Friday, May 27, 2011

The Best Publicized Sinking Ship Since the Titanic

First, the good news -- the Harris County District Attorney's Office is hiring again!

Now, the bad news -- they aren't hiring anybody that actually does that whole prosecuting thingy that is typically the point of having a District Attorney's Office.

The Lykos Administration this week hired former-228th Court Coordinator and Chief of Staff for Congressman Ted Poe, Heather Ramsey Cook to hold the title of "Community Liaison."  Loosely translated, a "Community Liaison" is someone whose job it is to make the Office look better within the community.

Now, I knew Heather back when she was Poe's Court Coordinator, and I think she's awesome.  She did a great job as a coordinator and kept the court running like a well-oiled machine.  I have no doubt that she will do an excellent job in whatever she seeks to do.

But my question here is what exactly is it that she is needed to do at the District Attorney's Office?

I had initially heard that Heather was coming on as an assistant to Hannah Chow, which begged the question: "An assistant to help Hannah Chow do what, exactly?"  Isn't Chow the one whose two major accomplishments thus far have been placing water coolers throughout the Office and dressing in a ceremonial robe to fire a Child Abuse paralegal?

Why does the Harris County District Attorney's Office need a Community Liaison when they are hemorrhaging prosecutors?  Wouldn't that money be better spent hiring one of those law-degree-holding prosecutorial types that can get a "to do" done and help administer that Rule of Law stuff that Lykos likes to mention?  Right now misdemeanor prosecutors are being "strongly discouraged" from taking the Comp Time that they rightfully earned (which seems like might be bordering on breaking some employment laws to me), while the upper Admin is spending money on people to help make Lykos look better.

To me, Lykos' spending habits are obscene, yet not surprising.  We are talking about an Administration that values good Public Relations over all other goals -- including Justice, after all.  I mean, at some point, you do have to just kick back and applaud the absolute shamelessness that Pat Lykos exhibits while promoting herself in lieu of actually doing her job.

Except, it isn't worthy of applause.  Criminal Justice suffers as a whole.  A prosecutor shortage is not good for anyone.  Those phone calls that need to get made that could help exonerate a defendant aren't getting made.  The extra work that needs to be done to get ready for trial isn't getting done, either.

But Lykos doesn't care.  Her publicists have done a good job of making her look damn appealing.

That's what she taxpayer money pays them for, after all.

64 comments:

Anonymous said...

I wonder what she's being paid. Seems like a bad idea when you're running Short on prosecutors in courts and there are people who have been working without their rightfully earned pay raise for a little over a year now.

Anonymous said...

Election time is ramping up and Patsy is getting her ducks in order before anyone else. Between the new community liason and "Donna", the office looks great on paper (the Chronicle I may add).Who can forget that her ever loyal office staff here on 6 with Roger, Jim, Hanna and RP handing her events... She should be a "shoe-in" come election time!!

...All at OUR expense. Isn't Harris County politics great? A real "pay to play" system that rewards those who pay and those who play (play nicley)

Anonymous said...

"for a little over a year now"

If by a little over you mean closer to 2, then I agree...

Anonymous said...

Why did she quit as Poe's Chief of Staff? Is this some sort of political favor/payback?

Anonymous said...

Since there has never in the past been a pay slot dedicated to a person with the moniker of community liaison or some similar such title in the HCDA office I think that the criticism of this abuse of taxpayer money should be leveled not only at Lykos but at the county judge, his four buddies on the Commissioner's Court and the budget director who would have to have approved the pay slot. How can such a position be justified when the office is so short-handed? As Harris County property taxpayers yearly have a physical impossibility committed upon them by the Harris County Appraisal District (an agency which suffered absolutely no layoffs due to the economy) our local elected officials irrationally spend the proceeds from those assessments, ostensibly guided in principle by those of their peers at the federal level. Thereafter, we are once again subjected to self-serving statements as to how they are the frugal guardians of the tax money.

Anonymous said...

political payback -getting ready for next election

Anonymous said...

Query: Is a community liaison the same as a community organizer? If so, God help us, the citizens of Harris County!

Anonymous said...

Seems to me that the position "Community Liaison" really means that Heather will be out in the community putting the word out to re-elect Lykos in a "creative" way. This position doesn't pass the smell test. Its a backdoor way of campaigning on County time.

Anonymous said...

Prosectors are really angry about this political appointment. To make matters worse, the newly annointed community liason officer got a lovely office with a window- while far senior prosecutors work in cave-like conditions. Life sure aint fair.

A Harris County Lawyer said...

