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Showing posts from February, 2008

Gil Fried

Gil Fried, the attorney at the center of the Pat Lykos yarmulke exclusion debate graciously took time out of his schedule to post a comment in one of my articles regarding the event. I thought it was important enough for its own post. Here's what he wrote: This is Gil Fried writing from Connecticut. I am a professor in New Haven, CT and still work as an expert witness. I have been contacted by the media several times in the past couple weeks about Pat Lycos. I do not know what she said or what she did not say about the incident I had with her in court (over two days of testifying). However, I can testify under oath that she forced me to remove my Yalmukah before testifying in her court (either testify without it or be held in contempt and would not be able to testify). In my opinion she was very mean about it and tried to imply that I was wearing it for show (she sited a case from New England involving a former priest who became a lawyer and wanted to practice in court wearing

Roving Reporter Reports from Reasonable Doubt

Many thanks to my Equally-Anonymous Roving Reporter who watched last night's Reasonable Doubt so she could report on what she saw Lykos talk about. Here are the highlights: 1. Lykos danced around the issue of how she would handle the "crack pipe" question. She gave no solid answers, other than that she would still prosecute them. 2. In a merger of embracing her abrasiveness, and defending the astronomical amount of people she put on probation in her court, she justified it by saying that defendants would "rather go straight than deal with me". (NOTE: By analogy, many prosecutors would rather "go defense" than work for her.) 3. She described how she would create a Victim Witness Division, and when told the Division already existed, she insisted hers would be different. She then went on to describe several things that are already in place as being the changes she would make. 4. She passed the buck to the defense bar as the ones who truly failed

I missed it

Being a Direct TV subscriber, I wasn't able to catch Reasonable Doubt tonight, but I heard that Lykos didn't enjoy herself. I heard she dodged the yarmulke question at every turn, and suggested creating "new" divisions within the D.A.'s Office - the only problem being that all the "new" Divisions she suggested creating have been in existence since the Holmes administration. In related news, Lykos said she had recently established a new round device that would help vehicles move quicker, and she planned on calling it a "wheel". (NOTE: The above line is satire) In regards to the yarmulke question, my understanding is that she ultimately stated that she had never excluded a witness from testifying. I wonder if California attorney Gil Fried would agree with that characterization . But, I must confess that I missed the show, but for those of you who were able to watch it, please feel free to let me know your thoughts in the commentary.

Carol Vance's Endorsement

Former Harris County District Attorney Carol Vance (1966-1979) has endorsed Kelly Siegler. “For 21 years, as an assistant district attorney, Kelly Siegler has successfully prosecuted some of Harris County’s toughest cases,” Vance said in a written statement. “During this time, she has held important administrative positions, including serving as the Chief of the Special Crimes Bureau, which handles difficult and complex matters.” He also added: “Kelly has the integrity, the ability and the experience that is essential to run the office of District Attorney of Harris County.”

Kelly Siegler's Proposals

In Alan Bernstein's article today , he reports that Kelly Siegler identified a plan listing the first five things she would change within the D.A.'s Office if elected. (NOTE: That's two fair articles he's written on the race in two days. If he goes for a third, I'm nominating him for a Pulitzer). Kelly proposes an Innocence Panel made up of prosecutors, defense attorneys, investigators, community leaders, and former judges to review claims of actual innocence. In addition to this step, she also proposed monthly public meetings, an increased emphasis into major fraud, a re-evaluation of the Office's hiring committee policies, and the creation of a specialized division of prosecutors to exclusively work on intoxication manslaughter cases. In the meantime, Pat Lykos and Jim Leitner are calling for a Regional Crime Lab. What's the difference between Kelly's ideas and the idea for a Regional Crime Lab? Feasibility. The proposals that Kelly makes

Pat Lykos on Reasonable Doubt

Pat Lykos is going to be on HCCLA's Reasonable Doubt on Thursday night, February 28 th at 8 p.m. And I'm not sure if it is on Channel 17 or 19 (Mark, can you help me out on this?) Its a call-in show (although the number changes from show to show for some reason, so I don't have the number available at the moment), so feel free to call in and ask her the tough questions. For example: 1. During Eldridge v. State , 731 sw2d 618, you revoked a Defendant's probation without a hearing and without his attorney being present. Could you explain how this is somehow not a massive civil rights violation? 2. Would you care to explain why you didn't let a witness wear a yarmulke in your court? 3. Did you ever apologize for it? 4. What's your criteria for deciding which of the Assistant District Attorneys you are going to fire? 5. Why were your Bar Poll Ratings always so low? (NOTE: When she says because she "didn't play favorites, proceed to Question # 6)

