Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Blogging in a Lykos World

For those of you all in and around the CJC, the obvious topic of the past week has been the rise and fall of the blog known as Life After Esquire (LAE), written by a female Baby Prosecutor.

The blog itself had been around for quite awhile, and I had been reading it for several months. In my opinion it was excellent writing and more importantly, very valuable writing. To some degree, it was like The Wonder Years from the perspective of a rookie prosecutor, and I enjoyed reading it immensely. She did a great job with showing prosecutors (especially young ones) as the bright-eyed and eager public servants that they are.

And all was well with it until last week when she did a little too much over sharing about something that happened at Baby Prosecutor's school and Mark Bennett brought it screamingly to everyone's attention. Based on her post, she has been ridiculed on Bennett's blog, in the Houston Press, and she was disciplined. Obviously, she scrapped her blog immediately.

Although I was a big fan of what she generally wrote on the blog, I do have to admit that this particular post did fall under the category of "What were you thinking?!". And, as much as it pains me to do so, I think the Lykos Administration's disciplinary response to her was actually pretty fair, all things considered.

Now, I'm not writing this post to open the door to bashing her. Quite frankly, she's been punished enough for something where she clearly had no bad intent -- just bad thought process. So, let's try to keep our comments a little more cerebral than usual this time, if we can. Since I, too, have lost my job (twice) because of a blog, I think I might be able to shed a little advice on it.

Here are a couple of thoughts that I have about blogging for any prosecutors or HCDA personnel that might want to consider doing it:

1. Lykos and the KGB have the same definition of "transparency"-although Patsy campaigned, partially, on the premise of the Office being more "transparent", it has (shockingly) turned out to be about as sincere of a platform as, well, um, pretty much everything else she campaigned on. I mean, seriously, the entire upper echelon of the Gang Who Couldn't Shoot Straight stay off the e-mail system almost entirely to make sure that they stay off the "Grid". I mean, seriously, the last I heard Lykos herself had sent a grand total of two (2) e-mails to all prosecutors.
Read between the lines on this one, aspiring bloggers: Snookems doesn't really want her Office's business aired.

2. If you are going to be writing about the Office, stay positive or at least stay non-negative-I think the Gang Who Couldn't Shoot straight can tolerate some generalized press about how wonderful the Office is, or even things that were introspective (yet not negative) that a prosecutor goes through. For instance, I thought LAE's post on getting a "not guilty" verdict was very well done, and it brought back memories of my first "not guilty" (which was followed by about five more of them before I finally won a trial!). But if you want to keep the Upper Admin really happy, try some phrases like this in your blog:
-"Saw Judge Lykos in the hallways today. She is as beautiful as she is wise."
-"I really wish Judge Bridgwater would let me donate him a kidney. Not that he needs one, but just having shared a kidney with such a great man would be a life dream fulfilled."
-"The water from Judge Chow's water cooler is the best water I've ever tasted in my life." OR
-"I think Leitner was looking a little taller today."

3. Don't talk about pending cases in any detail-there's just nothing to be gained by this. One of us defense attorneys is going to get ahold of it, and if you share too much, you might be in trouble with more than just your bosses. It's a fine line whenever you are talking about cases. Towards the end of my career with the Office, I did mention that I was getting ready on my last trial as a prosecutor, but I stayed away from the details. Never ever write about details that aren't already public record.

4. Don't implicate your friends in embarrassing stories-just because you decided to write a blog doesn't mean that your friends agreed to be the identifiable subject matter. If you have something you'd like to blog about that might name or identify somebody you like, ask them how they feel about what you would be writing. Me following this rule is why I have never posted an audio recording of a certain attorney singing "My Way" (even though the temptation to do so is freaking HUGE!)

5. Don't necessarily identify yourself as a Harris County employee-I've seen some other blogs that identify themselves as working in a "big city" District Attorney's office. Word of mouth will eventually identify where you are writing from, but you don't need to put in print. And on that related topic, make sure that it is very clear that your opinions are your own, and you aren't speaking on behalf of the Office or in your capacity as a prosecutor.