Quick Programming Note here, folks.

I'm not going to publish comments comparing individuals to Nazis. I mistakenly let one in at the beginning of the year and I still feel bad about that (even though I subsequently removed it), and I'm not going to publish others.

My feelings on the ineptitude and the lack of integrity of the Lykos Administration is clear, but dropping the Nazi card carries it too far. The label of "Nazi" is worthy of people who think genocide is okay. It shouldn't be thrown around lightly or it will start to lose its true and horrific meaning.

Anonymous said...

What's surprising about this? Lykos, the Supreme Narcissist, spends all her waking hours trying to think of new ways to cast her mismanagement skills in a positive light.

The sad thing is, she actually believes she has improved the office instead of destroying it. It's sickening beyond belief and too many voters are drinking the kool aid.

Anonymous said...

Looks like she is following the Adrian Garcia model for running a Sheriff's department.

Anonymous said...

is your buddy Black Ink serious about running against Judge Pat and if so as a dem or repub?

Anonymous said...

looks like Pat's " stealth " political opponent must have been making waves. But like a good pol she's about to shut him down.

She is first and foremost a politician. Hannah is her friend. Not sure if Pat looks at more than a couple of people in her office as friends.

Unlike Adrian Garica and Vince Ryan, Hannah knows commissioners court really well. She worked for El Franco Lee and Pat worked for Ed Emmitt.

Anonymous said...

Sad thing is that the people who vote have no idea how poorly the DA's office is being managed by a bunch of nimnods. Another really good and hard working ADA left last week, Kate Skagerberg. How many more are planning to leave?

Anonymous said...

Why not have all the prosecutors stop by her office and offer a friendly hello and welcome, one at a time, and then before leaving, ask her if she would mind making a call or two or returning an e-mail or fax for them, you know gently pass on some of the stuff they don't have time to do because of the way the office is run. Give her a true feel of the office and let her pass that on to the community.

Anonymous said...

Anon 8:17
Chow is an idiot!

Anonymous said...

I really feel sorry for ADAs that work in Harris CO. - One should not have to look down and to the left when stating where one works.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps the Community Liason Officer can explain the following to the community:

1. What do members of the leadership team brought in by Lykos actually do? When Ted Wilson and Kelly Siegler had Bridgewater's job, they went to court and tried cases and helped with dockets. They also were on the same floor as the troops, not ensconced in some ivory tower. What does the first assistant do besides read this blog, play solitaire and work intake. That's the way those of at the office see his duties. Hell, Don Stricklin tried a Capital case while still first assistant. Oh, so did Johnny Holmes and Chuck Rosenthal as DA, but we all know Pat could not try her way out of a wet paper bag.

2. Can you explain to the community why your office is going to trial less than the proceeding two years? From Jan 07 through Dec 08, there were 913 Felony Jury trials, while from Jan 09 through Dec 2010 there were 635 Jury trials. From Jan 07 through Dec 08there were 913 Misd jury trials while from Jan 09, to Dec 2010 there were 513 Jury trials. Can't be because you are picking better cases because your conviction rate is essentially the same for both time periods. Your nolles are up significanlty for the same time period for both felonies and misdemeanors. Can't blame the new judges for all of it because there were no new elected Judges in Misd for 2009-2010. These reports are all available on line by the way.

3. How does a Community Liason make the taxpayers safer? Isn't it about making Pat's job safer?

Members of the "Community" want answers to these and other burning questions. More questions coming soon.

Anonymous said...

Murray, you may be a fan of Heather's, but I'm not. I worked in that courtroom and though she was beautiful and smooth, she was also very stuck up. Poe had one rule for his court staff (and his favorite court-appointed attorneys): they had to be easy on the eyes. Heather is certainly that. But I don't think she'll be a good liason to the community since most of them aren't debutantes or members of the Junior League. Oh, hey! Come to think about it, she may get along great with Rachel Palmer!

Anonymous said...

How cute. You're all using "stealth" like you have some inside information.

I hope he does run. It will be patently obvious who he is, and I bet his bigoted blog comes down faster than Arthur Seaton's when he thought Lykos was onto him.

Rage

Anonymous said...

Seaton's blog may have been brash and ill advised, but it was never bigoted. Just sayin'.

Anonymous said...

Rage,
Stealth's blog is obviously opinionated. He is intolerant of incompetence, mediocrity and corruption. So if these partisan views are objectionable to you don't read his blog.
However, if your reference to bigotry implies he is a racist then your alarmist reasoning is as lacking as that of the former US Senator Joseph McCarthy......remember him, Bubba?