Alan Bernstein's Article Today

Today, for our four week anniversary, Alan Bernstein wrote me a fair article on the candidates and their personnel files . Alan, I just feel terrible, because I didn't get you anything. Please forgive me. The article is on the front page of the Chronicle , but I had a little bit of a harder time finding it on the website , so above is the link. Here's the summary, it's a look into the personnel files of Jim Leitner , Pat Lykos , Doug Perry and Kelly Siegler (in that order). Jim's file is the shortest, but probably the most glowing. It describes him as "an excellent trial lawyer who works long, productive hours", and it was written in the 1970s. I think its probably fair to describe Jim in the same way today. Next is Lykos , who Bernstein notes received " subpar ratings" in her judicial bar poll ratings. Um, yeah, that's one way of describing them. She attempts to justify that because she "didn't let the lawyers run the courtroom&qu

The Crack Pipe Residue Question

One of the biggest issues facing the District Attorney's Office and criminal justice in Harris County is finding the appropriate way to deal with a Defendant charged with possessing a crack pipe that field-tests positive for cocaine residue. Under the Penal Code, possession of any amount of cocaine (even if it is just residue) is a felony. For those amounts less than a gram, they are State Jail Felonies, punishable by 6 months to two years in a State Jail Facility (NOTE: Most defendants hate State Jail more than TDC , because the time must be served day-for-day, with no early release). If a person charged with a crack pipe case has prior felony convictions, that punishment range can be enhanced to a maximum of up to 10 years or even 20 years (depending on the types of priors). Twenty years for a crack pipe? Does that sound excessive? Well, yeah. And do you think there are lots and lots of these cases pending in every court? Absolutely. They are most definitely "docket clo

Regarding Complaints . . .

Chuck Rosenthal testified today in the Ibarra case, as reported by the Houston Chronicle . Chuck was confronted with the fact that the Ibarra brothers had lodged a complaint with him at the D.A.'s Office, and he (properly) forwarded the complaint to Joe Owmby, who is a Division Chief within the Civil Rights Bureau. According to testimony, Owmby investigated the complaint and determined it to not need further investigation. This fact, I'm certain, has the conspiracy theorists (who seem to have found a home base gathering place on the Chronicle message boards) crying "foul". Although Chuck has come under fire for many, many things in the past couple of months, one of the things he should be given credit for is that he did take the e-mail complaints that he received seriously. He also forwarded them to the appropriate members of his staff, regardless of his personal opinion of whether or not the complaints had merit. Before you say to yourself "well, that's

This Time Next Week . . .

We are down to the wire in the election, and this time next week, all of the candidates will be gathered around a TV set watching the results come in at a painfully slow pace. My only question is that with the massive amounts of early voting, will there be anybody left to actually cast a ballot on March 4th?

The "Anointed One"

Listening to Pat Lykos on Michael Berry's show tonight, she blamed her loss in the 2000 D.A.'s race on Johnny Holmes " anointing " Chuck Rosenthal to be his successor. It wasn't the first time, I've heard it said that Mr. Holmes "anointed" Chuck. The Chronicle has referred to it by those terms, too. I was around in 2000, and I kind of remember things differently than Lykos and the Chronicle. I remember that Chuck announced his candidacy the day the Mr. Holmes announced he wouldn't run again. I also remember that soon after that, Mr. Holmes said something to the effect that he wasn't going to endorse anyone unless an unqualified candidate (I believe his term was "nincompoop") was running. As a matter of fact, I remember Mike Stafford even quipping about it during a debate. Stafford (at one of the debates) laughed that Holmes ended up endorsing Chuck soon after he (Stafford) had entered the race, and he jokingly stated tha

The Candidates on Michael Berry

All four Republican candidates for the D.A.'s Office were on Michael Berry's show tonight on 740 KTRH . I think I'm starting to become exhausted with this campaign, because I swear I'm starting to hear the same thing over and over again from everybody. There were no real surprises. Kelly had the benefit/curse of going first, so she got the first word in, but every candidate after her had the benefit of questioning what she said. All in all, it didn't go too badly for her. Jim was next, and did a fine job. I was a little bit surprised listening to him, because he was very aggressive in alleging that the Office was racist. Lykos started out by criticizing Michael Berry because he had previously had Kelly on the show, and not her. I was really going to try to be a little nicer to Pat this evening, but damn, she gives me so much material, that it's hard to walk away from. I mean, seriously, the first words out of your mouth and you're blasting your host?!

