Monday, April 20, 2009

Another Day Another Chief Leaves

Immediately on the heels of Stephen St. Martin's resignation on Friday, the Lykos Administration received yet another resignation from a Senior Felony Chief Prosecutor this morning.

Chief Prosecutor for the 230th District Court, George Weissfisch turned in his two weeks notice today.

George was very much a shining star at the District Attorney's Office from the moment he arrived there. Most prosecutors when they first begin at the Office take several months if not years developing their trial skills, and their win-loss ratios often reflect that. It's not unusual for very talented prosecutors to come out of misdemeanor with a 50% success rate, just due to the level of inexperience and the nature of their cases.

George defied those odds and (if I recall correctly) was undefeated for quite some time in his stint as a baby prosecutor.

He continued to impress people at high levels as he worked his way through the Office. Ultimately, George's reputation as a trial attorney became so impressive that he was promoted to Felony Chief waaaaay ahead of many more senior prosecutors (including myself).

I wish George the best of luck in his new endeavors, but for the second time in two business days, another good chief has decided not to continue working with the Gang Who Couldn't Shoot Straight.

That makes the total of four felony chiefs who have quit rather than work with Lykos in her first four months of Office.

And folks, I think we are just looking at the tip of the iceberg here.

68 comments:

jigmeister said...

More are coming between now and June.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Newman,
I am a Republican Precinct Chairman who supported and voted for Judge Pat Lykos in the Republican primary and runoff.
I voted for Judge Lykos in order to restore the rule of law in the DA's office and to end the culture of corruption under Rosenthal. I expected Judge Lykos to clean house in furtherance of these goals.
Although I have only read your most recent posts, your bias against the Judge on this blog is obvious, so my questions are:
How do we know that the Judge did not offer these lieutenants of Rosenthal the option of resigning 1st rather than being fired?
How do we know these recent resignations are not the result of for cause ADA incompetence that the Judge called 2 other ADA's out on a few weeks ago? Apparently Rosenthal hired a bunch of incompetents and didn't train them worth a darn.
It would be useful for me to know the quality of work product under Judge Lykos' tenure as compared with the Rosenthal era. I understand that Judge Lykos replaced several of the other incompetent and/or racist high level Rosenthal people with her own. What information to you have as to what impact her hand picked personnel have had on the administration of justice in our county? Those are questions that go to leadership and that is what I and my fellow precinct chairs are concerned with.

A Harris County Lawyer said...

Anon 1:24 p.m.,
I think to answer your question you should just read the posts here since starting in January when Lykos took over. I know Sylvia Escobedo, Warren Diepraam, Stephen St. Martin and George Weissfisch very well, and I've spoken to them all. None of them were asked to leave.
Besides, it isn't exactly Lykos' style to offer people the option of resigning. She would much rather have done the most she could to publicly humiliate them for her own benefit, like she did with Mark and Rifi.
I make no bones about being biased against Pat Lykos, but that bias comes with good reason. Quiite frankly, I think that you are attributing your thoughts about Chuck Rosenthal to the entirety of the Office that he led, and that's the exact reason I started this blog early last year.
The reasons that I could explain to you about how terrible her leadership has been is all contained on this blog, but too lengthy to post in this one response.
If you'd like to talk to me about it over the phone, my phone number is on the website.

Anonymous said...

Mr/Madam Chairman (Anon 1:24),

You're right. "It would be useful for [you] to know the quality of work product under Judge Lykos' tenure as compared with the Rosenthal era."

It would also be useful for you to know that the HCDAO, like so many other similar offices around the country, consists of large numbers of non-political public servants who (for better or worse) serve under the direction of an often more visible elected DA.

As someone who has worked both in (national) politics and a DA's office (guess which one), I'll also say it would be good for you political hacks to learn some respect for the unrecognized, usually hardworking public servants that serve this country while you grandstand, throw mud, and look for bigger soapboxes.

You "clean house" by getting rid of sleazy politicos who write posts that sound a lot like yours--not by slamming a bunch of apolitical, anonymous public servants.

Your post reminds me so much of my time in DC that I want to gag.

God bless all the Harris Co ADAs.

Ron in Houston said...

Anon @1:24

Perhaps before you go off into political hackdom you should talk to people who have actually had to either work with Lykos or appear before her.

Murray is actually very restrained given the political hack job that he endured.

I have only a few brief but highly untasteful Lykos stories; however, several folks here have much better ones than me.

Anonymous said...

Murray---no disrespect ,but your information is incorrect about some of the names you mentioned.They were embarassed to tell you the Real reason they were leaving.Remember there are 3 sides to every story. His side,her side, and the Truth.

Anonymous said...

Murray,if you seen the other side of some of these great people you keep talking about you opinion would be different. Wait until you have to deal with some of their types when they dont know who you are. Some of these people were not as great as you think. you only saw one side of them.You saw them at their best and some of some them at their worst.

A Harris County Lawyer said...

Anons 4:02 & 4:14,
As far as not knowing the other side of the 4 chiefs who left . . .

I was married to one of them. Two of them were my chiefs for extended periods of time. And the fourth one I've known since the day he walked in the Office.

I'm feeling pretty comfortable that I got to see all sides of, at a minimum, three of them. If you want to e-mail me off blog about your information for what y'all believe are the "real reasons" they left, shoot me a line.

Anonymous said...

Anon 1:24

WTF.

Please get a dictonary out and look up "rule of law."

"I voted for Judge Lykos in order to restore the rule of law in the DA's office and to end the culture of corruption under Rosenthal."

There is no such thing as restoring the "rule of law" and learn what it means before you use it to try to sound smart.

I'm glad you voted for her, that's your right. Just get you wallet ready because she's going to need more money in about 6 months to pay the bills.

She didn't fire anyone, they quit.

ACHL - keep posting how you feel, last I checked it's your blog.

Anonymous said...

Murray,
No disrespect to you or your friends, but the DA’s office will be much better off without one of them. If he was not in trial he was useless.

Anonymous said...