Anonymous said...

Anon 7:44......1

Anon 7:53......1

Bubba Rage.....0

Anonymous said...

Seaton's blog may have been brash and ill advised, but it was never bigoted. Just sayin'.

Never said it was. Just sayin.

Anonymous said...

Methinks Rage does protest too much.

Rage would have us believe he is a decorated U.S. Cavalry combat veteran with a 3rd generation son at VMI. That he is a licensed Texas attorney currently practicing civil litigation in the private sector of Harris County. Although he admits having very limited personal experience in the practice of criminal law, he professes an expertise in the area far superior to those in the trenches. His website profile photo depicts an anonymous man wearing dark sunglasses holding a very large semi-automatic pistol pointing at the viewer.

Rage's comments reveal:
1. an obsessive disdain for law enforcement generally, most specifically for prosecutors and their "deliberate" reliance on faulty DNA and police line-ups
2. a chip on his shoulder for a perceived pervasive racism
3. the use of legal theories and terminology that lack a sense of actual experience
4. a belief that ADAs are whining government dependents who could never survive in private practice
5. the tendancy to draw conclusions that meet his pre-conceived notions but are not supported by the evidence
6. anger when his need for recognition is surpassed by others

Rage's personification begs the questions: What does Rage really do for a living and why the intense interest and provocation with Murray's blog?

What would a profile analyst surmise?

Anonymous said...

His website profile photo depicts an anonymous man wearing dark sunglasses holding a very large semi-automatic pistol pointing at the viewer.

Jesus Christ. Watch The Big Lebowski.

And then get a hobby.

Rage

Anonymous said...

Damn straight--the only thing I really respect about Rage is his homage to Walter. It makes up for almost everything else...

Anonymous said...

At least 1/3 of the #2 prosecutors in the trial bureau (and a couple in other divisions) are being paid the exact dollar amount since 2008 (and i mean not even a cost of living increase). These prosecutors have hung in there because they know what they do is important, some need the job. But whatever their reasons, they walk in there everyday and try our murders, rapes, and Agg Robs. And when the administration gets the chance to do the right thing - to pay these faithful hard workers when they finally are able to, they choose not to and instead to hire a "community liason"?!

The admin never went to bat for these prosecutors who are the heart of the office with commissioner's court to even try to get them their well deserved pay raises. And now - now that they have the ability to distribute their budget as they see fit, this is what they do with their budget power?!

The problem is they keep swinging the idea of a pay raise in front of these prosecutors. Truth is: it isn't coming. And if this new hire doesn't prove it, not sure what will.

Rage Exposed said...

Anon 5:13,
Well there we have it. An unemployed LA slacker pretending to be a millionare (theme of "The Big Lebowski") is quoted by Rage, a low level Harris County employee pretending to be a big shot private practice attorney.
Who knew?

Anonymous said...

"The problem is they keep swinging the idea of a pay raise in front of these prosecutors. Truth is: it isn't coming. And if this new hire doesn't prove it, not sure what will."

Yep. It's disheartening at best, and demoralizing at worst. We keep falling for it and holding out hope that eventually the admin will do the right thing. Shame on us.

Anonymous said...

"A prosecutor shortage is not good for anyone. Those phone calls that need to get made that could help exonerate a defendant aren't getting made."

Murray, since when did prosecutors make phone calls to get defendants' cases dismissed??? What were you drinking and/or smoking when you wrote that sentence? I want some.

A Harris County Lawyer said...

Anon 3:16,

I've had prosecutors make phone calls to corroborate information that I've given them that ultimately led to a dismissal on multiple occasions, and they've done it gladly.

I don't know if you're a prosecutor who doesn't think that is the right thing to do, in which case, you really need to re-evaluate your job description, or if you are a defense attorney who has never had that done for you, in which case you really need to develop some diplomatic skills.

As for what I'm smoking, it was Marlboro Lights until about a month ago. I'm clean now.

Anonymous said...

And the attrition continues---2 turn in notice today.Holy shit.

Anonymous said...

Another example of how prosecutors are doing the public a great service:

http://www.palmbeachpost.com/news/bird-watcher-wrongly-arrested-for-possession-of-pot-1507669.html?cxntlid=cmg_cntnt_rss

Anonymous said...

Two more good prosecutors turned in their notice today. Several more to come. The leadership really knows how to motivate.

Anonymous said...