Sorry Lloyd

Lloyd Kelley's lawsuit to remove Chuck Rosenthal and Sheriff Tommy Thomas got tossed out of court today . Lloyd must have been really disappointed, too, since he made time to go to the hearing before going to attend HIS CLIENTS' case on the civil rights law suit. Now, call me crazy, but if I was the Ibarra brothers, at some point I would be asking Lloyd what's more important to him, their case, or grand standing on behalf of his friend, Clarence Bradford.

Snookems

About two days ago, I got a post from an Anonymous poster who was very much pro-Lykos on my HCCLA Makes a Stand article . The writer signed their name off as "Snookems". Since I get so many Anonymous posters on this, I went ahead and began referring to her as Snookems, and I didn't really think much of it. I posted everything that Snookems was writing me. Last night, I wrote another post entitled The Robert Eckels Question , and my buddy Snookems posts again insinuating that all the ADA's jobs are in jeopardy by stating "Employees at will". In other words, Lykos could fire whoever the hell she wanted to if she became DA, because Texas is an "at will" State, when it comes to employment. I will freely admit to baiting Snookems, when I replied, asking her if she was speaking for the Lykos campaign and admitting that Lykos would, in fact, fire very experienced and talented ADAs for being political enemies. The response I got in response to my "b

Speaking of the Lykos Campaign

I'm hearing more and more reports that the Lykos Camp is becoming more disorganized and desparate as we grow closer to March 4th. I first noticed her signs of irritability at the Harris County Republicans meeting the Monday before last. She was clearly not amused when Kelly Siegler got a rousing ovation when introduced at the meeting. At the debate on Tuesday, she seemed frustrated and angry every time other candidates spoke (although she managed to smile if the questions were posed to her). After the meeting, she had a disasterous meeting with the organization of Parents of Murdered Children, where angry members confronted her about her plans to fire numerous experienced and veteran prosecutors. It resulted in her chewing out a member of the District Attorney's staff for "spreading that rumor" (which I find amusing, since she's been telling people on the campaign trail about all the firings she would do). A group of Kelly Siegler signs in Baytown were recen

The Robert Eckels Question

One of the questions I asked in a post below was whether or not the $25,000 donation from the "Robert Eckels Committee" meant that Eckels led a committee to raise money for Lykos or does it mean that people who donated their money to Eckels had it turned over to Pat Lykos (with or without their consent). Nobody answered the question on the blog, so I reluctantly did a little investigating (loosely read: I asked somebody smarter than me). Here's the deal, the money given to Pat Lykos from Eckels was money collected for his campaign. And that's perfectly legal. Apparently, a campaign can use its funds however it wants to - even for um, ahem, uh, legal fees. So, if you were using the list of candidates "donations" as a gauge for their popularity with the voting masses, you may want to recalculate when it comes to Lykos. If you take out the $25,000 donation from him, Kelly Siegler is the leading Republican donation earner. In other words, Lykos didn'

Across Party Lines

I'm no political scientist, and I'm certainly not real big on researching statistics like GritsforBreakfast does on his website. That being said, I couldn't help but take notice of what Jim Leitner said at the debate on Tuesday, and what RonInHouston posted on an earlier post. The Democratic early voters are out-voting the Republican early voters at a staggering pace. There are several explanations as to why, and your guess is as good as mine as to which one (if not all of them) is a factor. Here are some considerations: 1. The Democratic Presidential primary is hotly contested by two extremely dynamic candidates who have "rock star status". Amazingly, Texas has become a make-or-break state, which unusual for this late in the game on all the primaries. On the other hand, the Republican Presidential primary is all-but-decided, and John McCain isn't in any real danger of losing the State to Mike Huckabee. The bottom line is that Democrat voters are much

Commentating

I still haven't figured out what the issue is with my comments coming through. I'm supposed to get e-mail notifications every time I get a new comment on a page. I can approve the comment over the e-mail. In addition to that, I can also approve the comments if I log onto the "Comment Moderation" Page of the website. For some reason, there are e-mails showing up in the Comment Moderation page that I'm not getting e-mail notifications for. What does this mean to you? Probably nothing. Just consider it my long-winded explanation of why some of the comments you are posting are taking a long time to show up on the website. Sorry about that.

