Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Lykos 2009: A Year in Review

As a kid, I always enjoyed reading Dave Barry's Year-in-Review every December, so in the spirit of Dave, here is a review of our first year with Snookems and the Gang Who Couldn't Shoot Straight . . .

JANUARY

January 1 -- a beaming and freshly polydented Pat Lykos is sworn in as District Attorney while hundreds of Assistant D.A.'s are forced to attend the ceremony at gunpoint. During the ceremony, she criticizes the minister who swears her in for mispronouncing her name. Noting that Lykos is pronounced "Like us", it will be the only time that anyone says anything about "liking" the new administration. After the ceremony, there are numerous reports of Lykos shaking down prosecutors for cigarettes.

January 7 -- in an effort to promote a lack of familiarity with cases, Jim Leitner detaches his lips from Lykos' posterior long enough to announce a new policy against prosecutors holding onto cases that they've worked on if they switch courts. When called upon to explain his actions, Leitner explains that it will make himself and the new administration seem a little less clueless by comparison if they are ever called upon to handle an actual trial case.

January 26 -- in an effort to seem like just just one of the troops, Leitner and Roger Bridgwater decide to sign up for intakes and probable cause shifts. In an effort to ensure that they don't screw anything up, they make sure to only take the prime shifts and never work midnight to eights. To make sure they have enough shifts, they help themselves to the shift of single mother, Sylvia Escobedo, who they kick off the intake list without notice.

FEBRUARY

February 4 -- after a month of having to dodge getting caught smoking in the stairwells next to her office, Lykos issues a memorandum to all prosecutors that the stairwell to the sixth floor was now forbidden for prosecutors to use. She mentions that the constant beeping of the door is disturbing the fragile mind of General Counsel John Barnhill.

February 5 -- in a cross-over episode of The Dukes of Hazzard and Driving Miss Daisy, Lykos' personal driver and D.A. Office investigator crashes her County Ride.

February 7 -- in response to some tardiness, Jim Leitner issues the 0800 memo declaring all prosecutors must be present in their office at 8 a.m. sharp. On that same day, Sylvia Escobedo attempts to turn in her resignation letter at 8:00 a.m., only to find that no personnel is on the 6th floor that morning until after 9 a.m.

February 19 -- in an effort to promote diversity within her staff, Lykos attempts to recruit Tiger Woods as a Bureau Chief within the office so that she can claim multiple races and nationalities are represented within her upper administration.

MARCH

March 2 -- in an effort to kiss up to the Defense Bar in a way that totally works, Lykos FINALLY makes copies of offense reports to defense attorneys.

March 10 -- the first hints that Lykos and the Gang Who Couldn't Shoot Straight were suffering some budgetary issues arise when signs begin popping up on Hannah Chow's water coolers which read: "No Free Refills".

March 26 -- in what will, by far, become the most stupid thing she does all year, Lykos publicly calls popular prosecutors Mark Donnelly and Rifi Newaz "negligent and incompetent" in the Houston Chronicle. Although she never apologizes for the insult, she does try to lamely explain that she was making nicknames for ALL of her prosecutors, much like the Seven Dwarves. She points out that she affectionately refers to Roger Bridgwater as "Dopey" and 1st Assistant Jim Leitner as "Kiss Ass".

March 31 -- in an effort to rebuild her reputation with her prosecutors, Lykos holds a motivational Continuing Legal Education session with paid lecturer Lisa Blue. The message conveyed to the prosecutors is that their job is to make Lykos "look good". On a related note, the television show Extreme Makeover is bombarded with requests to take Lykos in as a special project.

APRIL

April 1 -- Lykos snubs long-time prosecutors Lance Long and Stephen St. Martin when they are honored by the FBI for their work in law enforcement during a ceremony at the office. After work, Lykos is seen protesting a birthday party at Chuck E. Cheese, carrying a sign which reads "Your kid sucks."

April 20 -- departing chief prosecutor George Weissfisch sends out an All Prosecutor e-mail with helpful suggestions for the office. He is sternly warned that attempts at competence will be dealt with harshly, and if he does not cease and desist with his help, he will be doubly fired (also known as "Newmaned").