Anon 1:24,
Clint Greenwood is one of Judge Lykos' newly hired hand picked ADAs. He is a highly skilled nationally recognized litigator. Mr. Greenwood is prosecuting the racist Bellaire cop that shot an unarmed young black baseball star in his own backyard while the boy's mother looked on in shock. None of the other Harris County ADAs were willing to take the case Was it underlying racism or were they just plain cowards? Who knows? But Clint Greenwood is neither a coward nor a racist and he volunteered to take on this difficult case without hesitation while the rest of the ADAs hid in their offices. Clint Greenwood is representative of the type of prosecutor Judge Lykos endorses and Harris County is lucky to have them both.

jigmeister said...

I hear George has some interesting ideas on improving the office starting with putting new hires into felony to get acclimated. Just wonder if there are enough new hires to do that.

Anonymous said...

Ron in Houston,
Be careful, boy.
The Judge is watching you.

A Harris County Lawyer said...

Anon 5:41 p.m.,
I'm glad you are a fan of Bubba Joe Six Pack (AKA Clint Greenwood), and quite honestly, he has kept his head down during the four month debacle known as Lykos' reign thus far.
But I think I will reserve comment on the rest of your opinions on him.

Anonymous said...

Whenever you have a change of administrations, you're going to have some personnel changes. A few firings, some transfers, and some people who just don't like the new regime.
-
That is what is happening now.
-
Is the troll qualified to lead? Probably not, but the Harris County voters gave her four years and nothing more.
-
Murray, maybe you should run in four years.
-
In the meantime, let's pick a fresh subject to blog about. Like the qualifications and the smooth working of dockets of the new judges.
-
Talking about Lykos is getting old.

Anonymous said...

Anon 5:41--"He is a highly skilled nationally recognized litigator."

I've been prosecuting for 16 yrs in the State of Texas (not Harris Co) and never heard of him in connection with anything outside the HCDAO. Try googling his name. All that comes up are Houston area references, nothing national, and some of those references are on blogs such as this one.

"None of the other Harris County ADAs were willing to take the case Was it underlying racism or were they just plain cowards?"

Once again, from the safety of anonymity, a "courageous" (not) individual secure in the fairness, accuracy and conviction of their assertions (NOT) freely libels others' character without providing any proof of actual knowledge or at a minimum, their identity and context of connection to what they presume to know about, upon which any credibility of perspective or truth can be determined.

By the way, since your mind is made up, I trust you will not be on the jury of the "racist" cop.

Anonymous said...

Anon 541:
Clint isn't doing anything except his job in prosecuting the Bellaire officer. He is the division chief of the Police Integrity. He seems to be doing a perfectly acceptable job. Don't mistake perfectly acceptable with doing something extraordinary though. As the card carrying Republican I'm sure you are, it must turn your stomach that for years, Clint made sure those same racist, rule bending cops got off. And as for Judge Lykos having any preference for him one way or another, I suspect Clint was more of Jim's hand pick than hers. You'll certainly recall he was the Treasurer of Jim's campaign.

Anonymous said...

Anon 541 -

It is so obvious that you have no clue how the DA's office works. He did not "pick" that case. It is his by virtue of his position in the office. Which makes him the exact same as most other ADAs in the office.

Anonymous said...

Anon 5:41:

I have nothing negative to say about Clint Greenwood, but the statement that "nobody else was willing" to prosecute the Bellaire shooting just goes to show that you have no idea how the DAs office functions on a daily basis. It isn't like they send out a mass email every Monday that says "hey, who wants to handle this case?" The case is assigned to the public integrity division and assigned to a prosecutor. If I had been asked to handle that case I glady would have. And
I think there are probably other out there like me. Most of us want to do the right thing. Clint certainly isn't the only one.

Anon 1:24 asked about the people that she has personally added to the office. 2 have floundered miserably. Ironically, I think we will all find that the shining stars at the office will remain those who have been in the trenches fighting for Harris County victims for years. They were all there under the Rosenthal regime, but I think everyone will agree that their successes were not because of Chucky but in spite of him.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Precinct Chair,

The four chief prosecutors being discussed were all hired by Johnny Holmes, not Chuck Rosenthal. I think the public should be appreciative of the fact that the Office continued to function despite Rosenthal's obvious incompetence (to say the least about it). That is a tribute to the mid-level and senior-level prosecutors who kept encouraging everyone to do what was right. Remember that there weren't any scandals during Magidson's tenure and these same prosecutors were still working there. Trust me when I say that most prosecutors disliked working for Rosenthal during his last years (I personally think he is a POS). You can also trust me when I say that these four prosecutors were not asked to leave. They each left for their own reasons and you would have to ask each of them why they made their decisions. I want to make sure, however, that your public speculations do nothing to harm their reputations.

Anonymous said...

This has happened before. it is nothing new.Chuck got rid of people and many others were afraid of their jobs.Check with some people that were around then. History repeats itself.To many chiefs and not enough indians.There are many experienced people looking for jobs so the office will continue business as usual.

Anonymous said...

Anon 8:26

The problem that crime victims in Harris County will face if the mass exodus of experienced prosecutors continues is that the people who are trying their most serious cases will be inexperienced. I'm sure there are lots of people out there looking for jobs, but prosecutors who have tried 20 plus murder cases do not grow on trees. That experience is cultivated through trial by fire and is something that the office needs. The office will no doubt function without them, but to suggest that they can be replaced by a nameless faceless many is an insult to the hard work people like St Martin and Weissfisch have put in all these years.

Rage Judicata said...

It's interesting to see the number of ADA's who all of a sudden admit to Rosenthal's incompetence. Where were you during his time in office? I heard nothing but his defenders back then.

Jigmeister:

You should check out Bennett's blog. Evidently someone else is taking credit for the idea of putting new hires in felony.

Hi Mark! You can thank me later for driving traffic to your blog. Nobody reads my pissant blog, you know.

Anonymous said...

To the "Republican Precinct Chairman,"

Based on your connection I assume that you are somehow wired to Judge Lykos. Perhaps you can pass this word of advice on to her: she needs to be heard. She is nowhere. She is never seen in the office. There are no memos to the troops. Nothing. I work in the office and I do not like many of the things that have transpired. The shots at the ADAs you improperly refer to as "incompetent" was uncalled for, and the office is paying the price with the loss of many fine senior prosecutors about whom you know absolutely nothing. You also have absolutely no idea as to the amount of training prosecutors in the office receive; training that is the envy of other offices throughout the State. However, not all of the changes she has made are bad. And in any new administration there is going to be changes in senior level staff. Judge Lykos is smart and politically savvy, but she appears to have absolutely no clue as to how bad morale is. She seems not to care that the budget is so messed up that moves are stifled. It takes a person of courage, conviction and strength to acknowledge that mistakes have been made but the vision of where the office is headed is clear. Judge Lykos has demonstrated none of that. If she started to demonstrate some vision and hubris morale would improve, fewer people would be leaving, and much less attention would be paid to blogs like this (sorry Murray).

