Wednesday, January 28, 2009

The Houston Press Article

About a week ago, I did an interview with Randall Patterson of the Houston Press for an article that came out today entitled "A Digital Bathroom Wall for Pat Lykos". The interview lasted about two and a half hours and covered a range of topics from why I wanted to be a prosecutor in the first place to working under Chuck Rosenthal to the HPD Crime Lab scandal to the blog to my disdain for Pat Lykos. Although I enjoyed the conversation with Mr. Patterson, one can't help but be concerned about giving such a lengthy interview without knowing what direction the article was going.

I have to admit that the article today wasn't exactly what I thought it was going to be. Although I wasn't misquoted and nothing was written completely out of context, there are several things in it that I'd like to address. Mr. Patterson blended things I said in the interview with things I've said on the blog along with what commenters have said on the blog and he wrote his article.

I was highly amused to see myself described as "an Aggie cowboy prosecutor". I am certainly an Aggie and I'm certainly a former prosecutor, but the cowboy description cracked me up. I did say that the District Attorney's Office was a great place to work, and it absolutely was. However, I wasn't placing an emphasis on the fact that it was so wonderful because of the fact that Chuck was the acting D.A.

During my interview with Mr. Patterson, I emphasized that Chuck wasn't actively involved in the day-to-day affairs of the rank and file prosecutors, and he let us do our jobs without fear of being fired, demoted, or transferred on a daily basis. When asked what positive things Chuck did for the prosecutors, I told Mr. Patterson that he worked to raise our salaries, sent us to more training, and paid our Bar dues (NOTE: that is Bar dues, not bar tabs). I tried to emphasize to him that we really didn't deal with Chuck, and that over all, the environment was a pleasant one to work in.

I made the comment about prosecutors being used to feeling like "the guys wearing the white hats" while we were talking about what it was like to pick a jury in the immediate wake of the Rosenthal e-mail scandal. I pointed out to Mr. Patterson that prosecutors were having to ask potential jurors questions like "Do recent events in the news cause you to have a dislike or distrust of the D.A.'s Office that would keep you from being able to give the State a fair trial?" and on occasion, some of those jurors would agree that they couldn't be fair to the State. I remarked that prosecutors were "used to being the guys wearing the white hats, and now the jurors were looking at us like we were the bad guys".

It was that experience that made me start writing this blog in the first place. I knew that I wasn't an unethical or racist prosecutor, and Chuck's e-mail scandal shouldn't have been attributed to us all.

I do object to Mr. Patterson saying that I wasn't "fazed" by the criticisms of the Office prior to the e-mail scandal. He and I actually spoke quite at length about how a prosecutor's worst nightmare would be to convict somebody that was factually innocent. We discussed the HPD Crime Lab and I tried to explain to him that prosecutors aren't scientists, and at the end of the day, all trial lawyers have to rely on their witnesses to varying degrees -- especially those testifying to scientific evidence. I do believe I mentioned the old adage of it being better that 99 guilty men go free rather than one innocent person be convicted (and yes, I know I'm paraphrasing) several times.

I don't believe I ever referred to defense work as "the Dark Side", either in public or private. I've never viewed the job we all do as being that black and white. I've heard defense attorneys refer to the prosecution as the "Dark Side" and vice versa since the day I first walked into a Harris County courtroom, but I always found it to be nothing more than good-natured bantering.

And finally, as far as me vowing "to be the criminal defense lawyer whose blog supports prosecutors" to my "last dying breath", that is true that I said that. But I think those of you who have read this blog for any amount of time know that I will support the prosecutors when they are being treated like hell by Pat Lykos. It has nothing to do with what is going on in the courtroom. It has everything with how things are run administratively.

Lykos has been in power for four weeks now, and she's off to a remarkable start of showing little to no respect to the people she is now leading. These are people that I worked with for over nine years and I care about them as my friends and family. What kind of person would I be if I didn't? Does it bother me and upset me about the way they are being treated by Lykos and Leitner? You bet it does.

And am I going to keep speaking up about it?

Yep.

43 comments:

Anonymous said...