Two more ADA's today, some last week, and more to come. All this after Patty's "look what I have done" meetings. The great Johnny Bonds said if you looked in the dictionary under " Bat Shit Crazy" you would see a picture of Lykos...man was Johnny right. I'm ashamed of what the office has become, Harris County deserves better......

Anonymous said...

I don't know what other questions anon 12:48 has but I would like for Heather to explain to the "Community" and me why the personal information about me and my fellow employees was "accidentally" released to the public. When big corporations do this it is a travesty. When a governmental agency does it with its own employees, it is "no big deal"!

Anonymous said...

Anon 8:50,

"Big Corporations" are NOT subject to the Freedom of Information Act.
You, however, as a government employee are subject to an arbitrary Open Records Request at anytime for all the world to see which renders your complaint nonsensical.......that is unless you have national security clearance we are unaware of.
Heather did nothing wrong.

Anonymous said...

Anon 3:52 I did not say Heather did anything wrong. However, the office fights FIA request all the time successfully. This time they conveniently dropped the ball. Also just because I am a governmnet employee does not mean that I have no expectation of privacy in my personal information. The office screwed up period!

A Harris County Lawyer said...

Anon 3:52,

I agree that prosecutors are public servants and there for subject to open records requests that private sector employees are not subject to. That being said, however, prosecutors tend to (as a job description) tick off more dangerous people than your average public servant. I am all for those documents regarding their decision making being made public, but I think greater care should be shown in releasing information like their home addresses.

I find your willingness to jump to criticize a prosecutor who is concerned for their private information being kept private for safety's sake a bit troubling.

Just Sayin' said...

Anon 4:08,
If you believe that you have a reasonable expectation of privacy with respect to your government personel file then you are grossly mistaken. All your evaluations, all your trial stats, all your reprimands, all the emails on your government computer or those generated with a government paid Verizon aircard on your personal blackberry/laptop are fair game if any arbitrary request is made in the proper fashion. The request need not be supported by probable cause or specific justification and you must show over-riding harm to a government interest or personal safety to preclude its release....your personal privacy is a non-issue.

I also find it disingenuous for you to voice a privacy complaint and with your very next breath breach Heather's privacy.

Just Sayin'

Anonymous said...

Numerous blogs and media oulets published the home address and detailed personal information on former prosecutor Kelly Siegler garnered through these same channels and no one seemed to blink an eye.....what goes around comes around.

It amazes me how when it's our shit on the line then it becomes an important issue.

Anonymous said...

Pat Lykos lives at 5050 Woodway. Was that released?

Anonymous said...

Slight derail here. Your personal info is available on publicdata.com as far as DL, voter registration, some property ownership and a few other categories for a nominal fee. In Texas, other property info is generally available for free on appraisal district web sites and the county clerk's web sites. You can usually appeal to the appraisal district to cloak your info as a prosecutor or peace officer or DA employee. For the county clerk's deed info - you are outa luck and they will not shield the info. I've had a death threat mailed to my house. It sucks. Two decades as a prosecutor and married to a former cop. Sadly this garbage comes with the job. Seriously, think of ways to lay low. Get a PO Box for sure. Register cars in spouse's name. Weigh your career options. Watch your back and watch out for your friends. Think about how many times we convince a scared victim or witness to testify. Now we know how they feel when we simply say to them " if you get scared, call 911." Peace out and keep doing the right thing...

Anonymous said...

Anon 9:01 the agency you work for should not give it out.

Just Sayin' said...

Anon 1040,

There are many things people ought not do but wearing rose colored glasses won't change it.
Perhaps if we all stood up for each other instead of just for ourselves what goes around might come around a little more palatable?
Where were you when 5:14's point was on the forefront instead of yours?

Just Sayin'

Anonymous said...

Anon 7:26 Two wrongs do not mak a right.

chicken shit begets chicken shit said...

Anon 9:55,

WTF????

How 'bout the next wrong that doesn't affect you---you gonna stand up for someone or something other than your self interest?

Everyone gets soooo testy when the crabs are after them but F everybody else.
And you all wonder why you're in the situation you find yourself in?

Anonymous said...

Anon 11:43 You assume that those now wronged were aware of what had happened before or were even at the office then. You know what they say about assume. If it happens again and I know about it whether or not I am affected, I will complain

Money talks and bullshit walks said...

Anon 1:17,

The assumption, if you will, was predicated on the actual past performance of the collective body of ADAs in 2008, who, with rare exception (eg. Murray Newman and a small group of former ADAs), sat quietly in the corner covering their ass while Kelly Siegler was savaged on all fronts. That ought to give you pause and put your privacy issues in perspective.
Let's see if you prove my assumption wrong in 2012---walking the talk, however, is rare at the HCDAO these days so I won't hold my breath.

