Thursday, May 31, 2012

Tonight's Reasonable Doubt (5/31/12)

Please join Todd Dupont and me for tonight's Reasonable Doubt as we do our post-election analysis and discuss the upcoming races in November.  Our guest will be aspiring TV personality and die-hard Republican, Franklin Bynum.


As always, the show is on the air live at 8:00 p.m., and you can watch it live-streaming on the internet by clicking here.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Election Wrap Up

Well, I'm not going to lie.  I woke up with a smile on my face this morning.

I keep remembering that in December of 2008, I got fired from the same job by two different people.  Last night, Pat Lykos got fired by 90,842 people.

My analysis of the election is mostly just a confirmation of what I've always thought.  In 2008, Lykos and Leitner won the Election only by getting into a run-off with Kelly Siegler.  The 2008 election wasn't the rejection of Kelly -- it was just the successful manipulation of politics by Lykos.  I have been cautiously optimistic about the 2012 Election ever since we learned it was only going to be a two-person race.

The fact that the voters in Harris County got the message from the Criminal Justice Center is a relief.  Time and time again, I heard the old line about how "nobody cares what is going on in the CJC other than the lawyers" and that those things Lykos was doing didn't bother the General Public.  I kept remembering back in 2002 when a judge named Janice Law did such a bad job on the bench that she didn't make a run-off in her own primary as an incumbent.  I had to hope that if the word filtered to the public about Judge Law's poor performance then, surely Lykos' performance would be known as well.

The fact that Judge Anderson's victory over Lykos was so crushing seems to illustrate that assessment was correct.

There were a lot of ecstatic Harris County prosecutors at the Anderson Party last night.  I'm so very happy for all of them.  When I got canned by Lykos in 2008, I kept saying that I was afraid "the living would come to envy the dead," and sadly, I was right.  The Lykos Administration ran off over 90 prosecutors in four years, and quite frankly, I'm surprised that was all.  Those who stayed there for the past four years and just kept on doing their job have my admiration.  I honestly don't know what I would have done under the circumstances.

You all deserve a huge round of applause.  Even if Pat Lykos moves you all to the Justice of the Peace Division for the next seven months.

Lloyd Oliver's victory is an absolute stunner, and if anyone thinks that means an easy November, think again.  Zack Fertitta is a million times more qualified than Lloyd ever thought of being and he lost.  If  you think that isn't a possibility of happening in the Fall, think again.  Unless the Election is going to be decided by a Spelling Bee, we need to get ready to work every bit as hard in the Fall as we did in the Spring.

Speaking of Zack, if there is any silver lining to the Democratic race, it means that there won't be an ugly campaign between Fertitta and Anderson.  Zack Fertitta is a good man and he was running to help an Office that he cared about like we all do.  I appreciate him running and making the effort.  Last night's Democratic race speaks volumes about the lack of information the Dems had.

Kristin Guiney proved last night that you cannot buy an election (no matter how many poll workers you hire off of Craigslist) with her trouncing of Lana Shadwick.  I couldn't be more happy for her.  Big congratulations also go out to Ryan Patrick and Renee Magee, who won their (not-quite-as-hotly-contested) races, as well.

No evening is ever perfect.  Joe Vinas lost to Robert Summerlin, which is a shame.  Joe was the better and more experienced candidate.  On a selfish level, I'm glad that he's staying as a prosecutor, though.  He will succeed no matter where he goes.

Crickets are chirping over on Don Hooper's blog, although I don't expect that to last.  I don't think he ever realized that his words of hatred did very little for his cause.  Instead, they inspired a legion of people to work even harder to beat Pat Lykos.

I have no idea what Rachel Palmer's career will be from here on out at the D.A.'s Office, but I would guess her days are numbered.  A while ago, I heard through the grapevine that she was promised a job by Robert Talton if he wins the County Attorney's seat.

Gary Polland showed that he is still as non-influential as he has ever been.  The endorsements he gave in the Criminal Courthouse Elections were roundly rejected.  That's ironic since he was the only one of the slate mailers who worked in the criminal arena.  I guess the message is that Gary's reputation in the CJC world is pretty the same in the outside world as well.  He's just a putz and his recommendations mean nothing.

And finally, many people have asked me what I would do (and or blog about) if Lykos lost.  Well, I guess I'm going to just keep going to work.  I told Judge Anderson when he first announced that I wanted to help him and that I didn't want my job back in return.  I just wanted a good leader back in that Office.

He more than lived up to his end of the bargain.

So, we'll see what topics come up in the months and years to come.  I'm sure Lykos will give me some material over the next seven months.

In the meantime, I'm going to start doing more non-profit work, and I would like your help.  I'm asking that all my readers donate to an Adult Literacy Campaign in the name of Don Hooper.  You don't have to sign your name to it.

Just send a check in the amount of $49.99 and we'll all know where it came from.



Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Election Day

Hopefully, if you are reading this, you voted at some point over the past two weeks and all you need to do is wait for tonight's election results.

If, however, you enjoy the experience of voting on Election Day, please don't forget to get out there and vote!  You can only vote at the polling location where you are zoned to today.  If you need help figuring out where to go, try clicking here.

It is hard to believe that this campaign season is finally (mercifully) coming to an end.  I'm exhausted and I wasn't even running for anything!  My heart and admiration goes out to those candidates who put themselves through so much for the opportunity to serve the Public.  If you have never worked closely with a campaign, you have no idea about all of the time and effort that these fine men and women running for office go through!

So the very least the rest of us can do is get out there and vote today.

If you have some extra time today and can actually work at a polling location for a candidate, let me know and I'll get you set up.

Most importantly, just make sure that you and your family and friends have voted.

Go vote for Mike Anderson!

Go vote for Kristin Guiney!

Go vote for Joe Vinas!

Go vote for Ryan Patrick!

Go vote for Renee Magee!

And vote against Jarred Woodfill by voting for Paul Simpson!

Hopefully this will be my last transmission until after we have the results in.  I will be doing some tweeting throughout the day over anything relevant that crosses my mind regarding the race.

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.





Sunday, May 27, 2012

Suzanne McDaniel

As Calvin mentioned in the comments yesterday, Suzanne McDaniel, the founder of the Victim's Assistance Program within the Harris County District Attorney's Office under Carol Vance, passed away last week.

I can't say that I ever met her, but I admire the work of all those in the Victim-Witness field.  As a prosecutor, I can't tell you how many times I relied on the wonderful people in Victim-Witness to hold the hand of a victim's family or a survivor of a violent crime.

The compassion that the good people of Victim-Witness show every day is amazing.  It isn't amazing that they have compassion, exactly.  It is amazing that they are able to get up every day and go to work and have to deal with such sadness.  They lend strength and encouragement where there often is none.

There is a very nice article on Ms. McDaniel in the Chronicle today.  I just wanted to do a post that people around the CJC were welcome to comment on here as well.

Friday, May 25, 2012

The Appropriate DIVERT Candidate

One of the many complaints that people have with the illegal DIVERT program established by Pat Lykos at the Harris County District Attorney's Office is that it is entirely too arbitrary in who it does or does not allow into the program.  This begs the question, "What characteristics makes one a good candidate for DIVERT?"

