Sunday, May 31, 2009

Ed Gonzalez for District H

On June 13th, there will be a special election for District H City Councilman which has my friend, Ed Gonzalez as a candidate in the run off.

Ed is a City of Houston Homicide Sergeant who grew up in District H and has dedicated his life to public service. He has a very impressive biography that details his care and commitment to his fellow neighbors and his community. His dedication will serve the City of Houston very well if he is elected to the City Council.

As we all know (unfortunately), run off elections don't generate much attention or turnout which can lead to really bad results in elections sometimes.

Please do everything in your power to make sure it doesn't happen this time. Check out Ed's website and go vote!

Friday, May 29, 2009

I Don't Know Where to Begin . . .

I have to admit that I was pretty much caught off guard to read this article from the Houston Chronicle today announcing that your friend and mine, Patsy Lykos, had decided to create Pre-Trial Diversions for first time DWI offenders.

Now, I know that I am now a defense attorney and should probably be dancing in the street over any type of program that gives wholesale leniency towards a type of crime, but this policy decision deserves a pretty critical look, if you ask me. Now, I know that the Chronicle was practically gushing in it's article, but that's to be expected. After all, Lykos did support them in their efforts to have the Press Shield Law passed (becoming one of about, uh, two District Attorney's in the State to actually support it). In doing so, she bought the Chronicle's love forever, so expect this type of ass-smooching to continue for some time.

As a side note, the term "Journalistic Integrity" has officially become an oxymoron in Houston, but I digress.

First a little background on Texas DWI law as it now stands. Driving While Intoxicated, even a first offense is one of the very very few crimes in the State of Texas that a Defendant cannot receive a Deferred Adjudication. You can receive probation, but the conviction is going to be final. Many people from the Defense Bar and elsewhere have railed against this as being a direct result of over-lobbying by Mother's Against Drunk Driving (MADD, for those of you who have been living in a cave for the past 30 years).

Perhaps so. I'm not really entering into that debate right now. I'll let people who practice DWI law handle that aspect.

The bottom line, however, is that the Texas Legislature dictates that there is to be no Deferred Adjudication for DWIs. The prosecutors have no discretion in that matter, unless they want to reduce that charge to something else or dismiss it. They are pretty stuck with pleading it to a probation or jail time, or take the case to trial.

That is, until Patsy came in with her new program and began (for the first time in Harris County history) an actual policy of doing Pre-Trial Diversions on all first time DWIs.

A pre-trial diversion is an unofficial probation that if a person successfully completes their "probation" the case is completely dismissed and then can be expunged off the person's record as if the DWI never happened. No conviction. No record. A pre-trial diversion is even better than a Deferred Adjudication.

If you don't like judges who "legislate from the bench", how do you feel about an ex-judge legislating from the D.A.'s office? Her message of creating a pre-trial diversion policy is pretty much subverting the intent of the legislature (whether you agree with them or not).

Since Lykos failed at winning a Statewide Office in 1994, I guess she just decided to make herself the Senate, House, and Governor on this particular issue.

Another issue I have with Lykos' new policy statement is that it is an across-the-board policy. All first offender DWIs get Pre-Trial Diversion? Really?

Okay, so the thirty year old guy with a spotless record who gets stopped for speeding and blows a .09 I can live with.

How about the 25 year old kid who crashes his car into the side of a house and blows a .24? Are we still feeling that this is something that needs to be completely wiped off of somebody's record?

Her policy of giving Pre-Trial Diversions to all first time DWIs is the definition of "reckless and negligent" (where have I heard that term before?). It is overbroad and it sends a clear message that the best place to drive drunk for first timers is Harris County, Texas.

Good job there, Snooks.

And my third and final issue with Lykos' policy is that once again she is (yet again) misrepresenting the facts to sell her agenda. The reality of first time DWI cases is that it is extremely rare that a person actually goes to jail on a first offense. They can be ordered to treatment and get all of the benefits that Lykos is now touting as somehow only being available under Pre-Trial diversion.

