Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Keeper Cases

Whether a criminal attorney is a prosecutor or a defense attorney, there are some cases that you know are headed to trial the first time you ever read over them. There is just something about the facts or surrounding circumstances of the case that tells you, based on your experience, that the only way that case will ever be resolved is through twelve citizens of the county telling the Defendant what their judgment is.

From a defense perspective, that doesn't present much of a continuity issue. If you are retained or appointed on the case, you will be handling that case unless your client decides that they don't want you working on the case on their behalf.

But from the prosecution side, it can very often be a problem due to the fact that prosecutors are continuously rotating through different positions in the Office in Harris County. In the Felony hierarchy of the Harris County District Attorney's Office, a Felony Chief (handling Capital murder cases) will often stay in the court where they are assigned for anywhere between three to five years. A Felony Two (handling murders, sexual assaults, aggravated robberies) is typically in their court for about a year rotation at a time. A Felony Three (handling all other felony cases) is often only their court for a maximum of six months before being rotated back to Misdemeanor as a Misdemeanor Chief.

When a case comes into a court on its first appearance (for those of you following the lingo, we call that a PIA for "Preliminary Initial Appearance". Redundant title, isn't it?) odds are that if it is going to ultimately go to trial, it will pend in the court for over a year, if not longer. Capital cases can pend for much longer based on all the work involved.

My point is that the prosecutor handling a case when it is first filed is very unlikely to still be in the same court when the case is ultimately ready to go to trial. For the vast majority of cases, that's not that big of a deal. The outgoing prosecutor who is being moved to a new position just leaves a memo on the file for his or her successor.

But other cases involve so much in-depth work, knowledge of the case, and ultimately emotional attachment that it would be an absolute travesty for any prosecutor other than the one who worked the case up to take it to trial.

I'm not talking about shoplifting cases or narcotics cases here. I'm talking about the truly complicated and emotional cases -- the murders where the prosecutor has developed the trust of the victim's family or the aggravated sexual assault of a child where the child victim is comfortable talking only to that prosecutor. Having the same prosecutor on that case from start to finish is to the benefit of the victims of those crimes. On the flip side, it allows a prosecutor to fully sink his or her heart into a case and get to know every aspect of it like the back of his hand.

In the past, it was quite common for a prosecutor to hold on to a specific case, even after they had been transferred to another court for various reasons.

When a prosecutor held onto a case after transfer, it was called a Keeper Case.

Now, to be sure, holding onto a Keeper Case for a prosecutor often brought along some headaches for that prosecutor, as well as the other prosecutors in his new court. They are basically increasing their work-load -- they have to keep up with their new duties in their new court, yet they are holding on to a trial case. When they actually go to trial on their Keeper Case, it will leave their new court short-handed while the prosecutor is off in another court trying the case.

Trust me, I speak from experience when I say that a Keeper Case for a prosecutor is often a logistical nightmare that causes a gigantic pain in the posterior for that prosecutor. It often involves you being in trial from eight to five and then working late into the night to keep up with your new duties in your new court.

But it's worth it.

Holding onto a Keeper Case because you've sunk your heart and soul into it is why so many Assistant District Attorneys wanted to be prosecutors in the first place. They are every bit as passionate about prosecuting a case as a defense attorney is about defending his client. That passion shows, too. It shows to the victim's family. It shows to the jury.

There is a big difference in a prosecutor that has been working on the same case for the past year and a half, working it up from start to finish, and the prosecutor who picked up the case the week before trial and did a crash course on bringing themselves up to speed on the case.

I'm reminded of a closing argument that Luci Davidson once gave, where she pointed out that the case had belonged to her for over a year and a half, and now she was placing it into the jury's hands. It was a powerful statement, and one that couldn't have been made had she just become involved in the case a month earlier.

In short, the Keeper Cases are the cases that prosecutors remember long after their careers at the Office have wrapped up. They are the ones you put everything on the line for, and you never forget them.

Why am I bringing this up?

The Lykos/Leitner Administration just put a ban on Keeper Cases.

I can understand why they did it to some degree. It does generate a logistical problem. And we all know that there may be the occasional prosecutor who wants only to hold onto the high profile cases so that their families can see them on TV.

But the vast majority of prosecutors that I know held onto Keeper Cases because their hearts told them to, and for no other reason.

Yes, Jim's memo said that they might make an exception with his approval, but those exceptions will be few and far between.

That really shouldn't be the Rule. If a prosecutor knows his or her case well enough to say that they should hold onto it, why on Earth should they have to go beg Jim to allow them to try it? This is one of those classic examples of where experience in the leadership of the Administration matters.

If Pat Lykos had been a prosecutor, maybe she would know what it meant to be emotionally invested in a case.

Alas, it isn't to be, I suppose. Instead, we will foster an atmosphere where prosecutors get tough cases on the day they are filed, and they will know not to get too emotionally involved in the case. They will know that there will be little chance that they will actually be the prosecutor who takes it to trial, so why get your heart into it?

This policy is a mistake because it is taking the passion out of the prosecutor's job (yet again).

Do you think a victim's family won't notice that?


Twilight Zoned said...