Well, apparently Erick Erminger was a good candidate per the Lykos Administration and aspiring Judge Roger Bridgwater.  He was screened and placed on DIVERT by ADA Roger Bridgwater on May 27, 2010 and had his case dismissed on June 13, 2011.




I guess he was one of Lykos' "success stories" until this happened.

Per KHOU's website:


According to police, Erminger called his girlfriend, Jennifer Lynette McKinley, late at night on Friday, May 18, asking her to come pick him up from a bar, because he was too drunk to drive.

Once McKinley brought Erminger back to their apartment, police said they got into a fight, and Erminger killed her.




You could argue that his DWI dismissal is unrelated to the murder and you may possibly be correct.

But it is nice to have some idea what the criteria is for DIVERT acceptance.

Last Day to Early Vote

Okay Ladies and Gentlemen, today is the very last day you can Early Vote.

If you are registered, you can go to ANY location in the county between the hours of 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. to vote.  After 7 p.m. tonight, the polls close and Early Voting is over.

There is NO Early Voting this weekend.

You will have to wait to Election Day on Tuesday, May 29th at the location you are zoned to ONLY.

Here are the Early Voting Locations.

Go vote for Mike Anderson.

Go vote for Kristin Guiney.

Go vote for Joe Vinas.

Go vote for Renee Magee.

Go vote for Ryan Patrick.

Go vote for Leslie Johnson for County Attorney.

And make sure you vote for Paul Simpson over Jared Woodfill for GOP Chair.

Tuesday is going to be a long day and absolutely NOTHING has been decided.  Your vote matters more than ever, so get out there and vote for these great candidates!


Thursday, May 24, 2012

An Insight Into Office Morale under Pat Lykos

Although any prosecutor (or other employee) of the Harris County District Attorney's Office is too smart to risk being fired by supporting anyone other than Pat Lykos for D.A. in this election, there are some signs of rebellion coming from the Office.

In this post, I suggested that any prosecutor who wished to remain anonymous (and support Mike Anderson's campaign) could donate $49.99 and not have their name disclosed under the law.  This morning, I learned thus far, there have been 65 donations to the Mike Anderson campaign in that exact amount.

Thinking about how many prosecutors were willing to give their hard-earned money to the Anderson campaign in the hopes of bringing better leadership to their jobs got me to thinking about the prosecutors who left during the Lykos tenure (or in immediate anticipation of her arrival).

These are the folks who Lykos waived off as being the "normal rate of attrition."  I thought it might be worth taking a closer look at those individuals who, if not but for the Lykos Administration, would most likely still be working there today.

1.  Bert Graham (Retired)  --  former 1st Assistant who offered to stay on briefly and help with transition, but was rebuffed by Lykos Administration.
2.  Lyn McClellan (Retired) -- former trial bureau chief.
3.  Marie Munier (Retired) -- former trial bureau chief
4.  Murray Newman --  Felony District Court Chief. Contract not renewed under Lykos.  And then fired again!
5.  Luci Davidson -- Felony Division Chief.  Contract not renewed by Lykos.
6.  Joe Owmby -- Felony Division Chief.  Contract not renewed by Lykos.
7.  Vic Wisner -- Felony Division Chief.  Contract not renewed by Lykos.
8.  Craig Goodhart -- Felony Division Chief.  Contract not renewed by Lykos.
9.  Mike Trent --  Felony District Court Chief.  Contract not renewed by Lykos.
10.  Donna Goode  -- Bureau Chief.
11.  Stephen St. Martin -- Felony District Court Chief & Special Crimes Prosecutor.
12.  Kristin Guiney -- Felony District Court Chief.
13.  Dan Rizzo --  Felony Division Chief.
14.  Lester Blizzard -- Felony District Court Chief.
15.  Mark Donnelly -- Felony District Court Chief.
16.  Don Smyth --  Felony Division Chief.
17.  Carvana Cloud -- Felony Two.
18.  Edward Porter -- Felony Chief.
19.  Shirley Cornelius -- Appellate Senior Prosecutor.
20.  April Silva -- Misdemeanor Chief/Felony Three.
21.  Warren Diepraam --  Felony District Court Chief & Head of VATS Team.
22.  Brent Mayr -- Felony District Court Chief.
23.  George Weissfich -- Felony District Court Chief.
24.  Craig Feazel -- Felony District Court Chief.
25.  Sylvia Escobedo -- Felony District Court Chief.
26.  Will Womble -- pretended to be a Felony District Court Chief, but actually a Felony Three.
27.  John Craig Still -- Felony District Court Chief.
28.  Paria Rafiee -- Felony District Court Three.
29.  Jim Norris -- Bond Forfeiture Division.
30.  Jeremy Gordon -- Misdemeanor Chief/Felony District Court Three
31.  Ann Lee Mosley -- Felony District Court Two
32.  Sean Teare --  Misdemeanor Chief/Felony District Court Three
33.  Matt Campbell -- Misdemeanor Chief/Felony District Court Three
34.  Michelle Mishoe --  Not sure of Seniority Level
35.  Erin Jackson -- Misdemeanor Chief/Felony District Court Three
36.  Nathaniel Pitoniak --  Misdemeanor Chief/Felony District Court Three
37.  Marti Samuel -- Not sure of Seniority Level
38.  Andrea Perrard -- Not sure of Seniority Level
39.  Tonya Rolland -- Misdemeanor Chief/Felony District Court Three
40.  Michael Moore -- Misdemeanor Chief/Felony District Court Three
41.  Brad Means -- Misdemeanor Chief/Felony District Court Three
42.  Jacquelyn Stewart -- Not sure of Seniority Level
43.  Kris Moore -- Juvenile Felony District Court Chief
44.  Priya McMorrow -- Felony District Court Two
45.  Yvette Feay --  Not sure of Seniority Level
46.  Girija Bhargava --  Not sure of Seniority Level
47.  Billy Skinner -- Not sure of Seniority Level
48.  Kelly Selinidis -- Misdemeanor Chief/Felony District Court Three
49.  Coby Henson -- Not sure of Seniority Level
50.  Kimberly M. Miller --  Misdemeanor Chief/Felony District Court Three
51.  Kurt Hopke --  Misdemeanor Chief/Felony District Court Three
52.  Katie Sweeten -- Not sure of Seniority Level
53.  Suzanne Emilady --  Felony District Court Two
54.  Marc Brown --  Felony Division Chief.
55.  Philip Perez --  Misdemeanor Chief/Felony District Court Three
56.  Rifi Newaz -- Felony District Court Two
57.  Daphne Newaz -- Misdemeanor Chief/Felony District Court Three
58.  Denise Bradley -- Felony Division Chief
59.  Jack Roady -- Senior Appellate Prosecutor
60.  Andrew Leuchtmann -- Felony District Court Two
61.  John Jocher  -- Felony District Court Chief
62.  Will Graham --  Felony District Court Two
63.  Samantha Cox -- Misdemeanor Chief/Felony District Court Three
64.  Brionna Ketchum -- Misdemeanor Chief/Felony District Court Three
65.  Layne Thompson -- Misdemeanor Chief/Felony District Court Three
66.  Brad Loper -- Felony District Court Two
67.  Jon Stephenson -- Felony District Court Chief
68.  Eileen Bogar -- Felony District Court Chief
69.  Michael LaMendola -- Felony District Court Two
70.  Shreya Shukla --  Felony District Court Three
71.  Kate Skagerberg -- Misdemeanor Chief/Felony District Court Three
72.  Jamie Collier Burns -- Felony District Court Three
73.  Charissa Sloan -- Misdemeanor Chief/Felony District Court Three
74.  Stacy Matthews -- Misdemeanor Chief/Felony District Court Three
75.  Darrin Darby -- Felony District Court Chief
76.  Kevin Petroff --  Felony District Court Chief
77.  Leah Shapiro --Felony District Court Two
78.  Scott Pope -- Felony District Court Two
79.  Elizabeth Whited -- Misdemeanor Chief/Felony District Court Three
80.  Bill Hawkins -- Felony Division Chief
81.  Josh Hill -- Senior Appellate Prosecutor
82.  Alison Secrest -- Misdemeanor Chief/Felony District Court Three
83.  Neelu Lambert -- Felony District Court Chief
84.  Jeannie Dickey -- Misdemeanor Chief/Felony District Court Three
85.  Jessica Estrada --  Felony District Court Two
86.  Gemayel Haynes -- Misdemeanor Chief/Felony District Court Three
87.  Laura Killinger -- Felony District Court Two
88.  David Nachtigall --  Felony District Court Two
89.  Kimberly D. Miller --  Felony District Court Two
90.  Stephen Pierce --  Not sure of Seniority Level
91.  Colin "Judo" McLaughlin --  Misdemeanor Chief/Felony District Court Three