In addition, to sound tough to her pro-law enforcement crowd, she decided to give a stern warning: "Lykos warned those who did not abide by the program, or were arrested for other charges, would face maximum sentences."

Um, yeah, a person who screws up a pre-trial diversion is basically having their case brought back to life. They will still have the right to take their case to trial and be absolutely no worse off because they failed at pre-trial diversion.

Awhile back, one of my commenters criticized me for not being able to make up my mind over whether I thought Lykos was either a defense attorney in disguise or an over-zealous "win at all costs" prosecutor. My answer to that criticism is that I can't make up my mind until Lykos decides who in the hell she wants to be. She's like a windsock that is basing her policy decisions on whatever will be the most politically advantageous to her.

If she's trying to be a media darling, she is going to be following in the footsteps of Dallas County District Attorney Craig Watkins, who is doing every thing he can to turn his office into a pseudo Public Defender's Office.

If she's back to pandering to her Republican base, she's trying to be Johnny Holmes.

The bottom line is that Pat Lykos is a joke of a politician with no substance and integrity. The job of the District Attorney is to represent the State of Texas in enforcing it's laws and to ensure that Justice is done. A good District Attorney does that job regardless of whether or not the media is kissing his or her ass or if the public loves them.

I'm reminded of what my favorite author, Cormac McCarthy said when interviewed by Oprah on an issue: "You work your side of the street and I'll work mine."

I don't think the elected District Attorney should be acting as a Defense Attorney.

Oh, and as an addendum, I would be remiss if I did not mention the final quote of the article in our "Well, No Sh*t" Department, where Lykos finally admitted that she doesn't think of herself as "warm and fuzzy".

I know we can all sleep easier knowing that she doesn't believe herself to be a chain-smoking Teddy Ruxpin.

NOTE: Since posting this article a couple of hours ago, the Chronicle has modified their original article, including taking out Lykos' moronic quote about not being "warm and fuzzy". So, I guess you folks that read the article before the Chron changed it to protect their gal will just have to vouch for me!

Friday, May 22, 2009

Another Friday - Another Chief Leaves

In what is seemingly becoming a new Harris County District Attorney's Office tradition, yet another Felony District Court Chief turned in his resignation this Friday.

Chief of the 178th District Court, Lester Blizzard, turned in his two week notice this afternoon. On a sidenote, neither Pat Lykos nor Jim Leitner could be found on the 6th Floor to accept the resignation, so Lester turned it over to the administrative assistant in charge of timesheets. I don't know where Leitner was, but it must have been Lykos' nap time.

For those of you who don't know Lester Blizzard, he had been a Division Chief in Major Fraud/White Collar Crime prior to Lykos and the Gang Who Couldn't Shoot Straight pulled into town. In addition to taking on massive and complicated cases involving specialized knowledge and a tremendous amount of patience to prosecute, Lester was also in charge of taking on dirty lawyers that practiced law without a license. He has a very analytical mind and a very effective way of presenting complicated cases to juries. His success record as a prosecutor on these types of cases was extremely impressive.

But Lester wasn't only talented at trying the "paper" cases. He also did quite well in trying violent cases. He sat second chair with Kelly Siegler on the infamous "Wig Shop" murder, successfully prosecuting Dror Goldberg for the Bellaire thrill kill. He also was the lead prosecutor on the case of Beau Maloney, who was murdered an innocent woman at random in the Rice Village area (as part of a larger string of random and unprovoked violent crimes).

Lester's specialized knowledge in white collar cases made him the natural choice when promoted to head the White Collar Division of Special Crimes. Quite frankly, it was a match made in Heaven. Lester had prosecuted massive insurance fraud cases and had even testified before Congress on the topic. The D.A.'s Office was quite fortunate to have a prosecutor with that type of background.

In an era where White Collar Crime is becoming the most lucrative areas of practice for criminal defense, Lester remained a public servant and stayed true to remaining on the prosecution side of it.

