Thursday, March 26, 2009

Two Good Men

Sorry in advance, folks, but this one is going to be a long one . . .

During my career at the HCDA's Office, I had the pleasure to work with two (amongst many) outstanding prosecutors -- Mark Donnelly and Rifi Newaz.

Mark was was Three Man when I was a relatively new Felony Two in the 185th District Court and Rifi was my Three when I was a Two in the 209th, right before I was promoted to Felony Chief.

Mark is the type of prosecutor that nobody has any complaints against. A brilliant and talented attorney who could write the book on Diplomacy, Mark exhibited a maturity beyond his years from the second he walked in the door of the D.A.'s Office. He was excellent in trial. His knowledge of the law and his common sense when assessing cases was unparalleled. He was the type of prosecutor that nobody could have a complaint against. He patiently listened to any issues that a defense attorney may bring to his attention and he looked in to every aspect of every case.

Mark is the kind of guy that you vote for when he runs for President, actually.

Rifi was much more junior to Mark when we worked together, but I have to say he was probably one of the most diligent, hard-working prosecutors I ever had the honor to serve with. The man had more heart and character in his little finger than the entire Gang Who Couldn't Shoot Straight has in the entirety of their bodies. A devoted public servant in every sense of the word, Rifi is the kind of guy that has the moral compass that we could all stand to learn from.

If it isn't obvious by now, I consider them both to be very dear friends that I think the world of.

Today, they became the latest casualties of a blow-hard politician who has unfortunately assumed the mantle of the elected District Attorney of Harris County.

Prior to today's events, Rifi Newaz was the Two Man in the 182nd District Court and Mark Donnelly was his chief. They were in trial against two very talented defense attorneys, Jaquelyn Carpenter and Eric Davis earlier this week, and were selecting a jury.

For those of you who read this and are not trial attorneys, explaining the process of selecting a jury (aka voir dire) is a bit difficult. The short synopsis is that 65 members of the Harris County community are brought over and listen to the Judge, the prosecutors, and the defense talk and ask questions, all in the effort of finding twelve neutral jurors who can listen to a case without bias and ultimately determine the results of the case.

Under the rules of voir dire, each side has ten peremptory strikes that they can make when striking jurors from the panel. If a juror is a high school drop out, a peremptory strike can be used against him. If he or she seems to be more responsive to opposing counsel, he can be struck. If he hasn't held a job in the past year, he can be struck. If he has a freaking mullet, he can be struck. If the attorney making the strikes just gets a bad vibe off of the juror, a peremptory strike allows that attorney to remove him from the panel with no questions asked.

With one humongous exception . . .

Peremptory challenges cannot be exercised based on race, gender or any other factors that are protected under the law.

If opposing counsel feels that a peremptory challenge was, in fact, exercised based on the above-mentioned reasons, they make what is called a Batson challenge, which is basically an accusation that the prosecutor made a peremptory strike of an otherwise qualified juror based solely on their race, gender, etc.

These types of "challenges" are not unusual, in any way. The typical scenario is that the Defense Attorney will observe that a juror has been stricken from the panel by the Prosecution, and the Prosecutor will then have to explain their "race neutral" reason for striking the juror.

The Judge becomes the ultimate decider over whether or not the Prosecutor's explanation is sufficient to prove that they did not, in fact, make that strike based for racial or gender issues. The problem for prosecutors, however, becomes that the "bad vibe", "more responsive to the defense", or any other reasons that may be based on gut instinct become difficult to explain. If the juror in question was not a protected class of citizens, it wouldn't be an issue.

(NOTE: When I was a prosecutor, I was Batson challenged once by a defense attorney who claimed that I had struck an African-American potential juror based on race. In reality, I had not struck that potential juror, the Defense Attorney had. The reason? The potential juror was the defense attorney's probation officer.)

Sorry for the tangent there.

Back to the story, earlier this week, Rifi was trying a case in the 182nd with Mark sitting with him, as his supervisor. Several African-American jurors were struck by the State, and Rifi and Mark subsequently were Batsoned. Jacquelyn and Eric made their objection that the State had used their strikes because of race. Jacquelyn and Eric would have been remiss in their duties as Defense Attorneys if they had failed to do so. Judge Barr then took up the issue, and Rifi and Mark had to explain their reasonings.

Whenever the State has to give their reasons, the Judge has to make the call as to whether or not they were sufficient. In this particular case, Judge Barr made the decision that the reasons were not sufficient. Upon making that finding, the Judge granted the Batson motion, and ultimately released the jury that had been selected. A new jury would have to be selected the following day.

It is unfortunate that this happened, absolutely.

But what happened in the aftermath of the Judge's ruling is beyond unfortunate.

Pat Lykos realized that it would be to her utmost political advantage to throw two very good prosecutors under the proverbial "bus". In an article in the Houston Chronicle, Patsy described Mark and Rifi as "incompetent" and "negligent".

For those of us who know Rifi and Mark, that statement is beyond outrageous.

For Pat Lykos to be calling these two good men "incompetent" and "negligent" is obscene. Perhaps we should give Patsy a little bit of understanding (since she was never a trial lawyer herself and has no idea what an actual trial lawyer has to factor in when picking a jury), but actually, I don't think so. Lykos ran to be a leader to the prosecutors under her, and she is failing them in pretty much every possible way. She has proven herself to be nothing more than a politician by scapegoating her people rather than hear their versions of events. A true trial lawyer would have at least listened.

But not our gal, Patsy.

She quickly latched onto the fact that the public would celebrate her disciplining two prosecutors for what they were perceived to have done. She disciplined and transferred both prosecutors and will doubtlessly be cheered for it.

She shouldn't be.

Anyone (from either the defense or the prosecution) knows that Rifi and Mark are good, decent, honest, and hardworking prosecutors. There may be some prosecutors to find fault with, but these two guys don't fit that bill. Lykos made bad examples out of two men that, in reality, serve as good examples of what prosecutors should be every day of the week.

And you know what? It was chicken shit.

As noted by Mark Bennett's comments in the article, some members of the Defense Bar will (wrongly) applaud her decision. I doubt that they will be clapping their hands as loudly when the Office loses what these two guys brought to the table.

I know that I am sometimes accused of being a "prosecutor sympathizer" and some say I haven't been able to "mentally adjust" to being a defense attorney.

That's silliness.

I would rather deal with a good prosecutor any day of the week than a bad one. A good prosecutor knows the difference from a strong case and one that is B.S. A good prosecutor knows when the probable cause for a stop is no good. A good prosecutor knows when to dismiss a case if it should be dismissed, and they aren't afraid to do it.

Rifi and Mark fit that description down to the last detail. It's a shame that Lykos is too stupid and too much of a political grandstander to realize that. She just cut off her nose to spite her face.

Mark and Rifi, anyone who has ever dealt with you all from either the State side or the Defense side knows that you all are both examples of what every prosecutor should be.

Pat Lykos is a clear example of what a prosecutor should not be. Making judgments based on perception rather than fact is ludicrous in ways that I can't even scratch the surface on describing. When not openly trying to castrate her prosecutors in public, she's been soliciting defense attorneys to let her know who they have complaints against. She's not a leader in that office. She is the Destructor.

I have no idea what Rifi or Mark's plans for the future are, but I hope that they leave the Office.

The Lykos Administration doesn't deserve them.

And on a side note, I'd like to ask the question, where in the hell were Roger Bridgwater and Jim Leitner during Lykos' punishing of Mark and Rifi? As former defense attorneys, they stood by people accused of the most reprehensible actions and defended them to the best of their abilities. Did they do the same in acting as buffers for Mark and Rifi from Lykos' lunatic actions?

Apparently not.

Guys, you need to go search in your closets for your backbones. You both know that Rifi and Mark didn't deserve this. Did you stand up for what you believed in? Or did you just jump in on Lykos' mob mentality that stands against every principle the Criminal Justice System was created for?

Today is a dark day in the Office's history.