This list is not all-inclusive, but it should give you an idea of why I could never keep up with writing "goodbye posts" AKA "Office Obituaries."

"Normal Rate of Attrition," my ass.  Lykos is running good and experienced prosecutors out of that Office at a staggering rate.

Tonight's Reasonable Doubt (5/24/12)

Please join me and Todd Dupont for tonight's Reasonable Doubt with our guest, new HCCLA President Chris Tritico.  It has been several weeks since my last appearance, and I apologize for the long-haired hippy that Todd got to fill in for me.  I know that I will be much more entertaining.

We're going to probably be talking about some politics and election fever, so please tune in at 8:00 p.m. tonight.

As always, you can watch it live streaming by clicking here.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Three Days Left - Go Vote

This time next week, you'll be waking up to learn the results of the Republican and Democratic Primaries.

Hopefully, you've already voted by now, but if you haven't, get off your rear end and go do it.

If you have already voted, now is a great time to start calling and e-mailing your friends and making sure that they've voted already.

Yes, it is time to start annoying them into voting.  They will forgive you.  Eventually.

Early voting ends on Friday and then you'll have to wait until Election Day to vote.

If you need more information, click here.


Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Campaign Violations

Anybody notice the Election Code violation in this picture?


I'll admit the picture is taken from a little bit too far away, but if you look closely, you can see them.





For those of you who aren't familiar with the Downtown area, you are looking at the Harris County Jury Assembly Building, which, obviously, is government-owned property.

If you look closely, in the circular "step paths" in the bottom right and bottom left corners there are campaign signs posted in those circles.  Having campaign literature and campaign signs on government property is illegal.

The candidate who had signs placed there?  Patricia Lykos, of course.

I have heard from multiple sources that Lykos' General Counsel John Barnhill informed our beloved District Attorney of the signs' presence this morning and of the fact that their presence was illegal.  My sources inform me that Lykos' response was (no, I'm not kidding):
"What the f*ck do I care?  I didn't put them there.  Let someone else deal with it."
Well, I have to give Lykos credit for consistency.  I think that was pretty much her stance when told that DIVERT was illegal, too.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Guest Post: Lykos and Judicial Activism


A guest post from a commenter who wishes to remain Anonymous:

I ask all those who consider themselves to be Republican party activists, members of the Tea Party, and/or those who find judicial activism to be antithetical to the law and the will of the people to imagine the following scenario. 

Attorney General Eric Holder holds a press conference to announce he has unilaterally determined that the Department of Justice will no longer prosecute certain low weight narcotics cases even though Congress passed a law making it illegal to possess these narcotics regardless of their weight.  He provides four reasons for this decision: (1) This is the practice in other jurisdictions, including Canada and France (2) Federal judges complain that these cases are clogging their dockets, (3) Assistant United States Attorneys observe that juries do not care much about these cases, (4) in a period of limited resources, law enforcement’s time can be better used fighting other crimes.  Drug Enforcement Administration officers complain that this policy undercuts their ability to practice the “broken windows” strategy of law enforcement that has proven to be successful in reducing the crime rate in New York City and elsewhere.  Their complaints fall on deaf ears at the Department of Justice and Holder even goes so far as to suggest that the DEA officers who are complaining are more interested in “getting arrests for the sake of having statistics.”

My guess is that if this were to happen, you would be appalled that a public official unilaterally decided to ignore a law passed by the legislature simply because they disagree with it.  You would be aghast that justification for the policy was based on practices in different jurisdictions.  You would be outraged that the government’s leading law enforcement official not only disregarded police officers’ complaints but belittled their concerns. 

This is exactly how Harris County District Attorney Judge Patricia Lykos has acted with regard to Possession of a Controlled Substance Less Than One Gram cases.  Based on her unilateral decision Harris County Assistant District Attorneys no longer prosecute cases in which defendants are found to possess narcotics like cocaine, heroin, and methamphetamine weighing .01 grams or less.  (The Houston Chronicle, December 5, 2011, compared this amount to approximately one-half a grain of rice.)  Her reasons for the policy: (1) This is the practice in Travis and Bexar counties (2) Harris County District Court Judges complain that these cases are clogging their dockets (3) Harris County District Attorneys observe that juries do not care much about these cases (4) and “(w)hen you have finite resources, you have to make decisions and this decision is a plus all around.”  (Houston Chronicle, December 8, 2011).  When the leaders of six Harris County police organizations, including the Houston Police Department, expressed that the unilateral policy change was not a plus all the way around as it hampered their ability to practice “broken windows” policing and prevent invasive property crimes like burglary, Judge Patricia Lykos dismissed their concerns as “getting arrests for the sake of having statistics.”  (Houston Chronicle, November 29, 2011).     

Judge Patricia Lykos insists, “We are not ignoring state law.”  (KUHF-FM, November 29, 2011).  This is a lie and a prime example of judicial activism run amok.  The Texas legislature has drawn a clear distinction between cases of Possession of Marihuana and Possession of Controlled Substances.  Texas Health and Safety Code Section 481.121(a) sets forth that a person commits the offense of Possession of Marihuana when they “intentionally or knowingly possess a usable quantity of marihuana.”  In essence this means that if you possess enough marihuana to take a drag you have broken the law.  Texas Health and Safety Code Section 481.112(a) covers Possession of a Controlled Substance crimes and sets forth “a person commits an offense if the person knowingly manufactures, delivers, or possesses with intent to deliver a controlled substance.”  Note that there is NO language about a usable amount.  If you have cocaine about the size of a half-grain of rice, the legislature has decided that that is illegal.      

