a straight up business decision that any other employer would have made.

Ken at Popehat said...

Another former prosecutor, current defense lawyer here. Cherish your time with the government, remember the lessons you learned there, and approach defense lawyering with an open mind. I think you'll find it every bit as different as you expect, but rewarding in ways you can't imagine.

Keep the faith.

And, fwiw, in terms of preserving the good name of an office and its leadership, firing someone for a blog post is roughly as effective as having the top three people on the roster sodomize a puppy and then posting it on Youtube.

Anonymous said...

Merry Christmas Murray!

TRIDENT 5 said...

Merry Christmas Murray. I pray that you and your family have peace soon and that the angry chaos at HCDA heals when the troll and her minions are replaced in 4 long years....as for King Kenny "what goes around comes around".

TxGoodie said...

Thank you for your service, AxHCL. And thanks to all the other ADAs for their service past, present and, hopefully, future.

As for all the rest of it, my daddy always said to be nice to the people on your way up 'cause you'll most likely see them on your way down. Even a hot air balloon has to come down eventually...

Anonymous said...

I don't think demotions and/or firings are over. And I wouldn't be surprised if they start cutting employees' salaries. Great for morale, I am sure...

Anonymous said...

Well, let's see who gets fired from the County Attorney's Office. No tellin what the troll promised. You are right. She will systematically dismantle the last 50 years.

Anonymous said...

Murray and all ADA's,
I know you say you stand by your blog and have no regrets. (Easy to say that when you've been fired.) It is ironic that your "goodbye email" refers to the honor of being an ADA, that the ADA's are the heart and soul of the office, and the citizens of Harris County will reap the benefits. It is unfortunate that you forgot that belief while you posted your blog. It's clear that you were sucked in and fell victim to the politics of the "new office". You are a talented lawyer and the citizens of Harris County will have one less person fighting for them. Good job.

As for the second firing, Mr. Magidson did the only thing he could do. You failed to realize your "input" in your blog had a direct impact on office morale. You went too far. You can blame others but it will always fall back to you - I know you accept that. I can only guess your anger comes from your realization that you brought this on yourself. The one job that you loved and were great at, you managed to get chased off. Good job.

As for the remaining ADA's, the office is going to change. Accept it. One thing that will not change, is your ability to help protect the citizens and your ability to speak for victims. That's what we do. That's what we will continue to do. Quit getting sucked into this blog and the politics of the "new office". Do your job and leave the rest to the sixth floor. Murray has provided us all with an excellent example of what happens when you don't. Murray, Good job.

A Harris County Lawyer said...

Anon 11:43,
I've taken plenty of criticism on this blog, and I'm more than happy to post other people's views.
Yours kind of concerns me though, because it seems to me that you are advocating silence when you see something going wrong. That should pretty much stand against the fundamental core of what any prosecutor stands for, it would seem to me.
My fate was sealed the second that Lykos won the Republican primary, and I don't think anybody can argue with that. I certainly didn't try to undo that.
But what she is doing to that Office is fostering an atmosphere of fear amongst the ADAs that isn't good for anybody involved. She has also gotten rid of good public servants because they opposed her campaign. I can certainly understand her canning me because of how vocal I was, but the rest of them? Give me a break.
We are going to have to agree to disagree on this one, my friend.
The basis of the success of that Office is a Prosecutor's Discretion. Hell, they even give us a book on it when we come to work there.
The Prosecutor's Discretion goes out the window when you have to be so concerned with displeasing the 6th Floor at every turn.
And as far as my blog "causing" the low morale - seriously? That's like saying that a sportswriter caused a football team's problems if he wrote about it negatively. Give me a break.
I do own up to responsibility for the Twelve Days of Lykos, but if I were you, I'd be concerned with the fact that it was something that the rest of the group came up with.
I can write nothing but sunshine and daisies about Lykos for the next four years, but if she doesn't change the way she is treating everyone in that office, morale is probably going to stay right where it is.

Anonymous said...

Anon 11:43 - Agreed 100%! We need to go on about our business and leave the politics behind. It's not advocating silence. It's called doing your job. If you don't like it move on or grow up.

Mark Bennett said...

As to speaking truth to power, amen, Murray. Leave the complacency to the sheep.

As to prosecutors representing the people of Harris County: bullshit. Prosecutors represent the government.

I know y'all like to tell yourselves the story that you're representing the people, but it's neither legally true nor literally true. If it's true, it's only true in some attenuated metaphorical way.