Unfortunately, and extremely stupidly, when Lykos and the Gang took over, they (in their infinite wisdom) chose to demote Lester from his position in White Collar Crimes and move him back to the Trial Bureau as a District Court Chief. In all of the stupid things that they did (and Lord knows there are a lot to choose from), moving Lester out of that position was probably the dumbest. By analogy, it would be like a new coach taking over the San Francisco 49ers in the late 1980s and deciding to move Joe Montana to linebacker.

Lester tried to make the best of the situation, and for the past five months he has continued to serve as the Chief of the 178th District Court.

But apparently, he finally grew fed up with the incompetence of the Lykos Administration, and turned in his resignation today.

Now, common sense would dictate that an attorney with Lester's talent and experience would most likely be headed to a big firm where he could draw a tremendous salary doing White Collar defense, right?

Nope.

Lester is actually taking a 40% pay cut and heading to the Galveston County District Attorney's Office. He'll be making a lengthy commute for less money, but at the end of the day, he will continue to be a Public Servant.

Harris County's loss is Galveston's gain. And once again, we have Pat Lykos and the Gang to thank for it.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Bernstein's Back

I heard from several folks and sources this week that former-Chronicle writer Alan Bernstein is changing jobs over to the Harris County Sheriff's Office.

Given the current climate towards newspapers as they are rapidly becoming extinct, it is probably a wise move on Bernstein's part to grab a lifeboat before the S.S. Chron is completely submerged under water. Now, although Bernstein didn't want to be my friend on Facebook for some bizarre reason, I wish him well in his new position.

And to Sheriff Adrian Garcia, you've made an excellent call for a PR guy!

There ain't nobody that can ignore negative news about who he supports quite like Alan Bernstein!

Welcome back Alan!

Friday, May 15, 2009

Richard Wintory

This is a little bit outside of our CJC realm, but a notable prosecutor and friend to many of us in Harris County, needs the help of anyone who can possibly add a little bit of assistance.

Richard Wintory was a high profile prosecutor with the Oklahoma County District Attorneys Office (Oklahoma City) for quite a while. He tried a lot of major cases. At one point in his career, he headed up a section out of the Oklahoma Governors Office targeting highway drug interdiction. He was very active in the National District Attorneys Association and involved in committees as well as a regular lecturer at NDAA conferences and the National College.

In 2002, Richard left the Oklahoma County D.A.'s office after being recruited by the District Attorney of Pima County(Tuscon) Arizona to work in that office. He was assigned to the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) prosecutor trying major drug cases. He was awarded Prosecutor of the Year by the Arizona Narcotics Officers Association. He was also awarded Arizona Prosecutor of the Year by the Arizona Bar Association.

Besides being one heck of a prosecutor, he is also a gifted instructor. Richard has lectured prosecutors all over the country. He has spoken at the Harris County District Attorneys Office as well as the Texas District Attorneys Association. He also regularly teaches police officers at the Regional Counterdrug Training Academy in Mississippi and the Midwestern Counterdrug Training Center in Des Moines Iowa.

After Richard moved to Tuscon he married Lisa, the love of his life. They met in Oklahoma City and she followed Richard to Arizona. Lisa and Richard welcomed their first and only child, Michael three years ago. Sadly, two weeks after his birth, Lisa had a heart attack that resulted in her total disability. Lisa suffered brain damage that left her in a near vegetative state. Richard has done everything possible to make her life as comfortable as possible. She is now living at their home in Tuscon and Richard is providing 24 hour professional care while he continues to prosecute HITDA cases and teach prosecutors and police officers. His life is difficult but you will never hear him tell you that.

Just when you would think that no more bad things could happen to Richard, on Sunday, while trying to retrieve Michael's balloon that got hung up in a ceiling fan, Richard fell from a ladder and struck his head on the floor. While still conscious but knowing that the blow was serious, he drove himself to the hospital. There they discovered a subdural hematoma and took him directly to surgery. While the doctors say that they believe that the surgery was successful and that Richard is doing reasonably well, they do not know what, if any, permanent damage may have occurred. Richard has been kept in a drug induced coma and, as of today, is not moving the left side of his body.

