In the wake of Pat Lykos' election, Harris County prosecutors were nervously waiting to see how the Office would be structured on January 1st, 2009. Obviously the first thought on most people's minds was whether or not their job was safe. The next thought was curiosity over who she would be bringing in as her upper-administration.
Jim Leitner was obviously going to be the First Assistant. Although he had lost the trust and respect of many of the ADAs when he endorsed Lykos (after he and Clint Greenwood had sworn up and down that would never happen), there was actually a little relief to hear that Jim would be in the Upper Admin. The thought being that he would provide some calm advice and stability during those moments where Lykos was letting her infamous temper flare up.
When Roger Bridgwater lost the election for the 178th bench, and was named as part of Team Lykos, I was glad to hear it. I had always liked Roger as a defense attorney and had been very happy for him when he had been appointed judge. I thought Lykos was making a great call by bringing him on.
I (and a lot of others) thought that if anything was going to make the next four years survivable with a crazy political hack, it would be having the calm and guiding force of these two men.
Good God, did we miss the mark on that prediction.'
Over the past six months, Jim Leitner and Roger Bridgwater have transitioned from the spineless hatchetmen to Official Administration Apologists to downright Grade-A Bullies.
Jim was the first to fully embrace his Napoleonic complex, as he first decided he would break bad and just verbally eviscerate Rifi Newaz and Mark Donnelly after the Batson debacle. Some would think that a good administrator might have actually given them the benefit of letting them explain themselves, but not Big Jimmy Leitner. Of course, in all fairness, I guess he was under a deadline to chew them out since Lykos was in the next room calling the Chronicle about what was happening.
He's continued his "tough guy" image by doing a lot of shooting first and asking questions later. Demanding explanations on perceived wrongs rather than asking what happened from his troops. As one prosecutor mentioned to me, "there's a presumption that you have done something wrong and he acts like he is looking for any reason to fire you."
There have been at least two occasions that I'm aware of where Leitner has tried to play a diminutive Clint Eastwood tough guy on younger prosecutors for actions that they had carried out because he told them to.
But the bottom line is that Leitner has become little more than Lykos' chief thug.
What was more surprising to me, personally, was that former-judge Roger Bridgwater has now apparently decided to get into the act.
I will freely admit that I used to be a big fan of Roger's. I thought better of him.
I was wrong.
His behavior has become as bizarre and erratic as the rest of the Gang Who Couldn't Shoot Straight. Whether it be his officially revoking an invitation to Rusty Hardin to speak at an in-house CLE (yeah, that Rusty Hardin guy. What the hell does he know about trying a case?), or trying to push the moronic DWI Diversion Program off on the general public, the Roger Bridgwater I used to know ain't there anymore.
But Roger hit his all-time low yesterday.
During yesterday morning's weekly "Show and Tell" meeting (which is a regular update meeting attended by all Division chiefs, Bureau Chiefs and the Elected D.A.), he apparently went completely off the deep end. After being questioned on his rationale on decisions about Rusty Hardin, the diversion program, and the fact that more people learn about their Administration decisions from the paper than from the administrators, Bridgwater lashed out at none other than Donna Goode.
Now, before reading on, keep in mind that Donna Goode and I aren't exactly best friends. Although I liked her and respected her during my time at the Office, we were never particularly close nor did we work on any cases together. Earlier this year, she referred to the blog as being "toxic" (which actually cracked me up). I don't dislike her, but I doubt we will be going bowling any time soon.
But whether I'm friends with Donna or not, I respect her. She's a good lawyer and prosecutor who has devoted somewhere in the ballpark of 30 years to the Harris County District Attorney's Office. She was a Division Chief when I started with the Office, and prior to this morning, she was the Bureau Chief of Special Crimes (the position held by Kelly Siegler when Kelly left the Office).
After having the audacity to question Roger on some very valid questions regarding how he was running his Division, Roger blew up on her and some others in the room. He completely lost his cool and went after a lady who has worked there, literally, over 50 times longer than he has. He did his best to humiliate her in front of everyone in the room.
But he didn't stop there.
When the meeting was over, he decided to file a complaint against Donna with the Disciplinary Committee for her remarks during "Show and Tell".
The complaint he made against her? Insubordination.
Now, if you are keeping score at home, two questions should be coming to mind.
1. Um, when did the Office get a Disciplinary Committee? I thought if somebody did something bad that Lykos just called the Chronicle.
2. How exactly could Donna be "insubordinate" to Bridgwater when they are both Bureau Chiefs?
Well, I don't know the answer to Question # 2, but apparently since Lykos shot her mouth off on the Batson debacle, they have developed a Disciplinary Committee.
Guess who is on it! Well, that would be Patsy Lykos, Jim Leitner, Hannah Chow, John Barnhill, and um, oh yeah, Roger Bridgwater. Yes, the Gang Who Couldn't Shoot Straight has their own hit squad, and it is pretty much the entirety of the Gang Who Couldn't Shoot Straight.
As an added insult, somebody within the Gang decided to have Donna remotely locked out of utilizing her county computer. Jimmy Leitner was kind enough to offer Donna his computer if she would like to type a response to Bridgwater's complaint. She declined.
So this morning, Donna Goode, a career prosecutor took her retirement and left the building as a prosecutor for one last time. It was pretty much the only move left to her by the incestuous and low-rent Gang.
She was able to walk out of the CJC with class and with her head held high. I know she and I didn't always see eye to eye, but I wish her well, and I respect the hell out of her for leaving because of her principles.
Perhaps the D.A.'s Office could bring her back to give a CLE on character. Nah, Roger would rescind the invite.
So, today my opinion of Donna Goode has skyrocketed, while my opinion of Leitner and Bridgwater has pretty much bottomed out.
They are both, unquestionably bullies.
When Craig Goodhart got his notice of termination from Leitner and Bridgwater, he told them he was ashamed of them both. I think Craig was just slightly off on that assessment. Jim and Roger are who they are. They only have to answer to themselves at the end of the day, I suppose. They are more than welcome to be the bad guys.
I'm more ashamed of myself for ever thinking that either one of them were ever good guys.