To be certain there are some valid issues and concerns with low level Possession of a Controlled Substance cases.  In particular they do contribute to jail overcrowding.  But there were ways that Judge Patricia Lykos could have dealt with this category of cases without ignoring the legislature, and the people.  Though it would take time, she could have joined the Harris County District Court Judges in trying to change the law.  On a more immediate timetable she could have encouraged the Harris County District Court Judges to reduce the bond schedule for Possession of a Controlled Substance Less Than One Gram cases from $2,000 to $500, which is the bond if an individual is charged with a similar amount of Marihuana.  This latter step would substantively address jail overcrowding and simultaneously allow police officer’s to enforce the law.  However, it would not grab headlines, which appears to have been among Judge Patricia Lykos’ motivations.

Republicans should care, and do care, about judicial activism.  When politicians and judges ignore the clear letter of the law and the absolute intent of the legislature they subvert the will of the people.  We the people elect the legislature.  Our elected officials have drawn a clear distinction between the offenses of Possession of Marihuana and Possession of a Controlled Substance.  This distinction should be respected until it is changed.

Judge Patricia Lykos is a Republican.  But her party affiliation does not allow her to unilaterally ignore the law, misrepresent this fact to the media, and then thumb her nose at law enforcement when they complain that they are being asked to ignore a law they have sworn to uphold. 

Judicial activism should not be tolerated, regardless of party affiliation.  If Eric Holder acted as Judge Patricia Lykos has you would demand his removal from office.  Judge Patricia Lykos should be treated no differently.  

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Lykos' Anger, Hypocrisy, and Desperation - Pt. 1

If you are, like me, a career Republican voter, you are no doubt "enjoying" finding your mailbox so stuffed with political mailers these days that you need a crowbar to get them out.  Pat Lykos and her cohorts are definitely doing all they can to generate enough negative mailers to deflect attention from her terrible tenure (and possibly break the back of your mailman in the process).

Lykos' accusations against Judge Mike Anderson run from the benign to the out-right false and reek of a candidate who is desperate to shift focus away from her phenomenally bad tenure as District Attorney.

If you want an idea of just how petty Lykos' attacks are, my personal favorite is that she takes issue with Judge Anderson's use of his old courtroom to shoot a commercial for his campaign.  She feels that he owes the county some money for borrowing an empty courtroom for an afternoon.

Um, okay.  This is coming from the woman whose first act as Elected D.A. was to use taxpayer money to install hardwood floors in her office.  She quickly followed that up by paying taxpayer dollars to hire a public speaker to lecture the Assistant D.A.'s that their primary goal as prosecutors was to make Lykos look good.  She's treated herself and her leadership team to the best Continuing Legal Education (CLE) seminars that the State of Texas has to offer, and she also treated herself to a nice CLE in freaking Hawaii.  I just got back from honeymooning in Hawaii and it sure would have been nice if the taxpayers would have sent me and my bride like they sent Lykos.

And don't get me started on her using her employees to investigate her "political enemies," also known as Grand Jurors.

The hypocrisy of her criticizing Anderson for spending an hour or two in an open-to-the-public courtroom is astounding.  By the way, I wonder if she ran her attack on Anderson by Lykos "Leadership" Team member Roger Bridgwater, who did the exact same thing during the 2008 election.

But Lykos' petty attack on Judge Anderson isn't limited to the silly courtroom-use attack.  She and her new attack dog, Dave "Big Jolly" Jennings (who seems to be taking charisma lessons from his friend and resident psychopath Don Hooper lately), sent out a laundry list of misleading statements about Judge Anderson designed to confuse the voters.  Big Jolly has taken his vast knowledge of the law that he has gained working, um, not in law, to tell me how wrong I am in analyzing legal issues lately.

Here are some of the entertaining misleading and dishonest facts that Big Jolly and Hooper have been trying to sell on the internet and through mailers:

1.  Mike Anderson gives probation to illegal criminal aliens as both a prosecutor and a judge.
WHY IT IS MISLEADING:  Lykos and Big Jolly's assertion is passing the buck from the District Attorney's Office to the Courtroom.  She cites two cases coming from the 262nd District Court when Judge Anderson was on the bench, where the Defendant got probation.  There is absolutely NO mention of anything from his prosecutorial days.
The Assistant District Attorney has a duty to inform the Judge whether or not the Defendant is an illegal alien, and there is no indication of what Judge Anderson did or did not know.  Also keep in mind the fact that with Judge Anderson's twelve years on the bench, the Lykos campaign can only produce two cases to accuse him of.    Additionally, where is the proof that those two defendants were here illegally?

2.  Judge Anderson failed to get a case indicted on time and the defendant and the defendant made bond.
WHY IT IS MISLEADING:  The Defendant may have had a brief moment of freedom, but ultimately, prosecutor Mike Anderson got her a Life sentence.  Ironically, the defense attorney on the case seems to have been none other than Lykos' 1st Assistant, Jim Leitner.

3.  Mike Anderson isn't Pro-Life, because he gave a judicial bypass on someone seeking an abortion.
WHY IT IS MISLEADING:  This one is misleading for a lot of reasons.  Number One, Lykos and Big Jolly make the assumption that Anderson granted a bypass.  Whether he did or not would be sealed under the law.  In the event that he did grant a judicial bypass, as a judge he swore an oath to follow the law.  Remember when frequent Republican target Judge Kevin Fine ruled the Texas Death Penalty statute was un-Constitutional?  Well, the argument was that he wasn't following the law.  Ultimately he was forced to.  Judges swear an oath to follow the law whether they agree with it or not.  You've seen very recent history of what happens when a judge elects not to do so.
SIDE NOTE:  Anderson has repeatedly stressed his Pro-Life beliefs even though they have absolutely nothing to do with the job of being District Attorney.  Lykos is attempting to create an issue where there isn't one.
SECOND SIDE NOTE:  It would be worth doing some digging to see if Visiting Judge Lykos ever granted one, herself.  Some judges are known to ask for a substitute (visiting) judge on days where an unpopular decision is going to be forced to be rendered.  Did any of those ever cross Lykos' desk when she was visiting?

4.Mike Anderson gave probation to a home invader.
WHY IT IS WRONG/MISLEADING:  The Lykos mailer cites to Cause No. 1269890 which comes back to a drug case, where the Defendant got a probation.  I'm not sure what she was talking about here, but the facts have never really been her strong suit.

5.  Prosecutor Mike Anderson had the highest backlog in the courthouse.
WHY IT IS MISLEADING:  Anderson was sent into high docket courts to get the numbers down.  Every assignment has a Day One where the high docket is in existence.  This bizarre stat twisting is just pathetic.  Those courts where Anderson went got their dockets under control thanks to his supervision.

