Tomorrow (Friday, October 30th) will be my friend, Mark Donnelly's last day at the Harris County District Attorney's Office before he heads off to work at the U.S. Attorney's Office.
To say his departure is a loss for the D.A.'s Office is a tremendous understatement, but given the way he was treated by Pat Lykos, the move comes as no surprise.
I first met Mark when I was a Misdemeanor Chief during the Summer of 2001. The offices at 1201 Franklin had been abandoned in the wake of Tropical Storm Allison and we were operating under Flood Conditions out of the old Early Voting location on Texas. He was a rookie prosecutor who had the audacity to wear some sort of prissy little bow tie to work.
It was a pretty bold move for a rookie, and I decided to harass him about it. If I recall correctly, he had no hesitation about hurling back a barrage of bald jokes in response. Even though it was totally at my expense, it was hysterical. Mark pretty much fit right in from the second he set foot in the door at the D.A.'s Office.
Mark was immensely popular at the Office, and he was one hell of a good prosecutor too. He was smart, talented in trial, and bilingual. He was fair and even-handed with the Defense Bar. He was helpful to his co-workers. He was respected by the judges. I don't think he had an enemy within the Office, and we all knew he was going to end up in politics some day.
Everybody freaking loved Mark.
I can remember one time having to call Judge Susan Brown about getting a search warrant signed in the middle of the night. I was assigned to her court, so when she answered the phone, I joked: "Hey Judge, it's your favorite prosecutor."
Her response: "Donnelly?"
The point I'm trying to make (without letting this post sound too much like a eulogy) is that Mark was literally a Golden Child at the Office and few prosecutors who have ever worked there could make the claim that they represented the Office as well as he did. He was born to be a leader in that Office, and I have no doubt he will be a leader with the Feds.
His career was immaculate and unblemished until Pat Lykos decided to jump the gun and call him "negligent and incompetent" on the front page of the newspaper. Of all the colossal f*ck ups that Lykos and crew have committed in their 10 months in power, nothing has gotten anywhere near what she did to Mark and Rifi.
And she never even bothered to offer those guys an apology.
I find it tremendously interesting when you compare Lykos' reaction to the Batson situation with her complete and total lack of reaction to last week's Brady situation. Apparently Lykos and the Gang don't consider the hiding of exculpatory evidence to be quite as serious of an ethical violation as a Batson challenge.
My hope is that HCCLA will ultimately beg to differ on that particular issue.
So Mark, I (and everybody else who worked with you) wish you the best of luck over on the National Level. I assume we'll see the bow-tie trend taking over the Federal Courthouse in no time. Even if your fashion sense was a little off, you are a great prosecutor and you'll continue to be one no matter where you are.
And to Patsy and the rest of the Gang Who Couldn't Shoot Straight, I hope at some point you all will sit down and realize what a tremendous screw up you have made in running off a dedicated public servant like Mark Donnelly. You showed your asses on that move back in March and now you're paying for it.
The citizens of Harris County were lucky that he stuck around as long as he did.