Monday, May 28, 2012

Of Frat Houses and Leadership

As you all know, today is Memorial Day.  We honor those Veterans who lost their lives in the defense of our Nation.  It seems to me that nothing could be more appropriate than for the day following Memorial Day to be Election Day.  Obviously, the latter could not exist but for the former.

I'm not a Veteran.  I'm the first generation of my family who isn't.  My public service consisted of my time at the District Attorney's Office and by no stretch of the imagination is that comparable to the men and women of the Armed Services who get shot at as part of their daily job description.  There are very few similarities between the jobs of a soldier and a prosecutor unless you examine them by way of analogy.  The camaraderie and the feeling of working toward a goal larger than your own interests are the first of the similarities that come to mind.  Both deal with a subject matter that the general public would prefer not to be forced to discuss or confront during polite dinner conversation.

Yet the job of the Prosecutor rarely seems to get anything even close to widespread respect and appreciation.  Every prosecution thought to be too "over-aggressive" unleashes criticism from the Defense Bar, the Media, and the ACLU.  The good deeds and the soul-searing work that prosecutors do are swept away as they are all painted as Constitution-stomping imbeciles that could have "never cut it in the private sector."

However, the reality is that the men and women who become prosecutors forsake the idea that their shiny new law degree is going to be their ticket to great wealth and fortune.  They enter into public service with the idea of making their community safer.  Most don't begin a career with the District Attorney's Office with the idea of prosecuting misdemeanors for the rest of their careers -- they want to try the serious cases.  They voluntarily sign up to some day be able to prosecute robberies, brutal assaults, sexual assaults, child abuse cases, and murders.

To a large degree, it takes a somewhat warped personality to be able to do that job for an extended period of time.  In Harris County, a prosecutor has to rise to the level of Felony Two (which takes a little over three years) before handling those types of cases.

The prosecutors who do stay and try those types of cases are soon on the fast track to finding themselves very jaded.  Gory crime scenes, autopsy reports, interviews with child victims, and inconsolable family members will become the staple of that prosecutor's day.  They will quickly realize that what they do every day is not polite dinner conversation, and generally the only people they find themselves comfortable talking to are other prosecutors, police officers, and sometimes, defense attorneys.

The job descriptions of prosecutors, cops, and defense attorneys ultimately create a tight-knit group of friends, much like how soldiers are bound to each other by their common experiences.  Prosecutors eat together, drink together, celebrate life events with each other, vacation together, and sometimes even marry each other.  They enjoy each other's company and they enjoy the camaraderie that others in the private sector cannot be a part of.

Which makes the fact that Pat Lykos calls that camaraderie a "Frat House" so incredibly insulting.  Lykos was never a prosecutor which put her arrival as the District Attorney on January 1, 2009 a bitter pill to swallow.  Unlike the men and women that she was now "leading," she had never done anything that began to earn the respect of her people.  She would have the opportunity if she wanted -- nothing precluded her from trying a case and getting into the mix.

But she never did.

Rather than try to lead from the Front, Lykos started her tenure by eviscerating her soldiers.  She publicly ripped two of her most respected prosecutors on the front page of the newspaper within three months of her arrival.  She refused to stand with other prosecutors as they received awards from the FBI.  She disregarded the advice of the senior prosecutors below her, and only listened to the words of the mid-level bureaucrats she filled her "Leadership Team" with.  Words of wisdom from prosecutors who had been in the trenches were discouraged and any type of constructive criticism was met with the reply, "Lots of people would like to have your job."

She's selectively let the crimes of a favored few go unprosecuted, and embroiled herself in two Grand Jury investigations.  When her Deputy Misdemeanor Division Chief announced to Harris County that she wouldn't answer a Grand Jury's questions about her job for fear of incriminating herself, she was promoted within the Office.  To this day, that prosecutor's salary remains approximately $20,000 more a year than her peers with similar experience.

And to this day, Pat Lykos has never entered into a courtroom to try a single case -- not even one where a Police Officer has been killed.

So, for Pat Lykos to brag about having taken the "Frat House out of the Courthouse" is beyond insulting. In fact, it is obscene.  To disparage the Men and Women who work for her -- the ones who have operated with integrity and honor -- while operating like a stereotypical evil bureaucrat defies logic.  Her supporters and Republican bloggers who have no knowledge of Criminal Law dismiss her disgruntled prosecutors as "whiners" and never examine the fact that their complaints are so very legitimate.  They applaud the ninety-plus prosecutors who have left under Lykos' reign, and hope there are "150 more" that she runs out, as well.

The Harris County District Attorney's Office is floundering under not just a lack of Leadership, but an Enemy from Within.  The quality of prosecutors will continue to dwindle unless someone can come in and stem the bleeding, and stem it quickly.