6. Realize that true Anonimity is very fleeting- I tried very hard to keep my anonymity for about a month or so into writing the blog. Then, of course, Motormouth Murray had to start letting a person here and a person there "in on" the big secret. By the time of the Republican primary, it was the worst kept secret in the courthouse (largely due to me). The night of the Republican Primary run off, I was completely out in the open about my identity. I just never posted it on the blog in print for the reasons stated in #5.

7. You are absolutely going to be held accountable for the statements of your commenters-now, unlike Mark Bennett, I will allow Anonymous comments, because I think prosecutors should be able to speak freely on here without worrying about losing their job just for speaking. Lykos and the Davidians don't like to see a prosecutor's name in print unless they pre-sanctioned it. I think it would be rather chickensh*t of me to be exalting my opinions and then demanding people identify themselves before speaking.
That being said, all we really need to do is look back to the infamous "12 Days of Lykos" from December to realize that the comments from your readers can, in fact, get you fired . . . for a second time . . . in a month . . . and on Christmas Eve.
Good times. Good times.

8. Be prepared to accept the consequences for what you write-you are going to get bashed from one side or the other, and you may get bashed very publicly (like Bennett did with LAE's post). One of my earlier posts on Batson picked up the attention of Scott Greenfield in New York's blog, and I damn near had a panic attack. I had never considered that my bashing would go nationwide.
The bottom line is don't go putting stuff on the web and thinking it won't have a reaction and, quite possibly a consequence. Don't do the crime if you can't do the time.

And finally . . .

9. In spite of all these warnings, I personally hope you will write anyway-the stories and insights of prosecutors are just as valuable as the ones coming from the Defense Bar. Maybe it is just the History Major in me, but I like hearing all the perspectives available. There are a lot of talented writers with humorous and insightful views of how the process works, and I'd like to hear more of them.

If you piss off Lykos and the Gang in the process . . . well, we'll just consider that a bonus.

And to you, the Artist Formerly Known as Life After Esquire, please realize that this, too, shall pass. You are getting a lot of attention this week and it may still be around next week, too. But then it will fade away. Keep doing your job and you will be fine. I will miss your writing, and I do sincerely wish you the best of luck. I went through something very similar, and it all turned out just fine in the end.

Hang in there.

46 comments:

Anonymous said...

I guess Mark was looking for a win any way he could get one. His blog just confirmed my first impression of him.

OUTRAGED said...

Empathy, compassion, insight, courage, sincerity and ability are just but a few of the attributes that set you apart from the likes of Mark Bennett and Pat Lykos & her 3 stooges--Jimmy, Roger and Hannah.

Your sage counsel is appreciated.
Courage to do the right thing rather than fearing the consequences of standing for justice will set the tone in years to come.
Life After Esquire's actions might have been amusing reading to some, but are indefensible and inappropriate when the author is identified as a HCADA. Eerily reminiscent of Rosenthalesque judgment.

Anonymous said...

M-

THAT was "cerebral"?

A Harris County Lawyer said...

Anon 2:18 p.m.,
Okay okay, so the post wasn't exactly Plato, but what I meant by that statement was that I'd rather discuss the pros and cons of being able to speak about your job rather than "man, that was a stupid thing for her to do". Cerebral was the best thing I could come up with, but cut me some slack. I'm an Aggie.

Anonymous said...

So what was the discipline??

A Harris County Lawyer said...

I really don't want to talk about her specific discipline, because I think that she's already gone through enough. Suffice it to say that it was significant, but she was not terminated.

jigmeister said...

If what I heard about the punishment is true, it is completely out of line and would have caused me to quit years ago. When are the supervisors going to start managing instead of reacting? When are they going to start to realize that their harsh reactions to petty infractions is killing what little morale is left.

So what if she jumped a fence and went swimming in the closed pool at a place she was staying. Or that she was intoxicated. I guarantee that many of us did something like that at a TDCAA function over the years.

As I said before, I thought Mark's criticism was a word to the wise, not because of her actions, but of her writing about them.

Can any of you remember filing a case of trespass on anyone for her conduct? I'm not talking about vandals or people who have been warned before and repeat the conduct, but a resident who went swimming after hours.

Come on Jim. Use that golden tongue and give sage advice and counseling to these 22 year old kids instead of the whip. If you don't your morale problems are going to get even worse.