Anonymous said...

What a lot of people don't realize is there are so many upper level prosecutors leaving with no experinced talent left to draw from in order to replace them. In a felony court there are 3 prosecutors: the chief who is responsible for handling all capital murders and supervising the number 2 and number 3. The number 2 prosecutor responible for serious cases with a victim. They try all the murders, sexual assaults, aggravated robbery cases and the like. The number 3 prosuctor tries the non violent victim cases, drug cases, theft, felony dwi cases. There are number 2 prosecutors responible for trying murder cases who have only tried 3 felony cases. If your loved one was killed would you want a prosecutor who has only tried 3 felony cases handling that case? Not to mention the capital murder cases. There may be 15 prosecutors left who've actually tried a death capital, at least from the perspective of the state.

What all the political folks don't get is how devestating this is for those who live in Harris County. It will be well after Lykos is gone that the talent left at the office is experienced enough to handle what it is they are charged with handling. That's provided they make it that long with no one left to train them.

Anonymous said...

Anon 8:26, that's not really true. There are not experienced folks being hired to replace the current brain drain. Lykos is under a hiring freeze since she blew through her budget.

As a highly experienced prosecutor I know that any openings are not being filled by experience, if at all. Don't know if there is a hiring committee in place these days.

Looks like Harris County is about to go through the same brain drain that Dallas suffered with a change of administration a few years back.

The Phantom Bureaucrat said...

As a former GOP Precinct Chairman myself, I can confidently state that when Ms. Lykos "made the rounds" talking to various groups, she was the most politically motivated of them all. That was why the party openly supported her, the story of a few large campaign contributions by a single County hack only part of the equation. I have never been convinced that political party affiliations made sense in judicial campaigns and this is another example of a clueless electorate getting what they deserve.

It is clear that those two ADA's you speak of were wrongfully accused and even more clear that scores of other talented ADA's have been applying all over Texas for positions where they won't need to sell their respective souls and/or be tossed under the train whenever it if politically expedient. The spin doctoring Lykos and crew have engaged in over the last four months alone have reached such lows that I'd rather have the office run by a randomly selected voter (though maybe not a diehard political apologist Pct Chair).

If you want "the truth" about all that has gone on recently, over the previous eight years, or maybe even longer than that, there are plenty of sources with anecdotes you might find interesting but I assure you from the bottom of my admittedly jaded heart, neither Lykos, Leitner, or any of her other cronies would be on my short list for all things (good and bad) that have occurred at the HCDA office.

A Harris County Lawyer said...

I'd like to point out a Rule that I'm imposing on the Commenters if I'm going to post your comments:

We leave families out of it. Although the Gang Who Couldn't Shoot Straight certainly didn't mind targeting my family, I'm not willing to do the same to them.

So please, no comments about anyone's spouses or other family members in posting comments.

Anonymous said...

I guess Pat gave Clint (or whoever is close to Clint and Jim) the green light to try and defend Lykos on this blog. I would like to hear what they have to say and discuss it. There is no opportunity to discuss their decisions at the office. So whoever it is that is close to the nationally renowned leitner brief case carrier, Squeaky Clint Greenwood, please explain to us how the loss of these Chiefs is good for the office. Please explain exactly what Chau, Greenwood, Leitner, Bridgewater have done to improve the office. Here is what I see:

Chau: Dismantled Intox team, drain on budget, dismantled hiring committee, and Orzaka for all of us.

Greenwood: Slinks around wondering why he isn't liked. Acts like he is a victim of Lykos' rants like everyone else. Clearly a mole.

Bridewater: He established himself in the Donnelly Newaz meetings as lacking in integrity and stregth to do the right thing. But... he has a fancy new title that sounds good. Other than that, he has done nothing but rush to lunch to avoid contact with those of us who used to respect him.

Leitner: Just say his name. It has a different meaning than it did a year ago.

So please tell me what these new people have done to improve the prosecutions in Harris County on a day to day basis. As an employee, I don't see... but maybe I should just read the Chronicle and I will find out.

Ron in Houston said...

Anon @5:44 said:

Ron in Houston,
Be careful, boy.
The Judge is watching you.
Actually, this does cross my mind. Given the way she handled Murray, I wouldn't be surprised.

Anonymous said...

Anon 8:25 AM, I would probably be more impressed with your post if you hadn't mangled so many names (Chow, Bridgewater, etc.). Its difficult to take someone seriously if he/she is only semi coherent.

Anonymous said...

Dear Anonymous Precinct Chairman,

First: Way to stand and be counted by remaining anonymous in your support for Lykos. Your pride of authorship is touching!

Since you are a Precint Chair, I feel compelled to ask, were you involved in the backroom beauty contest wherein Jared and company annointed Lykos? Surely that was a proud moment for your Republican idealism. So much for the "party" not endorsing anyone.

As for the impact of her hand picked personel, let me use statistics. Jury trial convictions are down for the first three months of this year, under the "leadership" of the "Team Lykos". If you don't believe me, look at the stats available on line and compare to previous years. This is not due to a lack of training under previous administrations. This is due to people being promoted too fast because Team Lykos didn't think ahead. People were not experienced enough to handle what they were given. With the continuing exodus of experience it will only get worse.

Despite what you cannot fathom, in prosection, experience counts. Politics does not get convictions in tough cases. God forbid you have a loved one who is brutally sodomized, killed or robbed. If you do, the chances of the perpetrator being convicted at trial are lower than they were a year ago thanks to "Team Lykos". If your car gets burglarized or your home vandalized, the chances of convicting the guilty at trial are less than they were a year ago. It is easy to ignore that. But hey, didn't Lykos give a good speech at your little club last week?

You obviously wanted a good politician for District Attorney. You got a mediocre one. You clearly deserve Lykos. The rest of the citizens of this county do not.