Deputy Harry Thielepape

Harris County Constable Precinct 6 Deputy Harry Thielepape died yesterday from injuries he sustained during a gunbattle with a suspect several weeks ago. I had met Deputy Thielepape at D.A. intake on several occasions, although I can't say that I knew him well. In my opinion, he was a dedicated and very active police officer who was doing every thing he could to help his community. My heart goes out to his family, friends, and his fellow Deputy Constables at Precinct Six.

HCCLA Makes a Stand

The Chronicle is reporting that the Harris County Criminal Lawyer's Association has sent a letter to Governor Perry requesting that a Special Prosecutor be assigned to investigate Chuck Rosenthal; and that he go ahead and appoint Chuck's replacement. Although I like the principled ideals behind the request, I'm not too optimistic about Perry paying any attention to it. Especially not in regards to a quick appointment for the replacement. My prediction is that Perry will ultimately appoint the winner of the Republican Primary after it is decided, so that person can run against Clarence Bradford, as an incumbant. There's no political incentive for him to do otherwise, actually. It doesn't benefit him. It doesn't benefit the Republican Party. And Bert has been the "acting D.A." for three days now, and he has still yet to accidentally burn down the building. He's a steady hand who can hold things together until the governor gets around to making

Lykos and Law Enforcement

Alan Bernstein reminded me in his article covering the debate this morning about how Lykos shunned the endorsement of Law Enforcement so she could say that justice plays no favorites (or some similar sounding political blah-blah slogan). And yet, she then turns around and continuously refers to the District Attorney's position as the "Top Law Enforcement Position in the County". If you didn't watch the debate, trust me, she made that reference repeatedly. Is there a gap in logic here? She doesn't want the backing of law enforcement because she doesn't want to have the appearance of favoring law enforcement, yet she refers to the position she seeks as the Top Law Enforcement Position. Well, if that's the case, wouldn't she want the endorsement of the police agencies that she will, uh, be "on top of"? (NOTE: Yes, I know the use of the phrase "on top of" will open the door to comments about Kelly Siegler's demonstration during

Overall Impressions from the Debate

Overall, I think the debate went well, and I think it really separated the pretenders from the contenders. The format of it was good and well-organized. The substantive answers won out over the political B.S. I thought (as mentioned below) that Perry was out of his league. I thought that Pat Lykos seemed like she was barely keeping a lid on her anger, which she was feeling for some reason. Her cheap shots at Kelly were petty and stupid. Not to mention that they've been overplayed at this point. And I think Kelly checkmated Lykos when she said that she (Kelly) acknowledged and apologized for her mistakes. (That reminds me, Bernstein, it's our three week anniversary!) To her credit, Lykos only said the meaningless phrase "rule of law" twice. She was still all fluff, and no substance, and she radiated the genuine warmth of a rattlesnake sunning itself on a rock. I know I'm a Kelly fan, but I have to admit that I thought Jim Leitner really shined tonight.

Two Real Candidates

In my opinion, only two real candidates took the stage this evening at the Debate: Jim Leitner and Kelly Siegler. Perry and Lykos shouldn't even be real considerations. Consider this: When a brand new Misdemeanor Three, fresh out of law school tries their first criminal case, they will then have more trial experience as a prosecutor than either Lykos or Perry. Hell, some of the interns even have more experience than Lykos and Perry. Am I the only one seeing the significance of that? I mean, seriously, a freaking intern with more trial experience than the elected D.A?!

I plan to fight crime vigorously . . . as long as I'm awake

When asked what mistakes they made during the campaign, Leitner brought a lot of good-natured laughs by addressing his "no peremptory challenges" bombshell . Luckily you didn't throw out that "no cross-examination allowed" policy, Jim. Just kidding. The really humorous moment to me occurred when Lykos was called upon to address her mistake. In true political fashion, Lykos wouldn't acknowledge any mistakes on her part other than, gosh- darnit, just working too dang hard. Bless her heart. She then went on to elaborate that sometimes she and her staff sometimes worked as late as . . . (gasp) . . . 9 p.m! For those prosecutors who have routinely worked late into the night, taken call-outs to crime scenes in the middle of the night, or worked those God-forsaken midnight to eight intake shifts, the idea of making sure you were closed for business at 9 p.m. is hysterical. Come on, Pat. Don't you know that crime never sleeps?! Are you really campaig

If you're scared, say you're scared

I found it interesting tonight that when given the opportunity to ask questions of the other candidates, that Perry, Lykos, and Leitner all elected not to ask any questions of Kelly Siegler. Given Kelly's trial skills, that was probably a wise move. At least Jim explained that he thought he had been picking on Kelly too much lately. Lykos preferred to make thinly (and I mean "thinly") veiled potshots at Kelly in her answers to other questions, but didn't quite have the cojones to ask her a question directly.