In addition to the concern for Richard and Lisa, there is a financial issue too. Richard needed his salary and the extra money that he made doing lectures around the country to pay for the costs of care for Lisa. It will be quite some time before Richard is teach again. And, we don't know how long he will be away from his ob and how long that job will wait on his return.

Richard needs our help, and he needs it now.

So here’s something specific that you can do to reach out and help Richard.

A special bank account was set up in 2006 to help Richard with the many extraordinary expenses he regularly incurs for Lisa’s care, and many of you have contributed to it. That account is still open and is at Wells Fargo Bank, 6270 N. Oracle Road, Tucson AZ 85704, account # 3826-7315-68. What Richard needs more than anything right now is a financial cushion to help him and his family make it through that hideous 7 week gap where he will not be earning any money.

If you have it in your heart to open up your wallet, it would be very deeply appreciated.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Lykos on Diversity (Revisited)

You know, as I prepared to write this post, it occurred to me that I'm starting to run out of title captions that will accurately convey that the article is about yet another Lykos Administration screw up. I mean, she and the Gang just keep throwing me softballs here.

During her four and a half months in office, Lykos has, in fact, made some good decisions. She's made some iffy decisions. She's made some bad decisions.

And then, on days like yesterday, she makes decisions that honestly leave me wondering whether or not Lykos could beat a cantaloupe in an intelligence test.

Now, as I've pointed out here before, Lykos has never been particularly good at promoting diversity within her Office. With the exception of Hannah Chow, she formed the Gang Who Couldn't Shoot Straight out of 100% white folks. In addition, she brought over Frances Madden, a Caucasian friend and former Montgomery County prosecutor, who is now progressing up through the ranks of the Office like a Rocket Sled on Rails.

I suppose that's fine if you really could give a flying flip less about whether or not your Office appears to have any interest in diversity.

But yesterday, Lykos made a move that highlighted that sometimes her promotions are not just non-diverse, but are actually rather discriminatory.

In the earlier article I wrote about Lykos on Diversity, I made mention of the fact that of two of the African-American Felony Twos in the Office, the Gang Who Couldn't Shoot Straight had shipped one of them out of the Trial Bureau entirely. Well, there's a little bit more to that story, and it needs to be told.

The name of that prosecutor is Carvana Cloud. Carvana is an outstanding prosecutor who grew up in Houston and devoted her career to public service. Prior to Lykos taking over the helm of the Office, Carvana was very much on the fast track of promotions. She was liked and respected by her peers and highly praised by her supervisors.

Carvana, much to Lykos' apparent dismay, is also a Democrat. She supported Clarence Bradford in the District Attorney's race. Nothing over the top (like running a blog or something), but she did exercise her Constitutional right to support the candidate of her choice.

And when Lykos took over, she punished Carvana for it.

First, a little background.

Prior to Lykos taking over, the way the Office hierarchy worked was that when a prosecutor was first promoted to the coveted level of Felony Chief, they went to one of three places as their first assignment as Chief. They either a) went to a year long rotation in the Writs Division; b) served as the Intake Chief; or c) served as the Probable Cause Chief. (NOTE: For a general description of the difference between Intake Chief and Probable Cause Chief, see here and here.)

The Writs gig was actually pretty good if a new chief could get it, but I always referred to P.C. Chief and Intake Chief as the "sh*t spots". The job description is not much fun (especially if you have to do it for 9 months, like I did!).

However, if you are a new chief, you don't really mind going to one of those two spots, because by making Chief, you get a significant raise, your parking paid for, and you are eligible to make the big bucks at intake as Chief.

When Lykos took over, she kept both the Writs spot and the Intake spot as Chief Positions (with all the perks). However, the day she set foot in the Office, she decided to downgrade the Probable Cause spot so that it was no longer a Chief slot. The position got a demotion.