Finally, I must ask, how do you define "leadership"? Since taking office, Lykos has not authored a single document intended for office wide distribution. She is never heard from directly and seldom seen. She has meetings in the basement, much akin to "Deepthroat" in the Watergate era. In many ways Team Lykos is very "Nixonian" I believe the term was "plausible deniablity".

I am not naive enough to believe that this response or the many others posted here here will change your tune one bit. I just hope you never have a personal interest in a criminal case over the next four years.

Anonymous said...

Murray,

This subject has been bled to death. The perp is DOA.

Let's pick a new subject, PLEASE!

Move on amigo! it's over.

A Harris County Lawyer said...

Anon 7:34 p.m.,
Need I remind you of Animal House?

D-Day: War's over, man. Wormer dropped the big one.

Bluto: Over? Did you say "over"? Nothing is over until we decide it is! Was it over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor? Hell no!

Otter: Germans?

Boon: Forget it, he's rolling.

Bluto: And it ain't over now. 'Cause when the goin' gets tough... the tough get goin'! Who's with me? Let's go! [runs out, alone; then returns] What the **** happened to the Delta I used to know? Where's the spirit? Where's the guts, huh? "Ooh, we're afraid to go with you Bluto, we might get in trouble." Well just kiss my ass from now on! Not me! I'm not gonna take this. Wormer, he's a dead man! Marmalard, dead! Niedermeyer -

Otter: Dead! Bluto's right. Psychotic, but absolutely right. We gotta take these bastards. Now we could do it with conventional weapons that could take years and cost millions of lives. No, I think we have to go all out. I think that this situation absolutely requires a really futile and stupid gesture be done on somebody's part.

Bluto: We're just the guys to do it.

D-Day: Let's do it.

Bluto: LET'S DO IT!!

Anonymous said...

Convictions may be down because of some of the dog cases Chucks people are rushing to the grand jury.More chiefs and division chiefs will be leaving because they have been caught doing the things Chuck let them do. It is not Judge Lykos catching them.It is the honorable people that do work there that are reporting them. Assistant to Mr X

Anonymous said...

These prosecutors that have left and are leaving, are ones that know the writing is on the wall. Judge Lykos will not tolerate incompetence. She brought a team that slowly but surely will transform the office to winners who seek justice. She has a plan and welcomes more to leave. If you don't like her program, get off the train. I know for certain that she hasn't lost one wink of sleep over each person who has left. Good riddens.

Anon 1:24 said...

My apologies to the Harris County Assistant District Attorneys, support staff and their families for putting partisan politics over our community's best interest.
I just became aware of Mr. Newman's blog on 4/20/09. After reading "Another Day Another Chief Leaves" and "More Experience Leaves the Building" I posted my initial comment out of anger and in support of someone I used to respect. However, after reading and independently confirming much of the content specific to Judge Lykos and the DA's office I am very disappointed for placing my trust in Pat. I have known Pat for many many years and based on that long standing relationship I simply assumed her assertions to be truthful and not misleading campaign rhetoric. That decision was simply wrong.
This disaster could have easily been averted had I and others in my position taken the time to accurately and fairly evaluate the DA candidates' qualifications and used that criteria instead of political cronyism to make an endorsement. I will not make that mistake in 2012.
Again, my deepest apologies to all those adversely affected by my prior disrespect and poor judgement.
Respectfully,
"Anon 1:24"

Anonymous said...

Anon 124 You are either Chuck or one of his buddies.If you knew what was going on at the courthouse you would have been aware of Murray.s blog. Jidge lykos is doing a good job and your attempt to disguise yourself is a joke.

Anonymous said...

Anon 1:24 if the new post is really the original Precinct Chairman then great. When people make decisions based on the news media and stump speeches, poor choices are made. If you really have made inquiry then this is a step in the right direction. If more people had made inquiry on the front end, and this is hard to say, perhaps we would have Bradford as DA. I don't know (frankly I doubt it) if this would have been any better but it certainly it could not have been any worst. The lesson is that both parties have to pay attention to the down ticket races and provide voters with competent candidates.
And Murray, Bluto was right “Nothing is over until we decide it is!”

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 11:17 pm and 7:47 am
PLEASE go out and buy yourself a dictionary, or better yet, ask those of whom you seem to be a syncophant of to buy one for you. The spelling in your posts is more obnoxious than the content.

Anonymous said...

Anon 7:47,
If every voter and precinct chair actually knew what was really going on at the courthouse--past and present--Lykos would not have had a rat's chance in hell of being elected DA and everyone who is privy to that knowledge damn well knows it.

Idiots like you voted and here we are.

Anonymous said...

Mr. HECK TATE here:

A little history is in order for many out there to put this whole "kvetch-Fest" in perspective.

Unlike most Jurisdictions around the Nation, or even State, for the past 40 years or so the Harris County District Attorney's Office (Houston) has had the closest thing to a Defacto Civil Service System as one could get without actually having one. First there was Carol Vance, then Mr. Holmes.

(Mr. Rosenthal will be spoken of in another paragraph as I do not wish to use his name (AS DISTRICT ATTORNEY) next to these previously mentioned honorable fine gentlemen).

I worked for Mr. Holmes for nearly twenty years. It was an honor and he was respected by most everyone who truly knew him. Mr. Vance I did not know. Both men came from different political parties, but back then Democratic Party was actually more akin to the present day Republican Party - but I digress. You see, neither man gave a hoot for politics. Neither man "needed" the job or the paltry salary it paid. Both however had integrity and as long as you did your best and saw that Justice was done you were left alone. Years came and people retired and some people you wished would retire or otherwise "leave" were left to stay like (in some cases drift wood) Others, if they chose, jumped head long into the fast moving stream of serious, emotional, and stressful Barrister duties that caused their hair to turn grey at an early age.

The whole "three year minimum" clause one agreed to stay on with the office for when being hired was rarely if ever broken and most of the time surpassed threefold!

As the years passed and Don Stricklin became the First Assistant certain measures were put into place that some did not like. Some of the "rules" were somewhat myopic to say the least. Time sheets and counting pennies, etc. It was during this time that people discovered they were actually hired under a Contract at Will and every 4 years the office began not to "renew" contracts.