Aprill 24 -- in an illustration that not only Old Regime employees were bailing out of the U.S.S. Lykos, Beverly Chambers, Lykos' hand-picked administrative assistant resigns after less than four months of service.

MAY

May 7 -- Deputy MISDEMEANOR Division Chief (as opposed to Deputy Chief of the D.A. Office) and honorary Lykos God-Daughter Rachel Palmer coins the new office motto of "Look Good, Think Smart, and Win!", which is a radical departure from how the Lykos Administration had been running up to that point. The Junior League gives them a standing ovation.

May 14 -- in another great moment in Race Relations, Lykos restores the positon of Probable Cause Chief BACK to a paid Chief slot after African-American prosecutor Carvana Cloud resigns from the Office. During the history of the Office, the only time that the position was a non-chief slot was when Carvana occupied it. Carvana's predecessor and successor in the position were both Caucasian.

May 29 -- caught off guard during a press conference which she had called, Lykos is forced to acknowledge the beginning of the now-famous DIVERT program which allows Pre-Trial Diversion for DWIs. In doing so, Lykos creates and subverts the laws regarding intoxication offenses. MADD is madder, and drunks around the county celebrate.

JUNE

June 4 -- Lykos makes her famous "I wish I had a Jack and Coke right now" statement during an interview with Lisa Falkenberg. Roger Bridgwater, who is also present for the interview nearly swallows his tongue and then immediately attempts an exorcism on his boss.

June 9 -- Lykos celebrates along with her buddy, Jeff Cohen of the Houston Chronicle over the passage of the Journalist Shield Law, which protects journalists sources from those dastardly police officers who might actually be trying to solve a case.

June 20 -- in an apparent snit with the Texas District and County Attorney's Association, Lykos boycots this year's Legislative Update with an in-house training session. Rather than focus on substantive changes in the law, the Lykos Show has such topics as Hannah Chow's "Your Friend the Water Cooler", Jim Leitner's "The Effect of the Porn 'Stache on Jury Credibility", and Roger Bridgwater's lecture on "Insubordination and Anger Management".

June 24 -- after watching a Death Wish marathon on TNT, Roger Bridgwater goes off on fellow Bureau Chief Donna Goode for daring to question him during a Tuesday morning staff meeting. After attempting an exorcism on Donna, he files a complaint on her with the Disciplinary Committee for insubordination and has her locked out of her office computer. In a move that conclusively showed that Donna had more class and guts than him, Donna gave Harris County the finger and resigned.

JULY

July 14 -- in a speech to rookie prosecutors at TDCAA's Baby Prosecutors School, former Harris County Prosecutor George Weissfische publicly denounces Lykos' new DIVERT program. That same week, former prosecutor Donna Goode, is named as the First Assistant in the Galveston County District Attorney's Office. Bridgwater suffers a nervous breakdown.

AUGUST

August 10 -- surrounded by churning turmoil and chaos within her Office, Lykos decides to decisively remedy all the problems by getting the Office a dog. The dog quickly becomes the most highly respected member of the Gang Who Couldn't Shoot Straight.

August 15 -- Hannah Chow takes time out of her busy schedule of monitoring the water levels in the Office coolers to write a letter to the Chronicle criticizing Lisa Falkenberg's article on the lack of diversity within the D.A.'s Office. Rather than acknowledge that the D.A.'s Office has a stunning lack of African-American and Hispanic prosecutors in upper echelon positions, Chow instead criticizes Corporate America for their stunning lack of leadership positions for Asian and Native American employees.

August 20 -- the Twitterverse is shocked by the appearance of a Twitter participant calling herself "Pat Lykos". Once it is clear that the poster actually understands the legal system and has a sense of humor, it becomes obvious that the poster isn't REALLY Pat Lykos. This in no way appeases Republican Chairman and Joseph McCarthy wannabe Jared Woodfill from blaming the practical joke on a vast left-wing conspiracy.

