Well Folks, we are down to twenty-six days until the March 4th primary election, and things are starting to get a little bit strained for all those involved. Not to mention, there have been some surprises coming in the wake of the Chronicle's editorial board meeting with the candidates yesterday.
The most surprising thing was what the Chronicle printed today about Jim Leitner's responses to some of the questions.
Now, I realize that probably 99% of the people reading this blog are either prosecutors or criminal defense attorneys, but I want to address this to anyone who isn't.
Jim Leitner stated that if elected, he would forbid his prosecutors from using peremptory strikes for three months. In a felony trial, both sides gets 10 peremptory strikes that they can use to strike jurors for almost any reason (except for those outlined by the Batson decision). During the jury selection process, as attorneys talk to the jury panel, and learn things about them, it becomes extremely clear that although a potential juror hasn't said anything to disqualify themselves from being on the jury, they are still very much leaning one way or another in the case. To remedy that, the peremptory strikes are available to both sides.
Leitner's statement that he would forbid the use of any of these ten peremptory strikes by the State is ludicrous. He's basically stating that "in the interest of fostering better P.R. with the community, we are going to tie our hands behind the backs of our prosecutors". Nice in theory, but the idea is absolutely insane.
Answer me this, dear readers: if someone was on trial for murdering your child, your mother, your brother, etc., would you like to see a social experiment run on the trial over whether or not the State of Texas can still win after not exercising any strikes? My answer (and I'm really not trying to be an alarmist here) is probably not. Not being able to exercise peremptory strikes means the odds of a person who is a ticking time bomb being on the jury is magnified exponentially. Does it mean all "not guilties"? Not necessarily. But I guarantee that hung juries will go through the roof.
Hung juries mean re-trials. Lots and lots of re-trials. Putting victims of crime through multiple trials isn't fair to them. And on an economic note, it's not real fair to the tax payers, either.
Jim, this idea is beyond horrible. It's idiotic.
The news that Jim could come up with such an idiotic idea was surprising. What's not so surprising is what Lykos said.
Jumping on the "All D.A.'s are racist" bandwagon was a no-brainer for Lykos. Unfortunately, in yet another moment of inadvertently proving that LYKOS HAS ABSOLUTELY NO BUSINESS BEING the District Attorney, she inculpated herself.
Lykos said that when she was a Judge (back in the 80s), that she saw ADAs being racist all the time and making racist peremptory strikes all the time.
Hmmmmmm. Very interesting.
Of course, she didn't really think that out did she? Because obviously, as a JUDGE over a court, it would be HER DUTY to stop such a travesty.
Now, I'm willing to bet the deed to my home that if we were to go back and look at the court records (or news stories or any other form of documentation) from her time back on the bench that we probably wouldn't be able to find ONE SINGLE INCIDENT where she either:
1) called a prosecutor on the carpet for a racially based strike;
2) called the elected D.A. to complain about the "racist" A.D.A.;
3) filed a grievance on a "racist" ADA practicing in her court;
4) banned that ADA form practicing in her court;
5) granted a mistrial after seeing it happen;
6) held a prosecutor in contempt for racist behavior; or
7) gave an interview to a local media outlet over her "concern" over these racist practices.
Those are seven options that she could have exercised to fight the racism she now alleges to have witnessed all the time.
I'm sure there are more options that I'm not thinking of at the moment.
And I'm guessing that she didn't do a damn one of them.
This leads me to the conclusion that Judge Lykos :
a) didn't know if something racist was going on in her court back then;
b) didn't care if something racist was going on in her court back then;
c) is just now making stuff up from the olden days to benefit her campaign;
d) is just generally full of it.