Saturday, February 16, 2008

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 other candidate). 170 voters said he was qualified. 296 voters said he was "well qualified". (In a related story, local attorney Lloyd Kelley voted 295 times in this poll. Just kidding.)

2. Jim Leitner - the respect for Jim showed in this poll. Only 182 voters said that Jim was not qualified to be D.A. (which is the lowest amount of people who said that about any of the candidates). 342 voters said that he was qualified. And 380 voters said that Jim was well qualified for the job.

1. Kelly Siegler - Kelly had 525 voters that said she was not qualified (a high number, but not as high as either Lykos or Bradford). 284 voters who said she was qualified. And 475 voters who said she was well qualified. That's 95 votes higher than the next highest candidate.


Republican voters, are you starting to get an idea of what the legal community thinks of Pat Lykos yet?

17 comments:

Murf said...

ahcl,

You have no greater idea of what the "Bar" thinks of Pat Lykos than the general public based on the results of the HBA bar poll. It is the practice of the D.A.'s office to give free membership, at tax payer expense, to the Assistant D.A.'s to the HBA. It is a common practice for those folks to vote in a block for their own "hand picked" candidate. In this case, Kelly Seigler. Just as a result of that, she gets nearly 300 votes. The rest can be attributed to "working the bar poll." If it is your intention to be fair, then be fair. If it is your intention to act as a partisan and spew rhetoric only loosely based in reality...keep up the good work.

A Harris County Lawyer said...

Gee Murf, didn't know I wasn't entitled to my own opinion. What do you think I should do if I wanted to express my own opinion? Start a blog or something?

As to the HBA membership, it is very true that Chuck paid for all our memberships back when he first became DA. He wanted to encourage the ADAs to be active members of the Houston legal community. If you would like, feel free to talk to any ADA or ex-ADA and they will tell you that we were encouraged to VOTE in the polls, but never told how we should cast those votes. Your "voting block" theory just isn't true.
I've read some of your other posts on other websites, and I know you aren't a Kelly fan. But at some point, you are going to have to come to terms with the fact that Kelly has a pretty strong fan base amongst her co-workers, and a pretty big fan base outside the office as well.

pro.victims said...

Murf,

Take a day off from work. Tuesday would be good, since Monday can be hectic with all the new cases that come in over the weekend. I want you to be able to have the luxury of taking time talking to people. Come down to the criminal court house. 1201 Franklin, in downtown, in case you weren't sure where to go.

Ask people in the hallways (I suggest you go to the 14th-19th floors - where the felony courts are. It's where you will find the most experienced criminal lawyers, defense and prosecution; people with years and years of experience. People who practiced in her court while she was on the bench, people with HONEST ACTUAL FIRST HAND KNOWLEDGE).

Tell folks that you are a voter, honestly seeking info about who the best DA candidate would be.

Tell them you are thinking about voting for Lykos.

And see what they say.

Pay careful attention to what the defense lawyers say, since you are concerned that over 200 ADA's would "block vote."

Or, skip the whole exercise, disregard the Bar Poll, and vote for who ever makes you feel warm inside.

I love it when I hear the mantra - "I educate myself about the candidates and vote based on real information."

Come on down. Check the place out. Prove to yourself that you really know what you are talking about.

Kevin Whited said...

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.

Boy, the Chronicle Editorial Board sure can pick 'em!

Anonymous said...

How can you so blindly overlook the number of people who said Kelly wasn't qualified? I personally belive that she is . . . but I'm afraid numbers like this will screw her in a general election. Isn't Leitner really the better candidate??

pro.victims said...

a 10:42 - you've asked a fair question.

Don't forget - the Bar Poll crosses party lines. There are a number of Dems who are lawyers. Also, there can be civil or criminal lawyers who vote in this poll. Some/Many will vote their party affiliation, regardless of their actual knowledge of the candidates. Plus, some defense lawyers who are anti Lykos, but pro Leitner, will intentionally vote Kelly as "not qualified" in order to skew the results. Murf suggests that 300 (it's actually more like 250) prosecutors falsely inflate Kelly's numbers. Truth is - when you consider how many anti Kelly defense lawyers and non criminal attorneys who are political - the "not qualified" votes for Kelly are cast in their true light - it's pro Bradford, pro Leitner lawyers trying to make Kelly look unqualified.