August 24 -- The Chronicle's Brian Rogers finally does an article on the massive amount of prosecutors fleeing the Office under the Lykos regime. It is met with a resounding "no shit" from frequenters of the CJC.

August 28 -- Lykos is caught dismissing the case against Supreme Court Justice David Medina's wife for the offenses related to arson. There is no confirmation that Lykos also personally gave Justice Medina a T-shirt that read: "My wife got prosecuted by the Harris County District Attorney's Office and all I got was this Lousy T-shirt".

SEPTEMBER

September 6 -- the Lykos Adminstration implements a seemingly good idea of putting law school pre-commits in felony courts to get some real world experience before they pass their bar exams.
That real world experience?
Don't trust politicians, because we ain't actually gonna pay you once you pass the bar.

September 26 -- the move to create a Public Defender's Office gains steam until Lykos points out that with all the concessions she's been giving to the Defense Bar lately, that the D.A.'s Office has actually become a Public Defender's Office.

OCTOBER

October 6 -- I finally give up and realize that Lykos isn't sending me a birthday card, yet again.

October 19 -- Lykos and Crew resurrect a disposed of case where a driver killed a couple in an automobile crash, by agreeing to a Motion for New Trial, and then subsequently dismisses the case. Cocaine-using reckless drivers across the county rejoice.

October 19 -- Lykos clarifies her new policy on auto-related fatalities by saying that if a cell phone is involved in a fatality, not only will you be taken to trial, but you will also get some pretty nasty name-calling from the elected D.A. herself.

October 23 -- in a press conference to explain the D.A.'s Office's new policy on automobile related fatalities, First Assistant Jim Leitner has a nervous breakdown and flees an interview with Channel 13's Ted Oberg. Rumors that Jim may have wet himself a little when faced with a tough question are unconfirmed.

October 28 -- despite a finding of a blatant Brady vs. Maryland violation against Child Abuse Division Chief Denise Oncken during a sexual assault of a child trial, the presiding judge does not grant a mistrial based on the prosecutorial misconduct. This leads Lykos to do a dance of joy and she declares Oncken the Employee of the Year.


NOVEMBER

November 3 -- the pre-commits at the Harris County D.A.'s Office learn the hard way to never trust a politician when they are told that the Office doesn't have the money to pay them real salaries once they pass the Bar Exam. Jim Leitner defends the information by saying, "Hey, we've only known this was coming for about two months now, and we were afraid if we had told you back then that you might not have done all this work for us for $10 a hour."

November 5 -- the pre-commits pass the Bar Exam and Pat Lykos goes back to being the only licensed lawyer in the D.A.'s Office to have never tried a case.

November 14 -- D.A. Child Abuse Paralegal Kim Flores, who brought to light the Brady violation of Denise Oncken gets "Newmaned" (aka Fired despite the fact that she was already leaving the Office) by Hannah Chow. For such a ceremonious event, Chow wears her judicial robe from the 5 minutes she spent on the Bench, and tells Flores that she was firing her "because she can". An attempt to have Flores escorted out of the building is foiled by people with some actual integrity.

DECEMBER

December 9 -- Lykos announces that as of January 1, 2010, the Office will no longer be filing crack pipe residue cases.
Crackheads around the county rejoice!

December 10 -- Lykos announces that she will be rethinking the policy of no longer filing crack pipe residue cases.
Crackheads are confused. So is the rest of Harris County.

December 14 -- the announcement that 262nd District Judge Mike Anderson will not be seeking re-election causes many to wonder if he will (TRANSLATION: pray for him to) run for District Attorney in 2012. Lykos increases her chain smoking to a carton a day.

December 18 -- Judge Don Jackson is convicted by a jury for the offense of Official Oppression. The Lykos Administration issues the following statement: "See. We told you we'd do something right by the end of the year."

December 22 -- in lieu of the annual Office Christmas party, Lykos allows all employees to come see the new hardwood floors in her office. She then leaves early to go to the mall and tell children that there is no Santa Claus.