106 comments:

Brew95 said...

Let me get this straight, a prosecutor who is neither white nor Republican, is accused of being a racist and reprimanded by a District Attorney who is white and Republican? Ain’t Political Correctness grand?

Anonymous said...

It's a shame. A damn shame. I've met Mr. Newaz several times, and anyone who knew him would know that this was a fluke.

Anonymous said...

I knew Davis in high school. Weird. Who'd of thunk he'd get old enough to become a somewhat-known defense attorney or I'd get old enough to grouse about him?

Anyway, I hope Lisa Falkenberg reads this blog to learn about court proceedings.

Anonymous said...

This is just great. When a Judge has to make a decision on a Batson challenge, it is not an easy decision.

Now Judges are going to be reluctant to grant a Batson motion because they know that ADA will be santioned and Chronicle gets a front page story.

Way to go Ms. District Attorney.....

Zorro said...

I have tried cases against both Riffi and Mark. I have handled at least a dozen cases with each of them. Calling them "two good men" is not really accurate. Out of the hundreds of DA's I've dealt with all over Texas, these two are probably both in the top ten in terms of fairness, integrity and honesty. "Two of the Best" is probably more accurate. And to top it off, both these guys are two of the most pleasant DA's I have ever dealt with. They both are always in a good mood, which tells me that they both like what they do for a living very much.
Jury selection is almost always a chaotic affair, especially in felony court where you have 65 people to select from. Few courts give you more than an hour to decide what group of 10 people you will kick off by using your peremptory strikes. By the time you get down to your last strike, lawyers are often reduced to deciding who has been giving someone in the courtroom dirty looks as a basis for removal. And that goes for both DA's and defense attorneys. It is a total zoo. And race is a lot less important as a criteria than most people would think. Because of the severe time limitations, few attorneys are even truly aware of the race of those panel members sitting in the last rows.
I do hope that neither Mark nor Riffi leaves the DA's office. If all DA's were like these guys, life at the Harris County Courthouse would be both more pleasant and more fair.

Anonymous said...

I went to bed last night sick about this and I woke up feeling the same way. Lykos surrounds herself with nothing by white people and then accuses two talented and honest minorities on her staff of being at a minimum incompetent. Go figure.

Arthur Seaton said...

I am so pissed off right now I can barely see straight.

Anonymous said...

Isn't it true that the Judge found -- on the record -- that the prosecutors had given race neutral reasons for the strikes, but decided to grant the Batson challenge anyway?

pissed! said...

To answer your question, leitner the henchman was the one doling out the punishment. You didn't think lykos would do it herself did you? She was too busy slamming them in the paper. And I disagree on one part. I blame the judge as well. She knew they had race neutral reasons and told them so. And she told them she knew they weren't racist but it didn't look good. Lykos has said the same. Both were too chickenshit to make the right call but instead made the political one. I'm disgraced by them both. The moral of the story is pay attention to race even though its illegal and make sure you've got enough minorities or we'll screw you.

Anonymous said...

I interned for the DA's office last summer and at one time would have given anything to be an ADA there.

No longer. And no one can blame this "toxic" blog either--DA Lykos and her own front-page Chron comments are responsible.

Best wishes to everybody at the HCCJC, some of the finest public servants around. Wish I coulda worked with you again...

Anonymous said...

When Leitner was delegated to destroy the reputation of Mark we lost one of the best ADAs Harris County has left. I say lost because there is no way a man of his character can continue working at HCDA now. Not only has his standing as a prosecutor in the community been impugned but his ability to pick a jury and try a case will forever more be compromised.
Either Mark is a racist(which is the farthest thing from the truth) and he should have been fired or the Lykos/Leitner cartel has sacrificed a talented prosecutor's career merely to further their own.
Mark is now left with the choice of resigning with dignity and publicly clarifying his position or relegating himself to the growing herd of frightened sheep at HCDA.
Mark is not a coward willing to accept mediocrity or acquiesce to political suicide.....
Pat Lykos and her little bitch "Piss Ant Leitner" can both go to Hell.

Anonymous said...

Way to have our backs. Does this mean I'm incompetent every time I lose a trial? A motion? An objection?

Life after Esq. said...

Coming in to work this morning, my boss (this is in a civil firm) said he was proud of the new DA for what she did.

I hadn't read the paper yet and didn't know what he was talking about. He barely listened when I tried explaining what bullshit this was.

Clearly, I don't work at the DA, but I know who those two are and I like them A LOT. They are so freaking awesome and have always been so nice to me. This sucks.

Anonymous said...

If she didn't think it was racist, why was it incompetent? I understand trying to make the statement that you don't tolerate racism, but shouldn't you pick an example of, you know, racism, to make that point?

Arthur Seaton said...

Lykos TOLD Mark that is she thought it was a racist move then she would have fired him.....so why the fuck are we even at this point? Goddammmmmmit.

Anonymous said...

While claiming that they were surprised that all blacks had been excluded from the Jury is questionable enough {"I'm shocked to find that there is gambling here!"), the real problem appears to be that the race-neutral explanation given was just the opposite. It was a sterotypical racial reason. Lycos ran on a reform platform to correct the problems many have seen with the Harris County "conviction machine." While I do not entirely agree with the words used to describe these two lawyers or the discipline imposed, the fact of the matter is that they did screw up. It is naive to think that this story would not be a front page headline in the Barnicle, or be endorsed by the voters who accepted her campaign for change.

Arthur Seaton said...

Anon 8:25, you don't know jack fucking shit.

jigmeister said...

Put aside the word games for a minute. Lykos virtually publically labeled two lawyers as “racists”. I can’t think of anything more devastating. In today’s climate, it’s even worse than being labeled a thief. Reputation for fairness and integrity is everything to a prosecutor. With the reputation of being racist, you have no ability to be effective and can’t do your job. You would spend far too much time and emotion peering over your shoulder to see who is whispering about you. Your public service career is over. To make things worse, under Lykos, all media responses must be approved. How do you defend yourself? The only option they have is a bad one. I assume both wanted a career of public service, and now they have to give that up in order to defend that reputation in the hopes that the Chronicle wants to be fair and give them the opportunity to respond. That’s certainly a long shot.

Now what happens to this murder case? Given to a new prosecutor that has no rapport with the witnesses, family members, destined to be plead to less than it ought, or handled in some other inappropriate way?

What is the natural response of every other prosecutor picking juries now? FEAR. Will you now intelligently exercise strikes based on what’s best for your case, hesitate, or more likely, decline to use strikes on any minority for fear you’re next?

The even more distressing fact that those of us watching from a distance see is that there is a total lack of leadership. Decisions are made based solely on political perceptions. The best and brightest have been abandoning the sinking ship and that trend will continue and escalate. The office is doomed to mediocrity. I pity the public.

Anonymous said...

R.I.P. Harris County DA Office.
No plea is too low now.
Future trials will be a waste of taxpayers' money.
The Defense Bar rules.
Has Political Pat set up an Ombudsman's office yet to field complaints against ADA's?
Is the economy really that bad or are ADAs really that insecure? How do you spell brothel?
Unfuckingbelievable!

Rage Judicata said...

What Lykos did was clearly wrong. To discipline someone so publicly makes everyone in your office afraid for their jobs. This, more than all things she has done to date combined, will have the greatest bearing on people wanting to work there. And I don't even think all the things she's done so far were wrong, but I know those under her do.

BUT. Let's face it. We all know why they struck those jurors. We know why defensle lawyers strike people along race lines. I do it in every single trial. Every one. Does that make them racists? Absolutely not. It makes them good lawyers, because every lawyer should seek to exclude jurors harmful to their case. But it just so happens that this is an area where bias and race collide, and it's no small wonder based on our nation's history of race relations.

The difference between what I do and what they did (and why Lykos outed them for doing it wrong) is that I never strike them all, I have a better race-neutral explanation and try to have a different one for each juror. So, while I agree that they showed negligence, the way Lykos handled it is embarrassing to the office and shameful as a person.