Rage Judicata said...

OUTRAGED will probably wish he hadn't posted that, since he and I agree on this one.

It probably also explains why Seaton disappeared. So much for big-nuts, all-go, Arthur Seaton.

Anonymous said...

Anon 1:23, you've read my mind.

For all of Bennett's talk about mercy to his defendants, he wasn't handing out much with Life. Sheesh, a guy gets a little power with a legal marketing blog and looks what happens.

I don't think Pat McCann would have done the same, Bennett.

Agree with Jig as well. But we're just glad she still employed and has more balls than a certain defense blogger who got his panties in a wad.

I didn't think the Press article was too negative towards Life. I felt he was making fun of Bennett for getting HIS panties in a wad over the incident. Besides, the Press writer paid a big compliment to Life about her writing. And who is in the comment section of that Press article but Mr. Bennett, complaining that no link was given to him.

Also, if anyone has ever been to Rusty Duncan or other defense bar schools (back when they welcomed prosecutors to attend), they would know that prosecutors are not the only ones who drink at seminars or even do stupid shit at seminars.

Did you ever hear the one about the defense attorney who ran NAKED from one end to the other of the Riverwalk at a Rusty Duncan seminar, only to have to hide for a few minutes from police and then found his entire body was dyed blue-green from the dye put in the SA River? I won't say his name, but lets just say he and his fellow betters, who wagered whether he could do it or not, were more intoxicated than anyone was at baby school last week. I won't name this longtime defense attorney, but those of you who've been around know who I'm talking about.

I predict Life will become a very effective prosecutor. My only regret is that I won't get to read on the web about her adventures. She's good people.


Tex

Anonymous said...

Jigmeister,
You are missing the point. Life after Esquire bragged on the internet about her personal poor judgment while identifying herself to the world as a Harris County prosecutor. It undermines her ability to subsequently prosecute with credibility. It gives the wrong impression regardless if the underlying activity is essentially harmless. Kind of like someone sending emails with a racist flavor. That might seem harmless to many and not mandate that the sender of such emails is an actual racist. However, an active prosecutor should not send that type of email because of the potential implications. Perception, after all, at the end of the day trumps realty; and sometimes where there's smoke there's fire...ask your old buddy Chuck Rosenthal about that.

Anonymous said...

By the way, nice post Murray and lots of good tips and thoughts for prosecutor bloggers.

Also, the reason the naked defense attorney's skin was dyed blue-green was because he had to hide in the water of the river on the riverwalk from the police for a few minutes. I heard it took a while to get that dye off of his skin.

Tex

Anonymous said...

"It probably also explains why Seaton disappeared. So much for big-nuts, all-go, Arthur Seaton."

Seaton disappeared because he was tired of deling with know it all assholes like yourself, who have nothing to offer at all but moronic vitriol. You talk a good game, and talk about what pussies everyone else is, and we all know the real story about guys like that.

Anonymous said...

"It undermines her ability to subsequently prosecute with credibility." How, exactly?

"However, an active prosecutor should not send that type of email because of the potential implications." What implications, exactly?

Friend of Art said...

Anon 4:37,
Art it's good to see you're still with us; albeit under the cloak of tighter anonymity.
Is it true you attended the USMA and that is why VMI graduate Rage Judicata is so intimidated and bitter?

Anonymous said...

Anon 4:38,
Chuck is that you?

Anonymous said...

I think I'm gonna start an Arthur Seaton-Life After Esquire fanzine.

Life could do much worse than being compared, by implication at least, to the Sarah Jessica Parker movie cover that was displayed with the Press article.

A Harris County Lawyer said...

okay, I'm officially calling the war between Rage and Arthur over and calling it a draw. No more comments about them.
It's not that they are offensive. They are just getting annoying.

Anonymous said...

OMG 4:38 is fucking brain dead. How do you think we all got in this mess in the 1st place?

Anonymous said...

If you have not seen the behavior the prosecutor engaged in prosecuted in Harris county, then you must not go to the courthouse. It happens every day and some make a big deal out of this kind of behavior. A prosecutor who sends people to jail and ruins lives is a little different that a defense lawyer getting drunk and taking a swim.There is a big difference. Still Green

Rage Judicata said...