What do you expect from a "leader" without a scintilla of experience?
Her bullshit may appease the out of touch old guard responsible for her ascension; but it will be the ruination of the HCDA office.
Wait until the "pay to play" politics taints the office.....selective "transparency" will reach new heights.
Murray, maybe this blog can serve as the template for a Hollywood movie: "How the Troll Stole Justice in Harris County"; the sequel can be called "Leitner's Failed Coup Attempt and the Troll's Retribution".

Anonymous said...

I don't think this is the sort of post that will get you back in Pat's good graces.

Rage Judicata said...

Maybe she's hoping for less turnover? Once she's done cleaning house, anyway.

Any more news on her "investiagtions"?

Cougar said...

Turn it down a notch.
Seriously dude, you really don't want Leitner fired yet--he's our quasi buffer to the wrath of troll. Besides, there's no way he can bullshit that devious troll for 4 long years--she'll figure it out soon enough and he'll get what he gave. So take a deep breath and let them self destruct.

Anonymous said...

You still sound like a prosecutor.

Ask yourself: Would YOU hire a criminal defense lawyer who would rather be prosecuting???

Unless the answer is yes, perhaps its time for you to move to another county.

A Harris County Lawyer said...

Anon 3:14,
I still sound like a prosecutor because I criticize a bad policy? And therefore somebody may not want to hire me?
That doesn't make a whole lot of sense to me. I don't think there are many defense attorneys out there who are "pro crime". They are zealous advocates of their clients and they defend their rights to the fullest, but I've yet to meet one that wants to legalize rape and murder. There is something to be said for having a good and effective District Attorneys Office.
I want the Office to have a good reputation and be a formidable opponent, because that makes everyone involved better at what they do. Wanting that has absolutely nothing to do with my devotion to my clients or the cases I handle.

common sense said...

anon 314,
I would not hesitate to hire Murray any day. I can't wait to refer him a bunch of clients and I know he will kick ass for whoever he represents.

FKA Zorro said...

I disagree that Mr. Newman sounds like a prosecutor. He is just commenting on changes being made in a place where he spent around a decade of his life. While I disagree with his position in the post, I did find the information very interesting. And yes, I would certainly hire him as my criminal defense attorney. I'm at the criminal courthouse every day and I have seen Mr. Newman in trial on more than a few occasions. Get him in trial as defense counsel and I promise you that he will absolutely brutalize any poor DA who has to tangle with him. It will be fun to see and it is going to happen.

Anonymous said...

Anon 3:14

Maybe it is time for you to change the channel.

I myself will be referring cases to Murray. I'm not a HCADA. But like most adults, I have friends who get dwi's, and who have kids who occasionally go astray. My wife and I make numerous (unpaid) referrals every year for friends with minor legal problems.

I know some of the best criminal defense attorneys in this state, and last month the wife and I agreed that our future referrals will go to Mr. Newman.


Sabrina said...

I would gladly refer cases to Murray. Although I've never met Murray, I feel like I know enough about him through reading this blog that I feel confident that he would take good care of his clients. I feel the same way about Mark Bennett, and also have never met him.

Anonymous said...

investigations are ongoing.some of the people who think their jobs are secure may be in for a big surprise.--if some of the matters are verified. 10 years of coverups take some time to be checked in to. all the people that work and have worked here are not are honorable as murray.

Anonymous said...

RAGE---we are hearing about computers being checked by someone outside the office.there are rumors that more people are leaving after investigations finished. several of us are concerned.they keep saying dont worry if you have not used computer for personal emails.can they do this?

Anonymous said...

Now THIS is a pretty legitimate and non-personal criticism of the new administration. Your insight also gives you a unique perspective. This is the type of stuff that brought me to your blog when it first started. Thank you.

Mark Bennett said...

I'll carry Murray's bag in trial anyday.

Murray, any truth to the rumor that the cost to the defense of OR copies will be reciprocal discovery agreements?

JustAnotherDefendant said...

I just heard about this blog. Funny to see Mr. Leitner on the other side- but not surprised. He was a good prosecutor as a defense attorney.

I guess he doesn't understand being attached to a case as he withdrew after I paid him over $10,000.00 on my case. All that and when trial time came he moved on.

Keeper case is going to have to be a sure win for Mr. Leitner.

Thankfully, my court appointed lawyer actaully worked for me and didn't bail... My case was dismissed.

A Harris County Lawyer said...

I think it would be a blast for us to try a case together one of these days. We could form a Limited Partnership for the strict purposes of the trial and call it Annoyance, Inc.
As far as the turning over offense reports to the Defense Bar, my understanding is that Lykos is actually working towards that end as we speak, which is good. I don't think it is quite as simple of a task as it would first seem. I believe there are some legal prohibitions on what information that can be turned over and some things (like a Complainant's Social Security Number, for instance) that must be redacted. If the Office is going to take on that task (which I do believe they will), they are going to have to establish the mechanism for turning over the information and staying within the boundaries. If you think of how many cases there are every day, it will be a monumental task.
I would urge patience on this issue, because I do think that Lykos is trying to get this done. I will give her credit for that. It just can't be done overnight.