Remember way back when the D.A.'s Office used to give Dick DeGuerin a run for his money?

Mike Anderson is a former prosecutor who was a Leader when he was at the Office.  His co-workers respected him.  He wasn't afraid to try cases -- and win them.  He understands the drive and determination that prosecutors have -- and need -- to be effective in what they do.  He is a man who will stand behind his people as long as they are doing everything they can "to do the right thing" and he will go to the Ends of the Earth to re-establish the Office's integrity.

Judge Anderson retired from the 262nd District Court bench in 2010, and by all means, he was more than entitled to a great retirement after decades of public service.  From a financial and time standpoint, there was absolutely no incentive for him to re-enter the fray by running for District Attorney.

But True Leaders are called to lead and they cannot sit idly by when they know that something or someone needs help.  Mike Anderson loved the Harris County District Attorney's Office like a family.  If you have never been a part of something like that, it is virtually impossible to explain.  From the Bench, he was able to see the Office crumbling under the weight of Lykos.  He saw prosecutors and former prosecutors approach him and implore him to do what he could to save it.

And like a True Leader, he answered that call.

Since announcing his candidacy, Mike Anderson has done everything that could be asked of a candidate trying to save the District Attorney's Office.  He's appeared at every event, attended every debate, and talked to everyone willing to listen to him.  His drive and determination to do what has been asked of him has been exemplary.  He has had to endure the insults and attacks from his opponent and her supporters.  I can guarantee that the past six months have been starkly different from those he envisioned when he first thought of retirement.

But True Leaders make personal sacrifices, and that's what Mike Anderson has done.

Whatever happens tomorrow cannot be predicted. He has given everything he has and so have his supporters.  Whether he wins or loses the election will dictate the direction the Harris County District Attorney's Office will take in the future -- for better or for worse.

But no matter what happens, it was encouraging to see what a True Leader looks like again.  It was something that has been missing for the past three and a half years.





31 comments:

Anonymous said...

Murray,your article is well written and mostly true.one thing that may influence the lawyer voters is whether you will be going back as a prosecutor if Mike wins.We have heard rumors that you may be the first assistant.It might make a difference because a lot of people like you.I have heard that in the past the office was a training ground for lawyers.We heard that Dick even worked there.Are you coming back?

A Harris County Lawyer said...

Anon 11:13 a.m.,

I have absolutely no plans to go back to the District Attorney's Office. I just signed a year lease at a new office that I'm very happy to be with.

I support Mike Anderson because I care about that Office and I want it to do well -- even long after I'm gone.

Anonymous said...

Murray, as both a Vietnam-era vet and a Harris Co. employee, your analogy is absolutely spot-on. We do these jobs because we want to try to make this a better place. I was also offended by the "frat house" remark. Go Mike Anderson!

Anonymous said...

As I've been telling folks at the poling places:

Do you want a General leading troops who has never been in the Army? Of course not. Well Lykos has never been a Prosecutor so how could she lead them.

Anonymous said...

Why you should vote FOR Mike Anderson-

1. He's actually tried criminal cases before unlike the current DA.

2. He's never been investigated by the Texas Rangers much less by three different Grand Juries as has Mrs. Lykos

3. 40 percent of the experienced Staff has been lost due to Lykos' failure to be an effective leader.

4. The most recent Bar Polll, published today in the Chronicle, ranks her the most unqualified candidate of any candidates running in any Harris County election!

5. Mrs. Lykos is a Politician not a Prosecutor

6. Mike Anderson was trained under the legendary Johnny Holmes. Mr. Holmes has endorsed Mike Anderson over Pat Lykos.

7. Mike Anderson will return Honesty and Integrity to the DA's Office.

Use these if you are working the polls tomorrow. They work to enlighten voters.

Anonymous said...

Freedom from Fear or Want;
Freedom of Speech and Religion.

WWII VICTORY MEDAL engraved words on the reverse.

God Bless you Sgt. Paul T. Sandley - Radio aircrew operator - C-47 Skytrain. 1942 - 1946.

Your son: Larry

Anonymous said...

Why will I vote for Anderson? Because Lykos is a worse DA than she was judge, and that's saying something. I've despised her since my mother came home from jury duty in Lykos' court, fuming at how jurors were treated. Lykos thought her smoking habit was far more important that anything else, and she insulted jurors who called her on it.

Anonymous said...