And guess who Lykos decided to send there. You guessed it - Carvana.

So basically, Carvana got moved out of the Trial Bureau (where she was thriving) and put in the aforemention "sh*t spot", but to add insult to injury, Lykos took away all the perks. No raise. No free parking. No intake eligibility. And she certainly didn't promote Carvana. It was a blatant and retaliatory move.

Fast forward to yesterday. Carvana is having a baby soon, and is out of the Office for that. So, the Administration decided they needed to get a full time replacement for the P.C. court. If Lykos was going to keep up consistency with her ideas about a Felony Two serving in P.C. Court, it would stand to reason that the Gang Who Couldn't Shoot Straight would just laterally move a Felony Two into Carvana's position, right?

Wrong.

Lykos made a Chief promotion for the spot.

Yesterday, Craig Feazel was promoted to District Court Chief and was assigned to Probable Cause court to replace Carvana. Don't get me wrong, Craig is an extremely talented prosecutor and will make a great chief. I've got no arguments with his promotion at all. But it is relevant that he is also Caucasian.

If this all sounds a bit convoluted, here's the bottom line:

The position of Probable Cause Chief has historically ALWAYS been a Chief position with all the benefits that go with being a Chief. Under the Lykos Administration, for four and a half months, that position was downgraded to a Felony Two position solely for the purpose of placing Carvana Cloud there (with no perks). The second that Carvana left the position, Lykos changed it right back to a Chief Position with all the perks.

So the question I have for Lykos and the Gang is simple:

Are you retaliating for political reasons (as you've sworn before you don't do), or are you racist, or just both?

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Drama

A few weeks ago, I was told by a friend of mine that she couldn't ever imagine dating me (in a theoretical situation) because I thrived too much on "drama". My office-mate, Luci Davidson likes to refer to me as "C-Squared", which is short for "Captain Chaos" because of the seemingly endless amount of dramatic situations that I seem to always to be griping to her about.

So, I've been thinking about it a bit lately.

According to the internationally respected basis-of-knowledge known as Wikipedia.com, the term "drama" derives from a Greek word meaning "action" or "to do". And I think that we can agree that the term "action" ain't so bad, can't we? It's a helluva lot better than "inaction", isn't it?

Manufacturing drama where drama normally wouldn't be present would probably have the makings of a good Drama Queen.

But I think that there are some situations where a bit of drama makes us feel Life in its full-effect and completely appreciate those things that are worth living and fighting for. It separates those who go through the motions in life for the sake of safety and placidity from those who would rather feel the power of just being alive.

It has its upsides, without a doubt.

Ten days ago, my three year old son looked at me and told me "Daddy, you shouldn't smoke." I took it as a rather dramatic moment, and today I'm starting Day Eleven without a cigarette. A less powerful moment to me may not have had the same effect.

It also has its downsides.

I've been married twice. The first one (although very full of conflict) didn't have much drama in it. There wasn't that passionate type of relationship that led to "stand and deliver" moments that had either one of us believing there was much worth fighting for. The end of that marriage was largely emotionless.

The second one, well, let's just say that I felt every moment in it, from the highest high to the lowest low. It was something that I think gave us both some very deep sadness, but also brought us the Greatest Joys in Life with our Little Man. Through the Good and the Bad, it is a marriage that neither of us will ever regret.

From a professional standpoint, feeling drama and thriving on it makes better lawyers and better trial attorneys.

There's a difference between a prosecutor who can flatly present a murder case and one who can successfully convey to the jury the sense of loss that family and friends felt.

On the flip side, there's a difference between the defense attorney who can just talk in the abstract about the deprivation of his or her client's personal freedom, and the attorney who can make a jury fully appreciate what that truly means. When a jury is deliberating and they completely grasp the magnitude of what they could be taking away from another human being, odds are that they are going to make damn sure that they are holding the State to its burden of Beyond a Reasonable Doubt.