6.  Mike Anderson shoved a complainant in a criminal case to the floor in court.
WHY IT IS MISLEADING:  It must be lovely for Pat Lykos to have the ability to have access to all of the prior ADA personnel files at her disposal as part of her job.  It is a shame that she doesn't have the intellectual honesty to share the full story that comes within that personnel file.  The truth of the matter is that an agitated complainant during docket call became angry and tackled then prosecutor Mike Anderson and he defended himself.  That complainant himself was arrested.
Do you really think for one second that District Attorney Johnny Holmes would not have fired a prosecutor who was physically attacking complainants on criminal cases?  Seriously?

Next up on the blog will be some interesting stats that have happened under the Lykos Regime.  Once you read those, you'll understand why she's been sending out such dishonest mailers and why Big Jolly is the only shill in town foolish enough to buy into them.

$49.99

If you are an ADA and want to help Judge Mike Anderson's name, but don't want to end up on the Lykos/Palmer/Hooper enemies list, there is a compromise solution for you.

As noted in the comments of my last post, only donations to a political campaign of $50.00 or more have to be reported by the campaign.  So, if you'd like to help, but not get your name on the list (of those that Hooper is now claiming should be "bayonetted on the battlefield"), simply donate $49.99.  You can write a check or do it online by clicking here.

I know of at least two people who have already donated that exact amount, and I hope you will too.  It isn't that much money in the big scheme of things, and just think how crazy it will make Lykos to know she can't discover and punish her enemies from within the office.

Send a message.  Send $49.99.

Friday, May 18, 2012

The Lykos-Benzion-Big Jolly Triangle

It seems like only yesterday that I wrote this article on the blog, pointing out my personal opinion that David "Big Jolly" Jennings had become a shill for Pat Lykos at the behest of his friend and former cohort at Lone Star Times, David Benzion.  Man, that article ticked off a lot of Big Jolly's friends.

Of course Dave denied it.  His drastic and sudden support of Pat Lykos had absolutely nothing to do with the fact that Benzion had just become the Office's newest employee.  The fact that Dave scored an interview with Lykos at the same time she was dodging every major news network in the city was completely coincidental.  The fact that she then used all of the great things he said about her was also coincidental.  He was completely neutral, he protested.

When he posted his picture with her at one of the debates, Dave wrote with the enthusiasm of a 12-year-old girl who had just met Beyonce.  He was so very excited, even though Lykos didn't know who he was (according to him).  He was still neutral, of course.  A political blogger suddenly having such favored access from the person who would be at the head of the local Republican ticket would never sway someone with such journalistic integrity, right?

He was completely detached and neutral.

Yeah, right.

Perhaps you received Pat Lykos' negative slam piece on Mike Anderson this week.  Did you notice the picture of Judge Anderson arguing during the debate?  Lykos wants to call him "angry" and I suppose given the expression on his face, maybe he appears to be.  Let's keep in mind that he was in the middle of a heated debate, however.  He wasn't screaming at Girl Scouts or anything.

That picture was taken by Big Jolly.  Good ole' completely neutral Big Jolly.  He had posted it on his website at the time it was taken (along with that picture of himself and Lykos).  He also had been letting that bastion-of-credibility, Don Hooper, use it on his blog (the one slandering Judges and his wife's fellow prosecutors, and stating how many people he was going to get fired soon).  You might also note that all of the good quotes slamming Judge Anderson on that mail-out also come from Dave, as well.

Having worked with and around the races affecting the CJC over the past few years, I've come to terms with the fact that not everyone agrees with me.  It isn't personal, and I can still be friends with someone no matter how deranged their political ideals are.

But Big Jolly is different.

He holds himself out as just a spectator and interested, avid viewer of Republican Politics, but he's acting as a campaign agent for one of the candidates.  At some point, that would be like Betty Crocker judging a cooking contest that she was competing in.

It is perfectly fine to advocate for one candidate over another, but don't do so while pretending that you are just merely doing an analysis.

As we get closer to the election, Big Jolly is getting testier and more out of bounds with what he is saying about Judge Anderson and prosecutors that used to work for the D.A.'s Office before Lykos came to town.  Recently in a blog post (that I won't dignify by linking to), he referred to anyone who wanted to go back to the way it was before Lykos:

"Perhaps this is part of the good ol' days that he [Anderson] keeps referring to.  You know, the days when you hung 'em high in the morning, then got high in the afternoon?  Dang, that almost sounds like a country song."
To which I reply to Dave: You've lost touch with reality.  Now you are insinuating drug use at the D.A.'s Office before Lykos?  You've got to be freaking kidding me.  Not even Lykos has said that.  She's not really in a place to throw stones at the moment, though.  There are some personal behavior scandals within her office as we speak that she is doing everything in her power to keep a tight lid on.

As a former prosecutor who has never gotten high in his life, I take offense.  I take BIG offense.

Dave follows up with perhaps an additional reason to dislike Mike Anderson in a strange reply to me on his blog.

"And I gotta tell ya, this one [winning the election for Lykos] will be easy.  So be sure and tell that jerk of a consultant that your guy hired that I said Cheers."
Funny.  You know who else likes to tell his enemies "Cheers?"  David Benzion.  So, apparently Big Jolly doesn't like Judge Anderson's campaign consultant.  Okay.

Anyway, to say that I'm disappointed in Big Jolly is an understatement.  I stand by my earlier accusation that he has been (and still is) working as a shill for Pat Lykos and David Benzion.

By the way, a quick glance at the Texas Tribune website doesn't indicate David Benzion works for the Harris County District Attorney's Office.  That makes me wonder why he is taking up office space over there.  Perhaps he is just writing all those grants that he got hired to write for free.

Early Voting Hours

If you didn't get a chance to Early Vote this week because of work or other scheduling problems, please remember that all of the Early Voting locations are open this weekend.

On Saturday, you can vote between 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.  On Sunday, you can vote between 1 p.m. to 6 p.m.

Next week, the polls will be open from Monday through Friday 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.  After that, you'll have to wait for Election Day where you can only vote at the location you are zoned to.

Please get out there and get it done before May 29th!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

No Apathy Zone

Today is Day Four of Early Voting in what is predicted to be a very low turnout primary in Harris County.  I'm no Charles Kuffner by any stretch of the imagination when it comes to analyzing the numbers and making any predictions, but I do feel pretty comfortable in saying that none of the races affecting the CJC are decided by a long shot.

The biggest enemy that outstanding candidates like Judge Mike Anderson, Joe Vinas, Ryan Patrick, Kristin Guiney and Renee Magee can have at this point is the apathetic voter who thinks the election is decided and doesn't vote.

I don't like bringing up the 2008 Republican Primary, but there couldn't be a more relevant illustration of what happens when a good candidate's supporters get complacent about their candidate winning.

Remember in 2008, the numbers looked like this in the Republican Primary:

KELLY SIEGLER -- 58,208 votes
PAT LYKOS -- 44,014 votes
JIM LEITNER --  23, 851 votes
DOUG PERRY -- 14,831 votes

Because of Kelly's large margin over Lykos, people didn't think they really needed to vote in the primary -- and look what happened.