Anonymous said...

If they're going to fire every employee who has ever sent a personal email from work, there will be no employees left standing!

joelr said...

Well, yes, you still sound like a prosecutor here, because your focus on "the Office" is on how it could and should work better to prosecute accused folks, not on how to take advantage of its problems for the benefit of your clients.

Which does not mean that you won't take great advantage of errors in management for the benefit of your clients, and/or that you won't do a great job for your clients. (I'm not in the trade, don't really know any of your local players, except Bennett, and then only electronically, and don't have any right to my opinion that you'll do well on their behalf.)

It just means that you sound like a prosecutor.

The Duke said...

Fellow ADAs,
Gmail accounts,etc. may be discoverable if accessed on a county computer but not if we use a personal device such as a laptop or Blackberry.
Fuck the troll's Gestapo-like tactics! The fear mongering is offensive.
Remember, they need us more than we need them.
If anybody knows the troll's DOB please post it so I can forward her a copy of Anne Frank's Diary.

Rage Judicata said...

can they do this?

Well, it's pretty well accepted that that an employer owns the computer and can go through it at will.

So, good luck. Erase those cookies, and delete those e-mails (and delete the deleted file--ask Rosenthal how), unless, of course, the "guy outside the office" is a forensic computer expert, in which case you're screwed.

If you delete e-mails and cookies and reformat or take other measures to hide your activities, you will be considered guilty.

Sucks when the show is on the other foot, doesn't it?

HPD 101 said...

With rare exceptions, those that achieve true greatness in a chosen field do it based on their passion for that career. Passion leads to creativity which is the foundation of original thought. Without original thought we have stagnation and decay. The Lykos/Leitner regime is methodically quashing the passion at HCDA.
This new Leitner policy goes a long way to to reduce the prosecution of criminal defendants to a cookbook mentality void of passion.

Anonymous said...

we heard computers being checked because of more inappropriate emails and bad stuff being looked at on internet after chuck left.when i asked what was going on,they said--you know what happens when someone has to much free time and the internet.these people checking are not county employees.they are with another getting an ipod.

Mark Bennett said...

I hear they're looking for people who read toxic blogs while on the clock.

Duke, it's 2/20.

Anonymous said...

I am a prosecutor in Galveston. You all just hired away one of our fine misd. prosecutors and gave her a higher than beginner pay slot to handle the "cold cases" is what she told me. I know her, she has never tried a felony. Real sweet though and will work hard. She said she got the job because she is friends with the Leitner (sp?) family. Weren't those the cases Kelly Siegler handled?

And, are you all making lateral hires. Just wondering?

Anonymous said...

murray,can you represent a former asst d a and a current asst if charges are filed because of this internet thing? there may be several others. they are embarassed to call you about it.would you be conflicted out because you worked here?

A Harris County Lawyer said...

Anon 5:12 p.m.,
I have no idea what the specifics of the "internet thing" are, so it would be difficult to answer that question. I will be glad to help any ADA who wants to call me. I would prefer not to do it over the blog, though.

Anonymous said...

If you really go through with sending her the book, make damn sure to use latex gloves when handling the Diary and have the clerk wrap it and lick the stamp with her DNA.
Can't be too careful with the troll's Brown Shirts.

baby prosecutor said...

anon 422,
That's too blatantly inappropriate and can't be true. How come the Chronicle hasn't reported on that flagrant abuse of power? From what I've seen the local media hates our office and would jump all over a story like that. Your "source" must be mistaken. I'll believe it if I see it--you're WRONG.

Mark Bennett said...

I'd like to thank Baby Prosecutor, The Duke, HPD 101, Twilight Zoned and the others who have chosen to stick with a single handle here. It's so much easier to follow the discussion when we don't have to guess at whether 1814 is the same person at 1901.

The Duke said...

Mark Bennett,
Thanks for the DOB on the troll. I'm guessing birth year to be 1929.
I agree that it is hard to follow some of the anon. bloggers.

Anonymous said...

Has it occurred to you that there might be a very good reason that there shouldn't be "keeper cases?" You will find out the reason when you eventually run across a prosecutor who is so emotionally invested with the victims and the case that he or she has lost the ability to reason and be objective about the case. I imagine that Leitner has dealt with the situation many times, as most defense attorneys in Harris County have. You will know the reason when you present the prosecutor with incontrovertible facts that proves your client's innocence and she looks you in the eye and says some insane off the wall comment that proves that she simply didn't comprehend your statement and/or is so out of touch with reality that she couldn't comprehend it. So then you spend weeks getting ready for a trial that shouldn't happen, only to have a rational prosecutor step in on the day that you trundle your 7 boxes of trial material into the court room and dismiss the case. Go through that experience a couple of times and you will understand why prosecutors who are overly invested in cases and who feel like a member of the victim's family should not be handling the case. Prosecutors are there to do a job, not become emotionally attached. There is another thing that you will learn, DON'T REPRESENT CLOSE FRIENDS OR FAMILY IN SERIOUS CASES. Its more of the same. You can't be objective and do what you need to do when you are emotionally attached to your client or family, and neither can prosecutors.