December 31 -- Lykos invites everyone to a mandatory meeting at the jury assembly building at 9 a.m. on January 1st to help her and the Gang celebrate a wonderful first year.

Black Ink's Take on the CCL 13 Race

It's worth reading. Check it out here.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Petition Signing for Don Smyth

For those of you who are interested, there will be a petition signing get together for Don Smyth tomorrow (December 29th) from 4 - 6 pm at Cielo's Mexican Restaurant located at the intersection of Main and Congress.

The deadline for signature collection is January 4th so all help will be greatly appreciated.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Don Smyth runs for County Court at Law # 13

As mentioned in the comments section of my last post, there was a lot of excitement generated on Wednesday by the announcement of Division Chief Don Smyth's candidacy for Judge of County Court at Law # 13.

Don is currently the Division Chief of Division A in the Trial Bureau of the District Attorney's Office, and he has been a prosecutor with the Office for over 32 years. He has held pretty much every position that the Office has to offer, from Misdemeanor Three all the way to Bureau Chief. He was the former Division Chief of the Civil Rights Division, before becoming the Bureau Chief of the Governmental Affairs Bureau (which encompassed the Civil Rights and Public Integrity Divisions). He served as a Bureau Chief for 8 years. During his tenure as an Assistant District Attorney, he also served as the Division Chief of the Misdemeanor Division.

Don is a graduate of the University of Texas Law School, and also got his undergraduate degree from UT, as well. He has been married to his wife Lydia for 25 years, and they have 3 grown children. He has been active in the Boy Scouts since 1986, serving as a Scout Master and Scout Master Emeritus. He is also a long-time volunteer with the Emergency Aid Coalition, which he works on through his church.

Don is currently working on getting his petitions together for the race, and is trying to organize a get-together some time next week after work.

Anyone interested in helping out with Don's campaign, especially with the Petition Drive (they are due on January 4th), should contact Don's wife, Lydia, at l_smyth@att.net.

Monday, December 21, 2009

The 2009 Twelve Days of Lykos

On the First Day of Lykos, Snookems gave to me One D.A. endorsed Brady Violation.
On the Second Day of Lykos, Snookems gave to me Two Stellar employees crucified in the Chronicle.
On the Third Day of Lykos, Snookems gave to me, Three Washed Up judges demanding to be called "Judge".
On the Fourth Day of Lykos, Snookems gave to me, Four people who actually care that Snooks testified before Congress.
On the Fifith Day of Lykos, Snookems gave to me, Five DIVERT and Trace Case flip-flops.
On the Sixth Day of Lykos, Snookems gave to me, Six weekly resignations from career prosecutors.
On the Seventh Day of Lykos, Snookems gave to me, Seven Leitner bobbleheads, nodding to the Judges.
On the Eighth Day of Lykos, Snookems gave to me, Eight unfilled spots in the Trial Bureau.
On the Ninth Day of Lykos, Snookems gave to me, Nine friends of Bridgwater and Chow hired to fill positions.
On the Tenth Day of Lykos, Snookems gave to me, Ten Golden parachutes for 10 Republican Failures,
On the Eleventh Day of Lykos, Snookems gave to me, Eleven unpaid Pre-Commits.
On the Twelfth Day of Lykos, Snookems gave to me, Twelve months of General Mass Confusion.
Thanks to everyone for the contributions! It's much funnier (and on point) than last year.
Everybody have a Happy Holidays!
I'll show myself to the door.

The 2009 Rookie of the Year

Congratulations to Judge Shawna Reagin of the 176th District Court who won the 2009 Rookie of the Year at the CJC by a very large margin.

For those of us who practice regularly in her court, that comes as no real surprise. Judge Reagin has done a great job of combining intelligence, fairness and compassion to prove herself as an excellent judge in her first year.

She is backed up by a great court staff that make a visit to her court both a professional and pleasant experience.

Congrats Judge!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Christmas Dress Code

I realize that it is Christmas time and everyone is in a more relaxed mood around the courthouse. However, I think it is very important that we don't let the court room attire dress code to lapse to such total fashion faux pas --

And yes, Brian, I know your glasses cost like $50, but couldn't either of you afforded a real tie?