Jim is a good man, and more than "qualified" to be the DA. However, he doesn't have the name recognition, or the financial support to make the run (Bradford, running unopposed, has reported almost $150K in his warchest that he is not having to spend in a contested primary - Leitner has reported less than five thousand dollars total earned; everything each of the Republicans have earned so far is being spent in a race against other Republicans. Bradford will continue to build $$$ while the Republicans spend every dollar they earn before the primary - no sense holding any money back - if you lose, you are out - which means that whoever wins the primary has to start raising money from zero, while Bradford is $150K ahead). Jim can't pull it off.

On the Republican side, seriously, it's going to come down to Kelly or Lykos.

Who ever wins faces Bradford. He will have a financial lead, without a doubt.

Make your choice. People need to stop being political and trying to keep a "Republican" in the DA's Office. They need to start focusing on Kelly's qualifications, and asking themselves - can anyone hold a candle to her? If my family member were murdered or raped in Harris County, who would I want representing me - Kelly? Lykos? Bradford?

Make your choice. And live with it.

J said...

My guess is that a lot of the people who are so anti-Kelly on the blogs, including the Daily Pravda's, and in the bar poll are going to be voting in the Democratic primary. As support, look at the 466 voters rate Bradford as qualified and well-qualified. Could anyone but a Democrat really think he's qualified to be DA?

Ron in Houston said...

Here's what I take from the polls and from my talking to people.

1. Kelly's good. Her skill and acumen make her a worthy candidate.

2. Her winner take all attitude has made her a lot of enemies who feel she is not qualified.

The polls seem to reflect that she's a polarizing figure.

A Harris County Lawyer said...

Man you guys stay up late and get up early,

Anon 10:42, I pointed out in the article that Kelly's "not qualified" votes were high (although not as high as Lykos or Bradford). Other than a flashing neon element to it, I don't know what else you would have had me do.

Pro Vic, you are right about Bradford having a financial lead going into November. It will be very interesting to me to see if the Republican candidate will end up with the full support of the other three candidates.

J, I think that at this point, Bradford is enjoying the quiet before the storm. He knows his own failings and scandals, and he knows that once the Republican candidate is decided, they will be coming for him.

Ron, Kelly is a polarizing figures, but most prosecutors are. A prosecutor who tries a case is usually loved by the victim's family that he represents (yeah, I said "represents", PJ. You heard me.), and pretty well despised by the Defendant and his family. It's up to the jury to decide whether or not the evidence was there. By analogy, the voters are going to become the jury on whether or not Kelly is just polarizing to those whom she's angered in trial or if she really is considered that offensive to the general electorate.

Hmm, I may be on to something for a new post here.

Observer said...

AHCL,

I am a reluctant poster, though I have been enjoying the blog and related commentary. At the risk of sounding like a pompous "know-it-all," I did a little research on some issues that have been bothering me and seem to keep popping up here.

First, while I certainly understand the passion prosecutors feel on behalf of the victims involved in their cases, I believe that what both you and Anon C write about "representing" victims is incorrect, or at the very least, imprecise.

The Code of Criminal Procedure, The Texas Disciplinary Rules of Professional Conduct, and the Crime Victims' Bill of Rights all recognize that the prosecuting attorney represents the State, and not the victim. Both victims and defendants are given rights that the Prosecutor is duty-bound to respect and protect. The Prosecutor is the primary person charged with the responsibility of seeing that a victim is afforded their rights in a trial, but is also charged with seeing that the Defendant is afforded his or her rights as well. This places Prosecutors in the unique position of not only being an advocate on behalf of the State in trial, but of representing fairly before the tribunal, all citizens of the State, both victimized and accused.

The commentary to Section 3.09 of the Disciplinary Rules is helpful here, as is an article from the Texas District and County Attorney's Association, "Walking the Ethical Line," Vol. 37, No. 6 (Nov-Dec 2007).