Still Green

Hilarious.

Anonymous said...

RAGE, Thanks ,I could not resist the idiotic comparison between some one who is hurting people by their rediculous policies and plea offers and a lawyer having fun. I think they call it holier than thou behavior.SG

Anonymous said...

Anon 4:48
What is VMI?

Anonymous said...

TDCAA is getting a lot of calls about complaints relating to bad behavior of some people who were at Baby Prosecutor school. What happened?

Anonymous said...

I have to say I'm with Jigmeister, as far as asking whether anyone can recall enayone getting charges filed on ANYONE for exactly what she did. I know I have not either, and I've done intake on thousands of cases.

I have a lot of cop friends who work extra at hotels and even they can't recall anything other than being thrown out of the pool as the harshest action they've seen taken. None of them even saw eviction from the hotel occur in these circumstances.

Because jumping in a closed pool is not against the law.

Anonymous said...

I just like your list of what we should say about pat and jim IF we blog about work!!!

Anonymous said...

It appears that more communication with the Lykos Klan occurs through blogging than approaching.

The only time they care about what we say is when it is in public. Maybe Roger the dodger, wimpy jim and the ferret minion Clint ought to open their doors to us and ACTUALLY listen- Ferret listens but he is just a windsock....

In the meantime, thanks for letting us communicated with the administration Murray.

Anonymous said...

Maybe her actions show she's a prosecutor who would never prosecute someone for something this insignificant because she doesn't criminalize everything. Seriously. She jumped in a pool with her clothes on and got a little drunk. The fact that this is even an issue is a ridiculous waste of time.

Anonymous said...

9:34 it's only an issue because Bennett made it one.

Jason said...

I enjoyed her blog as well. I hope she can come back one day. Hell she sounds like a hoot hopefully will run into her in court one day.

jigmeister said...

Anon 4:30: Apparently you don’t know me very well. Rosenthal was a peer under Johnny and before I retired, my boss. He was never a buddy and I won’t apologize for him. I really have to wonder about an administration that is more worried about perception than getting the job done with well trained, experienced people who enjoy coming to work every day. If you want to lead, get around to the courts every day and see what the problems are. Try cases with the kids. Sit second with a new felony 3. Let them know what the rules are. Open the door and invite them in. Probably didn’t know this, but Johnny actually tried a case with me when I was a misdemeanor 2, over 30 years ago. Thereafter, I also felt I could walk into his office and talk about problems, and I did. I never felt he was a buddy, but a boss who gave a damn. I felt the same way about my immediate supervisors over the years and practiced that leadership when it was my turn.

It seems as though you guys have opened up for the defense community, but not for your own people. You don’t know what’s going on because of your obsession with perception.

Anonymous said...

Ahhh...baby prosecutor school...what happened to the "what happens in Baby Prosecutor School stays in Baby Prosecutor school."

I feel for LAE because I too was the subject of some rumors after Baby Prosecutor school. So to LAE- I sort of know what it feels like and just say- "hang in there." Years from now you will laugh about this.

And by the way- I agree with Jigmeister...glad he did not have the same draconian discipline principles since he was my Misd. Div. Chief when this alleged incident happened. (by the way- it did not involve alcohol but something about a fight over a guy which never happened...at least not involving me).

Anon 4:30 said...

Jigmeister,
You are wrong and I am correct.
Today, at the Harris County DA's office, reality does not count and perception does. To wit:
Who is the sitting DA?
Who was the most qualified candidate running for DA of all those that threw in their hat at the onset?
Why did Lykos ultimately prevail?
Why does the community at large have no idea what a horrible destructive job Lykos and her crew are doing?
These are all obviously rhetorical questions.
Oh, and lest I not be fired:
Lykos you sure looked hot yesterday drinking your morning Jack and Coke with a garnish of cigarette ash and Jimmy sure looked dapper with his new platform shoes this morning.
4:30

Anonymous said...

Does wee man really wear platform shoes? I know I've seen Dicky D with some thick boot soles and heels that looked sillier than hell.

Racehorse never needed lifts to make himself seem taller. He knew he was a man, no matter how tall or short he was.