JustAnotherDefendant said...

Anon 10:46,

Glad to know that Jim's defense attorney friends/relatives are here to defend him. Don't act like he cares for defendants. Just ask me....

Jason said...

Reciprocal discoveries. I rather like that notion. What's wrong with both sides laying all their cards on the table?

Anonymous said...

to "just another defendant"

I have never so much as said hello to Leitner, and I am definitely not in his family. And few defense attorneys care about their clients. Why should we? Most of them are either horrible people, or so stupid that you can barely have a coherent conversation with them. In 20 years, I have met maybe one or two clients that I would even let have my home phone number. I do care very much about my job and about doing it the best I can. I care very much about upholding the oath I took as an attorney. I don't have to like someone to defend him, and I do a very good job. If you were to look me up on the computer, you would find that about 20% of the cases I have handled have been dismissed. That doesn't happen by fluke or because Harris County dismisses so many cases, and it doesn't include cases that were dismissed because the defendant was convicted in another case. It happens by hard work. Your knee jerk reaction that anyone who agrees with some of the new policies must be doing so just to defend Leitner tells me a lot about you. BTW, I hope you stay out of trouble so you don't become someone else's job, because that's what defendants are: a job. Some of us do a good job and some don't, but you will never catch me getting emotionally attached to a client or his family. Its a mistake for either defense attorneys or prosecutors, and its the reason that doctors don't operate on their own family members. Do you really want someone who is worried about hurting your feelings or doing what's legally best for you?

Anonymous said...

Amen to anon 10:46.

Anon 11:30,

For the record, I don't care for Mr. Leitner. Adults can personally dislike someone but see the merits of his/her argument.

A Harris County Lawyer said...

Anon 10:46,
At first, I started to disagree with you, but then I saw a lot of your points. I think you hit the nail on the head when you said that being overly-impassioned on a case to the point where you have blinders is a phenomenon on both sides of counsel table.

The interesting thing about reciprocal discovery is that it creates a bad situation on enforcement against the Defense bar. Let's say that a Defense attorney doesn't comply by turning over a witness list to the State. Does a judge exclude that witness during trial, knowing that the case will most likely get flipped for ineffective assistance or some other reason? Or does he just go ahead and let the witness testify anyway?

Anon 1:41 p.m.,
The irony of the situation for me, personally, is that I really DID like Jim Leitner, and I had a world of respect for him. I think a large degree of my anger and bitterness towards him is because his behavior last year was so unlike him. I've never seen anyone's reputation fall faster or harder than his did. It makes me very sad actually, because I used to hold him in very high esteem. He used to stand for something.

Anonymous said...

Mr Newman,
"Absolute power corrupts absolutely".
Leitner will pay a great price for his transgressions. What will he have lost when Lykos ultimately throws him under the bus?
1. a once happy marriage;
2. respect;
3. integrity;
4. a solid law practice; and
5. what is apparently the most important thing in his life above and beyond 1-4---any chance of being DA of Harris County--he will never overcome the tainting complicit with the Lykos/Leitner regime. Irony and arrogance will be his final companions.
Anyway, that's just my opinion.

HPD 101 said...

ANON 1046,
Don't confuse passion and a thorough knowledge of the case with emotional bias. Being incredibly prepared for battle does not equate to emotional instability.
Based our your reasoning, drinking milk as a child must lead to alcoholism since all alcoholics drank some form of milk as children. Stop projecting. Your argument is nonsense.

Anonymous said...

HPD 101 said...

ANON 1046,
Don't confuse passion and a thorough knowledge of the case with emotional bias. Being incredibly prepared for battle does not equate to emotional instability.
Based our your reasoning, drinking milk as a child must lead to alcoholism since all alcoholics drank some form of milk as children. Stop projecting. Your argument is nonsense.

January 12, 2009 4:05 PM

Huh? What color is the sky on your planet? Who said anything about knowledge and passion being a detriment? Certainly not I. Interesting how you set up a phony argument by claiming I said something that I didn't, and then tried to shoot it down. Can you say "straw man?" Its been done, but so much better. You are one of the few people that I have seen who actually lost an argument with himself. PS, that whole milk/alcoholism thing? That would be based on YOUR "reasoning," (since there was apparently no reason involved) and I suggest you lay off the sauce before you try another analogy.

HPD 101 said...

Hey ANON 502,
I can only guess that you are also ANON 1046.
Since you are such an intellectual giant, at least in your own anonymous mind, please clarify for me why it is so wrong to have "keeper cases". The argument you "seemed" to present was that the concept of "keeper cases" was inherently flawed because the prosecutor was too emotionally involved. That argument left out the basic fact that the "keeper case" prosecutor was more prepared and invested in the case then anyone else. To advocate that HCDA treat their prosecutors like shift workers on complicated felonies is is not in the best interest of justice for a prosecutor who has spent an exorbitant amount of time working up a case to simply check out to the next shift a week or 2 before trial. It demonstrates a lack of judgment.
My analogy that confused you was simply intended to show that if a particular prosecutor became too emotionally involved in a case because of his/her excessive investment of time and effort to properly proceed it does not follow that ALL similarly situated prosecutors would also be emotionally flawed.
Prosecutors can become too emotionally involved in a case regardless whether or not the case is a "keeper". This is where supervisory judgment and experience come into play.....and where the new administration is grossly lacking. Jim "Lose at All Costs" Leitner ought to write a cookbook instead of a DA procedural manual.