Holiday Classics

Last year I got canned (for the second time) for running the 12 Days of Lykos (that YOU GUYS wrote, I might add!). Looking back on the list now, it seems so absolutely non-abrasive compared to what Snookems and the Gang actually did during their first year in Office, doesn't it?

So, without further ado, I'm re-running the 2008 Days of Lykos. I'm also taking suggestions for the 2009 Days of Lykos.

Y'all remember how to play this game right??

Oh, and by the way, I will be ceremoniously firing myself again Christmas Eve so that Ken Magidson doesn't have to do it this year.

Merry Christmas everybody!


The 12 Days of Lykos - 2008 Edition
On the 12th Day of Lykos, Snookems gave to me 12 jurors chosen without a preemptive strike;
11 free "crooked cop passes" from Mr. Police Integrity himself;
10 internal memos regarding unprofessionalism of reading toxic, antiregime blogs;
9 new ashtrays for the 6th floor smoking lounge;
8 days of Lykos Hell every single week;
7 insulted yarmulke-wearing witnesses;
6 emails from my family wanting an explanation for why I won't be visiting as planned for New Years;
5 new pantsuits;
4 free tickets for a reception on January 1, 2009 that I'm forced to attend;
3 washed out judges;
2 Leitner balls; and
A troll from a spider hole.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Petition Signings

Channel 13's Miya Shay is reporting tonight from the trial of Judge Don Jackson that controversy has arisen over the signing of a political petition.


The gist of the story is this -- Don Jackson was the judge of County Court at Law # 3 of Harris County, Texas. In the race, there is a Republican challenger named Cary Hart (who would be a freaking excellent judge, by the way, but there will be more on that later). As part of her preliminary steps towards running for judge, she asked friends and other supporters to sign a petition that allowed her to run without paying a massive filing fee.


It's THE common practice for all candidates who run for office. It is common for there to be big political party events (both Republican and Democrat) where party faithful can sign petitions for all the candidates. I signed Cary's petition gladly. So did plenty of other defense attorneys who know and support Cary. So did plenty of prosecutors who know and support Cary.


One of those prosecutors who signed the petition was Lance Long, who is the lead prosecutor in Jackson's trial. It is also worth noting that Lance signed it far in advance of ever being assigned to handle the case against Judge Jackson.


Jackson's defense counsel, Dan Cogdell, has taken issue with that fact and has brought it before Judge Ellis. I'm not going to comment on the merits of Dan's Motion, because I just typically don't comment on jury trials that are currently underway.

But I do think that it is worth pointing out that probably the majority of the criminal lawyers who practice in the CJC and are voting in the Republican Primary signed off on that petition. I understand Dan wanting to cover all his bases in his defense of Judge Jackson, but I don't like the idea of the media blowing it out of proportion. I would imagine that if one looked at the complete list of signatures on Cary's petition one would see a lot of familiar names on it.

I don't think that signing her petition would necessarily make one an "enemy" of Judge Jackson per se.

The reason I'm writing this post is that I got an e-mail from a commenter who asked what Lance had been charged with. Um, Lance wasn't "charged" with anything.

Lance Long is one of the most honorable, talented and intelligent prosecutors that Harris County still has to offer, and for Channel 13 to zoom in on him like he did something wrong is ridiculous. He's doing the job that he's supposed to do, regardless of what petition he signed.

(NOTE: Due to the fact that this trial is still going on, I'm not going to publish any comments regarding the trial, trial tactics, or the actions of the participants until after the trial is complete. Not that I think the general public reads the blog, but just to be on the safe side.)

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The Race for County Court at Law # 13

With Denise Bradley's departure from the Republican Primary for County Court at Law #13, controversial Assistant District Attorney Rachel Palmer now sits alone as the only candidate in the Republican Primary.

The fact that this is happening is not sitting well with a lot of readers of this blog, including the poster known as Black Ink, who has posted his own commentary on his blog known as Stealth.