I thought the article was fair, balanced, and above all, interesting. I imagine it will most benefit Press readers who are not in the loop as to what goes on at 1200 Franklin every day and will now know where to go to get the inside scoop. My only question is about the picture with the article: who the hell took it? I've seen you many, many times and I can assure everyone you don't really look that good.

A Harris County Lawyer said...

Ha! You are right about that. I'm so pale that I usually fade into any light background.
A very nice lady from the Press named Monica Fuentes took the picture.

Anonymous said...

I am looking forward to the follow-up article in a year or so. It will be sadly entertaining how crazy Pat tries to bullshit her way out of the mess she will have created.
It will take a master spinmaster to rehab her shenanigans.
You won't see Harry Truman's "The Buck Stops Here" sign on Lykos' or Leitner's desk....shit rolls down hill at the new Harris County DA's office.
There's a difference in being tough and being mean....your boy Patterson needs to do better homework on Lykos before his next article.

Anonymous said...

we keep hearing more people are going to be asked to leave.yesterday some defense lawyers were raising a stink because some of our officers on a case were talking to each other during trial.we are afraid to mention kellys name at all.

Anonymous said...

You've never asked for advice but I'll give some that I got many years ago from the wisest lawyer I've ever known: Never trust a reporter. Particularly for an ad driven (i.e. free, like the greensheet) community newspaper.

They'll fork you every time, Murray.

Tex

Anonymous said...

You've never asked for advice but I'll give some that I got many years ago from the wisest lawyer I've ever known: Never trust a reporter. Particularly for an ad driven (i.e. free, like the greensheet) community newspaper.

They'll fork you every time, Murray.

Tex

Mark Bennett said...

1848, weren't they making a stink because they thought "your" officers were talking to each other about the facts of the case during trial?

And, if they were correct, wouldn't that be a violation of a fundamental rule of procedure? A rule so important that it's called The Rule?

I'm just askin'.

Anonymous said...

Judge Troll's problems are her own fault. The people she surrounded herself with are more concerned with finding ways to make more money off the taxpayers and get a quick retirement fix.

It started when Jim and Troll did not keep Bert Graham around for the transition because they were so concerned about getting pay slots and placing their fellow inept panderers in high salary spots. Sacrificing the ability to make a smooth transition for short term (months only) money. Troll's people are old and should be established professionals. Why did they need that money so bad? If they were successful why would they want to go work for Troll? The answer is that they weren't successful. For example, Bridgewater, who is a nice guy, had a meltdown just prior to being appointed to the bench in an arson trial. He refused to argue a case, didn't show up to court because he was burnt out and this happened in the middle of trial.

What does this tell you? These lateral placements are there to get a retirement package. This job in their minds is like going to the pasture. Well, they are wrong and that is why this office is headed for destruction. These people don't have the knowledge, energy or desire to truely make the office a better place. They are just trying to get their "years" in.

Another example, what about the prosecutor from Montgomery County. She said she is being paid as a Felony 2 but is a misd. chief. I know fellow prosecutors who have been in her court. She doesn't know what she is doing. Defense attorneys told me that she was a disaster in Montgomery County. She just needs to get her points.

Clint Greenwood, he has been up and down the halls trying to find out who will be his friend. We all know he is a mole and are insulted that he would think we would be naive enough to trust him. I hate to say it, but I have little respect for those that should have an established practice and would even desire to come back and work for someone like troll at a pay cut nonetheless (theoretically). If I leave the office, which will be sooner than I thought, I would like to think that I would not have the need to come back after 20 years of practice. In my eyes, that would be a failure. Is my perspective flawed? As someone who was their own boss choosing to take a job with someone like Troll?

Chau, do you really think she came here to be a DA? She is trying to get her retirement. She has no earthly idea of what she is doing. I have heard from many people about her input and it has been less than thoughtless.

What we are left with is a layer of sludge at the top. Lyn McClellan cared about the office and knew what he was doing. He was a leader. Bert Graham handled things that nobody can appreciate. Luci Davidson, Ted Wilson, Marie Munier. These are people who all had different perspectives but had the security to voice their opinions like it or not and they had enough on the job experience and tenure to take a stand. Gone are those days and we feel it. I know some retired but I wonder if someone else was DA if they would still be here.