Feeling the passion and the drama of that situation is the only way to truly convey that.

In my opinion, feeling the "drama" of Life is truly living it.

Sure, you take the risks of getting yourself hurt from time to time, but sometimes the chances you take in life are the ones that pay off in the wonderful moments that you never would have missed for all the World. It is better to have done that than to have gone through it all in some sort of half-dazed sleepwalk, if you ask me.

There may be moments of regret, but the moments where you stood and delivered are the moments you remember for the rest of your life. More often than not, they are the moments where you end up proud of yourself for the way you handled them.

Feeling the drama in life is taking a moment to fully appreciate what the people around you mean to you, and not being shy about sharing that with them - even if you seem a little sappy in telling them.

It means taking those moments where you can stand up and fight for something that means something to you, even if you know that you will probably fail. Failure to take that shot will hurt a lot more down the road, than the memories of going out in a Blaze of Glory.

Seek out the humor in life and laugh as hard as you can. Sometimes the time between the laughs can go on seemingly forever, so embrace them when you can.

Drama is not being embarrassed to cry a little bit at those moments that tug at your heartstrings regardless of who is around -- whether they be tears of joy or sadness.

Drama is pretty much just giving Life everything you've got, and making no apologies for it at the end of the day.

Life definitely has its ups and downs, but ultimately it is wasted if not fully lived.

And, yes, I know that this writing was probably a bit dramatic.

But, I make no apologies for that, either.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

"Look Good, Think Smart, and Win!"

"It doesn't matter if you win or lose. It's how good you looked!" - David Lee Roth

Despite the fact that District Attorney Pat Lykos campaigned partially on the platform that there would no longer be any "counting scalps" under her promised regime, it appears that she and the Gang have backed off of that promise in regards to how the Misdemeanor Division is being run.

A month or so ago, Jim Leitner got to eat some, uh, crow, over the Office's new "whale policy", which dictated that misdemeanor prosecutors were to find a no-lose case and refuse to plead it, thus ensuring a trial victory. The motivation behind this quickly-retracted policy was to boost the winning stats coming out of the Misdemeanor Division. The idea was stupid from get-go. If a case could work out to a reasonable resolution, isn't it a bit unethical to be selectively prosecuting cases more aggressively just because it is a weak case for the defense?

It seems to me that this policy was nothing more than institutionalized bullying for the sake of making Pat Lykos, um, I mean the Office look successful.

Having now backed off this beyond-stupid policy, the upper Admin has now let the Baby Prosecutors in Misdemeanor know that Big Brother is now carefully watching them. Well, not actually watching the individual prosecutors, actually, but watching their statistics, which is the only thing that seems to matter to them.

I cannot stress enough how idiotic and dangerous it is to have a District Attorney who is now being governed solely by statistics. When prosecutors start having to look at cases based on percentages and statistics rather than on a "case by case" basis, everybody involved is going to get screwed.

Misdemeanor prosecutors have now been informed that promotions are going to be based primarily on their win/loss ratio.

The side effects of this are horribly damaging.

As I've mentioned before, the Office always has had a good ladder structure of promotions. Rookie prosecutors don't get to try a murder on their first day at work. They start off low, sometimes even in the Justice of the Peace Courts trying traffic ticket cases. They then progress gradually upwards toward the more serious cases.

In the past, this structure has allowed prosecutors to develop familiarity with the Rules of Evidence, case law, and trial skills without an enormous amount of pressure that they might be accidentally freeing Charles Manson in trial. Prior administrations had a good mentoring system and open doors of their supervisors for advice. If a Misdemeanor Prosecutor lost a "no test/no accident" DWI case, they didn't spend a month's worth of sleepless nights wondering "My God, what have I done?".

It was all part of the education process of training good prosecutors, and it worked out well. Mistakes were made and learned from. Trust me, if I learned from all of my trial mistakes in Misdemeanor, I would have qualified for MENSA by the time I started trying serious felony cases.