PAT LYKOS --21,106 votes
KELLY SIEGLER -- 18,962 votes

The attitude of "I don't need to vote" brought us Pat Lykos.

This year, because there is no third (or fourth) party spoiler in the Primary, we are guaranteed that there will be no run-off in the District Attorney race nor the Criminal District Court races.  That makes your vote now more critical than ever.

Thus far (through Wednesday) the votes returned in the Republican Primary Early Voting are as follows:

MAIL-IN BALLOTS RETURNED:  11,430
IN-PERSON EARLY VOTERS:  10,205

Keep in mind that the mail-in ballots helped Lykos immensely in 2008.

In the original primary, she got 43.76% of the Absentee Vote compared to Kelly Siegler's 35.98%.

In the run-off, that number jumped to Lykos receiving 55.31% of the Absentee Vote to Kelly's 44.69%.  That margin alone created a divide that Kelly couldn't overcome on Election Day.

So, please don't listen to anyone telling you that this election has already been either won or lost.  It is still anyone's game.

You don't have to live on the verge of a nervous break-down over worrying that the election can't be won.

But, more importantly, you damn sure can't be feeling that it has already been won.

Go vote!!!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Happy 40th Birthday Todd Dupont


I am completely remiss.

I forgot to wish my dear friend and Reasonable Doubt co-host Todd Dupont a very Happy 40th Birthday today.

I was so remiss that Todd had to call me and remind me to wish him a Happy Birthday while I was at Target.

So, Happy Birthday, my good friend.  Looking forward to the party on Saturday.

Your 2nd Motivational Reminder to Early Vote

To my friends who are Police Officers and Deputies,

One thing that is unquestioned in the self-imposed duties of the elected District Attorney is that he or she handle all Capital Murder charges where a member of law enforcement has been killed.  Previous District Attorneys like Carol Vance, Johnny Holmes, and yes, even Chuck Rosenthal would drop whatever they were doing and go immediately to the crime scene or hospital when an officer was shot.  They attended the funerals.  Most importantly, they tried the case themselves.

Pat Lykos, despite being a former police officer, has done none of those things as District Attorney that I'm aware of.

The disconnect and disrespect that Lykos and her upper-echelon advisors have had with Law Enforcement has been shameful and it is no wonder that the Police Unions issued a vote of No Confidence in her.  Her lack of interest in the Men and Women of the Police Agencies across Harris County is appalling.  Her characterizing Police Unions as if they were "teamsters" adds insult to injury.

Judge Mike Anderson's respect for Law Enforcement is well established.  Actually, the first time I ever had a lengthy conversation with Judge Anderson was when he was kind enough to give me a ride to the funeral of Harris County Sheriff's Homicide Detective Jim Hoffman.  Jim had passed away after a long battle with cancer and it certainly wasn't a publicity event.  Judge Anderson's attendance was a sign of respect that was genuine and sincere.

The Police Union's vote of No Confidence in Pat Lykos was well-deserved, but it loses its power if the men and women of the Union don't follow it up by getting to the polls and actually voting.

There are Early Voting locations all over the county, including the Administration Building Downtown.  Last I looked, there was reserved street parking for law enforcement.  Please take the time out to go vote.  It takes less than fifteen minutes.

As citizens, you deserve better representation from your District Attorney's Office.

And as Law Enforcement Officers, you damn sure deserve its respect.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Your 1st Motivational Reminder to Go Vote

Welcome to Day Two of Early Voting!

I have to admit that I was in Brazos County all day yesterday so I didn't get to vote.  I will remedy that this morning on the way to court.

Did you vote yesterday?  If so, you can disregard the rest of this message.  If not, perhaps you need some inspiration.

For today's inspiration, I take you back in time to a little over three years ago.  A brand new Pat Lykos Administration had just taken over the D.A.'s Office and she was still trying to find some common ground with the prosecutors she now presided over.

Her first move?

Publicly eviscerating two highly respected and liked prosecutors on the front page of the Houston Chronicle.

As I'm sure you recall, both Mark and Rifi were immediately shown to have done absolutely nothing wrong like Lykos accused them of, but that never merited an apology from her.

Both men went on to accept prestigious jobs with the U.S. Attorney's Office, but their reputations took an undeserved hit as Lykos called them "negligent and incompetent" in the media.  Lykos went on to use "negligent and incompetent" as the theme of her Administration for the next three and a half years.

So, today, as your motivation to go vote.  Remember how Lykos treats her prosecutors and how many great prosecutors she has run off during her tenure.

Today is an opportunity to go run Lykos off.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Early Voting Begins Tomorrow

It is strange to think that it has been four years since the 2008 election that brought the Harris County District Attorney's Office the "gift" of Pat Lykos.  Tomorrow begins your first opportunity to do everything you possibly can to correct the mistake made back then, as Early Voting opens with locations across the county.

It doesn't matter where you are registered to vote.  During the Early Voting period, you can vote at any location.  I highly recommend that you vote early while it is so convenient.  Election Day is Tuesday, May 29th -- the day after Memorial Day.  On that day, you can only vote at the location where you are zoned to vote.  No exceptions.

If you care about the results of the elections affecting the Harris County Criminal Justice System, I cannot stress enough how important it is that you vote early.  Too many things can come up on Election Day that might keep you from voting.  That is going to be even more true on the Tuesday after a three day weekend.

Please please please go vote.  I'm going to be pestering the hell out of you on this blog to make sure you've done it.  I hope that you will take my pestering and let it roll down hill.  Stay on your friends, neighbors, fellow church members, Facebook friends, and your family to vote.  If you work in and around 1201 Franklin, you know how important this is.

When you go vote, I hope you will remember not just whom you are voting against, but who you are voting for.


This year the candidates seem to have lined up in Judicial races where the choices for the better candidates are so very obvious.  If this were a race based only on qualifications, we could all sleep easy for the next two weeks.

But the unqualified (and sometimes, downright crooked) candidates have their supporters too.  You will notice those candidates -- they are the ones who seem to only have endorsements from people that have nothing to do with the CJC.

I've gone over the candidates and their qualifications ad nauseum, but if you need a refresher on who the best candidates are, click here.

There is probably not a thing left that I can write that will possibly change anyone's mind.  If you are reading this blog post, you knew what the right decision was (in all of the races) a long time ago.

All I can hope to do now is motivate you to put your ballot where your heart is.

I know that my friends within the District Attorney's Office cannot say publicly who they support.  That doesn't mean you can't make a phone call to your Dad, your Mom, siblings, spouse, your spouse's family, and your neighbors.  You know how Pat Lykos and her "Leadership Team" have treated you all.  If you want to change anything about the next four years, this is your last chance to act.

Otherwise, you are going to be having to listen to Don Hooper crowing for the next four years.

If you are a police officer and you are tired of the disconnect that Pat Lykos' policies have created with the job that you get up and do every morning, go vote.  Take your partner.  Tell your spouse.  Tell everyone you know to go vote.

No one knows what will happen at the end of the day on May 29th.  The election is anybody's game at this point.