I didn’t agree with how Rusty Hardin was treated and if there were computers back then I have no doubt Don would have gotten an ear full. For all you “young” Chief’s thinking about quitting NOW who are scratching your heads wondering what I’m talking about just talk to someone who’s was with the office in the late 80”s. There was also too much bean counting. Overall however, there was more accountability and things got a little tighter with different evaluation forms and more scrutiny regarding evaluation of work performance.

Many of the same anxious feelings being expressed in this particular string of comments about the current administration still occurred on a much, much smaller scale during these earlier times. But none the less they did occur but usually after a four years cycle when one's contract was not renewed.

Mr. Holmes did not have a "group of favorites". He pretty much kept to himself and trusted you to do your job. He was fair. He left Chuck Rosenthal a wonderful, competent, old Oak Tree that had hundreds of years in combined service. Why this immature person thought he could even stand in Mr. Holmes' shadow is a mystery to me - and I'm sure many others.

Under Chuck's régime the Office seemed to take on more of a "closed shop cop atmosphere" At times it almost seemed to want to be called the District Investigator's Office, NOT the District ATTORNEY'S Office. Certain individuals who were not even lawyers had way too much power.

Yes, the people who have CHOSEN to leave the Office certainly are extremely talented lawyers and their absence is a loss to all the citizens of Harris County. But it’s a loss they chose to give. We’re all adults here.

If a prosecutor is man/woman enough to ask a jury to send a person to death row, then why get your feelings hurt just because your boss isn't Chuck Rosenthal?
Might you have left anyway? A prosecutor for life doesn't leave even under these circumstances. Look at the top of the office management. They are still staffed by more than 95% Good hard working prosecutors who worked their way up through the ranks of the office under Mr. Holmes.

As for Judge Lykos and the people she brought on board - for peat’s sake - quit the sob feast and get on with the fact that the reason Judge Lykos is D.A. is because she was elected - just like Vance, Holmes and Rosenthal. But Rosenthal - is the one who dismantled the office with his childish ways. You want to vent anger - vent it his way because HE is the one who thought he was BIGGER than Holmes or Vance. "Hey Chuck how's it going?" CHUCK: “I’m blessed". B.S.! If you are blessed then the rest of the Office got cursed!

The attacks on Jim Leitner and Roger Bridgewater are just as childish as Chuck's behavior that led to this new administration in the first place. To be fair, give this Administration a CHANCE.

Absolutely Judge Lykos shot from the hip and burned the two prosecutors in the press without getting all the facts. She did admit this "management error" at least. She's got four years...just four years to get it right or not. But pining away on these Blogs crying on your keyboard is just not cutting it.

None of these comments is meant to be in defense of the current administration or minimize frustrations expressed by the many who have posted. These words are merely meant to put a historical perspective on the big picture.

People inherently do not like change and "The Office" is no different; it just wants the old Civil Service System back - but it's dead. GET OVER IT! The fairytale ended with Rosenthal.

BTW: No I am no longer a prosecutor. I retired several years ago. Chuck you were a tenacious hard working prosecutor. You should not however have been the D.A......

Heck Tate over and out and you all keep up the good fight. Remember what Holmes said: “I have policies but none of them should cause a damn fool result to occur".

Anonymous said...

anonymous 7:47,
1. You'd be the patsy if you think the Judge is doing a good job.
2. The Judge's ace in the hole was that few, if any, of the precinct chairs knew what was REALLY going on at the CJC. Their collective support of her is prima facie evidence thereof.

Anonymous said...

Anon 1:24 your post is so obviously written by a Lykos enemy that I had to giggle at your attempt at cleverness.

Here are the realities:

1) The office will adjust as any other office does in a changing of the guard.

2) Pat Lykos is not the devil.

3) Jim Leitner and Roger Bridgewater are honorable men just like they were a year ago.

4) We needed new leadership and a refresher course on prosecutorial ethics and we are getting both.

5) It sucks that Rifi and Mark were outed in the paper but it is a public office and Lykos vowed to clean it up and shed some light on the steps that were being taken.

6) Murray you are so talented. If you're angry at the way the office is going, focus your efforts on whipping the State in trial every chance you get. That is the only way to make them regret letting you go.

Anonymous said...

Heck Tate here:

Murray,

Why was my post on your Blog this morning but then removed?

Anonymous said...

Mr. HECK TATE here:

A little history is in order for many out there to put this whole "kvetch-Fest" in perspective.

Unlike most Jurisdictions around the Nation, or even State, for the past 40 years or so the Harris County District Attorney's Office (Houston) has had the closest thing to a Defacto Civil Service System as one could get without actually having one. First there was Carol Vance, then Mr. Holmes.

(Mr. Rosenthal will be spoken of in another paragraph as I do not wish to use his name (AS DISTRICT ATTORNEY) next to these previously mentioned honorable fine gentlemen).

I worked for Mr. Holmes for nearly twenty years. It was an honor and he was respected by most everyone who truly knew him. Mr. Vance I did not know. Both men came from different political parties, but back then Democratic Party was actually more akin to the present day Republican Party - but I digress. You see, neither man gave a hoot for politics. Neither man "needed" the job or the paltry salary it paid. Both however had integrity and as long as you did your best and saw that Justice was done you were left alone. Years came and people retired and some people you wished would retire or otherwise "leave" were left to stay like (in some cases drift wood) Others, if they chose, jumped head long into the fast moving stream of serious, emotional, and stressful Barrister duties that caused their hair to turn grey at an early age.

The whole "three year minimum" clause one agreed to stay on with the office for when being hired was rarely if ever broken and most of the time surpassed threefold!

As the years passed and Don Stricklin became the First Assistant certain measures were put into place that some did not like. Some of the "rules" were somewhat myopic to say the least. Time sheets and counting pennies, etc. It was during this time that people discovered they were actually hired under a Contract at Will and every 4 years the office began not to "renew" contracts.

I didn’t agree with how Rusty Hardin was treated and if there were computers back then I have no doubt Don would have gotten an ear full. For all you “young” Chief’s thinking about quitting NOW who are scratching your heads wondering what I’m talking about just talk to someone who’s was with the office in the late 80”s. There was also too much bean counting. Overall however, there was more accountability and things got a little tighter with different evaluation forms and more scrutiny regarding evaluation of work performance.