I must say, I am sickened. This job just isn't about the retirement and the money. This intake situation just furthered my belief. Murray, thanks for giving me a public forum to vent annonymously. Maybe they will listen. I am not holding my breath.

Sterling A Minor, Business Attorney said...

I know nothing about the facts of the District Attorney's office then or now. All organizations reflect the head if the head prson has anything to do with hiring, or selecting the person(s) who do(es) the hiring, or lets it be known what pleases him or her.
The voters made clear that the District Attorney's office needed a very big change. That change necessarily means a change in personnel - to change the mindset of the office. It makes sense that those of the old mindset (A Harris County Lawyer among those persons, obviously, from his own words today) will be miffed at the new way. The Holmes/Rosenthal way was not in keeping with the service of justice, just the service of conviction rates. Clearly, many of the persons associated with the old way needed to go, simply to change the office personnel sufficiently, without having a need to suggest anyone let go is individually a bad person. A Harris County Lawyer's defense of the old way's personnel is not admirable and is certainly not a service to our community. Move on.

Banjo Jones said...

to Tex:

all newspapers are "ad driven" just about, not just free ones.

Anonymous said...

Not having nuch of an interest in prostitution I don't pay much attention to the press. I have read it a few times. It makes the Chronicle look like the Wall Street Journal.

Anonymous said...

Have you set any of those court appointed cases for trial yet? Motions?

A Harris County Lawyer said...

6:37 a.m.,
I do have a case set on a Motion to Adjudicate. The rest haven't even been to the Grand Jury yet.

Anonymous said...

Sterling A Minor said:
"I know nothing about the facts of the District Attorney's office then or now.

The Holmes/Rosenthal way was not in keeping with the service of justice, just the service of conviction rates."

Well, which is it? You don't know anything or you know enough to pass judgment?

Sterling A Minor said:

"The voters made clear that the District Attorney's office needed a very big change."

You give the voters WAY too much credit. You think most votes were cast by people who actually had knowledge and facts about the candidates and not just what they were fed by the agenda driven media?

Here's my question? Have you been drinking the KoolAid? Sure sounds like it.

Anonymous said...

Sterling:
Accepting your assertion that all organizations reflect the "head" if that person(s)is in control of hiring/firing the personnel; let's see what your opinion is of Lykos/Leitner after they have done just that. The day to day running of the "new" Harris County District Attorney's Office by this restructured staff; not the personal aberrations of Lykos' and Leitner's private lives is what needs to be judged at the end of the day.
Regretfully, voters often times are incredibly misinformed and unduly influenced by the media's bias and erroneous campaigning. This particular result will be catastrophic for the citizens of Harris County.
Everything happens for a reason and democracy, with all it's faults, is the best system of government in the world and it is ours. Let's just hope the impending disaster will be a wake up call for the Harris County voters in 4 years.

jigmeister said...

I thought the article was rather revealing, but obviously to cursory to be very accurate. My sources tell me that even some of those who are reputed to have drunk the kool-aid are very disgrunted and disgusted with the fear mongering coming from Patsy.

I'm afraid that the office is driven, just like so many DA's offices I have seen over the years in Texas; and something Johnny wouldn't let happen under his leadership, POLITICS.

But when a prosecutor's aim is self agrandizment and political power, the regime will be short, because the list of your enemies becomes long.

anonymous c said...

Hey, Sterling A. Minor, "Personal Wine Consultant"? You started your post by saying, "I know nothing about the facts of the District Attorney's office then or now" and then proceeded to blast Murray and everyone else who worked under Holmes and Rosenthal. So, which is it?

Maybe you should stick to hawking the vino? Could you suggest a good Syrah?

Anonymous said...