Great post, Murray. It sums up how so many of us feel. She not now nor will she ever be a leader. I really really hate this "frat house" stuff she and Hooper and Big Jolly keep throwing out there. It is so insulting to the job that we did. It is so insulting to those of us that are still there plugging away doing our jobs. She has absolutely no respect or care for anyone other than herself. She will lie, cheat, threaten, blackmail (you hear me Ed Emmett) to get what she wants. She condones Rachel and Hooper's actions which is insulting and disgraceful. And Big Jolly, I actually respected you but not any more. You just don't get it and you don't care to. I join Murray in hoping that you never have to visit the CJC as a victim. If Lykos wins, yes more of us experienced, know how to prosecute a case "whiners" as you call us will leave. You and she will get your wish and God help you. But then you don't care because you think a trained monkey can do the job. Tell that a murder victims family or a rape victim or the family of a child who was molested. See if they agree with you. As for your new found friendship with Rachel and Hooper, well it appears you are made for each other. She treats you nicely? Wow, ok. She treats those at the office who never did anything to her or said anything about her like gum on her shoe. Walking around with a smirk on her face knowing she can do or say whatever she wants and no regard for what her husband does. Hooper attacks and lies about people who have done nothing to him, Rachel or Lykos. You read the despicable lies on his blog, attacking some of the best people we know, some having nothing to do with the Anderson fight, and he is now your buddy? You truly are made for each other. You want to get on here and say we are lying or how do you know what is true? It is because you are sticking your head in the sand, avoiding the truth because it doesn't suit you. Not everything is in a public records request, David. Sometimes you have to listen to the people who know. Yes, I am anon on this blog but the next time I see you I will not be anon. I will tell you these things to your face and then dare you to say some of the insults you and your buddy Don have spread to mine.

Please go vote for Mike and the rest of the good guys so we can shut these people up.

Anonymous said...

Hey Anon 2:44,
Big Jolly doesn't believe you. It is not in a FOI request.

Anonymous said...

Are medical school students who are preparing to become surgeons taught by professors who have never held a scalpel?

Why would you elect a District Attorney who has never prosecuted a case?

Pat Lykos has NO PROSECUTION EXPERIENCE. Therefore, how can she lead by example, which is what all great leaders in the past have done.

The DA needs to be a leader, not operating a wrecking ball.

Mike Anderson has 17 years experience from when he was in the DA office, and led by example.

Vote for the true leader.

Vote for Mike Anderson.

Anonymous said...

Was Franklin Roosevelt a veteran?

Pavlov's Dog said...

Just hit his "PayPal" button and he will write whatever you want.

Anonymous said...

I know a prosecutor who used to keep a file on Judge Kevin Fine. Everytime she got a new case, she would meet with the victim and show the victim the various news articles about Fine and his anti-everything stance especially against capital murder, child abuse victims, and the validity of search and seizure and police officers in general. The immediate victim response would be, "How did this guy get elected?" I can imagine that the prosecutor's response was something like, "Did you vote?" or "Did you know who you were pulling a straight ticket for in the DA race?" This sad but necessary practice was used to brace this victim for the eventual disappointing outcome of the case in many instances.

Kevin Fine and Pat Lykos are different politically, generationally,and even physically; but in some ways they are the same. Neither of them has any respect for the letter of the law, and neither of them gives a damn what the every day citizen thinks about them. Both are narcissists and will push their agendas to the detriment of the office they hold. After all she has done, can you imagine what a file would look like on her? Heck it would probably be Brady material to be shown to the defense on every case.

Voters,
Why is the elected DA important to you as a personal matter? Voters are all potential victims. I hope it never happens, but should you become a victim of violent crime or identity theft or otherwise, it is the DA who will represent you in the criminal case. The defendant has a right to hire an an attorney of his choosing. You are stuck with the DA you elected. In this sense, the DA is really an insurance policy. if you do not vote and an incompetent person is elected there will be no do-overs or trade-in's.

So the question is this: would you rather be represented by a self-centered, career politician who has never stepped into the shoes of a prosecutor and tried so much as a misdemeanor criminal case in her life or would you rather have an honest, sincere, proven career prosecutor who is as experienced as he is tough when it matters most, in the courtroom?

This is why you should vote, and do it intellegently.

You have 1 day left to vote for MIKE ANDERSON.

Spunk.

Anonymous said...

Roosevelt was never in military.He did lead us through one of the worst times in American history.WW 11 and more.Some say they would not have survived without FDR

Anonymous said...

6:39

Roosevelt had plenty of smart people around him that actually knew what they were doing. Lykos has neither, and never will.

Anonymous said...

Well written, Murray. I truly hope that Tuesday brings a big change for the positive to the DA Office. The prosecutors deserve it, the citizens deserve it and the police officers who protect us deserve it. There is something fundamentally wrong with the way things are and I hope that all the folks down there who do their best everyday to keep us safe and ensure justice is done get a leader they so badly need in Mr. Anderson.

GO VOTE!

Anonymous said...

The Roosevelt analogy is misplaced. The President has a far wider spectrum of responsibilities than only the military. A DA has only the responsibility of being a prosecutor. A better question to ask would be whether Patton had ever served in the military before he commanded an army.