However, after years of prosecutors being trained to exclude Canadians, it should be no surprise that this happened, and certainly it's not the first time.

Anonymous said...

It's time for Jim, Pat and Roger to get their ass in a courtroom and try a case. When a black juror says "I hate the police" and "I can't trust them" then do you think the 3 amigos will keep that juror on the jury.

Can the state appeal the Judge's ruling?

Can the state make a Batson challenge on the black defense attorneys for striking middle aged - white jurors from Katy?

Pat continues to dismantle the office and encourage her prosecutors to be weak and plead out cases so they can't get fired later.

Jason said...

To any of you ADA in the HCCJC the message is clear.


You shall consider race in your jury selection, especially if the defendant is a minority.

Anonymous said...

Either they engaged in invidious discrimination or they didn't. If their race-neutral reasons weren't credible, then she's saying they were not only racist, they were liars as well.

But she's saying they weren't racist or they'd be fired. That just doesn't make sense.

And yes, they could have been surprised that no "blacks" were on the jury, there may have been a few jurors that the State did not expect to be stricken by the defense.

Anonymous said...

I too have worked with both Mark and Rifi and although Lykos does not deserve them on her staff. I hope that they do stay though because they are the type of people we need at the courthouse. The ones that will do there job right and true. If all the good ones are gone... what is left. And any "leader" who is willing to sacrifice the integrity of one of their own for their own personal advancement is no leader at all.

Anonymous said...

Let me get this straight. Two experienced prosecutors exercise 70 percent of their strikes with the result that all blacks are struck, then claim gee, we didn't know it until we saw the jury seated.
I submit that they either are 1) lying or 2) incompetent in that they didn't know how they used 7 of 10 strikes.
It just kinda happened.
Right. I believe that.
Judge Lykos gave them the benefit of the doubt, not that they are non-racists but that they are not liars when they were asked about what they had done.
Heck, she cut them a lot of slack and they should be darned glad she chose to suspend them for a day or two for incompetence and to make a point rather than firing them for lying to the court and to her.

A Harris County Lawyer said...

Anon 1:35 pm,
You left out Option # 3, which is that there is more to the story.
Striking seven African-American jurors with ten of the State's Strikes unquestionably "looks bad". Even if there were seven individual and viable reasons for each and every one of those strikes, the appearance is still bad.
Where Lykos proved to be a total failure (yet again) was in not at least looking into the explanations of her prosecutors or (God forbid) looking at the actual transcript of the trial to see what race neutral reasons the prosecutors cited for their strikes.
That information is out there (hint hint Brian Rogers) if one wants to look it up in the transcript of the trial. But Lykos didn't wait around. She did what she thought would be politically advantageous. She called the Chronicle herself to call two good men racists, incompetent, and negligent.
That stands against the fundamental principle of criminal law of innocent until proven guilty, and she did it proudly.
I may scrap together some money and try to buy a copy of the transcript myself.

A Harris County Lawyer said...

And as a side note, I'm allegedly going to be on Fox 26 news this afternoon sharing my thoughts on this debacle, if anyone is interested.

Anonymous said...

Slam dunk defamation. The real issue now is who gets to sign these guys up?
Lloyd Kelley is probably frothing at the bit.

Anonymous said...

I've got to disagree with Rage Judicata's statement that prosecutors at HCDAO are trained to exclude minorities. I prosecuted there for many, many years, and never once was I in any way encouraged to strike a minority venirman from the panel due to race. In fact, at every in-house training session on voir dire, it was stressed that we should never strike any juror based on race. There was no "wink, wink, nudge, nudge." We were taught that it would be unforgivable to do so. My personal thought, apart from the morality of the situation, was why would anyone want to build error into their case? Why woujld you engage in behavior that could result in the case being flipped on appeal? No one wants to have to try a case for the second time.

I'm getting pretty sick of people who were never there making these broad assumptions about HCDAO. I've been gone a couple of years, so maybe things changed, but I can assure you it was never done in the years that I was there. There were some fellow prosecutors that I didn't like, there were some fellow prosecutors with whom I had other differences, and there are even a few of them that I would love to be able to pin this on, but I never knew anyone who deliberately violated Batson in jury selection.

But separate from this is Lykos's unforgivable behavior in choosing to publically brand her employees as negligent and incompetent. If she truly believed this, they should have been fired. Since they weren't, I can only assume this was a case of grandstanding on her part. At the risk of her employees. Wow. Bet that will be one delightful office Christmas party...assuming there's anyone left by then.

Anonymous said...

Even assuming that they were total racists, since when do personnel matters make newspaper headlines? I don't believe for one second that the ADAs didn't know what they were doing and intend to do just what they did. If they were really in the clear, Judge Barr, who is not exactly a left wing defendant sympathizing person, would not have granted the Batson challenge. That being said, Lykos is totally in the wrong to do what she did. If employees need to be disciplined, it should always be done privately. She has taken two lawyers and publically humiliated them, called their characters into question and made a far reaching statement ("incompetent") that can't be proven to be true. Even if these guys totally screwed up and had bad motives doing it, no competent manager does what Lykos did. I know they don't have too many employee protections, but must they endure slander also? She isn't immune for actions taken outside her official duties and I am pretty sure that slandering people and giving newspaper interviews targeting individuals isn't part of her official duties. They should sue the bitch and make her try to prove what she said about them.

Anonymous said...

Good for you Murray.
As for Anon 1:35, he/she aptly demonstrates that the reputations of Mark and Riffi have in fact been tarnished. That the false accusations published by the Harris County District Attorney are believed by a third party and that the ADAs now defamed careers and earning potentials have been negatively impacted as a direct result of the defamatory actions of Lykos/Leitner individually and as agents for Harris County.

Anonymous said...

Anon 1:54:

Her statement was slander "per se," but i don't see how any plaintiff's attorney is going to get around the official/governmental immunity within which she will invariably cloak her defense.

Anonymous said...

More from anon 1:35:
Murray: Judge Lykos is quoted in the Chronicle story you linked to as specifically not calling them racists. She called them incompetent.
And, their story was that they simply didn't know what they had done.
I've picked a number of juries in my day and I darn well know the race of the people I strike.
I didn't plan to get into a running debate with anyone about this but, what more could there be to the story.
If they had non-racial reasons for striking 7 blacks, great. What I can't conceive of is them not knowing what they had done until they had done it.
That just doesn't ring true. If it is true, they are sloppy and incompetent. If it's an untruth by the prosecutors, they they aren't truthtellers.

A Harris County Lawyer said...

Anon 1:35,
I understand your point, but keep in mind that it was Lykos who said that they didn't realize what had happened. She stopped just short of calling them racists, while implying it throughout her statement.
The bottom line is that Mark and Rifi weren't given the opportunity to explain anything to Lykos before she called the Chronicle. That's weak on her part, any way you cut it.

Anonymous said...

Did Judge Barr say, off the record, that she didn't think that the challenges were exercised in a racially discriminatory manner, but that "it looked bad?" If so, she made an incorrect legal ruling.

Rage Judicata said...

2:00:

I don't know what to tell you, but I've been told by two former prosecutors who worked there at separate times that they were specifically trained to Batson-proof their strikes. They didn't know each other, and it was in separate conversations, years apart.

Maybe you slept through that part of the new prosecutor's boot camp?

Keep in mind, I'm not saying it's wrong. You just have to work harder to make sure you can show a race-neutral reason, which even CLEs in the civil setting address. As long as you do that, it doesn't matter if you have twelve Adolf Hitlers in the jury box. The problem here is not that they did it, it's that they did it wrong.

Anonymous said...

Anon 2:26,
The Chuckster shared your misunderstanding of civil culpability as Lloyd Kelley laughed all the way to the bank.
Lykos and Leitner need to be removed from office. Let's hope Perry's next appointment is more appropriate than his last......but anything will be an improvement over what we have now.

Anonymous said...

