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?