Many of the same anxious feelings being expressed in this particular string of comments about the current administration still occurred on a much, much smaller scale during these earlier times. But none the less they did occur but usually after a four years cycle when one's contract was not renewed.

Mr. Holmes did not have a "group of favorites". He pretty much kept to himself and trusted you to do your job. He was fair. He left Chuck Rosenthal a wonderful, competent, old Oak Tree that had hundreds of years in combined service. Why this immature person thought he could even stand in Mr. Holmes' shadow is a mystery to me - and I'm sure many others.

Under Chuck's régime the Office seemed to take on more of a "closed shop cop atmosphere" At times it almost seemed to want to be called the District Investigator's Office, NOT the District ATTORNEY'S Office. Certain individuals who were not even lawyers had way too much power.

Yes, the people who have CHOSEN to leave the Office certainly are extremely talented lawyers and their absence is a loss to all the citizens of Harris County. But it’s a loss they chose to give. We’re all adults here.

If a prosecutor is man/woman enough to ask a jury to send a person to death row, then why get your feelings hurt just because your boss isn't Chuck Rosenthal?
Might you have left anyway? A prosecutor for life doesn't leave even under these circumstances. Look at the top of the office management. They are still staffed by more than 95% Good hard working prosecutors who worked their way up through the ranks of the office under Mr. Holmes.

As for Judge Lykos and the people she brought on board - for peat’s sake - quit the sob feast and get on with the fact that the reason Judge Lykos is D.A. is because she was elected - just like Vance, Holmes and Rosenthal. But Rosenthal - is the one who dismantled the office with his childish ways. You want to vent anger - vent it his way because HE is the one who thought he was BIGGER than Holmes or Vance. "Hey Chuck how's it going?" CHUCK: “I’m blessed". B.S.! If you are blessed then the rest of the Office got cursed!

The attacks on Jim Leitner and Roger Bridgewater are just as childish as Chuck's behavior that led to this new administration in the first place. To be fair, give this Administration a CHANCE.

Absolutely Judge Lykos shot from the hip and burned the two prosecutors in the press without getting all the facts. She did admit this "management error" at least. She's got four years...just four years to get it right or not. But pining away on these Blogs crying on your keyboard is just not cutting it.

None of these comments is meant to be in defense of the current administration or minimize frustrations expressed by the many who have posted. These words are merely meant to put a historical perspective on the big picture.

People inherently do not like change and "The Office" is no different; it just wants the old Civil Service System back - but it's dead. GET OVER IT! The fairytale ended with Rosenthal.

BTW: No I am no longer a prosecutor. I retired several years ago. Chuck you were a tenacious hard working prosecutor. You should not however have been the D.A......

Heck Tate over and out and you all keep up the good fight. Remember what Holmes said: “I have policies but none of them should cause a damn fool result to occur".

April 21, 2009 11:08 PM

Anonymous said...

Anon 2:12,
Return the troll's crack pipe now!

Anonymous said...

Heck Tate,

I disagree. The office is losing prosecutors that never would have left. It appears you are minimizing Lykos' actions. Where has she said that she made a management error? I surely haven't seen that comment in the press. I believe everyone agrees that Don Stricklin was a terrible first asst. That is small potatoes to what Lykos has done. I believe the office is losing prosecutors who were "lifers" because the HCDAO is such a toxic place. You clearly are enjoying your retirement and are not around the courthouse enough to "feel" what Lykos has done.

Anonymous said...

Hey Anon 12:12,
I'm a "Lykos enemy" as well, albeit not a recent convert like my new brother/sister Anon 1:24.
1. HCDAO will adjust and function but at a marked diminished capacity.
2. Lykos is Satan's sister not the Devil as many mistake her for.
3. Jim Leitner and Brian Bridgewater are many things but honorable is not one of them.
4. The ADAs are and have been a very ethical group of people that continue to be unfairly painted with the Rosenthal brush of shame. Leadership was direly needed then and even more so now.
5. "It Sucks" does not begin to describe the egregious harm intentionally inflicted on Mark and Rifi. To rationalize Lykos' self serving public sacrifice of these 2 great prosecutors and men by simply saying they work in a public office is demeaning to the entire staff of prosecutors. The only thing "outed" was that mean bitch's lack of common decency and respect.
6. We're in complete agreement on this point. Murray is a great attorney and will kick ass and shoot straight.

Anonymous said...

I don't know who Heck is, but those who were not around then do not understand. As you say, they got used to things being a certain way for forty years.

Heck, you need your own blog.

Anonymous said...

I don't know who Heck is, but those who were not around then do not understand. As you say, they got used to things being a certain way for forty years.

Heck, you need your own blog.

Anonymous said...

Amen, Heck Tate. I couldn't have said it any better. Rosenthal let a certain investigator run and almost ruin that office. Look what Karma has done to him. I worked under Vance, Holmes, and Rosenthal. Vance and Holmes are great people, who relied on their employees to do their jobs.

Anonymous said...

Anon 5:51,
If you're still afraid of John Ray Harrison you must be terrified when you catch a glimpse of the nefarious troll.

Anonymous said...

5:01,
So true, so sad. I just can't believe what a horrible place this has become. It's so much worse than a changing of the guard explanation can even begin to describe. Your blog has been therapy for many of us to vent our disgust. Thank you for that Murray. You are a good man to continue the fight for us....when I leave this summer I hope to measure up to your courage. May God bless you and watch over your shoulder.

Anonymous said...

Anon 5:51
...."Rosenthal let an investigator run and almost ruin that office."
Who are you kidding? Delete "almost" and we're there Bubba.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 4:27 P.M. Replied to Heck Tate:

I disagree. The office is losing prosecutors that never would have left. It appears you are minimizing Lykos' actions. Where has she said that she made a management error? I surely haven't seen that comment in the press.

Heck Tate's Response:

She admitted on one of the news stations that she should not have used the term incompetent. I'm not going to get into the specifics of the case, even though, contrary to what you infer I AM still "in the loop" at the courthouse and do know Rifi to be a fine honorable lawyer.

No doubt at least a rush transcript should have been read before making comments to the press. However, the key issue that Rosenthal cursed the office with was an appearance of it being less than above board when it came to African members of the County.