However, lest PJ and Mark decide to gloat too much,
they are also incorrect about the State not having a right to a fair trial. Art. 2.03(b) of the Code of Criminal Procedure states, "It is the duty of the trial court, the attorney representing the accused, the attorney representing the state and all peace officers to so conduct themselves as to insure a fair trial for both the state and the defendant, not impair the presumption of innocence, and at the same time afford the public the benefits of a free press."

That all being said, I have enjoyed reading all the posts and related discussion here. Keep it up! :)

A Harris County Lawyer said...

Observer,
Thanks for your post. You are, of course, correct that prosecutors don't legally represent victims. Prosecutors represent the State of Texas. However, prosecutors do often feel that they are speaking for the victim in their cases, thus making them a "representative" of the victim.

jigmeister said...

Observer,

You are no longer...

And you are right about the duties of a prosecutor. Contrary to the belief of many, DA's spend a great deal of time making sure the prosecution decision is correct. Some of us have even had occasion to make corrections after conviction when it appears conviction was incorrect.

However, the practical nature of the job requires the DA, especially when violence occurs or the helpless (children for example) are victimized to become their protector in a system they don't understand. After all a defendant has an educated, hopefully experienced, advocate. And would you really want something less from the DA?

Remember also, the Code of Criminal Procedure also says, "It
shall be the primary duty of all prosecuting attorneys, including
any special prosecutors, not to convict, but to see that justice is done."

We will never make everyone happy.

Observer said...

AHCL and Jigmeister,

No one, least of all I, is saying that prosecutors should not care about crime victims. I just think that there is a danger in responding to victims as your "clients." In my opinion, and experience, the prosecutors who are best at their jobs are those who are able to maintain some distance and view their cases objectively, which is admittedly hard. I suspect most prosecutors chose this line of work in large part to use their knowledge and skills to "right the wrongs" perpetrated against victims. I just believe that you can lose valuable perspective when you identify too much with your victim, and accept his or her position as your own.

The Phantom Bureaucrat said...

Murf, if you took any random five prosecutors at a bar and asked them to agree on something other than how much they deserved more respect & raises, I strongly suspect you'd be unable to get a consensus opinion on almost anything else. They don't vote as a block and if you happen to be hanging around 1201 Franklin, you might be surprised at how some of them that "know" their chances of success in the office will be limited under Siegler (generally the under performing ADA's), are Lykos fans (if they are reading this blog, keep in mind that the walls have ears...).

The blog and commentary were nicely done (as expected). That so many considered Bradford as "qualified or better" is scary but the observations that party affiliation probably had much to do with it seems reasonable.

pro.victims said...

Observer,

As a prosecutor, I've often found myself at odds with the complaining witness or their family members. In seeing that justice is done, prosecutors have to make their own evaluations about whether their witnesses are telling the truth (first and foremost), and even when you think they are being honest, what likelihood you have of prevailing at trial. Frequently, victims want more than their pound of flesh - and we have to tell them - "This is the State vs. the Defendant, and you are not in charge of this case. I am."

That does not mean for a second that when I go to trial, even though the victims aren't my clients, that I don't speak for them in court.

I have yet to meet a prosecutor who wanted to see an innocent person convicted. I've met tons of defense lawyers who were paid to see that guilty people went free or had less severe punishments than they should. Some of the prosecutors I've worked with (me included) realized that the best way to prevent innocent people from being convicted was to work from the prosecution side. Prosecutors make the decision to dismiss or proceed on a case, after all. Yes, mistakes can happen - no one is perfect. But, man, I've never seen people who try harder to do the right thing.

Mark Bennett said...

The State has a "right" to a fair trial -- in a metaphorical sense, that is, if you don't insist on "rights" having special meaning. By the same token, the prosecutor "represents" the victim.

Edie said...

Thanks for the link to the "results". I'm in the process of making my "cheat sheet" to take with me to vote and don't know diddly about the judges. I tend to use the Comical's FOR picks as those to vote against! It's nice to have a clue from those that should know.

As for Kelly, she rocks and she's got my vote!