Rage,
You're showing your ass again. How do you KNOW anything was done "Wrong" by the 2 ADAs voir dire?
You have undoubtedly not read the transcript and are assuming facts not in evidence. Rather you have chosen to believe assertions published in a journalistic rag quoting a self serving lying bitch. You might even be called as a witness to the defamation cause of action down the road......

Anonymous said...

Anon 3:09,

Immunity doesn't work when the claims are 1983 (Civil Rts Claims). The Ibarra's claims were 1983 claims.

Rage Judicata said...

3:17:

Based on the way you throw legalisms like "facts not in evidence", I'd say you're a baby lawyer. Maybe still a first year.

How do I know they did something wrong? Because even a Harris County judge granted the Batson challenge. Clearly their race neutral explanation wasn't good enough.

And even assuming everything they themselves say is true, how in the effing hell do you not know that you just used seventy percent of your strikes on black people when you're sitting ten feet away from a black defendant?

Either they're feigning ignorance, or they're just ignorant. But based on Murray's post, I'd say they aren't ignorant.

As a trial lawyer who spends weeks every year in trial (I'm even posting this from across the street in the civil courthouse, so come on over and say hi), during voir dire I concentrate on very few things:

1. Endearing the jury to my client and me (mostly me) in order to build rapport so they'll listen to me when I tell them what their decision should be;
2. Using certain jurors to make a point to other jurors (commonly known as 'testifying' jurors), because people will agree with other jurors more easily than they will agree with a lawyer. I do this to the point of using jurors to poison the panel if the panel is leaning far enough the other way;
3. Ferreting out bias against my client (if you've done 1. well, this is easy); and
4. Beating potential Batson challenges.
Now, I try most of my cases alone or with an second chair or assistant that I wouldn't trust to keep track of these issues for me, so I'm pretty damn busy during voir dire and have to take tons of notes. I've never lost a Batson challenge. Shoot, half the time the judge agrees that I don't even have to offer a race-neutral reason because the other side didn't make a prima facie case as required by Batson and its progeny.

There were two lawyers for the state on this one, who try tons of cases, and we're expected to believe that they were as surprised as anyone else about the all-white jury?
Doesn't compute. No good lawyer should be that surprised by their own actions. And I hear they're good lawyers, so I'm betting they weren't surprised that it happened, just that they got called on it by the judge.

Harris Co Po-Po said...

Welcome to our world.

Anonymous said...

is the fact that an attorney takes note of the race they are striking or not striking racist. maybe they didn't notice because they weren't looking at race. How do you get rid of racism when all you ever do is push its importance?

Anonymous said...

So what do those of us left standing (for now...) in this office do? Even though going out in a blaze of glory IS tempting, I'd like to stay in my dream job. I also think Harris County needs good DAs now, more than ever. But I don't feel right silently standing by while good people like Rifi and Mark are pilloried by someone who is just thinking about what government position she is running for next.

Although you were a fabulous DA Murray, you did kinda ask to be fired (repeatedly). But this is beyond the pale.

Any serious suggestions for what we DAs can do? Without getting fired?

Anonymous said...

It should be noted that Terrance Windham said today he never did an investigation - yet the Chron reported he did.

And how did this get to the media? I am guessing Patsy made the call.

Fucking worthless bitch.

onemore said...

Plain and simple, Lykos is an evil wench! Everything she does screams, "Just look at what I've done! I'm such a hero!" It's obvious that there's a foul motive lying beneath nearly every decision she's made concerning the office.

Anonymous said...

I was recently a harris county grand juror (my terms over now so no worries) and rifi presented to us many times. he was one of the highlights of the experience - great case presentation, very sound guy. i also could tell he was a genuinely good guy - you can just tell when you meet him he's solid. great personality, the BEST laugh you've ever heard. When i heard his name on the news I literally GASPED. I am in shock, there must be some mistake. our whole grand jury just adored him.

Anonymous said...

It is a shame when I read in the only newspaper in the city that two more attorneys from the Harris County District Attorney's Office have been wronged by their boss. This is very simple, Lykos ran her mouth to the public when she should have kept this in house. She is simply an egotistical, grandstanding politician out for her own gain at the expense of the people she was elected to lead. Let's not kid ourselves here; Harris County voters had only two choices for DA in the last election. Lykos and Bradford. Personally, I don't see any difference in their leadership abilities. They are two peas in a pod. Lykos claimed she would change the way business was conducted in the DAs office and I believe she has. I am afraid for the citizens of Houston and Harris County. We do not deserve this.

Anonymous said...

Terrance Windham did not make a comment to the Chronicle. Any comment attributed to him is false. So the whole "shocked" comment is bullshit. They are more than competent. They were not negligent and incompetent, this shocked. Nor are they racist and lying about being shocked. These people were told yesterday in court, prior to investigation and questioning, that "The Judge" and Jim could not publicy support them, particularly Jim bc of his campaign platform re: no peremptory strikes. This was told to Rifi outside the courtroom before docket was over and well before anyone took them to the 6th for auestioning, etc. This decision was made long before anyone bothered to look at the facts, which they have STILL not done!

Anonymous said...

What Rage totally ignores is that the judge said on the record that there were in fact race neutral reasons for those jurors to be excused. She said that it looked bad and that was what caused her to excuse the panel. I've read Batson and its progeny more than once and have never seen the "jeez it looks bad" legal rationale.

Rage, I get that you are the best freaking lawyer to have ever graced the civil courthouse. I have tried forty felony criminal cases and have never had a judge sustain a Batson challenge against me. That doesn't mean that I am somehow a better attorney that either Mark or Riffi. That just means that I am lucky to have never had a judge turn to me and say "Gosh, I think you had good reason but it looks bad." That raises 2 points that I think are important: 1) we have appellate courts to review the record and determine whether there were in fact race neutral reasons. (Since when is the effin media qualified to make this determination without even asking for a readback of the testimony?) 2) The procedure for a granted Batson challenge is to then seat the otherwise qualified minority juror. The judge certainly knew #2 but chose not to follow the law. Why? Only she can answer that, although the evidence suggests that she knew that there was no legal reason to take that route.

What people like rage seem to forget is that when you make assumptions about a large group of people without considering them as individuals, your opinion is based on stereotype. What the Lykos administration seems to forget is that there are a lot of good, decent, hardworking prosecutors at the office who now know that they will be sacrificed on the altar of good publicity. Those are the people that the office will lose. And victims, defendants and defense attorneys are the ones who will ultimately suffer.

Anonymous said...

In a TV interview Lykos stated that there was a "lack of training under the previous administration." Yet this administration's "training" program consists of leadership by email and public reprimand. For example, the Redacting 101 memo which was sent out by email on a Friday at about 5pm which led to mass confusion and inconsitent implementation of the OR policy. This administration makes me sick and I pray I can make it the next 3 years with my integrity and career intact.

Anonymous said...

There seems to me to be a defamation of character lawsuit in the offing. I hope that these lawyers sue the bitch for all she and Harris County are worth.

Anonymous said...

Both of these men are incredible prosecutors and more importantly -- they are incredible people. It makes me sick that their names are being dragged through the mud. The only "house cleaning" Lykos has done is drive some of the most talented prosecutors in the country out of Harris County.

Anonymous said...

The "defamation" claim is not a valid 1983 claim. But there is a good argument that Lykos does not have immunity because of the way in which she conducted herself. Her arrogance will be her downfall.

Anonymous said...

"Rage" have you tried a criminal case? Not some chicken shit Class C, but a real criminal case?

Of course you haven't. You don't have the slightest idea what you are talking about, yet, once again, that doesn't slow you down.

I find it funny that you consider yourself such an expert. Do you know any prosecutors? Defense lawyers? Your only expertise lies in being a douchebag.

Let me make this clear - most ADAs and seasoned criminal defense lawyers would beat the shit out of you in front of a jury.

Anonymous said...

Leader: a guiding or directing head, as of an army, movement or political group

Tyrant: a sovereign or other ruler who uses power oppressively or unjustly.