As I've said before, Rachel has never done anything to me personally, but I do have my concerns about her. One of which is her description of herself as the "Deputy Chief of the District Attorney's Office".


This seems to imply that 1) there is a singular "Chief" of the D.A.'s Office [there isn't]; and 2) therefore there is a singular "Deputy Chief" which is her [there isn't and she certainly isn't].


Rachel is a Felony Two who is on the cusp of being promoted to a District Court Chief. She is the Deputy Chief of the Misdemeanor Division, but that is in no way near the level of importance that she is implying on her campaign literature.


That's kind of like when Dwight Schrute claims to be the Assistant Regional Manager of Dunder-Mifflin, when, in fact, he's just the Assistant to the Regional Manager of Dunder-Mifflin.


Monday, December 14, 2009

Rumors Are Flying

In case you hadn't noticed, I've refrained from doing any posts on the upcoming Judicial Elections of 2010 so far. The reason for that is that the races aren't closed until the first part of January and who knows what could happen in the next two to three weeks?

A clear example of how things can change in a heartbeat happened today when the Assistant District Attorney Denise Bradley (formerly Nasser) announced that she was moving from the race for County Court at Law # 3 to run for the bench of the 262nd District Court.

Accompanying the notice was the announcement that Judge Mike Anderson who is the current judge of the 262nd was not going to run again in 2010.

And rumors started going crazy at that point.

People are posting comments on my other posts speculating that Judge Anderson will be beginning an early campaign for District Attorney.

My answer to that?

I have no freaking clue. I'm sure that me stating that I have no clue will do absolutely nothing to stem the rumors that will probably swirl on the blog, but until something gets corroborated, I wouldn't put too much stock in anything yet.

But it sure as hell is an interesting thought, isn't it?

Sunday, December 13, 2009

The Veterans' Court

Due to the hard work of some very dedicated Defense Attorneys and Public Servants in the Texas Legislature and the CJC, this past week Harris County proudly held the first docket of its newly established Veterans' Court.

The Veterans' Court was the product of bipartisan work from the State Legislature, most notably Senator Rodney Ellis and Representative Alan Vaught. Representative Vaught is the Vice Chairman of the Veterans' Affairs Committee, and my understanding is that his staffer, Jo Cuevas, was instrumental in keeping the bill from dying along the way. Also along the way, the project was assisted by Defense Attorneys Pat McCann and Jack and Terri Zimmerman. According to Pat, the Harris County District Attorney's Office was also instrumental in helping to redraft the bill into a workable form.

To use Pat's quote, the effort to get the creation of the Veterans' Court, literally "took a village."
Also instrumental in the administration of the Veterans' Court are Mary Covington (who also is the heart and soul of the Success Through Addication Recovery (STAR Court) Program), and, of course, Judge Marc Carter. Attorney Staci Biggar (who already spends a significant amount of time already working in the Mental Health Courts) is also dedicating time to assist in the project.

What the Veterans' Court provides is alternative options for the men and women who are active or honorably discharged members of the United States Military (including the Reserves and National Guard) with a "service connected disability" that is linked to their criminal problems. The offense that the veteran is charged with can't be a 3G Offense (that's an aggravated offense for you guys not familiar with the lingo).

NOTE: My understanding is that the correllation to the "service connected disability" to the related criminal behavior could be, for example, a veteran suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder that exhibits itself through alcohol abuse picking up a DWI charge.

Eligible candidates will be screened by Mary Covington for admission into the court and the hope is for these men and women who have served their country will ultimately receive pre-trial diversions that will allow them to ultimately have their case expunged from their record (if successfully completed). The District Attorney's Office will also be instrumental in the administration of the program and have been very active in the effort thus far.

It's a great cause that took a tremendous effort, and everyone involved deserves our thanks and a congratulations.

Editor's Note: Any information written here from the HCCLA List Serve is used with permission from Pat McCann.