Anonymous said...

And how much experience do you have in administering a DA's office, or anything else, for that matter? What makes you the judge of whether the new administration is on the right track? They haven't been in office a month yet. You're an HPD officer? Made a lot of legal decisions about what is the best legal strategy in a case, have you? Are you one of those HPD officers that can write an offense report without it being so incoherent and full of misspellings and errors that it is almost unreadable? And as far as being prepared, yes, its difficult for a prosecutor to get up to speed on a case at the last minute. However, ITS THEIR JOB! Its what they signed up to do. At least they get handed a case file all neatly typed with names and addresses handy. And here is a little secret: it makes them better lawyers when they learn to digest massive amounts of information accurately in a short period of time and then get up there and sell it successfully to a jury. Defense attorneys start with an offense report from which we can only take notes and may even not get to see in its entirety, and yet we still manage to muddle through. I know about prosecutors who are overly invested in a case because I have dealt with the problem for 20 years. You seem to mistake passion for competence and the ability to be objective. It isn't. There are some prosecutors that can be both, but most can't. We lawyers even have a rule about judges and prosecutors being taken off a case when they are related by blood or marriage to a litigant. Its why when an assistant district attorney is accused of a crime, they bring in an outside prosecutor. Those rules are there because people generally recognize that it is contrary to human nature to be objective, fair, and dispassionate when it comes to your own family or someone very close to you. Because its an almost impossible task, we don't ask it of them. Again, its why doctors don't perform surgery on their own family. So a fairly rational person can make that leap from someone who is an actual family member of a victim's family to someone who feels like a member of a victim's family and begins to act like it not being the best person to handle a case. If you can't understand that, that's your problem. Argue amongst yourself about it.

Anonymous said...

HPD 101,
Leitner and company just don't get it...they'd rather be good politicians than good prosecutors; so don't waste your breath.
It'll be AMF for me real soon.

HPD 101 said...

ANON 150,
Your repeated failures at the courthouse are self evident and have more to do with your arrogance and inability to focus on the issues than the emotional temperament of the prosecutors who consistently kick your ass. The irrelevant nonsensical insults leveled at me in no way absolve your ineptitude but rather highlight it.
The Lykos/Leitner crippling of HCDA might just be your saving grace....maybe you'll be able to pull one out for your court appointments.

Anonymous said...

ANON 150,
Did you really mean to imply that experience is important in running a DA's office? Lykos personifies experience????? What the hell are you smoking????????????????????? WOW!!!!!!!!!

OUTRAGED said...

ANON 150,
What rambling nonsense.
1. Lykos takes the experience issue off the table; in case you just moved to Harris County.
2. The citizens of Harris County are precisely the ones that determine whether or not the HCDA administration is on the right track....not the defense bar.
3. What does the quality of an OR have to do with the issue at hand?
4. Prosecutors "get up to speed" on cases with very short notice on a regular basis. That was not the point. Why politicize the switch arbitrarily and needlessly?
Since you referenced "appropriate" medical care towards the end of your rant, let me pose this analogy for you: Let's say you are a patient with many complex medical issues who has been under the close care of your primary physician for a significant period of time. When a complication of your illness occurs that heretofore was perfectly addressed by your internist of many years are you, instead, going to seek treatment with another physician down the street with a copy of your medical records in hand? Why would you? Is your old physician too emotionally involved to provide you adequate care?
5. How about the defense attorney switching places for a minute. It is your JOB as a defense attorney to zealously defend your clients. What if you decide to take a vacation the week before trial and punt the case to an associate. Aren't defense attorneys as smart as prosecutors? If your client was subsequently convicted do you think that would be reversible error? Do you think a continuance should be sought and granted to avoid such a mishap? What about YOUR responsibility? But why would you even do it in the first place?
6. Passion is the driving force to excel. An attorney can be competent and objective without being passionate. Passion is what pushes the envelope to greatness. It separates the good lawyers from the "Rock Star" lawyers. Anger and bitterness are negative "emotions" that cloud judgment and are the antithesis of the passion alluded to.
7. Issues of consanguinity and marriage are irrelevant to the discussion.
8. It seems obvious by your post that you are playing the "victim card" to explain away your failures at the courthouse.....passion for the practice of law has unfortunately eluded you.

Anonymous said...

HPD, I don't have repeated failures at the courthouse. Like a typical cop, you not only have trouble comprehending, you also have trouble expressing yourself. I think I would have laughed more at your last post, but it was just too incoherent. Numbering paragraphs doesn't clarify rambling, irrelevant nonsense. Bottom line, you don't run the DA's office and only time will tell whether Lykos does a good job. I can't stand Obama either, but he and Lykos are both elected and we all have to accept it and deal with it. Ranting and raving won't change anything, and spending all your time attacking every decision made by either one doesn't leave a lot of time to do anything else. Now I have work to do, so I will leave you with your bitter ramblings, and move on. Perhaps if you focused more on doing your own job and less on Lykos' job, everyone would benefit.

