Thursday, June 4, 2009

Lisa Falkenberg's Excellent Column

Bet you never thought I would write a post with that title, did ya?

But, I gotta say that I loved Lisa Falkenberg's column today on Pat Lykos' new poorly-thought-out plan for Pre-Trial Diversions for first time DWI offenders. From start to finish, the whole article kept me laughing, and that laughing was mostly at Lykos' expense.

Now, I would imagine that Lisa probably went over to interview Lykos and her stand-in "Yes Man" Roger Bridgwater with the best of intentions as a way of illustrating how wonderful the new plan would be. But even the liberally slanted columnist for the very pro-Lykos Chronicle was forced to point out that the "program is far from thoroughly thought-out" and "a new district attorney launching a controversial program should probably be a little more prepared before going public."

Ya think?

I love Lykos' explanation that the reason the details hadn't been ironed out yet was "because news [of the plan] broke a bit prematurely".

No kidding? I hear that Lykos holding a press conference announcing the plan was a leading suspect as to the cause of why the news may have "broke a bit prematurely".

Funny how that works out. I bet that really caught the Old Girl off guard.

In defense of her plan's disorganization, Patsy decided to rely on some of her campaign experience and decide to launch some negative publicity -- not at detractors of her plan, but at other counties.

"We're not going to engage in any fraud as they do in other counties by calling a DWI something else."

Holy crap, that one nearly made me spit out my coffee. First of all, this statement alone from Patsy pretty much ensures that nobody from another county is going to dance with her at the next annual Texas District and County Attorney's Association meeting. Second of all, who on EARTH is Lykos to be criticizing other counties and the way they handle DWI cases?

The Lykos plan is to erase the first DWI that an offender gets, and make it as if it never happened, and she is blasting counties like Bexar County that apparently utilize other offenses as a method of plea bargaining? You've got to be kidding me.

And she emphasizes that the purpose of her plan is "to reduce the number of repeat offenders". Well, um, yeah, if you don't actually count the first offense, I suppose that will technically reduce the number of repeat offenders from a mathematical standpoint. You aren't a true repeat offender if the first one didn't count, right?

And then she points out that DWI is a "pandemic in Harris County". And the elected District Attorney's solution to that is to treat it less seriously?


To wrap up, Lisa points out that Roger Bridgwater and Lykos weren't even on the same page as to the requirements they would demand for their Pre-Trial Diversion. Bridgwater, who does not drink, wanted to make no alcohol at all a requirement for the probation, leading Lykos to disagree and state: "I'm not Carrie Nation."


NOTE: I am glad that Lykos cleared up that she is not, in fact, Carrie Nation (pictured above), however, I think there is still an astounding chance that they may have been sorority sisters.

The conclusion of Lisa's article wraps up with Lykos joking (over Bridgwater's doddering attempt to downplay it) about her own drinking habits:

With a laugh, she [Lykos] added, "I wish I had a Jack and Coke right now."

I don't have a problem with Patsy having as many Jack and Cokes as she wants.

She just needs to cut down on making these policy decisions after so many of them.

27 comments:

Anonymous said...

Great post.

Anonymous said...

Falkenberg may be considered liberal, but her writing is always well thought out and honest. If something doesn't make sense, she'll take a poke at it no matter who's behind it.

It always amazes me when people all of a sudden agree with something that Lisa writes. Maybe she's right all the time, and this is the first time you've agreed with her. That makes you wrong the rest of the time, not her.

Anonymous said...

So Murray, when, if ever, do you think Brian Rogers will man up on Patsy and the Gang?

Anonymous said...

As a long-time, if not veteran drinker of Jack and Coke, I must say I am now, after reading Falkenberg's latest effort, seriously considering to changing to another formulation. FWIW.

Tex

A Harris County Lawyer said...

Anon 3:08 p.m.,
Now, see, you had to go and take a special moment where I was FINALLY agreeing with Lisa and ruin it. Dammit.
However, I've been involved in the criminal justice system in one form or another for fifteen years now. I'm thinking I might have a basis of knowledge even if it contradicts with Lisa's. Saying I was wrong whenever I disagreed with her is probably stretching it just a smidge, don't you think?

Anon 3:41 p.m.,
This answer to your question is . . . . . never.

Arthur Seaton said...

I can't agree with you on this one. I thought the whole column was an exercise in .... well I don't know what. It alternated between 2 extremes---inanity and pointlessness.

A Harris County Lawyer said...

Well Artie,
I guess it was only a matter of time before a woman came between us.
I'm not saying that the Falkenberg article was Pulitzer material, but I did think it made several funny points.
The hard core analysis of why the DWI pre-trial diversion program is unworkable is probably a little bit too in-depth for your average Chronicle reader, though. I doubt a single one of their regular commenter's could write about it without doing one or more of the following:
1. making a sex joke about Rosenthal;
2. talk about how they were wrongfully accused;
3. mention the good old boy network;
OR
4. somehow incorporate the death penalty

Anonymous said...

Kudos to Lisa Faulkenberg for not cowering to the editorial board's agenda on this one.
As for Anon 3:08....no one, not even your friend Lisa, is correct ALL the time. Even IF Lisa honestly believes in every column she writes that does not make her opinions "right all the time". Notwithstanding, she righteously called Patsy out this time. Patsy will never forget it either.

Anonymous said...

AHCL:

Overall I think the critics are missing the point. While Falkenberg says it hasn't been fully vetted and that there's a little bit of a Comedy of Errors between Lykos and her cronies, overall she sounds like she's in favor of diversion. So, once completed, she'll be in favor of the plan.