The Final Four

Congratulations to the Final Four Finalists for the CJC Rookie of the Year -- Judge Shawna Reagin, Judge Kevin Fine, Judge Herb Ritchie, and D.A. Pat Lykos.

Commence to voting for the winner, folks. Polls close next Sunday at 8:00 p.m.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Now THAT'S What I Call Decisiveness

Ya know, I try to work on our relationship, Snooks, but I can't do it all by myself.

Just after I supported your move to stop filing crack pipe residue cases YESTERDAY, you've turned around and changed your mind about it today. Looks like you are going to be rethinking things at HPD's urging.

Now, I'm all for Lykos and the Gang making some attempts to start thinking, but damn, I was really getting behind her new policy before she hauled off and changed it.

I love that Lykos is so adored by the Houston Chronicle that she has no qualms about announcing a policy in the Wednesday edition and then turning around and reversing her position the next.

By the way, Pat, that doesn't make you look inept, clueless at your job, unprofessional or anything.

Really. I promise.

But once again, I wanted it noted for the record that I tried to support you on an issue, but you wouldn't work with me.

I just don't know if our relationship is going to make it.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

The New Crack Pipe Policy

Pat Lykos has gotten herself back in the news today with the announcement of her new policy of the Office no longer filing crack pipe "residue" cases. As the Chronicle article points out, the move is being met with polar opposite reviews from police officers and defense attorneys.

For those of you unfamiliar with the lingo, a crack pipe residue case is typically called a "trace case" by most criminal lawyers. The typical scenario is that a person is arrested for a Class C offense (in the poorer neighborhoods, that's usually a jaywalking, walking in the street where a sidewalk is provided, or a bicycling without a headlight). Once a patrol officer arrests the Class C scofflaw, the "search incident to arrest" will often times recover a crack pipe with no crack rock in it. However, a quick test with a field kit will show that the pipe tests positive for cocaine residue and voila, we have felony charges.

The reality of the situation is that the crack pipe once held a perfectly solid crack rock, but now it's gone. The way the statute reads allows for any amount of cocaine be filed as a State Jail Felony. In other counties, however, the cases can be disposed of with a Class C Possession of Drug Paraphernalia plea. In Harris County, the cases were often handled with 12.44(a) Time, which is a felony conviction punished with misdemeanor jail time.

The police are not happy with Lykos' new policy, and I understand why. Police Departments like to utilize the statistics of Felony Arrests, and if the D.A.'s Office isn't going to let them count crack pipe residue cases anymore, then those stats are about to take a severe dip. That ain't going to make the upper echelons happy, if you ask me.

My thoughts on Lykos' policy is that this was probably a good move, though.

Yes, you read that correctly. I agree with Lykos on this particular issue.

Filing crack pipe cases are a tremendous use of State resources that could be better expended on more serious cases.

And it isn't as if she is de-criminalizing drugs. The option will still remain for a police officer to file a Class C violation on a crack pipe holder and they will still have the power to take that person into custody (if they so choose). They just aren't going to get their felony arrest stat and the accused isn't going to spend the next several months in jail.

And the prosecutors at the D.A.'s Office can spend more of their over-worked time focusing on more serious cases.

Now I'm wondering what the Office is going to do with all the residue cases that are currently pending. I'm hoping that a lot of us are going to be getting our Class C offers immediately and we can get some of these folks home for Christmas.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Rookie of the Year

As we begin wrapping up 2009, I thought it might be fun for y'all to get to pick the Rookie of the Year from our new elected candidates.

There were eight new District Court Judges and one new District Attorney, so the question for deciding who the Rookie of the Year is for 2009 is who do you think has done the best job in their new position.

Because of the way the Blogger Dashboard runs, I can only put a maximum of five candidates on an opinion poll, so it looks like we're going to go to the playoff system again. The top two vote-getters in each individual poll will be placed in the final poll.

As a side note, although I'm not including him on the poll, I think some major credit needs to be thrown to District Clerk Loren Jackson for the major technological advancements he's made with his Office. He has quietly done some very impressive things and word on the street is that we ain't seen nothing yet from him.

So, that being said, commence to voting!