Pat is NO leader.

Pat, I am ashamed to have you as the so-called elected leader of our office. I am ashamed to share the same building as you.

Pat, you possess no leadership qualities. None. You won't even show your face to the very troops you are supposed to "lead." You send your bitch to do your dirty work. What a disgrace you are to the position you hold.

You ran a campaing on a stupid slogan: "Rule of Law" I sure wish you would practice what you preach because there was no rule of law followed by you when you tyrannically and unilaterally went to the press before investigating the so-called incompetence.

Now, before the pundits start popping off with calls for me to quit or leave if I don't agree with her, let me say this:

I don't work for her; I don't even consider her my boss. I work for the citizens of Harris County.

Anonymous said...

Cough. Cough. Blue. Cough. Flu. Cough. Cough.

Anonymous said...

I was with several fellow ADAs this afternoon.....ADAs who feel more like family than ever before.

One of them had a really good idea.

In honor of Mark, we should wear bow ties to work next week.

Anonymous said...

BRING BACK KEN MAGIDSON!!!!!!!!!!!! COME BACK, KEN, PLEASE!!!!!!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

I'd really love to know, where the hell is this "integrity" the worthless bitch said she was going to restore in the office?!?!

bueller said...

Alright, so after all the play you've gotten, I'm just wondering, are you running against Lykos next term or what?

Aside from all that; What was up with this judge? She's the incompetent one if you ask me.

Lykos is Lykos. Being the old "road to hell is paved with good intentions" phrase personified. Could be worse, I guess.

Politicians should help form law but they have no business administering it. Leave it to those who are willing to get their hands dirty to do the real work.

Anonymous said...

Jim and Pat -- I hope ya'll still read this blog so you know how much we despise you. Why don't you do an interview on Fox news about that worthless investigator/chauffer/personal photographer who works in Misdemeanor who didn't even know his JU code to run a criminal history in JIMS? Why is his starting salary more than other FELONY investigators who have been with the office for YEARS? Plus the "hiring freeze" because there is no money left in the budget and it's only March?

Rage Judicata said...

9:08:

Do you think Batson is different in criminal cases than civil?

I've forgotten more about trying cases than you'll ever know.

8:36:

Sometimes assumptions are all yoĆ¹ have to go on. I'm not ignoring the fact that they aren't 100%, but sometimes race, age, or gender directly impact the outcome of a case. In a rape case would you rather have 12 women jurors, or 12 men? In a welfare fraud case, would you rather have 12 black women or 12 white men? If you don't think stereotypes are fairly close to reality in those cases, you're not doing your job.

You're right that the judge should seat the jurors if she sustains a Batson. But even you say that I ignore the fact that race neutral reasons were given and approved of by the judge. So, the right thing to do here, assuming there was an adequate race-neutral reason, is to proceed with trial. The way I read it the article is that the reason they gave was insufficient. So it's not that they gave race-neutral reasons, it's that their reasons were inadequate. We'll never know unless we read the transcript, which I'm willing to bet most of the people here, especially the ones calling me names, won't ever do. That's because they've already drawn their conclusions and probably wouldn't change their minds anyway. If Rosenthal did anything right, it was to fill the ranks with blindly loyal followers, and that culture still exists--but to the old ways.

Either way, the judge made the real procedural mistake here. If the reasons were adequate, an all-white jury is proper. If not, re-seating the wrongly excluded jurors was proper. No part of Batson says to call the whole thing off. The prosecutors made the mistake of not at least trying to look like they weren't striking blacks on purpose. If they did it on accident, that was indeed negligence. If they did it thinking the judge would go along with it because they always had, well, that's indicative of the old culture of arrogance that allowed prosecutors to get away with anything they wanted.

I'm not saying they're racist, I think race plays a huge role in jury selection. I'm saying they made a mistake by either not keeping track or not thinking they'd get called on it. Either way, they made a mistake that was compounded by the judge's mistake, and then embarrassingly brought to light by Lykos's ridiculous statements to the press.

Anonymous said...

Is it 2012 yet? Between our new President and our new D.A. I've just about gotten all the "change" I can stand.

Anonymous said...

While humility is obviously not a trait that could be used to describe "Rage," he is correct. Mark is too good of an attorney to have failed to notice that 70% of the state strikes were on blacks. If he did fail to notice, it is negligence because practically anybody trying cases would have known that this would result in a Batson challenge and the judge would be hard pressed to deny it.

I know Mark (but not Newaz) and know that he is a great person as well as a great asset to the office and the profession in general. He is not even remotely racist. He was probably doing what we all do when picking a jury.

Jury selection is about stereotypes, not race. Usually, a prosecutor would not select a gold toothed rapper on most juries. A defense lawyer would. Usually, a prosecutor would not put a hippie love child on most juries. A defense lawyer would. Usually, a prosecutor would never put a trailer park redneck on most juries. The examples go on and are followed by black lawyers, white lawyers, and all lawyers.
It has nothing to do with race and everything to do with cultural choices that some groups make.

A defense lawyer would hardly ever put a put a police officer on a jury. A prosecutor would. A defense lawyer would hardly ever put an elderly conservative suburbanite on a jury while a prosecutor would. Again, race plays no role.

If a prosecutor and a defense lawyer have a choice between two people: one belonging to a group of people who overwhelmingly distrust police and another from a group of people who overwhelmingly trust police, who does the state choose and who does the defense choose? We all know the answer and that it has nothing to do with race. Those who use race are only perpetuating animosity and distrust. Mark was only doing what we all do, except he failed to realize that the results would cause legal difficulties.

The real problem here is the despicable actions of the Lykos administration and what it means for the remaining prosecutors. This would have been a relatively anonymous and definitely non-public note in the files of the prosecutors, except for the fact that Lykos decided to hang them out to public ridicule and make baseless accusations against them for her own political gain. She should be held civilly accountable and a grievance should be filed against her.

Several excellent prosecutors (Wilson, McClellan, etc.) left the office in 2008 either because they knew her true colors and refused to work for her or they knew they would be fired anyway (Owmby, Freyer, Wisner, etc). Then there were other excellent prosecutors (the other Newman, Diepramm, etc) who tried to work there hoping that things would remain relatively stable. They quickly realized what was happening.

For the remaining prosecutors at that office, you have a choice to make: continue to work there or leave. Staying there is similar to selling your sole to the devil. Cases will be lost, dismissed, reduced, or not filed because of the fear of Lykos' reaction to any adverse result. If you are morally and ethically ok with that, you have no business being a minister of justice. I guess you could wear a bowtie, but that would do nothing more than earn you the attention from the Lykos hacks (McAnulty, Rogers, that idiot Chow, etc) you will be seeking to avoid. Staying there is selling out. Where is the justice in that?

Anonymous said...

I think there are at least 4 issues here that need to be separated and dealt with individually.

1) What happened in court? If we want to have a real dialogue about it, we have to get the facts. That means talking with the people involved, reading the transcript, and having a REAL discussion among several professionals.

2) What do we do about it? After the facts are properly reviewed and discussed, we respect our co-workers, the public, and ourselves enough that we have a mature discussion about it. That means we talk, listen and reflect. That is why we had a disciplinary committee – a group of seasoned workers who viewed all the information and made a recommendation to the DA – who could still do whatever he or she wanted. This issue is so serious and impacts so many people that we are remiss if we do not look at it from different angles and ask ourselves what the implications are. As we, and especially the 2 prosecutors, have painfully learned is that we can’t “take it back” once the words are out there.