Doug Perry

It's getting more and more difficult to write about Captain Perry without being mean. The poor guy is just in waaaaaaaaaay over his head. His catch phrase tonight was repeatedly referring to himself as having been "in the trenches". As a matter of fact, he referenced it so much, I was beginning to think he was a World War I veteran. Other than that, he had no substantive answers to real questions. Captain Perry seems like a nice man, but he just doesn't seem to understand how the job of District Attorney works. Still, when it came to just general charisma, he did beat Lykos.

The Debate

Wow. So much to talk about. Rather than write my usual mile-long posting, I think I'll divide it up into segments to talk about different aspects of the debate that I found interesting and/or amusing. But before I do that, congratulations to Earl Musick and all the members of HCCLA who put on this worthwhile event. It went well and was extremely informative. Great job HCCLA!

Important Reminders

REMINDER # 1 - EARLY VOTING BEGINS TODAY. No matter who you want to vote for, get on out there and do it. REMINDER # 2 - THE D.A. CANDIDATES DEBATE TONIGHT - The HCCLA will be sponsoring a debate at South Texas tonight (I think it's at 6:30, but I'm not 100% on that). If you can't make it, KHOU.com should be airing a live webcast of it. Sadly, they couldn't find time to air it on TV.

Is that you, Lisa?

Lisa Falkenberg wrote a column today that was actually sympathetic to the ADAs left at the Office in the wake of the Rosenthal resignation. I'm stunned and thankful. And by the way, you looked lovely in your staff photo this morning.

Sorry Lloyd

According to an article in the Chronicle today , Chuck Rosenthal's abrupt departure last Friday was part of a deal he had cut with the AG's office on Thursday . Not, as previously claimed, caused by the lawsuit filed that morning by Lloyd Kelley. Sorry, Lloyd. You can do your rooster-strut next time. I guess you aren't quite as damn important as you think you are.

The Canadian E-mail Response

For the past several weeks, I have asked Alan Bernstein (through this blog) why he has failed to publish the e-mail from Rob Freyer to Mike Trent, explaining himself for the use of the term "Canadian". For reasons unbeknownst to me, Mr. Bernstein has elected not to publish this e-mail. For some reason, Mr. Bernstein (and other members of the media, to be fair) has decided that the publication of anything even slightly mitigating on behalf of the Office is not worth their time. Below is the e-mail that he has been sitting on all this time. I realize that the explanation offered by Rob will not be acceptable to those who have been bashing him on every website that they could find, but the fact remains that he did give an explanation at the time. I apologize for not having access to a scanner so I can't scan the copy of the e-mail that I was able to obtain. It was written on August 7, 2003 to Mike Trent. I have faithfully re-typed it word for word. If you have a doubt abo

The Custodian

Today is Day One for the ADAs in the post-Chuck Rosenthal D.A.'s Office. I know that it's been pointed out that under the Texas Constitution that Chuck still holds the title until a replacement is appointed, but I kind of doubt he will walk back onto the 6th floor today and yell "I was kidding!". So, the focus of the gossip will now shift from "when will he resign" to "who is going to replace him as custodian and when?". Good question, and I'd be lying if I told you I had even the slightest idea what is going to happen with that. It's a political world and the Governor is head of Texas politics. He'll pick the successor. I think I would be pretty naive to think that the Governor will remain immune from politics in making his decision. I'm sure that Ed Emmett will have a say in it, and he's expressed his willingness to give his advice. Gee, think he'd recommend Lykos? He'd probably like her out of his office.

To Defend or Not to Defend?

"How do you live with yourself?" "How do you sleep at night?" "You need to ask God for forgiveness." It was about four or five years ago when I got all of these questions hurled at me by several people, along with the intimidating "death glares" that they were all giving me. Now, what had I done that was so horrible? I was a prosecutor, and I had just gotten a life sentence from a jury on a man who had systematically raped his daughter over a lengthy period of time (which had started about the week he had gotten out of prison for a similar charge, by the way). Although there were meds in the case, and the jury had no problem believing the Complainant, her family had stood by the Defendant. The girl ended up in foster care. It was a sad case, and I was feeling pretty damn good about the verdict, to tell you the truth. And then I ran into the Defendant's family in the hallway. They all had their things to say. I had a couple of choices a