Chief Brown (a former African American Chief of police and candidate for D.A.) had his own competence issues with the crime lab. The CSI folks were always put at the bottom of the budget.

The sad reality is that perception unchecked IS reality. Right now this is the atmosphere Judge Lykos is working in. No doubt the media blitz caused a quicker reaction than I'm sure she truly wanted to react to without having all the intimate details.

Question: Why would the State move for a shuffle? I never did. Also, right, wrong or whether you disagree with me or not (and I certainly respect your difference of opinion) to shuffle and then use so many strikes on blacks - just doesn't pass the smell test - even if the "record" shows otherwise. This whole issue was "ground zero" during the very serious hotly contested campaign that the office hasn't been subjected to for nearly 30 years.

Many moons ago before many here were born and LBJ was probably president the First Assistant gave a press conference at the courthouse where the Office used to be located and boldly announced he was running against his boss...& he actually won!

This is what I mean by saying "putting things into a true historical perspective".

There were no computer blogs or instant news as today which is not a bad thing. The problem in the present atmosphere is that what happens at the office gets INSTANTLY blogged from anonymous people who don't have the requirement to actually put their name by a story and get all the facts straight. I know news papers suck as well, but hopefully you get the idea.

Remember when Holmes got tired of all the rivalry between all the Bureau Chief's, Special Crimes, Trial Bureau, etc, that except for Appellate, he said nothing that Friday morning and on Monday The Trial Bureau Chief was moved to Special Crimes, Special Crimes (B.C) went to Intake, etc. Many more positions were completely shocked and baked - he was pissed and did as he darn well pleased because HE was the ELECTED BOSS!

You see (what I see) is now everyone, and everything moves at a much faster pace and information goes out in nanoseconds. Text, text, text, tap, tap, tap. I also see people are no doubt excellent, cream of the crop lawyers who themselves feel THEY could run the Office better than ANYONE. But you know what? There's an old saying in politics THAT THIS OFFICE IS NOT USED TO BECAUSE THEY'VE OBLY HAD TWO REAL DA'S FOR THE PAST 40 YEARS: "In the political arena, Great Generals sometimes make baby politicians".

So many of the people who are upset with the present D.A. are just so young, and impatient, and have an opinion what they want to express RIGHT NOW!

The personal attacks against Leitner especially are just disgusting. He and Bridgewater are both veterans of Holmes Administration. They are good men.
Just be specific and FACTUAL when making criticisms on line where you don't have to use your name.

Look at Mark Bennett's Blog today. Finally he has done the entire CJC a big favor by stating up front what judicial behavior is acceptable and what is not and what will occur if it continues. But some people don't want to go through the trouble of filing a formal complaint they just want to "bitch from a closet". Because it feels INSTANTLY GOOD.

Heck Tate out! ~

Anonymous said...

Heck Tate,
1. Apparently all black men look the same to you. Brown, Bradford, Brother, etc. Subliminal racism is alive and well in your world.
2. The Judge notified the press about Mark and Rifi's Batson issue not the other way around.
3. Leitner is not the same man you knew way back in the day.....ask around and you'll come to find his old supporters are shocked at Jimmy's aberrant behavior.
4. Lykos is reviled by Senior as well as junior prosecutors--you obviously don't know Pat Lykos.
5. You are in fact out of the loop when it comes to CJC accuracy and relevance.

Anonymous said...

Anon 22 April @ 0747hrs:
1st of all the Chuckster can't write that well. Secondly, Chuckie has no friends. Thirdly, no Lykos supporter could possibly know what is going on at the court house. Fourthly, the only good job Lykos is doing is that of fucking up the DA's office, but I don't think that's what you meant. Finally, you, Madame Blue Hair, are the joke.

Rage Judicata said...

Tate:

Rosenthal is a product of the Holmes administration. To say that Holmes was any more honorable than Rosenthal is laughable.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 1:58 pm. replied to Heck Tate:

1. Apparently all black men look the same to you. Brown, Bradford, Brother, etc. Subliminal racism is alive and well in your world.

Heck Tate replies:

Though not a true assessment, I do however commend you for at least being specific. My Bradford comment had nothing to do with race. I admit I used Brown instead of Bradford but a racist doth that not make me. Again I ask: Unless the first 30 people have criminal histories that do not by law disqualify them, why would the State ever move to shuffle the jury?

Reality: Remember how many Republican Judges lost in 08 but how did Judge Lykos win as a republican? Answer: She got more votes! Remember what I said before: “In the political arena sometimes great Generals make baby politicians"

You're right - you are there and I am not and it's no "fun" working at a place where you are not happy, or feel you are not making a difference. Either try to change the situation; accept it, or get the hell out. Holmes was famous for telling prosecutors (many female prosecutors who were upset Rusty was taken off the Training Committee) He told them all to basically take their tennis shoes and quit if they didn't like his decision - that he had a stack of applicants in his drawer.

I stand by my comments regarding Lietner and Bridgewater as my memories are all I have and they are not as distant as one may think.

I respect everyone's feelings of discontent being expressed here. My only point in even putting ANY amount of time in this was to simply give a different point of view in light of history.

Obviously if Kelly had won the status quo would have relatively remained the same. People would feel more secure and good because she is/was "one of them - just like Vance and Holmes and Rosenthal. And she IS one hell of a lawyer!

The reality though is that Judge Pat Lykos is for the first time in nearly 40 years the first non-prosecutor to head up this office and she was ELECTED. People don't get elected unless more people vote for one person over another.

Prosecutors are SHOCKED! DISMAIED! How dare an outsider come in here who has never tried a case? Remember Los Angeles (Gil Garcetti and some of the other larger cities who have D.A.'s who never tried a case? Harris County Prosecutors are not used to this. This is my whole point. Harris County has been so spoiled over the years by not having anyone but their own at the helm that there will be "growing" pains - positive or negative - however which way you see it.

After his first win, Holmes quit having any parties and never had a fundraiser. He is independently wealthy.

For the last time I just ask that if people are going to bitch - give specifics. Don't just blankedly say: CORRUPTION! Or "so in so is a real bastard and has changed. THE END.