3) How do we now fix it? If we respect each other, we can make real change. After respect comes real dialogue. That means people know who they are and what they have to say is important. Unilateral and punitive actions, shame and humiliation don’t make good relationships or real change – they just make more division and anger. If our DA truly regrets the words she used, she will personally apologize to the public, the office, and especially to the 2 prosecutors. A real apology – not an “I’m sorry but…”

4) This isn’t an “old administration bad, new administration good” issue. We are getting the message that what we did before was bad and now with all the new people we’ll do “good.” We are – for the most part – good, hard-working people who are doing this job because we want to. Many of us have been here for years and are willing to make changes. We made changes “before” – on our own. We will continue to make our best efforts to do the right thing. We are willing to listen – but we’re not willing to be humiliated. We have to be together at least for the next 3 years and 8 months, so we have to figure out a way to make this work.

Anonymous said...

Lykos is effectively mandating that you HAVE to look at race when you make strikes. Batson was designed to prevent people from looking at race when selecting a jury. Now, if you don't have at least one minority on the jury, then you will be publicly humiliated regardless of whether or not there were racial motivations. Here, she SAID they weren't being racist, yet she ruined their careers anyway.
This is the INVERSE of what Batson was meant for.

Not to mention she couldn't have picked a more well respected and universally liked prosecutor than Mark.


Fucking shameful.

Anonymous said...

Is the record out there for publication?

I'm an ADA in another county...as with any county, there's always chicken shit things judges do for whatever absurd reason. Now, I have no idea if that's what the Judge did here and if I'm off base, I don't mean to disrepect the Judge. However, if there was a race neutral reason (which I'm sure there was because there always is), why in the hell would the Judge grant the Batson challenge....especially in light of how utterly insane Lycos is...jesus.

What a shame.

All Lycos is doing is making the defense bar stronger and the State's job harder. (Rightfully so. I recognize y'all make sure we're not running over people's rights.)

Way to go you stupid freakin' moran.

I can't wait for the next election.

Anonymous said...

Rage -

This is 9:08. I have asked the questions several times: how many criminal cases above a Class C have you tried? Why are you too scared to give a direct answer?

Do you know either of the people discussed? Have you ever apperaed in front of Judge Barr? Tried a case against either defense lawyer? Do you know where the damn court house is? Until you have actually walked the walk, then shut the fuck up.

Either of these prosecutors, and either of these defense lawyers would beat the shit out of you in a court room. No one can be effective in front of a jury who makes such sweeping assertions based upon no facts.

You have as much background as Pat Lykos - i.e., none.

And if you respond to this, then answer my question: how many criminal cases have you tried?

Anonymous said...

We need to find viable candidates to run against Pat in 2012. Many of us have heard from reliable sources that she is running again in 2012. She spends all of her time campaigning under the false pretense of "building community relations." (before people start bitching, we need strong community relations, but that is not what Lykos is doing).

Kelly's supporters had to mobilize very quickly to run against an established local republican candidate. And, remember, Kelly won by significant numbers in the primary. She lost in the run-off, where election fatigue had set in, and where only the Blue Hairs came out to vote.

Lykos is inept at leading, but she has strong support among the voting base. We must find a strong candidate quickly, and that person must start campaigning immediately. Once it is made clear to the base that Pat's largest legacy is assisting the defense bar, she will start to lose support. The candidate needs to show up where Lykos shows up. She has an inability to engage in debate, because she is used to bullying people into silence. A good trial lawyer (prosecutor or defense) will destroy her in any one-on-one debate.

Also, start the committees needed to begin fund raising. Pat recently held a fund raiser at Looper Reed (civil firm) to pay back campaign debt. If we start raising money now, we can have a war chest by 2012 that can compete with Pat's blue hair buddies.

To our democrat friends, please find someone better than Bradford. You chose the one idiot who couldn't beat Lykos in a democrat sweep. Pick someone without the baggage and who is qualified. There are plenty of folks in the defense bar who fit that bill.

While I personally want a prosecutor as the DA, most people will be satisfied to have a leader with some level of competence.

It will be hard to get public support from current ADAs who need their jobs/insurnace, which is all the more reason to start early. There are plenty of people in the DA's office (myself included) who have friends in high places who will open their check books to a viable candidate. The current disgruntled ADAs (aka all of them but Pat, Jim, Roger, and Chow) can help in "silent" ways - fund raising via their friends, etc.

This is a good of a place for a discussion on this topic as any. Instead of just bitching, let's put a plan together that eliminates Pat.

jigmeister said...

I thought Lykos had a PR guy. Apparently not being used? Is there a disciplinary committee any more? It used to be the executive committee, if it still is, they won't be much help.

How about a "Grievance Committee" representing a cross section of the office could approach Patty and suggest some personnel interaction reforms. Donna, Maria where is that backbone I remember? Time to put the finger in the dike.

Anonymous said...

The only incompetence in this affair is the administration of the District Attorney’s Office, from the firing of some very good prosecutors, the hiring of political cronies who are not qualified to hold their position, the promotions, demotions and reassignments, this office “lead” by Pat is in shambles. The few positive steps have been buried under the avalanche of mismanagement. The only direction is no direction. Prosecutors find out policy changes by reading the newspaper or being called to the ante chamber to the throne room. Fear rules and the prosecutors rule of law “seek justice” is thrown to the side in favor of seek publicity for the queen. We were told when she feels we are giving her the respect she deserves, then we can quit calling her Judge Lykos and start calling her Pat. Neither will suffice, she will be Lykos the Incompetent and her name will make Justice shudder with shame. She and her ilk will never have my respect.

Rage Judicata said...

How do we now fix it? If we respect each other, we can make real change. After respect comes real dialogue.

Well then you better work on changing things like this guy:

...then shut the fuck up.

Either of these prosecutors, and either of these defense lawyers would beat the shit out of you in a court room.


He's too blinded by his own anger to recognize that for the most part I'm defending the two prosecutors sanctioned by Lykos. I've said they're not racists, but I do believe they knew what they were doing. As good as people say they are, they had to know.

And that's OK, because a good prosecutor tries to do what they did. They just got caught. Getting caught can hapen to plenty of lawyers. Their mistake was in pushing the envelope and not expecting to get a Batson granted against them.

And to revise some of my earlier statements, if it's true that the statutory remedy for the Batson issue is to get a completely new panel, then the judge acted within her discretion and did not make a procedural mistake as I thought before.

Of course, it sucks that if the state loses a Batson challenge they don't have to have the jurors resat like civil lawyers do. It's good to be king, I guess.


How about a "Grievance Committee" representing a cross section of the office could approach Patty and suggest some personnel interaction reforms.

I deleted a post yesterday suggesting this. Many civil firms have an associates' committee that is charged with collecting the various questions, concerns and outright gripes for presentation to the partners. They have to police the suggestions so as not to come across as 100% bitchy (not sure the current ADAs could do this, based on thier comments in here), and with a constructive presentation firms often see many requests granted.

Anonymous said...

Jig, you will be happy to know Maria is among the loudest protesters. So are Terrence, Jane and Denise Bradley. Even Hawkins was fighting back. The problem is that Pat does not attend any of the meetings. Only Jim is there and he shuts people down and interrupts. He will say things like "let me make myself perfectly clear" and "I understood your position 10 minutes ago and nothing has changed." There is zero communication happening. Jim absolutely refuses to listen or admit that he might need help from experienced prosecutors. I have no idea what Pat thinks because I have never seen her any where but on TV or in the paper. Maybe I should request a meeting with her. I'll bring my resignation letter with me and have a few things to say before I hand it over to them. I’m done mostly because I refuse to sell my soul! My heart breaks for the cases that I will have to leave behind when I go. I hope someone will care about what happens to them like I did. But I doubt it.

jigmeister said...

Anon 11:16

I am glad to hear that, and not surprised knowing them. I am very surprised about Jim, but am guessing that he may have the title, but no authority, and has apparently lost his pride.

I always said that when the job was no longer fun, it was time to go. That being said, I made sure I was eligible and my kids old enough to make their own way. So be careful. Don't think Jim has the gumption to fire the vocal dissenters, but Patty doesn't give a damn about any of you.

I really feel bad for all of you and wish I was there to raise hell and then quit again.