Sterling,

Thanks for being a voice of reason in the blog that is now only centered on bashing the new regime at the DA's office. If you were skeptical about the old crew having a win at all costs mentality you need only read the bitterness and anger contained in these posts when the writer's choice for DA was not chosen. I am sure when ever a brand new administator comes in they surround themselves with people they feel they can trust and I'm sure changes like these are made every election time across the Country. You would think by reading this blog that this election resulted in a crisis of epic proportions. Its politics, if you all are as overworked as you say you are, spend your free time wisely. Furthermore, do a little budgeting so you don't have to depend on intake shifts to pay your mortgage.

Anonymous said...

Sterling Minor,
You should have stopped after your 1st three (3) words; as the rest of your comments merely confirmed them.

Anonymous said...

Murray:
The press is not to be trusted.
If you must talk to the vultures, make your comments as succinct as possible so as to minimize the manipulation of your words' intent.
The article referenced makes it appear that the ADAs are petty whiners. That we support Rosenthal's behavior and that Lykos is the savior to clean up the corruption. The public will learn soon enough what a myth that all is....Leitner/Liekos have plenty of rope and will hang themselves just fine on their own-- so let's not make our disgust with their corrupt behavior be a distraction.

Anonymous said...

HEY 1252,
Michelle said to bring some KFC home for supper. She's too tired to cook tonight and the kids missed supper yesterday and are real hungry.
She also wanted me to let you know that she found your troll doll under the couch....apparently one of the many pins embedded in the troll stuck her in the ass last night and woke her up.
Anyway, just wanted to let you know.....take care buddy and be careful with the Kool Ade I understand some of the batches are tainted with antifreeze.
Cindy

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...
Not having nuch of an interest in prostitution I don't pay much attention to the press. I have read it a few times. It makes the Chronicle look like the Wall Street Journal.

January 29, 2009 2:35 AM


Anon 2:35 Now, that's funny as shit.

Banjo, Yes, to be sure, all papers make money from ads, but those that are given away tend to be a little less journalistic and a bit more sensationalistic.

Not that the Chron is some bastion of ethical or accurate reporting. The press article could've easily come from falkenberg and her ilk.

There have only been two really good writers at the press during it's whole tenure, Tim Fleck and Wendy Grossman. Both have gone on to better things.

BTW, when is falkenberg gonna change that impish byline pic? Did she take that when she was in high school?

Tex

Anonymous said...

we heard a video was made of berts party and i will try to find out who has it in case anyone wants a copy. we also heard that a log of our drinks was made. as prosecutors we are concerned because it shows some of us drinking alcohol and some may have had more than they should have.should we be concerned about this.? it was not on county time.

Anonymous said...

Wait til that other paragon of Journalistic ethics Wayne Dolcefino gets ahold of it then see.

Anonymous said...

AHCL:
Is it true the troll is seething about current ADAs fraternizing with former ADAs at Bert's party yesterday? I understand she and Leitner are going to review cell phone photos from the event and some heads are going to roll.
I overheard a pair of her snitches in the bathroom laughing about it.....I hope she was full of shit. Either way it's just too weird to be scared about our job security at events attended on our own time.
Now I'm worried about the Super Bowel Party? Is it enough that my conduct is lawful and my behavior appropriate or will I have to worry about cell phone photo reviews? I don't know who to trust anymore and who I'm not supposed to associate with.

webcat48 said...

There is to be expected resentment for being fired. But why don't you just move on to your next job. Why bother berating the new D.A.? It seems so juvenile to pout and sulk. I would expect better of a member of the educated class as your Aggie affiliation would suggest. Move on, dude! Leave the rancor on the doorstep. You're well too talented and bright to lower yourself to these temper tantrums on your blog. Sincerely, Craig
/
Craig Anthony Thomas

Anonymous said...

Rumor has it that Defense Attorneys will start getting offense reports next week. It seems like a silly thing to celebrate as most other counties and everyday citizens would consider a police report a necessary starting point for a lawyer to properly investigate his client's case. Many Harris County citizens were surprised to learn that not only were defense lawyers not allowed to have them but had files closed to them if they dared to hand copy them word for word. Lycos did not agree with this policy and made a campaign promise to change it. It looks like she has kept that promise. Just thought I'd throw in a few facts from the "kool aid drinkers'" side of the ring.

Anonymous said...

we heard channel 11 defenders has a copy. how can our off time be controlled?