Anonymous said...

Murray,
Do you think Patsy is sinister enough to have thrown this PTD plan out there simply to improve her scalp count?
Think about the fact that a DWI or minor drug possession without enhancements or aggravating circumstances that are tried by baby prosecutors are not the most successful type of case from the State's perspective. Couple that with Leitner's earlier plan to make baby prosecutors try slam dunk whales EVEN if the defendant wanted to plea it out.

After all if your self proclaimed motto is: "Look good, think smart and win" but you look like shit, are not the sharpest tool in the shed and have never tried a criminal case in your life why not manipulate the trial conviction stats any way you can?

A Harris County Lawyer said...

Sinister enough to? Yes.

Smart enough to? Not so much.

Anonymous said...

ANON 4:31,
No doubt about it.
Lisa would love any plan that would be lenient on most criminal behavior. However, she was offended by the total lack of plan mechanics and the cavalier idiocy of the 2 stooges who presented.
Lisa sees the handwriting on the wall and knows this DA is a 1 term fool. Soon enough the Chronicle will prop up a democratic opponent and tear the judge to shreds....think how easy that will be if they are merely objective, let alone vindictive.

Anonymous said...

ANON 4:31,
No doubt about it.
Lisa would love any plan that would be lenient on most criminal behavior. However, she was offended by the total lack of plan mechanics and the cavalier idiocy of the 2 stooges who presented.
Lisa sees the handwriting on the wall and knows this DA is a 1 term fool. Soon enough the Chronicle will prop up a democratic opponent and tear the judge to shreds....think how easy that will be if they are merely objective, let alone vindictive.

Anonymous said...

Murray,
Never underestimate your adversary.
Anon 4:51

Anonymous said...

As for Anon 3:08....no one, not even your friend Lisa, is correct ALL the time.


I'll take her research and professional journalism over this crowd's bias at having to follow the constitution under the new boss any day.

Y'all couldn't even see through your own bias enough to see that Falkenberg likes the diversion plan.

Anonymous said...

Lisa just calls it like she sees it and is always honest. Her column is always a good read.

By the way I think she might look at your blog on occasion, she does not stick her head in the sand. If it needs to be said she will say it

Anonymous said...

Great post, Murray.

Anonymous said...

I was called this morning and told to read Falkenberg's column. At noon I went to the Chronicle site and found a weird column about taking a test to find out if you are liberal or conservative. I was trying to figure out why I needed to read that silly column when I checked your blog and found your most recent comment. I find it interesting they took down her column so quickly. Still paying Pat for supporting the shield law?

Why is the district attorney of Harris County seeking approval of the editorial board of the Comical. The Houston Comical does not represent the majority opinion of voters. Do the voters know they elected the editorial board of the Houston Comical as DA of Harris County?

Anonymous said...

"Look good, think smart, and win!" came from a particular person in Misd, not the administration. Further, Jim's idea was for each chief to pick one case with really interesting issues for a misd prosecutor to try, like a BMV with DNA, etc. You don't typically try those cases in misdemeanor. Further, we're not talking about forcing someone with a clear criminal history to trial. We're talking about a case that is worth more than the typical "move my docket" offer, based on the facts and criminal history.

I agree that saying "no plea" whatsoever is not right. But what I got from the idea was to pick a case... ONE case (not EVERY whale), and rec it at what it was worth. Not every offense deserves the same standard offer. If the citizens of Harris County would give 365 based on the facts and the criminal history, don't sell it for 30 to move the docket. And don't over-rec just because you want to try a case that's not deserving of your offer.

I truly believe he was coming from the right place. He wanted to provide newer prosecutors with some much needed training on a case that really mattered and was worth it. We shouldn't refuse to let someone plea, but sometimes a case is worth a stiff rec and that will make it more likely to go to trial.

A Harris County Lawyer said...

Anon 5:18 p.m.,
I don't think anybody here thought that Lisa didn't like the idea of the Pre-Trial Diversion program, no matter how dumb you think we all are.
We were all just astounded to see here actually finally depict some of the flaws with the Lykos Administration, which thus far seems to have walked on water in the Chronicle's eyes.
Perhaps your bias kept you from realizing what WE were saying.

Anonymous said...

5;18,
So Lisa Faulkenberg is the Mother Teresa of journalism when it comes to honesty? If you don't think Lisa pushes a biased personal agenda and usually slants her column in that vein you don't know her very well and/or haven't read many of her columns. Have another Jack and Coke and shut the fuck up.

5:23,
Well stated. I agree with your ideals. Too bad Leitner and Lykos does not share your philosophy.

Anonymous said...

Anon 5:18,
Please read Anon 5:02 for clarification of your nonsense--it was even posted twice and you still missed it.

Anonymous said...

Anon 8:38,

The article is still up...

Anonymous said...

If Pat really wants to impress she'll grant retroactive application (Joint MNT's?) for all the poor drunkards who had to take a conviction over the last 10 or 15 years - since whenever the legislature did away with deferreds for DWI.

Only way to be fair, no?


-Eric M.-

Anonymous said...

FYI there is another "I love Patsy" article in the Houston Comical today. The comments are mostly critical!

Anonymous said...

Where's the blog on the latest chron article?

A Harris County Lawyer said...

It's coming. My computer at my house died on me, so I have to do it from the office, and this damn work stuff keeps getting in the way. I'll try to write it this afternoon.
Trust me. I've got a lot to say.