The only people who don't see Lykos as a complete disaster are people completely unfamiliar with the criminal justice system or defendants.

A Harris County Lawyer said...

The only common ground that Pat Lykos has with FDR is chain smoking.

First, Roosevelt achieved office and worked day in and day out for the goal of saving the Nation -- not promoting himself.

He took Office to save the country from the Great Depression, and he continued his career to prevail in World War II. He realized it wasn't about him.

Second, Roosevelt listened to his Generals. He was wise enough to follow the words of those who were battle tested.

If Lykos had been in charge during World War II, she would have declared General Eisenhower to be negligent and incompetent in 1942, and then given Hitler a six month DIVERT program.

Anonymous said...

I see Hooper is over there talking to himself on his blog. Supposedly he has one of his alter egos reporting to himself who in the DA's office is an Anderson supporter so he can continue disciplining them and cleaning house. What a louse!

A Harris County Lawyer said...

Anon 9:17,

He's doing a good job with his voices. He's convinced Big Jolly that he's multiple people.

Anonymous said...

Today is a milestone for Lykos and band of miscreant cronies . After tomorrow, she will be referred to as the lame duck Harris County DA. Her legacy as the worst DA in the history of the office is so deserved and she did it all by herself.

Anonymous said...

In 1995 I had the pleasure of meeting Admiral Eugene Fluckey, the most decorated sub commander of WWII. I was buying his book, Thunder Below. He recognized I could not be a WWII submariner so he asked about my father. I told him my father was a CPO, the cook on his sub during the war and did 11 war patrols. My father walked up about that time and Admiral Fluckey greeted him like a long lost friend. Admiral Fluckey told me he was using all the proceeds from the sale of his book to take all the members of his crew on a group vacation, including family. He also told me he felt the cook was about the third most important person on the boat (and all were important) because if the men are served good food, they perform well. This man was a leader. This man understood the importance of every man on his boat. Lykos and her leadership team do not measure up to the standards set by Admiral Fluckey. If Jim thinks his "military" training prepared him for his current job, well Jim is wrong. The Lykos leadership team is not qualified to scrap and paint Admiral Fluckey's boat.

When Admiral Fluckey was going to sign the book I bought, he asked what I did. I told him I was a lawyer and he kind of dropped his head. But I then told him I was a prosecutor and had been so for a number of years, he smiled and thanked me for my service. This from a man who had a Medal of Honor, four Silver Stars, four Presidential Unit Citations and the Navy Unit Commendation.

As for my father, that CPO retired from the Navy, he went on to become an office manager for the Texas Employment Commission (now Workforce) and won a number of awards for having an outstanding office. He was a great administrator.

So now is the time to go a vote. Vote for Mike Anderson, get your neighbors to vote, get your friends to vote and get you relatives to vote. Lets bring some true leadership to the District Attorney's Office.

Anonymous said...

I voted and it was for PAT LYKOS! I just cant believe that Anderson is as clean as you say he is. It all shows the last few months that he and others were planning this attack.

Anonymous said...

Every prosecution thought to be too "over-aggressive" unleashes criticism from the Defense Bar, the Media, and the ACLU.
~~~
The first two, no doubt. Fact challenged hyperbole is their bread and butter. What is your your particular problem with the ACLU? That you would throw them in there seems more like red meat filler for a Republican campaign mailer than anything else.

Anonymous said...

Send emails, FB messages, and texts to friends all day reminding them to vote. Give them the list of good candidates.

Anonymous said...

I will vote for Mike Anderson only if he is
Going to fire Rachel Palmer.

Anonymous said...

Great analogy, 4:20.

Rage

Gritsforbreakfast said...

"Big Jolly doesn't believe you. It is not in a FOI request"

In other words, it's an allegation that can't be factually documented.

Murray, what are you going to do with this blog if Anderson wins? Without Pat Lykos, you'll lose your raisson d'etre. You'd have nothing to write about. This may be a "be careful what you ask for moment.

A Harris County Lawyer said...

Grits,

I think I may start writing a Life at the Brazos County Criminal Justice Center blog.

Just kidding.

I'm sure my posts will be a little less frequent, but I would imagine that I will still come up with stuff from time to time. You know as well I do that it is very easy to write when you have a topic you are interested in or feel strongly about. Those lulls in between can definitely lead to some writer's block.

Maybe I can devote my time to clearing O. Henry's good name. Either way, it will be a happy problem to have.

Anonymous said...

I'd enjoy reading about ongoing cases and the behind the scenes tactics and thoughts from those who work on both sides of the CJC system, just my two cents.

Anonymous said...

I'd enjoy reading about ongoing cases and the behind the scenes tactics and thoughts from those who work on both sides of the CJC system, just my two cents.

If Murray would remember he's now a defense lawyer, instead of hoping for a better DAO, you'd have that on this blog.

Rage