Anonymous said...

Hey HPD101, since you are so consumed with the quality of justice and so worried about how the DA's office is run, why don't you do something about it? You could start by getting your fellow officers to stop lying, concealing evidence, racial profiling, rigging photo lineups, and screwing up lab tests. Start by getting your fellow officers to stop stopping black people because "they looked suspicious." Or you could go to law school, get a job at the DA's office when you graduate and pass the bar, and then run for DA. That way, you could run the whole show just the way you wanted. But I guess its easier to just run your mouth on a blog and bash people, isn't it? I mean, the lawyers on here went into debt, delayed earning a living to go to law school, (some of us quit lucrative jobs to go), went through the mental stress of law school, studied our asses off for the bar and waited for months wondering if we had passed it, then went through the very hard work of building a practice and all the stess and financial deprivation for at least a couple of years, and are still fighting the stress of not knowing how much we will earn in any given month. We took the risks, and you didn't. We are lawyers, and you aren't. Lykos is a lawyer and she was elected. You weren't. So why don't you quit insulting people, and if you really, really want to improve the quality of justice in Harris County, start with yourself and HPD.

Anonymous said...

anon 7:44 and 8:25:
OMG you are the poster boy for "you can't fix stupid".your last 2 posts made me LOL.get your mommy to warm some milk for you and shut the fuck up.

HPD 101 said...

ANON 744/825,
You didn't take your Adderal yesterday did you? Your lack of attention to detail undoubtedly contributes to your personal failures at the courthouse and in life; not alleged prosecutorial emotional misconduct or police behavior.
Insulting a police officer simply because you may have more formal education than he does simply highlights your low self esteem.
Graduating law school is not the end all. How do you know what risks and sacrifices "HPD 101" has made for himself, his family and his country? You don't. Attending law school was a privilege for you; NOT a great risk or sacrifice as you delude yourself into thinking. You have no idea what great risk, sacrifice or loss involves if attending post graduate school is your benchmark.

OUTRAGED said...

Dearest 7:44,
My response in defense of a fellow blogger was numbered to clarify YOUR "rambling irrelevant nonsense".
BTW, I am an attorney big shakes.

Anonymous said...

You didn't take your Adderal yesterday did you? Your lack of attention to detail undoubtedly contributes to your personal failures at the courthouse and in life;

How would you know if this person has personal failures in life or at the courthouse? How would you know if this person takes medication? Are you psychic now? At least this poster only claimed to be a lawyer, not psychic. If you are psychic, get off this blog and get out there and solve some crimes. How do you know what risks and sacrifices "anonymous" has made for himself, his family and his country? You don't. You started the insults: almost every post you have made has been name calling and insulting Leitner, Lykos, and various other people. Don't you think that calling someone a failure personally and professionally because he said something you disagreed with is an insult? Amazing how lawyers manage to get on here and disagree with people without being insulting and belittling, but leave it to a cop to be nasty. I guess anonymous is lucky you can't tase him or charge him with resisting arrest. Didn't you take a few digs at people for being "anonymous?" What's your name, HPD101? What's the matter? Don't have the courage of your convictions? Are you ducking behind the wheel well of your unit? Afraid you might get in trouble? So you feel free to sit and snipe at people behind your computer, and then you berate someone else for "insulting" you? What the poster was clearly saying was that the lawyers on here are down here every day trying to keep the system honest one defendant at a time, and that we went to a lot of trouble and expense to be here. If you don't think that going to law school is a huge risk, then you have no clue. Ask some of these new lawyers who are 100k in non-dischargeable debt and don't have a job if they think it was a risk. Reading your posting reminds me why I never talk to cops unless I have them on the witness stand. Its a waste of time.

Mark Bennett said...

I just thought I'd get in before the discourse started to deteriorate here.

Is HPD 101 a cop? I don't believe I've ever seen him say either way (though I do recall him mentioning a family member whose killer Kelly Siegler prosecuted), but I had the impression that he was not.

Mark Bennett said...

P.S. This guy and I live on different planets:

"few defense attorneys care about their clients. Why should we? Most of them are either horrible people, or so stupid that you can barely have a coherent conversation with them. In 20 years, I have met maybe one or two clients that I would even let have my home phone number."

Anonymous said...

Blogger Mark Bennett said...

P.S. This guy and I live on different planets:

Gee Mark, this attitude probably comes from the fact that this attorney isn't only associating with people who can afford to pay 5k or 10k for a defense. Some of us can't afford to keep such well heeled company. Some of us actually represent poor, unwashed, uneducated people who don't view working for a living quite the same way we do. Most of the people who belong to this class and commit crimes aren't necessarily nice, and I sure as hell don't want them knowing where I live either. How many of your clients do you associate with on a personal level?

Mark Bennett said...

1447, I represent all sorts of people. I have taken court appointments in state court, and still have a small court-appointed docket, albeit in federal court.

