Today proved to be the arrival of a most anticipated day for the Defense Bar, as the Harris County District Attorney's Office finally began the process of providing copies of offense reports to Defense Counsel.
Now having been a member of the Defense Bar for a little over two months now, I do feel slightly disingenuous applauding the arrival of the ORs so wholeheartedly. I've only been forced to take notes for two months, while most members of the Defense Bar have had to do so for years, after all. That being said, I was extremely excited to be the charter member in the 177th District Court this morning to get to sign off on the confidentiality agreement one signs in getting an offense report.
Those who read this blog know that I am no fan of Pat Lykos, but I have to give the D.A. credit for pushing through this initiative and getting the ORs out there. Her move actually will make the criminal justice system move at a faster and more effective pace. It was an idea thought up by others, but it did ultimately happen on her watch.
So, I say good for her.
There is still some small confusion on the actual execution of the plan. The offense report I received had the addresses and Social Security numbers blacked out and redacted. Some other defense attorneys that I spoke with said the names of witnesses and complainants were blacked out entirely. But hey, it's Day One. Some things will take some ironing out. I was happy just to have the OR.
I received an off-blog e-mail from a citizen asking if the ORs were available to defendants and the general public.
The answer to that is a resounding "no".
Citizens involved in traffic accidents can get copies of accident reports, but the offense reports still belong only to prosecutors, the police, and now, defense attorneys.
I know I can be quite vocal in my distaste for Pat Lykos and the Gang that Couldn't Shoot Straight, but tonight, I will actually give them an ovation for doing something good.
Good job, guys, on a good policy decision.
But don't get too used to the flattery.