Anonymous said...

Anon1:44
Walking the walk sure is a rarity! Division Chief Long sure was one of those who the foot soldiers never would have guessed would have been one of the first and loudest supporters of the havoc the sixth floor has created. He's running folks off left and right though. Wonder if Patsy regrets promoting him?

Anonymous said...

Anon 1:44 2012 is a moot point. There will be no vialble republican for the republican nomination. It likely wont be a democrat year in Harris County. Siegler won't be running. Why would she?
Oh, by the way, Kelly had plenty of foot soldiers. She did not lose because of a lack of boots on the ground. She lost because her campaign was poorly managed. I know I was there.

Anonymous said...

Anon 3:24,

I agree with your assessment of Lance. His behavior is shocking and inexcusable but cannot be extrapolated to the other foot soldiers who walked the walk with conviction.
Adversity revealed his and other ADAs' character---the king is dead long live the king.
However, with all due respect, his bitter opportunistic example supports my premise that it's every man for himself at the HCDAO--there is no comaraderie or esprit de corps.

Normal Rate of Attrition said...

Rumor is this new position is paid what a Felony #2 should be. Forget all those losers doing whatever it is attorneys do who worked their way up and never got raises.

Honestly, I'm having trouble finding reasons to stay. It's not even fun anymore...

Anonymous said...

Why doesn't everyone calm down and just continue to bite your tongues until election season? You will get two chances to vote against our fearless leader. Plus as an added bonus, you can politic against her by telling all your friends, neighbors, and anyone who votes to pick anyone who runs against her.

Line laborers: I hear that even those who benefited from our fearless leader's win in 08 are starting to hedge their bets in 12. A particular B.C. is playing both sides of the aisle like a double agent. Start watching these compartment leaders inside the Titantic. They will jump on the life boats first while watching you drown.

Anonymous said...

Does anyone know if John, Wes, Tiffany and Shannon are finally getting chief pay?

Anonymous said...

There's only one person Division Chief Long could even be remotely 'blamed' for running off: a district court chief who hasn't shown up on time for court timely (I mean, who can show up for any job routinely at 10 a.m every day when they are required to be there at 8 a.m.) in months, if not years. A chief who routinely took 1st degree felony cases and reduced them to 30 days in jail. A chief who dismissed victims cases immediately where there were clearly future danger issues, and when the victims were subsequently attacked again, waved her hand in the air at the issue. All Long did was write honest evals, demanded she do her job, and expected her to show up for work on time. Anyone who thinks she was treated unfairly doesn't know what was really going. When a felony chief is being docked pay because she can't show up for work long enough to log 40 hours a week, there's a major problem. That only scratches the surface of the problems. She was responsible for death penalty cases, and wasn't working anything like she needed to be to accomplish the job.

Anonymous said...

Anon 4:08--

what did heather disclose and to whom did she disclose it???

Anonymous said...

Anon 8:01-
You must be deaf to not hear all the murmurs in the hall around the 4th floor. She isn't the only one, regardless of how much you thumb your chest.

Anonymous said...

So what's the story that channel 13is interested in? Lykos meets with members of the British Consulate about a British citizen on death row and then shortly thereafter gets a trip to London with her "Troll-lovin" husband? I can't wait to hear about that one?

Anonymous said...

For those of you defending Lance, you have to realize that no matter what you say, people will always talk sh!t about their boss, no matter who it is. 99% of DA's have never worked any where else in their life and don't realize that in every business in America, you will always find some employee in the organization who hates their boss.

Anonymous said...

Anon 10:30, are you saying people hate Pat Lykos?
Say it ain't so!

Anonymous said...

From today's HCDA public website: "The Harris County District Attorney’s office ... employs close to 300 Assistant District Attorneys ...."

No it doesn't. We are 230ish & sinking. There are 2-person courts with 1000+ case dockets. And that's just 1 docket - out of 37 courts in our building alone. There are 35ish specialized divisions whose prosecutors aren't assigned to a court. I had 6 supervisors at one point. Do the math.

Pat Lyar promised us paralegals & 4 prosecutors per court. We are at 2-3 prosecutors per court right now, no paralegals, & losing the few secretaries we have left. And we hired a community liaison. Fantastic. Wonderful. Super-di-duper.

P.S. She should be honest & keep one of those countdown apps on the HCDA website that subtracts each time someone hits their last day. 226...225...222 (for those increasing occasions when 3 people quit in a day)....