Anonymous said...

at lunch we heard a t v station had someone there watching people leave and getting plate numbers and someone inside keeping count of drinks. how can they do that? MADD supposedly is involved.

Mark Bennett said...

These rumors about Bert's party sound like the sort of thing an adversary might make up to sow dissension in The Office. If there were any truth to them, they would be utterly obscene.

A Harris County Lawyer said...

Although I can imagine that Lykos was none-to-thrilled that there was a celebration of Bert Graham's distinguished career, I'm doubt that she would go so far as that. I would imagine that it would be just a rumor.
But if it isn't, I took the MetroRail home! Seriously. I did.

Anonymous said...

For once I hope Bennett is correct.

Anonymous said...

channel 11 and MADD have footage ,so we hear.sounds like chuck may be on the news again. some of us stayed away because we had heard there could be media involved.some of us need our jobs.we dont have 10 years like you murray. we are afraid to talk to anyone. we miss the good old days.

Anonymous said...

12.49 ,you were smart to take th e rail.i wish i had done the same thing. several of us are looking for new jobs. this is too much.if a defense lawyer gets this video,it could be embarassing.

Anonymous said...

Anon 11:36

Actually, it was Siegler that first proposed providing offense reports to defense attorneys. Lykos, and even Leitner, followed along several weeks later. I personally believe in mutual discovery, and that is my main opposition to giving defense counsel offense reports under the current system. There needs to be some give and take. I also believe that the offense reports should only be turned over when a case is set for trial. Too much work for the current size of the staff to do otherwise. Is it really too much to ask for a defense attorney to take notes in the early stages of a case? God knows the prosecutors gather most of the information on most of the cases.

anonymous c said...

As much as I dearly respect and deeply appreciate all that the ADAs do and as much as I hate f*cking inane, career politicking Lykos, there is a huge sector of anons on here that seem to be the same person. At least, I'm hoping so. There surely can't be that many that are that grammatically-challenged! It's very simple. Craft a sentence - then end with a period - hit the space bar - then capitalize and continue crafting the next sentence.

That said, I hope that Bennett and Murray are correct, too.

Anonymous said...

Murray,several of us were talking last night and came to the conclusion that bert had worked for the county longer than most of us have been alive.we are now worried about our jobs and you have been fired.some of our other mentors are gone.Why didnt bert do something about the problems. why did he allow this to happen? signed,FINALLY SEEING THE LIGHT

jigmeister said...

How in the world could Bert have done something about the problem? Did you want him monitoring everyone's email to insure that nothing off color or personal was sent or received? Perhaps Johnny could have done something like annoint someone with a little sense, but that requires prescience that even he didn't have. I know he regrets the decision now.

The only solution is time. If you can't handle it, (and I certainly couldn't) you have to find something else to do for 4 years. I know--easier said than done.

And it's really too bad because someone with good ideas and a non-threatening personality could really have done good things with the office.

A Harris County Lawyer said...

Jigmeister is correct. Bert had absolutely nothing to do with the Lykos Administration's rise to power. He has been a faithful public servant for the majority of his life and got squeezed about by Pat and Jim. He supported Kelly during the primary. What else would you have had him do?

Anonymous said...

If any of the chatter about the media filming Bert's party is true, I haven't seen it on TV.

A Harris County Lawyer said...

Anon 8:27 a.m.,
The poster who said that about MADD and KHOU filming Bert's party appears to be the same person who said that there was an investigation going on into computers and that there are still more firings yet to come and other imminent catastrophes.
Whether or not their predictions are well-intentioned or not, they have thus far proved to be completely erroneous.

rage said...

I don't know, I'd say the article pretty accurately reflects your attitude here. You haven't seemed fazed by the scandals one bit, only Kelly's loss, which would have been more of the same. You benefited from it, and wish you still had it.

Anonymous said...

You say as a prosecutor you felt like you were the guy in the "white hat," then you say you never thought of defense lawyers as the "dark side."

Er, if you were wearing the "white hat," what hat was the OTHER GUY wearing?

You are really having an identity crisis right now, aren't you???