Rage: Don't worry about those who berate you. You have as much right to express your opinion as anyone else. Just remember that emotions are running hot just now and hopelessness causes unintended out bursts. These folks are contemplating their futures in a profession they love and have dedicated a large part of their adult lives. And, believe it or not, honor and fair play ranks pretty high with them.

Rage Judicata said...

jig:

I've never cared when they get their panties in a wad.

However, I believe that some folks over there are as you advertise. Some, however, are not.
It's the same in any profession.

Anonymous said...

Anon 9:58 is correct. It's anything but too early to promote a qualified candidate to tee it up and rid the office of Hatchetface Lykos.
The obvious problem is that there will be a large field of candidates in the 2012 Republican Primary resulting in a runoff. Runoffs are Lykos' strong suit. Had people other than the blue hairs come out to vote in the runoff last year we'd have one of the best DAs in the whole fucking country (don't get me started).
So the key issue is how to crush the evil bitch in the run-off.
At a minimum we need:
1. to convince a "Kelly Siegler Quality" candidate to make a similar sacrifice and take the risk to run;
2. ample time and ABILITY to raise capital;
3. educate the blue hairs as to what a sham Lykos really is;
4. someone with enough time, flexibility and financial security to run a fulltime campaign starting yesterday and
5. create an extensive grass roots network to get out the vote for the runoff.

Magidson was a nice enough guy to baby sit on an interim basis but the office really ran itself during his tenure and he just doesn't seem electable....he even recently put in to be nominated for Attorney General by the Obama Administration as a democrat....pretty weak. Being appointed ain't the same as getting in the trenches. We need someone who can take a public barrage of disingenuous personal and professional hits and not falter or waiver. Someone with experience of the highest order who is tough enough to stand up to Lykos and kick her sorry ass in any forum debate. Someone who is fair and really will put justice first.....both in the courthouse and in our house.
I think it is fair to say that how a candidate runs a campaign is prophetic on how they will run the office sought. Who can forget the negative misleading campaign Lykos ran against Kelly? Kelly stood strong and soundly kicked her ass only to lose in the damn runoff because too many of us thought she'd win and didn't bother to "show up". I wish I had the pull to convince her to step up one more time.
Leopards don't change their spots and Lykos is now systematically treating all of us the same way she ran her corrupt campaign....so how dare we now be so surprised.

Anonymous said...

1. I'd pay big money, real money, to see a 1 round last man standing knock out bare nucks fight between Rage and Arthur Seaton. Guess who I'm betting on?

2. If indeed Barr did claim there were race-neutral reasons + the other comments she made, a removal action should be filed against her. All the judges are scared because of the results of the last election.

3. Lykos should be sued for calling them incompetent. She has apologized now on TV, evidence of her error.

4. I hope Lykos' skin crawls every time Murray appears on TV. I hope Murray runs against that bitch Jim next time.

5. Where are the minority ADA's in Harris County, Pat?

6. Lykos should get on TV and pronounce her first asst incompentent and a "violator of the rule of law" based on his whale plan made public last week. Bitch Jim's lapse of fairness and good judgement makes the acts of these two batson prosecutors pale in comparison.

7. Did I say that Rage sucks?

Anonymous said...

I am just hoping that this Janet Reno look-a-like has let her arrogant attitude overload what she can't handle. Plese tell me that I am right.

Janet Reno said...

How dare you compare me to that nasty malodorous nicotine secreting troll.

Anonymous said...

We need Norma Rae....

I have been working at the office most of the weekend on cases I still have pending.

Obviously, most of the talk still surrounds the piss-poor actions Patsy engaged in last week. All are still shocked something like this could happen. And all are still ticked off at her and her complete lack of leadership.

Patsy: You regret using the word "incompetence"....then apologize to the two careers you have ruined. Apologize to the two families you have crushed for your own gain!!

Not to get too corny, but we need some sort of mutiny. We need some type of secret society to form together and figure out a way to oust her from office.

I like the ideas about finding a new candidate for 2012, but I fear what the office might look like by then.

We need to do something now....we need Nora Rae.

Rage Judicata said...

5:52:

Ask Murray how that "secret" thing worked for him...

5:30:

It's kind of sad, don't you think, that with all of the negative things going on over at the CJC, you spent two out of seven of your points on me?

And I'd pay for the chance for that match up. But I just don't think your office can do without another offense report redacter, so he better sit it out.

Anonymous said...

5:01,
I agree with everything you said except that Magidson did not put in to be appointed Attorney General. Rather, he is sucking up to be appointed the US Attorney for the Southern District of Texas. And yes, he is now apparantly a Democrat; but if he doesn't get the appointment I'm sure he could always become a Republican.

A Harris County Lawyer said...

Rage,
I actually had let everyone know it was me long before I announced my identity on the blog. I started letting the majority of people know after the night of the run-off.
That being said, I don't think that there would be too much luck in keeping any type of secret society all that "secret" in the Office.
I think that you can look at how many commnents this particular post and you can clearly see how the prosecutors at the Office feel. The sad thing is that nobody in upper Admin gives a crap.

Anonymous said...

Rage,
Let's not forget that as a VMI graduate without distinction you are merely a 1/2 step above the troll's bitch who served as a Coast Guard desk duty blowhard.
Big talk little dick.
Let's mix it up punk. Name a Gym and a time. I'm sure you had "Smokers" at VMI like we did at the Academy.

Rage Judicata said...

I knew it was pretty much a non-secret, my point was pretty much the same as yours. There will be no anonymity in the future even if they try. Hell, I bet even ol' Seaton is starting to look over his shoulder.

I also know the higher ups don't care. I'm a bit shocked that they haven't started hiring some replacements yet. I think her mandate from the start was to get rid of people. Whether they are good prosecutors or not, she wants a raft of new people.

It's the same as many law firms where morale is in the gutter. Thbey clean out the ones they consider toxic, and anyone who expresses sympathy gets cut in the second round if they don't leave on their own.

In other words, the beatings will continue until morale improves.

Also, I once said that I was going to ignore all of the name calling, but I'm afraid I've back-tracked on that. I'll limit it in the future.

Anonymous said...

This is 9:58 (I will soon enough come up with a "handle" so I don't have to continue to use times).

5:01 and 5:52. I agree with both of you.

Our candidate also needs to have a lot of support from law enforcement. Walking neighborhoods is an unfortunate necessity. It was hard enough gathering enough prosecutors to walk during Kelly's campaign, and it will be even harder when all every ADA knows that (s)he will be fired for doing so. Thus, we need someone that is tight enough with the cops who might be willing to sacrifice their free time to walk neighborhoods. Someone who would be tight with some of our constables' "sign brigades" would be a benefit.

Anonymous said...

Jig,

You and I know each other well and trust me when I say that Jim has all of the authority he wants. He has way more than a title.

Anonymous said...

"For those of you who read this and are not trial attorneys, explaining the process of selecting a jury (aka voir dire) is a bit difficult. The short synopsis is that 65 members of the Harris County community are brought over and listen to the Judge, the prosecutors, and the defense talk and ask questions, all in the effort of finding twelve neutral jurors who can listen to a case without bias and ultimately determine the results of the case."

Are you lying to yourself, or to your readers?

The Defense wants a jury biased towards the Defense. The State wants a jury biased towards the State.

The Judge wants a jury that will show up on time from lunch, come to a verdict quickly (for most judges, preferably a conviction) and won't ask questions.

Nobody wants an impartial jury. That's hype the bar puts out for PR purposes, and a sixth grader can see through it.

Anonymous said...

What some people are missing is this: Nobody, no race, has the RIGHT to be on a jury if they cannot be a fair and impartial juror. I have tried over a hundred jury trials. Some were all white juries, some had minorities. It all depended on the panel who was seated. If minorities or non-minorities could be fair and impartial, they made the jury. But if they came to court with bias or prejudice that would not allow them to be fair, then they were struck. That is the law.

So, it doesn't matter that Mark and Rifi struck 7 minorities if those 7 minorities could not be fair.

