As I mentioned earlier this week, I'm in trial one last time on behalf of the Great State of Texas. I posted the night before last about Transparency and the Toxic Avenger, and although I've briefly scanned the comments coming in on it, I haven't really had the time to weigh in with my own opinions. (As a side note, I will say that one thing that I will not particularly miss about working for the D.A.'s Office is the role of "cat herder" when it comes to trying to get all my witnesses ready for trial!)
I made mention in my earlier post about someone I considered a friend making reference to my "toxic blog". Obviously, the comments have brought to light the fact that the person I was referring to was Donna Goode, and the reaction to that on both sides of the issue has been very loud (and often angry).
Let me say this about Donna Goode:
She's a damn fine prosecutor and public servant. Although I was saddened to learn that she referred to me and this blog as "toxic", a disagreement with someone doesn't make them a bad person, nor diminish their reputation as a prosecutor.
Donna, as many of my friends who work for the D.A.'s Office (and read this blog), is in uncharted territory with a newly elected District Attorney coming in. I would imagine that those who survived the "purge", nonetheless remain frightened and paranoid about what acts they may or may not commit to incur the wrath of their newly elected leader.
Donna made a stand that said she was loyal to the Office, and there wasn't anything wrong with that. Yes, it felt a bit judgmental towards me, but, in the end, I don't think I can really blame her for it.
As the Lykos/Leitner Administration takes over, there have been firings and demotions on a daily basis. These changes are very frightening to everyone. Especially to those who have families that they need to support. Showing loyalty to the new boss is a wise move in keeping your job when dealing with Lykos.
I guess what I'm saying is that I don't fault Donna for what she wrote in her e-mail, even if it was kind of sad. My fault is with Lykos and Leitner for fostering an atmosphere of uncertainty that would cause her to feel the need to write it.
This blog is going to continue, and I hope that people will continue to read it. I'm sure that, to some degree, it will continue to be controversial, as well.
Ultimately, I hope that prosecutors who read it won't be scared to be caught reading it. This Office is a good office, and I don't think even Pat Lykos can screw that up entirely. Odds are that if you've passed the dreaded Bar Exam and have become an attorney, you are probably a grown up, too.
I hope that, at some point, the atmosphere in the Office will change to the degree that people will feel the freedom to express themselves without bowing to the pressure of what they think Lykos would be pleased with. Maybe Lykos and Leitner will develop a thick enough skin to realize that they are going to be disagreed with on occasion -- and they should stop scaring the bejeezus out of their fellow prosecutors.
At the end of the day, good prosecutors are the ones who don't fear doing what they believe is right, regardless of the ramifications. I would strongly encourage Lykos and Leitner to take in that fact and let the prosecutors under them know that their door is always open to different points of view. Doing so will help in developing strong prosecutors who realize that Justice is their master, not the Elected District Attorney.
In the meantime, I would just like to say that I think that Donna Goode is an excellent prosecutor and a good administrator.
And, in the end, although she may no longer feel the same, I still consider her my friend.