We all know what will happen if you don't go vote, though.  We've had four years of learning what happens if you don't vote.

Click here for your early voting locations.

Like I said, I will be bugging you all every day with your motivational reasons for going to vote.  I hope to see one of the biggest turnouts ever for Early Voting.  We can make a difference like we did in 2010.

Let's do it again.

Vote for Mike Anderson.
Vote for Joe Vinas.
Vote for Ryan Patrick.
Vote for Kristin Guiney.
Vote for Renee Magee.

And you know what else?  Vote for Paul Simpson for GOP Chairman over Jared Woodfill.  We can thank Woodfill for bringing us the slate of terrible candidates running against those qualified candidates.

One final thought -- if you think it is more important to vote for who you think is going to do better in the November Elections than it is to vote for who is more qualified, please consider this:

Who do you think the Democrats are hoping they will face in November?  Do you think they would prefer to face off against Mike Anderson, the long-time prosecutor and legendary trial attorney who served as a distinguished judge for over ten years?  Or would they prefer to run against the politician who was one of the most reviled judges on the bench in her time and has led her office to be investigated by two Grand Juries and the Texas Rangers?

Also, consider what will happen if the Rangers do end up filing some sort of charges against the Lykos Administration between now and November.  If Republican leadership thinks that won't derail the entire Republican ticket in the fall general election, well, then it is definitely time for some new leadership.

I'm done preaching.

Go vote.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

The Shadwick Leave Of Absence

As we grow closer to the beginning of early voting, someone posted on the blog last week that Grand Jury prosecutor and aspiring judge Lana Shadwick has taken a leave of absence from the District Attorney's Office.  The "official" word is that the leave was done for Lana to spend the last few weeks before May 29th campaigning.

Other sources have indicated that the leave of absence may not have been for such simple reasons.

Apparently, a case was recently dismissed in one of the felony courts due to the Defendant having an alibi.  The co-defendant on the case was not so fortunate as to get a dismissal from the State.  After a court setting, that co-defendant's file was sent down to the Grand Jury Division to prepare for presentation to the Grand Jury.

As is the practice with co-defendant files, the dismissed Defendant's case file was rubber-banded to the pending active co-defendant's case.  My understanding is that the dismissal was properly marked and documented on the front of the Defendant's file.  Unfortunately, both files landed on the desk of Grand Jury prosecutor Lana Shadwick.

Who promptly got both cases indicted.  That includes the one that was dismissed and the client was released from jail.

Luckily, this extremely enormous error was caught by someone (not Lana) before the Defendant was wrongfully arrested.

Folks, the job of being a Grand Jury prosecutor in the Harris County District Attorney's Office is one of the easiest (if not THE easiest) jobs in the Office.  It is not tricky.  Lana Shadwick has bounced through three different divisions before landing in this massively low-pressure job.

And yet, she still screwed it up.  She managed to find a way in her short time in Grand Jury to screw up something in the worst way possible for a Grand Jury prosecutor.

My understanding from several reliable sources is that her Leave of Absence may not have entirely been her choice.  It seems that even Pat Lykos realizes how bad it would be if someone got wrongfully arrested right before Election Day.  Political hire or not, Shadwick will be spending the rest of the campaign season on the sidelines of the D.A.'s Office.

Even though she can't manage being a Grand Jury prosecutor, Lana Shadwick hopes you will vote for her for judge.

Hopefully you are starting to see why that would be a really terrible idea.

Vote for Kristin Guiney, folks.  It is really a no-brainer.

The Houston Bar Association Poll Results


On April 15th of this year, I wrote this post detailing why I believed that Judge Mike Anderson was a much better candidate for Harris County District Attorney than his opponent.  I also detailed how Kristin Guiney, Joe Vinas, Ryan Patrick, and Renee Magee were the best candidates for Judge in their respective races. Yesterday, the Houston Bar Association released the results of its poll on the candidates' qualifications for office, which showed that I am not alone in my opinions.


If I did my math correctly (which is not a given, since I am an Aggie), 1720 members of the Houston Bar Association voted in the poll.  Those who voted in the contested races were given the option of selecting one of four answers in response to a candidate's qualifications.  Those options were: Not Rated, Not Qualified, Qualified, orWell Qualified. Given the fact that only lawyers who are members of the Houston Bar Association voted in the poll and that the majority of those members do not practice criminal law, it is not much of a surprise that the most commonly selected answer for the criminal races was "Not Rated."


This post is a breakdown of the percentages of each race by those who did feel that they knew the candidates well enough to rank their qualifications.


DISTRICT ATTORNEY CANDIDATES (REPUBLICAN PRIMARY) - PAT LYKOS vs. MIKE ANDERSON


In the votes for D.A., 570 voters (33.1%) did not rank Pat Lykos and 940 (54.6%) did not rank Mike Anderson.  Of the percentages that did cast votes, the breakdown is as follows:


Mike Anderson WELL QUALIFIED - 452 (57.9%)  QUALIFIED - 166 (21.3%)  NOT QUALIFIED - 162 (20.7%)


Pat Lykos WELL QUALIFIED -350 (30.4%)   QUALIFIED - 270 (23.5%)  NOT QUALIFIED - 530 (46.1%)


SUMMARY: To know Pat Lykos doesn't appear to mean that one loves Pat Lykos.  While some Republican faithful may like Lykos the Candidate, Lykos the Lawyer does not foster much confidence.  It is also worth noting that attorneys working for the Harris County District Attorney's Office have their membership to the Houston Bar Association paid for by the Office.  Despite having over 200 of her own employees voting on her qualifications, Pat Lykos got dangerously close to a 50% "Not Qualified" vote.


DISTRICT ATTORNEY CANDIDATES (DEMOCRATIC PRIMARY) - ZACK FERTITTA vs. LLOYD OLIVER


In the votes here, 1164 voters (67.7%) did not rank Zack Fertitta and 1172 (68.1%) did not rank Lloyd Oliver.  Of the percentages that did cast votes, the breakdown is:


Zack Fertitta WELL QUALIFIED - 173 (31.1%)  QUALIFIED - 187 (33.6%)  NOT QUALIFIED - 196 (35.3%)


Lloyd Oliver WELL QUALIFIED - 19 (3.5%)  QUALIFIED - 46 (8.3%) NOT QUALIFIED - 483 (88.1%)


SUMMARY: Ouch.  As, I've pointed out before, Lloyd Oliver isn't a real candidate.  He's been indicted numerous times and runs in every election.  88.1% of the lawyers voting recognize that.  If it is any consolation to Mr. Oliver, more attorneys think that Pat Lykos isn't qualified (at least when it comes to raw numbers).


174th DISTRICT COURT (REPUBLICAN PRIMARY)


In the votes here, 1350 voters (78.5%) did not rank Joe Vinas and 1353 voters (78.7%) did not rank Robert Summerlin.  In the percentages that did cast votes, the breakdown is:


Joe Vinas WELL QUALIFIED - 157 (42.4%)  QUALIFIED - 106(28.6%)  NOT QUALIFIED - 107(28.9%)


Robert Summerlin WELL QUALIFIED - 110 (30.0%)  QUALIFIED - 60 (16.3%)  NOT QUALIFIED - 197 (53.7%)


SUMMARY: As I mentioned in my earlier post, Summerlin hasn't been doing criminal law for the duration of his career like Vinas has.  The results here are not surprising.