Anonymous said...

Current Menu at HCDA office:
Challenge Roger about training in a closed meeting-fired
Get drunk and jump a fence to a pool and post it on a blog-time off and transferred to JP.
The message is clear. Do not challenge the current leadership in any circumstance-the ultimate price will be paid. Inappropriate blog comments for some poor judgement-time off. I don't agree with either reaction. There was a game I played when I was a child and it had something to do with a device popping at random. You never knew when it would go off but if you were in the wrong spot you lost. Seems like the employees of HCDA are playing this game with their jobs.

Anonymous said...

We can only hope that the out of touch old Republican guard heavily supports Lykos in her 2nd quest for Texas AG so we can get her the hell out of Harris County. But I'm afraid the rest of the State won't buy her bullshit and she'll be right back here after her failed campaign. So boys and girls if you think troll Lykos is a bitter little bitch now I'm afraid we haven't seen her bad side yet.

Anonymous said...

It could be worse. Bennett could be da.

Anonymous said...

Anon 6:53:
"What is VMI?" It is the Vermin Military Institute.
Check out Rage's version and the real version all on Murray's previous blog "Adios Arthur".

Ron in Houston said...

When are the supervisors going to start managing instead of reacting? When are they going to start to realize that their harsh reactions to petty infractions is killing what little morale is left.

Amen Jig. I'd work for you any day.

BTW - Can we let folks be human for once without constant judging. In world where governors frequent prostitutes and senators play footsy in airport bathrooms, I'd say that a prosecutor getting a little tipsy and jumping a fence to take a swim is no big deal.

Anonymous said...

I just read Bennett's blog. I, like many, started off as a self-righteous ADA. But after years of experience, learned that I needed a little more grace and a little more mercy. I found that with both, my idea of justice was more in tune with what justice should be.

When a prosecutor, judge, or police officer gets arrested or does something wrong, some defense attorneys become the most self-righteous people on the face of the earth! They laugh and relish it. They pat eachother on the back and say, "Serves him right" or "She should've known better." My momma taught me never to rejoice in the suffering of others. I didn't do it when I was an ADA and I don't do it now that I'm no longer an ADA.

Mark, you're a hypocrite. You talk about self-righteousness in your blog and don't even see the log in your own eye (your own sanctimoniuos attitude).

Murray, thank you for showing that even you-were-born-to-be-an-ADA former DAs are more compassionate than flag-flying-constitution-waving-anthem-singing-true-believin-defense attorneys are. Because really, we are all human. And what LAE did is not all that bad. Right now, she needs people in the criminal courthouse to support her, now kick her while she's down!

OUTRAGED said...

Anon 2:31,
Touche. Very well presented.
However, fair or not, she is held to a higher standard because of her position.
Rosenthal set a bad precedent with his internet use and it would be wise for all of us to remember that.
As a cover up can often be worse than the crime being shielded, LAE identifying her escapades on line as being attributable to HCADAs is the issue I have trouble with.

Anonymous said...

If you've read bennett's latest remark about the debacle on his web site, he basically screw everyone that doesn't agree that he is always right.

He could learn a few lessons from President Obama's actions today regarding the Gates arrest.

Nah, not going to happen in this lifetime. I think he's upset there wasn't more of a media outrage in response to his mercyless post. Can't win them all, bennett.

Rage Judicata said...

he basically screw everyone that doesn't agree that he is always right.

This is different from Seaton or any of the other anonymous ADA's in here... how?

Anonymous said...

Does anyone want to talk about that really awesome CLE? It was oh-so rad and every one learned so much.

Anonymous said...

Rage Boy,
Your premise has always been that all the ADAs were of bad judgment while all defense attorneys were virtuous and just?
Have you now capitulated?
The defense bar may fire you as their designated groupie.
BTW, I heard you were being deployed to Disneyland, true?

Rage Judicata said...

Your premise has always been that all the ADAs were of bad judgment while all defense attorneys were virtuous and just?

I have never, ever said that. I have, in fact, several times, said the exact opposite.

Learn to read.

Anonymous said...

If I remember correctly from little law I got at the police academy don't you have to be asked to leave before it is criminal trespass?