The one thing that my clients have in common is that they recognize that they're in big trouble. So even though many of them can't afford to pay $10k, they would if they could, and I defend them as though they could.

I don't mind them knowing where I live (some of their family members, I mind, but I have big dogs and guns, so I don't worry a whole lot), and I don't screen my calls so whether they have my home number is irrelevant.

Why do I treat them that way? Because I care about them. The "worst" of them are human beings who need my help. This works for me and for many other lawyers whom I respect. In my view any criminal defense lawyer worth his salt cares about the people whose freedom is in his hands. If we find our clients repulsive, we might as well be representing corporations or governments.

Also as far as I'm concerned (and back on the point of Murray's post) a prosecutor -- even an unswervingly ethical prosecutor -- who cares about the complainant is more dangerous to my clients' freedom than one who isn't so invested in the case.

HPD 101 said...

Mark Bennett,
Correct me if I'm wrong, but you are not saying that a prosecutor who actually cares about the complainant is a bad thing but rather that he/she will be more formidable as a result of his/her investment in the case.
Controlled passion is an asset in trial as opposed to emotional chaos and/or rage.
Remarkable that you remember my old post. My family and I were fortunate to have Kelly Siegler's passion, preparation and skill on the side of my lost son's memory. As you undoubtedly defend your clients with sincere passion, a victim's family appreciates the same passion for their cause. Neither the defendant nor the state should have it any other way.
You are wise not to judge based on mere sets you apart from some of your fellow bloggers.

Mark Bennett said...

HPD 101, you are correct, sir. I remember a commenter on this very blog who assumed, based on my occupation, that I was a dishonest person. We know better, don't we?

HPD 101 said...

Mark Bennett,
The occupation of criminal defense attorney does not in and of itself render one dishonest; how one comports himself within that role is controlling on the issue.
Ethics and honesty are often a challenge for an attorney in the zealous defense of a criminal defendant. God will judge us all at the end of the day.

Mark Bennett said...

"Ethics and honesty are often a challenge for an attorney in the zealous defense of a criminal defendant."

This is no more true than the equivalent proposition for a prosecutor, a banker, or a businessman.

HPD 101 said...

Mark Bennett,
Maintaining one's integrity is challenging in all walks of life. Notwithstanding, some vocations require more vigilance than others in achieving that end.
When a job description inherently promotes hiding the truth to promote one's cause, straight forward honest dealings are more likely to take a back seat.
There are good and bad criminal defense attorneys as well as good and bad prosecutors. In your defense, it is just a whole lot easier to be a good honest prosecutor, based on the respective job descriptions.

Mark Bennett said...

HPD 101, you're making assumptions about things that (you've shown over and over) you don't really understand.

Nobody in the courthouse has an "let it all in and let the jury decide" attitude. We might think that the jury should have all of the facts, but that's not the system we have. Prosecutors are, as often as defense lawyers, trying to "hide the truth".

A prosecutor doesn't want the jury to hear the truth favorable to the accused any more than a defense lawyer wants the jury to hear the truth favorable to the state. That's what advocacy is about: letting the jury hear the truth most favorable to your client. To put it crudely, evidentiary objections are for hiding the truth.

But it's not just us lawyers; businessmen and bankers don't reveal the whole truth when it benefits their interests.

Mark Bennett said...

Incidentally, if you wanted to find someone whose job description explicitly included not only hiding the truth, but also blatantly lying, you would have to look no farther than your friendly local cop.

HPD 101 said...

Mark Bennett,
Fact: We can agree to disagree.
Fact: I am not a prosecutor and have no self serving intent in my expressed opinion that most prosecutors serve the public good with a high level of integrity.
Fact: I can appreciate how difficult it might be for you to rationalize your self serving position.
Assumption: Mark Bennett is basically a good and moral person who is in turmoil trying to justify some of the immoral, albeit legal, aspects of being a criminal defense attorney.....the conflict of morally correct v. legally correct.
Assumption: The implication that most, if not all, cops adhere to the "defense bar's code of conduct"......we'll both disagree on that one for completely different reasons.

joelr said...

Oh, come on, HPD101; you're making this 'way too easy for Bennett.

Mark Bennett said...

HPD 101, I sympathize. I might be insane with grief if someone had killed one of my kids. But you'll probably never understand what I'm saying because you're talking about things with which you have no real experience.

Yes, most prosecutors serve their clients with high degree of integrity, even while trying to keep the factfinder from knowing all of the facts -- "hiding" the truth from the factfinder.

So do most defense lawyers serve their clients: with integrity, even when part of the job is to "hide" some facts from the factfinder.

Neither prosecutor nor defense lawyer has a license to lie. Some are dishonest, but it's not a function of the job. A lawyer can be truthful, and do a good job for his clients (a better job, I would argue, than an untruthful lawyer).

Contrast that with a job that includes lying as one of its functions: that of police officer. I'm not talking about "the defense bar's code of conduct" (whatever you imagine, since you really don't know, that is), but rather about what society (through the courts) has given police officers explicit permission to do.