(Ok now someone can take this last comment and say something GENERAL like: "That's right Mr. Tate, it truly IS THE END of the Office!@%$#&!!! Fine. Just be SPECIFIC and realize you are not in Kansas anymore. (Oh crap, here's another set up for wicked witch of the West comparisons) and on and on and on.....

Good Luck and I wish you all the best. Oh no! (Blah, Blah, we need it, general comment! general criticism)....

Heck Tate out. (Oh no... yes you sure are "out there and have no idea how bad it is, etc, etc, After this summer we will all be OUT of here, etc, etc.)

Ok how about just Peace out - God Bless?

Heck Tate.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 1:58 pm. replied to Heck Tate:

1. Apparently all black men look the same to you. Brown, Bradford, Brother, etc. Subliminal racism is alive and well in your world.

Heck Tate replies:

Sounds like "projection". My Bradford comment had nothing to do with race. I admit I used Brown instead of Bradford but a racist doth that not make me. Again I ask: Unless the first 30 people have criminal histories that do not by law disqualify them, why did the State ever move to shuffle the jury?

Reality: Remember how many Republican Judges lost in 08 but how did Judge Lykos win as a republican? Answer: She got more votes! Remember what I said before: “In the political arena sometimes great Generals make baby politicians"

You're right - you are there and I am not and it's no "fun" working at a place where you are not happy, or feel you are not making a difference. Either try to change the situation; accept it, or get the hell out. Holmes was famous for telling prosecutors (many female prosecutors who were upset Rusty was taken off the Training Committee) He told them all to basically take their tennis shoes and quit if they didn't like his decision - that he had a stack of applicants in his drawer.

I stand by my comments regarding Lietner and Bridgewater as my memories are all I have and they are not as distant as one may think.

I respect everyone's feelings of discontent being expressed here. My only point in even putting ANY amount of time in this was to simply give a different point of view in light of history.

Obviously if Kelly had won the status quo would have relatively remained the same. People would feel more secure and good because she is/was "one of them - just like Vance and Holmes and Rosenthal. And she IS one hell of a lawyer!

The reality though is that Judge Pat Lykos is for the first time in nearly 40 years the first non-prosecutor to head up this office and she was ELECTED. People don't get elected unless more people vote for one person over another.

Prosecutors are SHOCKED! DISMAIED! How dare an outsider come in here who has never tried a case? Remember Los Angeles (Gil Garcetti and some of the other larger cities who have D.A.'s who never tried a case? Harris County Prosecutors are not used to this. This is my whole point. Harris County has been so spoiled over the years by not having anyone but their own at the helm that there will be "growing" pains - positive or negative - however which way you see it.

After his first win, Holmes quit having any parties and never had a fundraiser. He is independently wealthy.

For the last time I just ask that if people are going to bitch - give specifics. Don't just blankedly say: CORRUPTION! Or "so in so is a real bastard and has changed. THE END.

(Ok now someone can take this last comment and say something GENERAL like: "That's right Mr. Tate, it truly IS THE END of the Office!@%$#&!!! Fine. Just be SPECIFIC and realize you are not in Kansas anymore. (Oh crap, here's another set up for wicked witch of the West comparisons) and on and on and on.....

Good Luck and I wish you all the best. Oh no! (Blah, Blah, we need it, general comment! general criticism)....

Heck Tate out. (Oh no... yes you sure are "out there and have no idea how bad it is, etc, etc, After this summer we will all be OUT of here, etc, etc.)

Ok how about just Peace out - God Bless?

Heck Tate.

Anonymous said...

Anon 11:17,
Why don't you post your name when you say things like that? I know for certain that NONE of the four district court chiefs that left were ever considered incompetent. Why don't you get your facts straight? Have you seen their trial records? Have you talked to the victims of the cases they handled? Did you know that when they turned in their resignations, several, if not all, of them were asked to reconsider? You clearly don't know the people you are talking about.

If you want to call me incompetent, why don't you man up and post your name. Warren, Stephen, George and myself were always advocates for victims of crime and always fought to see that justice was served.
Sylvia Escobedo

Anonymous said...

Oh snap!

Anonymous said...

Anon 7:24,
Don't forget to score some crack and poppers to go along with your not so clever critique of a former prosecutor that has more courage than the both of us combined. Try and walk in Sylvia's shoes for a day and then get back with us.

Sylvia,
You don't need to justify a damn thing...good luck girlfriend you'll do great!

Anonymous said...

Heck Tate 8:08,
How dare you put Kelly, JBH, and Vance in the same category as Chuck Rosenthal. That is exactly what cost Kelly the election and our office to crash and burn.
The only commonality the 3 had with Rosenthal was that they were all prosecutors. Nothing else. Absolutely nothing.

Anonymous said...

It is apparent that very few of the people who post on this blog could even find 1201 Franklin, much less one of the courtrooms within the CJC. Warren, Sylvia, Stephen, George, Lyn, Joe, Craig, Mike and all of the others that either left on their own or at the direction of this administration left at the right time. The office is in disarray, morale is low, the budget is blown, and ADA's feel guilty when they ask for more than two or three days of vacation, knowing that their colleagues will have to pick up their slack. Congratulations Pat. You did to the office in just a few months what Rosenthal couldn't do in several years. Hang your hat on that.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous replied to Heck Tate:

Anonymous said...
Heck Tate 8:08,
How dare you put Kelly, JBH, and Vance in the same category as Chuck Rosenthal. That is exactly what cost Kelly the election and our office to crash and burn.
The only commonality the 3 had with Rosenthal was that they were all prosecutors. Nothing else. Absolutely nothing.

April 24, 2009 12:11 PM

Heck Tate Replies:

Whoa, Whoa..don't be so pensive & sensitive. In the context I was using the comparrison was that all 4 were prosecutors with three of which got elected. No doubt C.R. helped Kelly lose the election. Once again my whole point in all this is to point out that for the first time in nearly 40 years there is a non-former alum-prosecutor elected as D.A.. Breath.

GalvestonLawyer said...

I went to law school with George. I used to make the claim that I liked to beat him up every day and take his lunch money. Of course, this was when he was on the U.S. Taekwondo team having to take semesters off to compete in the World Cup and Olympics. I later amended my taunt to include taking his medals from the games. I'm glad he is so zen about being harassed by loudmouths like moi. George could be his own bailiff.