Growing up, I never wanted to be a lawyer.
I actually wanted to be a cop (or an FBI agent to be more precise). As I got older, I realized that getting shot at and risking getting killed on a daily basis was probably not the most stable way to raise a family. So that fell by the wayside, although most cops remain my heroes to this day.
Ultimately, I decided I wanted to be a prosecutor by the time I reached high school. I went to law school, not to become a lawyer, but a prosecutor. I had no interest in civil law, trusts and wills, torts, contracts, or any of that. I suffered through three years of dry material so that I could be a prosecutor.
I wanted to do what the police did, but I wanted to do it in a courtroom. I wanted to stop bad people from doing bad things. I wanted to help people who had been hurt by crime.
I was an intern when I first met Kelly Siegler.
Ironically, she and Vic Wisner were trying the one death penalty case that she didn't get the death penalty on.
The defendant's name was Brian Gonzales. He had shot and killed a young man named Omar Aycox while robbing an AMC movie theater. Mr. Aycox was a young African-American man who was home for the summer from college, and helping his family out by working through his summer vacation. If I recall correctly, Mr. Aycox had a mentally handicapped older brother that he had a special bond with. Mr. Aycox's brother thought that the sun and moon set by his baby brother.
Omar Aycox was shot four times in the back as he fled from Mr. Gonzales during a robbery.
I watched Kelly Siegler try that case through the guilt/innocence phase as if Omar Aycox was her own child. After a quick guilty, she proceeded into the punishment phase with the same passion. (NOTE: The only thing that saved Brian Gonzales from death row was a pregnant juror that went into early labor during punishment deliberations, thus resulting in a mistrial.)
But as a first year law student, watching Kelly Siegler try that case, she became my hero.
I watched Kelly Siegler prosecute him, and I wanted to be just like her. I wasn't a five-year-old kid who thought being a fireman would be cool. I was a 25-year-old law student who was in awe that a lawyer could be that passionate about her case.
That good at what she did.
I doubt Kelly remembers me back from those days, or knows what the effect of watching her in trial had on a young law student.
It made me want to be the best prosecutor in the world, and I knew that where I wanted to be was in Harris County. I wanted to walk amongst the Giants of the Criminal Justice World. I wanted to work for Johnny Holmes. I wanted to try cases against lawyers like Racehorse Haynes and Dick DeGuerin.
What can I say? I was a starry-eyed kid.
And ultimately, I did become a Harris County prosecutor, and other than my family, there's nothing I'm more proud of in my life.
I don't consider myself a "hero", but I don't see anything wrong in being proud of the job I've done. I'm proud of the people that I've done the job with. And I'm equally proud of the people I've done the job against. Whether you are a prosecutor or a defense attorney, if you have practiced in Harris County, you have truly walked amongst Giants.
Tomorrow, one of my heroes is on the ballot to become the District Attorney of Harris County, Texas. In a less controversial time and place, the decision would be one that there could be no question about.
A true leader. A prosecutor's prosecutor. A true hero would be the unarguable choice.
But instead, we have whispers and gossip. Stones overturned by a newspaper that is more willing to embrace a person convicted than a person victimized.
Innuendos by a practiced and polished politico who's "passion" for justice is no more than a cloak disguising political ambition. That same politico will most certainly begin to unceremoniously fire people who dare to cross her, regardless of their skill, talent, or passion for the job.
Has Kelly said or done things in her life that she wishes she could take back? Of course.
But, Dear Reader, so have you. So have I. So have we all.
Tomorrow Kelly Siegler will be on the ballot to become the leader of the job that she was born to do. For 22 years, Harris County has had the benefit of having a Legend of the Game walking amongst the Giants on the State of Texas' behalf.
The thought of this job that I have loved in the hands of anyone else is physically sickening.
Whatever happens tomorrow, Kelly Siegler will always be one of my heroes.