Now, you might say, "well, lying is immoral, but it's okay for a cop to lie because the end justifies the means." If you did, though, then you and those (not including me) who think it's okay for a defense lawyer or a prosecutor to lie for a client would be, as Mr. Shaw said, just haggling about the price.

HPD 101 said...

Mark Benet,
I do not condone lying whether it is a police officer, prosecutor, defense attorney or anyone else for that matter.
I understand that your obligation as a defense attorney to "zealously" represent your client does not conform with my view of honesty. Truth, sadly, is often not the goal in a courtroom. That is my point. No other. I am not so naive to think that some prosecutors and some police officers do not lie and defend the practice by stating that the end justifies the means. But a few bad ADAs and cops should not be used to generalize all law enforcement as bad and corrupt. If a prosecutor intentionally fails to timely produce exculpatory evidence he/she should be sanctioned. If a police officer lies to satisfy a personal agenda he/she should also be disciplined.
There are no REAL balancing rules for the defense bar. If a defense attorney intentionally with holds damning evidence/lies and beats the truth they are instead praised, rewarded and held in high esteem by their peers, the media and their clients. I do not need a tutorial on Con. Law, I am merely stating that in my opinion society's moral compass is off and that is a sad thing for our community and country.
I believe that consequences and responsibility are important aspects of character development. I also understand that many people today side with your view that they are expendable. Your advocating that "hiding the truth from the factfinder" is acting with integrity highlights our differences.

BTW, My reference to the "defense bar's code of conduct" was a tongue in cheek joke intended to imply that that there is no actual guide for controlling lies for defense attorneys and you feel the same for police officers.

Mark Bennett said...

HPD 101, you're so outraged, because of your limited experience with the system, with the idea that people should have a competent defense that you are missing the fact that your heroes the police are judicially permitted to lie (with no objection from you) and your heroes the prosecutors are as interested in the factfinder not hearing the whole truth as your supervillains the defense lawyer. You're unwilling to even conceive of a truthful defense lawyer. We get it.

If you were able to admit to yourself the truth -- that prosecutors, like defense lawyers, use the rules of evidence to try to exclude the facts that harm their clients' cases -- you would probably rationalize it with something like your implicit "personal agenda" rationale for cops -- as though the interrogator lying to the suspect or the prosecutor trying to keep the jury in the dark is acting out of some higher calling.

Sure, the system is broken. No argument from me. But your personal mythology, that the broken system somehow reflects on the characters of the people who are doing their best within the rules to prevent injustice, has no basis in reality.

HPD 101 said...

Mark Bennett,
I think frustration is more appropriate than outrage. Nevertheless, we'll just have to respectfully disagree on this the horse has been beaten to death.
I appreciate your point of view, perhaps one day you'll appreciate mine.
I recently read that you were a theology undergraduate at Rice University. Reflection on your theology teachings at Rice might shed some light on my perspective at a higher level then the agenda set forth through your studies at law school. Theology and law are often apples and oranges and the root of this conflict....I'd rather be judged by the former.
Good day, sir.

joelr said...

Well, gee, who wouldn't rather be judged by theology than law? Here and now -- yeah, it was different when the Inquisition had any authority -- the worst a theologian can do is call you a mean name; a court can lock you up in a room with bars and rather limited Internet access.


Mark Bennett said...

Respect? Really?

I know nothing about you; I assume that you're telling the truth about losing your son, but I assume that only because if you were lying about that then you'd qualify to be among the vilest characters that I've ever met (and that's saying a lot).

You're an anonymous commenter impugning the integrity of a large group of people you don't know. You're a person in a mask throwing rocks at a peaceful crowd.

I have no respect for the masked rock-throwers and the car-keyers of the internet. So, no, no respect for you.

Well, then, how about your opinions?

My CV, as well as a million words of my writings on the criminal justice system, is available to anyone with a computer. My character is easily assessed. And the best you can do is attack me because I'm a criminal defense lawyer and you think (though you can't really articulate why) that criminal defense lawyers must be morally compromised.

You've shown yourself willing, time after time after time, to hold forth from the cover of anonymity on topics of which you've proven yourself woefully ignorant. You won't even acknowledge the inalterable facts that challenge your position -- for example, that police officers are allowed to lie in the course of investigations.

Now you invoke theology. Do you have the impression that you know better how to seek Justice here on Earth than a thousand years of Western lawyers and philosophers? Than the Founding Fathers? Is it that you think the Taliban have the right idea? Are you eagerly looking for some sort of Christian Sharia?

Or is it just that you have no clue what the Bible actually says about this topic? Because if you look you can find a good example there of someone defending a case in which the accused was unquestionably guilty (caught in the act) and the penalty, both according to the law and according to the priests, was death. You would paint him with the same brush that you paint today's criminal defense bar; was he a man of little integrity? Seek and ye shall find.

Your fellow refugees from the Chronicle blogs, who (because they've watched an episode of Law and Order) think they have the solution to every problem in the criminal justice system might well respect your opinions.

I, however, do not.

Anonymous said...


As I read the 70 plus comments in this part of your blog, it seems to have turned from an observation about keeper cases to rock throwing and personal assaults at one another. When the comments turn into personal attacks, why don't you delete those and prevent them from being published?