177th DISTRICT COURT (REPUBLICAN PRIMARY)


Of the votes here, 1391 voters (80.9%) did not rank Ryan Patrick and 1495 voters (86.9%) did not rank Antonio Benavides.  Of the percentages that did cast votes, the breakdown is:


Ryan Patrick WELL QUALIFIED - 115(35.0%)  QUALIFIED - 99(30.0%)  NOT QUALIFIED - 115 (35.0%)


Antonio Benavides WELL QUALIFIED - 25(11.1%)  QUALIFIED - 27(12.0%)  NOT QUALIFIED - 173(76.9%)


SUMMARY: Patrick is a relatively young candidate for the bench, and I would imagine that would probably explain some attorneys having reservations about ranking him as "Well Qualified."  For those of us who have worked with him, however, we know that he has a good head on his shoulders and will be a good judge.  His age should not be a determining factor, especially in comparison to Mr. Benavides' lack of experience.


179th DISTRICT COURT (REPUBLICAN PRIMARY)


In the votes here, 1355 voters (78.8%) did not rank Kristin Guiney and 1225 voters (71.2%) did not rank Lana Shadwick.  Of the percentages that did cast votes, the breakdown is:


Kristin Guiney WELL QUALIFIED - 206 (56.4%)  QUALIFIED - 67 (18.4%)  NOT QUALIFIED - 92 (25.2%)


Lana Shadwick WELL QUALIFIED - 93 (18.8%)  QUALIFIED - 78 (15.8%)  NOT QUALIFIED - 324 (65.4%)


SUMMARY: I think it is kind of amusing to see that almost the exact same number of attorneys who deem Shadwick to be "Well Qualified" find Guiney to be not qualified.  Of course there are going to be hard-core partisan voters in all of these bar polls, but that type of mirroring indicates to me that only a die-hard Shadwick fan would pick her over Guiney.  I cannot stress how much of a better candidate Kristin Guiney is than her opponent.


337th DISTRICT COURT (REPUBLICAN)


In the votes here, 1346 voters (78.2%) did not rank Renee Magee and 1223 voters (71.1%) did not rank Jim Barr.  Of the percentages that did cast votes, the breakdown is:


Renee Magee WELL QUALIFIED - 206 (55.1%)  QUALIFIED - 74 (19.8%)  NOT QUALIFIED - 94(25.1%)


Jim Barr WELL QUALIFIED - 83(16.7%)  QUALIFIED - 115(23.1%)  NOT QUALIFIED - 299(60.2%)


SUMMARY: As I mentioned in my previous post, Barr may have once been qualified to be a judge, but his misconduct on the bench effectively eroded those qualifications.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

The Long-Anticipated Rachel Palmer Endorsement

If you are like me, you have probably been sitting anxiously by your computer for the past five months, anxiously awaiting news from the internet to find out who Rachel Palmer was going to endorse in the 2012 Harris County District Attorney Race.  Would she go Republican?  Would she go Democrat?  It was quite a nail-biter.

Well, my friends, your wait is over, because over the weekend, Rachel's long anticipated endorsement was finally revealed as her husband, Don Hooper, forwarded an e-mail written by her to all of his friends. It quickly made its way across the internet and I received multiple copies of it from friends under the title of "FW:  Have you seen this?"

Drumroll, please.  In a move that is about as surprising as Squeaky Fromme endorsing Charles Manson in 1969, Rachel Palmer has endorsed Pat Lykos.

Now, I'm not going to post the e-mail in its entirety for fear that somebody might miss my sarcasm and actually think I agree with what this political "power couple" has to say.  (NOTE: It is printed in the comments section of my last post by a commenter, however, if you want to see it.)

I do, however, want to hit some of the highlights of it.

1.  The e-mail begins with a personal message from Don, who is being quite demure in comparison to his usual behavior (which reminds one of a feces-flinging Rhesus monkey.)  He writes:
My wife Rachel Palmer asked me to pass on her thoughts concerning the DA's race and I could have not said it any better.
Well, Don and I finally agree on something.  No kidding.  Don "could have not said it any better" because anyone who reads what he writes can tell you that he has yet to master the English language.  They say people write the way they talk; others seem to write the way that Yoda talks.

2.  Rachel begins her portion of the letter by giving herself a big pat on the back for trying a murder case several years ago in an effort to earn credibility with the reader.  She is ambiguous about how the case turned out other than saying "justice prevailed" and how that means she has wonderful character.  She throws out that over the years "a number of national scandals have tarnished my profession" yet fails to acknowledge that the B.A.T. van scandal is one of them.

3.  She never mentions invoking her 5th Amendment rights to a Harris County Grand Jury, but does say "I made a decision to rebuke their misuse of the grand jury process."  Yes, the same can be said for all of the inmates in jails across the country who chose not to speak to authorities -- they weren't hiding anything; they were merely "rebuking" the police.

4.  The e-mail continues on like a reading of Rachel's own personal Mein Kampf as it blames everyone from Judge Susan Brown to Chuck Rosenthal to the Police Officers' Union for all of the problems that she and the Lykos Administration have endured over the years.  She accuses Judge Brown of creating "a public spectacle" designed to "place a stain" on the District Attorney's Office.

5.  Rachel moves on to touting the "successes" of the Lykos Administration and defending the DIVERT program, as well as the controversial decision to not file drug trace cases.  Of the trace case decision, she points out that it has created a "significant reduction in crime."  I suppose if Lykos decided to stop prosecuting murder cases, she would cite a "significant reduction in the murder rate" as well.  She also notes that DIVERT has "reduced the number of repeat impaired driving offenders."  Mathematically, that's true, I guess -- you can't really be a repeat offender if Lykos isn't counting your first DWI, now can you?

6.  Despite the fact that the D.A.'s Office Policy seems to dictate that a prosecutor shall not use the fact that they are a prosecutor to endorse any candidates, Rachel is quite free in talking about how she is a prosecutor endorsing the candidacy of Pat Lykos.  I have to wonder how an employee who sent out an e-mail saying they were endorsing Mike Anderson would be treated.

At this point, I think the Lykos Administration has clearly illustrated that there is absolutely NOTHING that Rachel Palmer can do that will lead to her being disciplined or fired.  She took a bullet for them by pleading the 5th in front of the Grand Jury and she will reap the benefits as long as Lykos is in office.  There is no nobility in that, regardless of how Rachel tries to spin it.  It is the same mentality that the Mafia has when an underling takes his prison time without snitching.

The bottom line is this: Rachel Palmer is well aware of the fact that no other candidate than Lykos (in the four-person District Attorney race) will keep her employed as a prosecutor.

Okay, well, maybe Lloyd Oliver would keep her out of sympathy.

Palmer's endorsement is as worthless as it is offensive.