Rick Casey's Column

I enjoyed Rick Casey's column in today's Chronicle. He's been taking a more even-handed approach in his writings during the Rosenthal-crisis than Lisa Falkenberg and Alan Bernstein, so his "intellectual honesty" is way up in my book, especially compared to Lisa and Alan. There were some things that I think are worth pointing out. 1. Jolanda Jones will never miss an opportunity to call a press conference. Those of us who have worked with her around the courthouse know that she has never let a lack of knowledge about a subject slow her down from speaking like an authority. Seriously, Jo, you are going to call a media conference in the middle of a Federal proceeding just so you can accuse Rosenthal of hiring Ron Lewis because Lewis is African-American? How racist is that ? The guy went to Princeton and Harvard and was a member of Baker-Botts. I'm pretty sure that your own resume wouldn't hold a candle to Mr. Lewis'. 2. Casey is dubious over th

Houston Bar Association Qualifications Polls

The HBA released its results yesterday from the Judicial Candidate Qualification Poll. All of the results are interesting, as always, and I encourage you to read them all BEFORE voting. Obviously, I'm most interested in the D.A.'s race, so here are those results. I've listed them in ascending order of the candidates who received the most well qualified votes. 5 . Poor Doug Perry - didn't fare so well. 499 voters said he was not qualified . 67 voters said he was qualified . Only 18 voters said he was well qualified for the job of District Attorney. 4. Pat Lykos - yep, she got edged out by even Bradford on this. 527 voters said she was not qualified (damn, that's even more than Perry). 363 voters said she was qualified . 291 voters said she was well qualified for the job of District Attorney. 3. Clarence Bradford - the only Dem in the race had 537 voters who said he was not qualified (the most "not qualified" votes of any othe

So Now What?

A little over 24 hours have passed since Chuck Rosenthal's sudden resignation on Friday. I have to admit that last night, I was still trying to process the meaning of it all on the Big Picture of the State of the CJC. This morning, I read the articles and the usual blather on the Chronicle blogs. I read all of the candidates reactions, and the reactions of County Officials. And then I realized, that Rosenthal's resignation yesterday doesn't really change all that much. So, for the record, the following 10 things remain unchanged by Chuck's departure: 1. Alan Bernstein still isn't running the yarmulke story in the Chronicle. 2. Lloyd Kelley is still a pompous jackass who is pretending to care about his clients when, in fact, he is just trying to usher Clarence Bradford into office. (NOTE: I really liked what attorney John O'Neill said in the Chronicle: "We believe Lloyd Kelley is simply trying to take over public offices that he and his party cou

And the Finalists Are

Congratulations to Terese Buese, Rob Freyer, Kevin Keating, Michele Saterelli Oncken, and Ted Wilson for making it into the finals on the Hector Heathcoat Awards for Prosecutors. Good luck to you all. Voting ends on Friday at 8 p.m.

The Good is Oft Interred with Their Bones

In case you missed it, Chuck Rosenthal resigned today. Somewhere, Lloyd Kelley is dancing a spiteful and tasteless jig. Mark Bennett is already having a mini-celebration on his blog , and given the events of the past two months, I can't say that I blame him or the general public for their feelings. Chuck's resignation was overdue, and every day he stayed in office after the revelations of December 27th was a day too long. He had told his staff that the idea of him having a problem with pain killers was insane, and then he tells the world the contrary in his letter of resignation. That being said, I take no joy in his resignation. To me, Chuck's resignation today is very much akin to every time I tried a case and heard a jury pronounce sentence. I would be satisfied and happy that justice had been done, but I took no pleasure in the ruin of a person's life. Justice can leave you feeling ambivalent at time. I don't believe in absolutes. No person is complete

Republican Voters, Please Listen

The 2008 election is going to potentially be the most interesting one since the fabled "Republican Sweep" of the 1980s. Democrats across this county are giddy over the possibility that Harris County will become a Democratic stronghold just like Dallas did in the 2006 election. The presidential election (which normally is a boost to the Republican Party, at least in Harris County) is controversial within the party as the more conservative Republicans feel somewhat tepid about a moderate like John McCain. The Democrats will have one of two Presidential candidates who literally have "rock star status" with the general electorate, and the potential for straight ticket voting for the Dems is running extremely high. So call me crazy, but I think the best thing that could happen for the Republican Party right now is Kelly Siegler. Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know I'm biased. I recognize Kelly as the best prosecutor in the history of Harris County, Texas, and I'm an a