Don't believe me? Ever prosecute a case with no complainant? Ever prosecute a case against a Harris County resident where the complainant is a corporation, or from elsewhere? Ever prosecute a case where the complainant didn't want to proceed?

Don't cry for the people of Harris County. The government's loss in this instance is their gain.

Mark.

Mark Bennett said...

It's about doing your job the way a politician with no prosecutorial experience, no discernible trial experience, and a suspect agenda tells you to do it.

Anonymous said...

When I read this I thought "You have got to be kidding me right?" I agree that this was a totally unnecessary slap in the face. It is almost an exclamation point to let others know that speaking out is why you were fired (the first time). I thought the original post resulting in your second firing was silly. It was humor worthy of junior high school but it was harmless.

What confuses me is Mr. Magidson's rationale for the second firing. It has not been a very well kept secret at the CJC who authored this blog. If your words here could be used to fire you, why not warn you, specifically, or ADAs, generally, long before now? Or was this done? Having dropped the ball and/or looked the other other way until you outed yourself, Magidson had no other choice I suppose. It was a cowardly one nonetheless.

It appears that you have really gotten under some people's skins in the DA's Office. I wouldn't have given you or the fans (and I am one of them) of this blog the pleasure of letting you know what you wrote here got under my skin. The professional thing for Magidson--and Lykos and Leitner by proxy--to do would have been to act as if this blog did not exist since you only had 4 hours remaining as an ADA.

Anonymous said...

JAGJO writes:

Most see the word "fired" and their brains automatically register a negative connotation.

I see it differently. I see as a double positive. Little does LIEkos and Ken know that they just upped Murray Newman's, Attorney at law, networth, as a defense attorney. I think Murray should send a note of thanks!
For those remaining at the HCDA that are not ass kissers and for those that are practicing on the defense side of the bar and for Murray's future clients, he is an icon for freedom of speech and not buckling to an administration that he did not believe in just to keep his j-o-b. In every man's life there are a few defining moments, and this was one of Murray's.
A turning point indeed.

Very few people today have the guts or desire to stand up for what they believe in or speak out about it. It is much easier to buckle and fold and complain and whine in private to those that can not do anything about it and are most likely sick of hearing about it, than to stand up and proclaim how one really feels.

Blending in as the status quo does not equate success. I wrote to Murray in private that I would wear the firing as as badge of honor.

This is LIEkos last attempt at her career. It is her swan song. She does not have time on her side. She is limited as to what she can accomplish. In 4 yrs she will be done. Over. Fini. Exitus.

However, for Murray, whom is 30 plus yrs younger than LIEkos, he is just getting started and with such a strong start.....the possiblities are unlimited as to where his career will take him and to what heights he will soar in the next 30 yrs. The potential is unlimited..especially when you have the respect of the very community of which you practice in. Respect can not be bought or demanded... it is earned. A lesson that LIEkos even at her age, has not been able to master.

Dont believe me? History has proven this time and again. Every dictator abolishes anyone that poses a threat to them. It is not so much that the opposition is so strong but that the dictator is so weak.

I would be freakin thrilled to have been fired not once, but twice by these specific people and the incoming administration. That is like double icing on the cake!

Cheers Murray!
If you need any help in hanging out your shingle or learning the ropes of owning a firm, feel free to call upon me. :-)

Anonymous said...

Anon 11:43:

My guess is you are Donna, Maria, or another one of the "New Administration." It is common knowlege that Lykos has expressed concern about the morale and has ordered her administration to fix it. Ironically, it is also very clear that she and at least Donna, are reading this blog. Kind of funny actually. Kind of pathetic as well. It is also pathetic that they fire Murray over posting things that people don't like to hear and blame Murray for a morale problem. That is the equivalent of the parent blaming everyone else for their childs problem. So whoever you are, Bad Job.

Just looking at the sloppy flow chart is an example of a reason for a morale problem. When I rec'd mine I was sort of disgusted just because they couldn't even get that right. Then, you hear about prosecutors missing from the flow chart... I mean, that isn't that hard to do. At least get all the prosecutors, c'mon. Bad Job

Anonymous said...

To Anon 11:43

For you to blame Murray for the morale of the office is sort of like Bush blaming American soldiers for the lack of progress in Afghanastan and Iraq. Shame on you. You know better, and if you don't, you should be FIRED.

As much as a loath to quote Mark Bennett, he did hit the nail on the head:

The firings will continue until morale improves.

Although I disagreed with Murray about many things this past year, at least I respect him. And that is more than I can say about the pandering Anon 11:43