If the judge found that there were race-neutral reasons for the strikes, then Mark and Rifi followed the law. The judge's reason to dismiss the panel because "it looked bad" means that the judge was not following the law.

PL jumped on this opportunity to get herself in the media and to gain the support of Quanell X and associates. Her motives were purely selfish and political. The fact that 2 outstanding and ethical (non-racist) ADAs like Mark and Rifi were publicly humiliated is horrifying.

My heart just breaks for them, and for the office that once was such a place of pride and honor. Now, it has become a joke and the good people who work there are getting run out.

Jig - apparently, they are not following the operations manual regarding a disciplinary committee. There is no due process at the HCDAO right now. PL can do what she wants. There was no committee that reviewed these allegations. Criminal defendants have more rights and more due process than the hard working ADAs do at that office.

A Harris County Lawyer said...

Anon 9:38,
I'm not lying to about my assessment of the jury selection process. Would the State love to have 12 cops on the jury? Sure. Would the Defense love to have 12 mothers that feel their children had been wrongfully convicted of something in the past? You bet.
But my view of jury selection was what I always called "rooting out the time bombs". The reality of any good trial attorney isn't to try to get the jurors that are giving your side warm fuzzies. It's to get the ones that are going to kill you in the jury room as far away from the box as possible.
In doing so, each side is doing their own part to ensure at a minimum neutrality towards their side. I don't have the power to ensure that any given venire-member is on the jury. I just have the power to make sure of some who can't be.
I think you are just arguing over semantics.

Anonymous said...

March 29, 2009 5:52 PM, I sure hope you wrote that comment on your own computer instead of one at the office.

Anonymous said...

I suspect Lykos will be a one term District Attorney.

Arthur Seaton said...

"And I'd pay for the chance for that match up. But I just don't think your office can do without another offense report redacter, so he better sit it out."

I'd watch your mouth, if I were you. I ain't playing.

A Harris County Lawyer said...

Alright Arthur and Rage,
Remember this is a CJC website and not a WWF one. Y'all have more animosity towards each other than me and Snookems. Let's try to keep the threats of violence to a minimum.
No more posts challenging each other to a duel.

worldisgray said...

This whole affair leaves everyone with a stake in the office sick at heart. Lykos can fool herself all she wants with claims of an investigation and deliberation but the truth is her mind was made up before any facts were known. The suspensions were bad, the demotions unconscionable, and the totally inappropriate “incompetent” statement was unforgiveable.

The only “good” to come out of this is the office is more of a family than in months, it’s a stark “us” versus “them” with some unexpected “us”.

Is there any way the administration could correct this? If they were big they would rescend the demotions and publicly and privately apologize for the press statements. That may limit some damage. Jim showed how aware they are of morale (or how little they care) at Friday’s meetings.

What can “us” do? Do your jobs, for all the administration bull hooey this is a job that most ADAs do out of love, it’s a career based on feeling you’re doing good for the community and the victims you represent. Say yes sir and no maam. Give them nothing else, when they’re on an elevator nod hello and stay silent. In the military it’s called silent insubordination. Give them nothing to criticize you about but give them nothing of yourself. The bow tie idea is also priceless.

We expected things like this from Pat, but Jim is a huge disappointment. What words best describe the attitude toward you--disrespect, disgust, pity? Did Lykos offer you something worth your manhood and self respect?

Mark and Raffi. If you didn’t know before, your fellow ADAs love and respect you. Everyone on both sides of the aisle are pulling for you.

Anonymous said...

It was terrific to see Kelly at Holland's retirement party last Friday. I haven't seen her in awhile. She looked great---relaxed and all smiles. Kelly still has that signature charisma that lights up a room. She downplayed a couple of plaintiff cases she's handling and when we picked on her for probably becoming a defense attorney down the road she smiled and said "you know better than that".
Several of us asked her if she'd run again and she smiled with a small tear and said "we'll see" which is a Kelly way of saying no.
If someone can get Kelly to run again in 2012 I will guarantee:
1. all the law enforcement walkers and signage personnel needed to blanket Harris County;
2. a coordinated fund raising drive with our "extra job" contacts that will fill the campaign coffers;
3. high volume law enforcement voter turnout for the runoff.

Nothing will be taken for granted this time.

Anonymous said...

The latest copy of Texas Super Lawyers "Rising Stars" just came out.

Page 35 - Criminal Prosecution...... Mark Donnelly. 1 of 11 lawyers chosen for that section. At least someone got it right. Go Mark.

Anonymous said...

Then Lykos needs to be canned.

End of story.

Anonymous said...

These two good men are in the wrong profession if they can't take criticism. The boss may not always be right ,but she is always the boss. The voters chose Lykos rather than Kelly or Bradford because they were smart enough to know things were bad at the Harris County District Attorney Office. Those that are there are not being held prisoners. Let them leave and quit complaining like a bunch of spoiled kids. Murray did a good job ,but Murray did not know what some of his co-workers were doing that was wrong.

Anonymous said...

I heard that you were quoted on the Michael Berry show tonight about this topic. I also heard that the show was quite interesting and that a former prosecutor and a member of the venire defended Riffi and Mark.

Anonymous said...

Prior to the witch coming into office, I heard horror stories concerning her and her selfish actions.

I heard first-hand stories from former prominent distrct court judges....stories from former prominent assistant district attorneys and even one former District Attorney.

I thought to myself....no way can one person be that bad.

Well....lo and behold, I suppose I should have listened to my elders. They called it.

I, for one, was happy to see how pissed off most (ie: ALL) of the office remained several days removed from her bush move.

Today, however, provided an opportunity for dykos to stand up for her prosectors and officially apologize for what she has done.

Did she do it: Hell No!!! Her quote: "The issue has been addressed and no further action is necessary" (khou.com)

What a crock!!

On a side note, there was an email sent out today looking for someone to try an aggravated robbery tomorrow in 182nd. I say let our fearless leader try it and show all of us peasants how to try a case. I bet she'd wet her girdle if she ever had to stand in front of a panel on behalf of the State of Texas.

Operation Valkyrie said...

To those who want to discuss potential candidates who can beat Pat in the primary, (9:58 from March 28, 5:01 and 5:52 from March 29, and 9:21 from today, and all others who may be interested), send an e-mail to:

Von.Stauffenberg2012@gmail.com

We can start getting together a plan on finding a viable candidate who:

1. can get law enforcement personnel support;

2. can raise money; and, most importantly

3. can beat Pat.

Anonymous said...

I recently read about this, and was completely shocked. What kind of a message is Lykos sending to her staff. Is she going to call the media every single time someone loses a case, and tell the Chronicle they're incompetent? I can't see how anyone would want to continue working under her administration if she's willing to throw her people under the bus. I can only imagine how everyone over there feels. It's apparent she's never tried a criminal case. Almost every other occupation has some sort of tenure. You have to work as a teacher for several years before making your way up to principal, but apparently anyone off the street with a law degree can be the District Attorney of Harris County.

Anonymous said...

Hey 7:08,
Mark and Riffi take criticism just fine...this blog represents the legion of supporters who find Lykos' arbitrary self serving incompetence offensive and reprehensible. To equate the protest of the intentional baseless destruction of the character and integrity of two (2) human beings for a disingenuous headline to that of "spoiled kids who can't take criticism" is ludicrous. Joseph Stalin might have agreed with your opinion of the boss/employee relationship but I think you, Lykos and Leitner are full of shit.
As for the voters' being smart....if only that were so.

Anonymous said...

Dear Anon 7:08,

The only thing more useless than your remedial use of language is your piss-poor argument. There's a big difference between "criticism" and being slandered on the front page of The Houston Chronicle.

Voters smart? Right. It's obvious that the general population remains uninformed on most issues. You being one of them. I hope the good guys can run a more effective campaign next time around.

Roxy said...

Because there are a zillion comments - maybe I missed this. How did Lykow find out about this? Hmm - have any of you wondered?
I heard Judge Barr called her . . .