Return of the "Runaway" Grand Jury

I just came across this article on the Chronicle's website which says that 6 of the former members of the so-called "Runaway" Grand Jury that heard the David Medina case have filed a law suit. Interesting. Where did they file the suit? Who is the suit against? The whole thing seems very strange. Apparently their demands are that they 1) be allowed to talk about the evidence they heard; and 2) be allowed to speak to whatever new grand jury is empanelled to hear the case. As to issue #1, I'm very curious as to whether or not they actually are bound by the grand jury's rules of secrecy, now that it has been revealed that it was improperly empanelled. It would seem to me (and this is just me arm-chair quarterbacking here) that if they weren't properly sworn in, then they weren't really a grand jury under the law after their initial term expired. If that's the case, do the rules of secrecy still apply? I don't know what the law officially

Technical Difficulties -- yet again

Something strange is going on with my comments today for some reason. I usually get a notification on my e-mail when a comment is made on the website. Today, my e-mail box was sadly empty, leaving me to fill my day playing Sudoko. However, when I checked on the website this evening, I had a bucket load of comments waiting for moderation that had been sitting there all day. And then Anon C, posted something and retracted it, and then reposted it with corrections, and then it disappeared again. Guys, if you are posting, and it isn't showing up, I'm sorry! I haven't screened anything out since Northside's epic Parable 2.0 . I don't know what is going on. In a related story, my spell check is no longer working on my postings. Get ready to have some fun with that . Maybe all of this is related to those UFO sightings out in Stephenville.

Endorsements

As early voting is only a week away, I realized that some of my readers (if not the entire world) was probably waiting breathlessly for my endorsements in the criminal courthouse races. This will be a shock to most of you loyal readers, but I strongly recommend Kelly Siegler for D.A. I think a lot of Jim Leitner, but frankly, I think he does the community more of a service as a defense attorney, zealously and skillfully advocating for those accused of crimes. Kelly has taken a lot of lumps in the six weeks that she's been a candidate here. She knows the problems the Office has gone through. She knows what needs to be changed, and she will change it. I think that those people both prosecution and defense who know her personally know that she is the best candidate for the job. Even if the Chronicle is afraid that she'll be just too damn good at the job. Now, once you've picked yourselves up off the floor after that shocker, let me move on. In the 174th Judicial Race bet

Copy That

Ron in Houston asked me this morning (as he did Mark Bennett) my opinion of Lisa Falkenberg's article today about Kelly Siegler and her idea about the copying program. That's a two part question. Mark Bennett made fun of me a couple of weeks ago for using "faint praise", so I guess my thoughts on Falkenberg's article is something akin to that. At this point, I guess that I'm just surprised that the Chronicle isn't posting a daily column entitled "Guess What Those Sh*theads Did Now!" about the D.A.'s office. So, in the big scheme of things, I think its okay. The idea that Kelly has come up with about allowing Defense Attorneys to copy offense reports is actually one that is extremely signfigant, even if it has been a long time coming. The amount of time that it will save for both the defense and the prosecution is potentially limitless. Diligent and hard-working members of the defense bar will no longer have to spend hours on end at the D.

It's Day 13, Alan Bernstein

IN THE SPIRIT OF VALENTINE'S DAY: Tomorrow is a big day for you and me, Alan. Tomorrow will be the two-week anniversary of the date that I first asked you when you were going to run the Yarmulke story on Pat Lykos. Still no story. And not a word out of you about where you've been or why you haven't run it! Have you been blogging with somebody else?!?! Is it Pat Lykos?!?!? You know, if this relationship is going to work out, we're both going to have to work on it. I just don't feel like you are giving 100% of yourself. Sincerely yours, AHCL

Calling B.S. on KHOU.com

KHOU.com ran a story on it's website today that ran under the title "Is Local DA Courting Trouble?" It's a preview for a story that is going to run on Channel 11 tonight. (NOTE: After the story runs, that link may not show the same thing that it currently shows). If you read the preamble of the story, it addresses a "local DA's office" that is using asset forfeiture funds to host parties where booze is served. Nowhere in the story does it indicate which county they are talking about. Given the current climate, I would gather that probably 99.9% of the viewers just assumed it was the Harris County District Attorney's Office. However, there's a problem with that, because it isn't the Harris County D.A.'s Office. Those of us who have spent time at the CJC recognize that the brief snippets of the D.A.'s Office in focus can clearly recognize that it isn't Harris County. Shame on Jeremy Rogalski for deliberately promulgating