But more importantly, what I gained from growing up as a prosecutor in the Misdemeanor Division was an absolute infatuation with being in trial. I mean, I freaking LOVE being in trial. I didn't have associated stress with what my statistics were. I wasn't afraid of getting in trouble for a "Not Guilty", and I ended up having no fear of losing a tough case. The support network there let me know that if I went into trial and tried my hardest and left everything I had out on the Battlefield, then I did my job.

And because of that, I loved my job. So did most of the other prosecutors that I worked with back then.

An added bonus of having no fear of trial was that if you had a case that you didn't think could or should be tried, you knew that when you talked to a supervisor about dismissing it, they would take your concerns seriously. There wasn't an underlying concern that "well, this prosecutor seems to only want to try the 'whale cases'."

I heard from a Misdemeanor prosecutor the other day who said that the Misdemeanor Division now has an official slogan of "Look Good, Think Smart and Win!". As this prosecutor aptly told me, "Quite frankly, many of us feel that if we really must have a motto, it should be something along the lines of 'Do the right thing'."

I couldn't agree more.

Placing an emphasis on "winning at all costs" is never a good idea, but it is even more damaging in the Misdemeanor Division. If Lykos and the Gang Who Couldn't Shoot Straight are going to keep up with this policy, not only are they going to run off some excellent future felony prosecutors, they are going to be committing some serious injustice.

A Baby Prosecutor's win-loss ratio is no indicator of what kind of felony prosecutor they are going to be. Legend has it that Kelly Siegler lost her first 8 misdemeanor trials. On the converse side, I knew a prosecutor who claimed to have never lost a Justice of the Peace trial, yet he somehow couldn't manage to win a felony case if his life depended upon it.

My advice to Baby Prosecutors is simple.

Screw the Administration. Go out there and try your cases with all your heart and learn to love the profession that you went to law school to join. Good chiefs will back you up on your valiant efforts, even if you get the "two word verdict" at the end of the day. You didn't join the Harris County D.A.'s Office to make Lykos look good, despite the mandatory CLEs that she sends you to. You joined it to be prosecutors. Real prosecutors. Not the kind that wanted to be bureaucratic dweebs like the Gang Who Couldn't Shoot Straight.

"Look Good, Think Smart, and Win!" might look nice on a cookie cake, but at the end of the day "doing the right thing" is something that you will carry with you forever.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Yet Another Departure

While today is the last day at work for District Court Chiefs Stephen St. Martin and George Weissfisch, yet another long-time member of the District Attorney's Office had his last official day at the Office yesterday.

Edward Porter, a 27-year veteran of the Harris County District Attorney's Office turned in his resignation a week or so ago, and his last day on the job was yesterday.

Edward had an interesting career path.

He started as a clerk in the 174th District Court while in law school, before ultimately coming to the District Attorney's Office in July of 1982. (NOTE: I'd like to point out that I was 9 years old when Edward started at the Office). He began working in the Child Support Division back when the D.A.'s Office still handled those matters routinely, and then went on to become the Division Chief of the Family Law Division.

In 1989, he went to the Office's Civil Rights Division where he would stay for the next 19 years. During the course of his career, he personally made the scene of over 200 officer-involved police shootings. Odds are that if you ever saw a guy on the news wearing a hat and a fanny pack at an officer-involved shooting, it was probably Edward.

His most high-profile case that he tried was that of Joseph Kent McGowan, a Harris County Sheriff's Deputy who illegally obtained a warrant and then shot a woman named Susan Smith. The story of that case was detailed in "A Warrant to Kill" by Katherine Casey.

Rumor also has it that Edward was the constructor of the legendary harpoon presented to Casey O'Brien (aka Jigmeister) upon completion of one of Casey's notorious "whale cases".

The Office is losing a great character and a lot of Institutional Memory with Edward's departure.

Best of luck to you, Edward. You're a good friend and a good prosecutor. You will definitely be missed.