Northside Lykos Meltdown

I think I was pretty clear the other day when I said I was having to moderate comments based on some National Enquirer- esque postings, and that I wasn't happy about that. The reason I wasn't happy about it is that it causes problems with my ability to check the comments and clear them for posting. That's especially true if the posting is extremely lengthy. Also, the Moderation element of the blog sometimes is erratic about letting me know when a new post comes through. I had some problems clearing posts today from JAGJO with a helpful link to the Ethics Website. One of Michael's posts didn't pop up until just now, although the comment indicates it was sent around mid-afternoon. In addition, I also received a very lengthy post from a poster named "Northside". Northside had posted his/her own version of the Parable that I did last weekend. To say it was lengthy would be an understatement. Frankly, it made War and Peace seem like a light read. It

"Counting Scalps"

In today's political climate, isn't the term "counting scalps" offensive to Native Americans? That's the term that Pat Lykos used in her meeting with the Chronicle 's editorial board meeting, but I guess it falls under the a safe-haven of non-offensive language in their eyes. Of course, there's not much that Lykos can do wrong in the Chronicle 's eyes. Don't worry, I'm not doing the politically correct dance here. I just wanted to address what Lykos was attacking when she made the statement: "We need a change in the leadership there. It shouldn't be about counting scalps [number of convictions]. It has to be about the rule of law and quality of justice." Damn, the more I read about what Lykos says, the more I see what an empty suit is. What the hell does that sentence mean? Quality of Justice? Rule of Law? Huh? I guess these are convenient "throw down" terms when you don't know what in the hell you ar

That was shocking. Yawn.

After consistently burying the Yarmulke story on Pat Lykos, it should be of little to no surprise that Alan Bernstein and his crew at the Chronicle would endorse the career politician in today's editorial section . Now, I'm not stupid enough to have thought that Kelly Siegler was ever going to get the endorsement from this wildly liberal editorial board (remember that the Editor is married to ferocious anti-death penalty advocate Katherine Kase), but Lykos over Leitner?!?!? I just don't get the love affair that Bernstein and Crew are having with Lykos at the moment. Back in 2000, when Chuck Rosenthal was running against Mike Stafford, Pat Lykos, and Jim Leitner, the Chronicle endorsed Leitner . Fast forward 8 years, and again you have Leitner and Lykos in the same race. What's happened in the past 8 years, Chronicle that made you change your mind? I think that Jim has continued trying cases out the wazoo (thus, gaining even more trial experience and knowle

I Have a Question.

I'm not being sarcastic. I really do have a question. I was looking at the campaign contributions that ran as a separate column in this article about Chuck Rosenthal , and I was confused. Now, I'm not a math enthusiast by any stretch of the imagination, but I added up the information provided about Kelly's finances: $50,000.00 - loan from Sam Siegler $34,575.00 - in contributions - $23,686.00 - in expenses $60,889.00 - remaining (the Chronicle listed 60,888, but maybe they aren't good at math either). That all adds up. But looking at Pat Lykos' stats, I'm confused. Please understand me, I am NOT trying to stir up anything or accuse anybody of anything. I'm just confused and would like for somebody to explain something to me. $25,000.00 - donation from the Robert Eckels Committee (more on that in a minute). $49,225.00 - in contributions. $16,916.00 - in expenses $57,309.00 remaining. Now, here's where I'm confused. The Chronicle lists her a

The Nominess Are In

The nominees are in for the Hector Heathcoat Award for Prosecutors. Just like for the Defense Bar poll (has anyone told Skip that he won yet?), we are doing the bracket system. Voting within the bracket system ends Friday at 8:00 p.m.

A Parable

A pilot named Chuck was 7 hours into a Trans-Atlantic flight, piloting a 747. The ride had been incredibly bumpy with lots of turbulence, and many of the passengers on the 747 had lost faith in Chuck's ability to pilot. Suddenly, after an extremely rough patch of turbulence, Chuck was incapacited. Panic-stricken, the flight attendant, Jared, asked if any of the passengers knew how to fly a plane. Three passengers raised their hands (a fourth one named Doug, was in the restroom for the purposes of this story). The first passenger, Kelly, said "I've been flying planes for 22 years, and I'm considered to be the best pilot in the country." The passengers mumbled about themselves. A reporter in First Class told everyone he had heard that she had referred to the people on Aisle Three as "screwballs and nuts", and also noted that when she went through flight school she had used the word "Jew" as a verb. Someone also pointed out that she must be a c