Thursday, September 25, 2008

Bernstein's Article on the D.A. Debate

Alan Bernstein wrote an article today recapping a debate between D.A. Candidates Pat Lykos and Clarence Bradford. (NOTE: Thanks for the head's up on that, Muck.)

We are rapidly approaching the election, and I was glad to see that the candidates were finally getting down to some substantive issues, and they argued their positions on them.

Issue # 1-The Selection of Grand Jurors-Bradford's position was that the method of selecting grand jurors should be done like it is on the Federal side, where there is actually a true jury selection. I tend to agree with Bradford's position that this method of selecting the grand jurors would assist in restoring faith in the grand jury system, as I pointed out a while back. That being said, I continue to believe that the issue of time will always be an issue in the selection of Grand Jurors who are willing and able to serve.

I would also like to point out that I think our grand jurors who serve under the current method of selection are doing their community a great service, and I believe that they serve with honor and distinction. They donate a significant amount of their time and they take their jobs very seriously. The problem lies with the perception of how they are selected, and not in the actual jobs that they do.

Issue # 2-The Public Defender's Office-on this issue, I agree completely with Lykos. While Bradford is in favor of the PD office, Lykos recognizes that our current system of court appointed attorneys doesn't get the recognition it deserves. I agree with her position that excellent attorneys are appointed to represent the indigent defendants on a daily basis, as I also pointed out awhile back.

I know that this a hotly debated topic and will probably get some arguments here, but I think that our current system continues to provide excellent representation to people who can't afford it. I don't think that the quality attorneys that I listed in my earlier article would be willing to find themselves suddenly working for a government agency. The PD's office would be getting the vast majority of its staff from attorney's fresh out of law school -- they may become great attorneys in time, but it would take years for them to rise to the level of Skip Cornelius, Alvin Nunnery, Tyrone Moncrief, Robert Morrow, Charlie Brown, Ricardo Rodriguez, and others.
And, by the time they rise to the level of these guys, they will probably realize that private practice is more lucrative and provides more personal freedom.

Just a thought.

Lykos was also very correct in pointing out that this particular issue is out of the District Attorney's hands.

The only other point of contention which is listed in the article is that Bradford supports the issuance of citations on low-level non-violent offenses. I'm not really sure what the specifics are on what Bradford was suggesting, but I would assume that he was addressing the possibility of issuing citations on some marijuana cases.

From a logistical stand-point, I think Lykos was correct in describing this idea as "too unwieldy".

So, the bottom line is that I think the debate was a split-decision on who had the "right" idea on the issues.

But it was very nice to hear actual issues were being debated.

5 comments:

whimsicalrandomness said...

i don't know how the details of the non-violent, lesser offense citations would work either, but i suppose if everyone is on the same page regarding setting dates, bail options upon forfeitures, etc... it sounds like an awesome idea. it would eliminate quite a number of transports and bookings downtown, as well as open the window for more county revenue... well, potentially.

Anonymous said...

I'm pretty sure Bradford could get Willie Nelson's support on this issue.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

The citations aren't just for pot, there are several other nonviolent petty offenses included where the Lege gave officers discretion to give tickets. Chuck Rosenthal foolishly put the kabosh on the idea, IMO, because he wanted last year's jail vote to pass and didn't want to do anything that might relieve overcrowding for fear it would send a message to voters a new jail wasn't needed.

Lykos' statement that the citations would be unwieldy reveals a basic ignorance about the topic that's worrisome in a DA candidate. In fact, what's unwieldy is maximizing the number of unnecessary arrests, filing up the jail and taking officers off the street who could be pursuing more serious offenders. That's far more unwieldy than processing a ticket.

On the PD office, in Dallas there's a mixed system where private attorneys are still appointed but the PD office takes about half the cases. It doesn't have to be an either-or deal.

It sounds like you've become a Lykos fan, AHCL. After this spring's string of screeds lambasting her, I'm a little surprised.

Anonymous said...

Go Pat Lykos Go!!

C.O. 'Kmart-raid' Bradford has never tried a criminal case and only been in a court room once - and that was as the defendant of a lawsuit filed against him when he was Houston’s most underqualified Chief of Police. That's not even looking at the crimelab mess where employees under his eye were openly falsifying evidence to get desired results.

He does not have the experience or diligence to lead our county as District Attorney and this is solid proof that the legal community of Harris County knows it.

But too bad Rusty Hardin - your pushover candidate to control the office is not going to win! Better focus on taking Roger Clemens’s money and your snazzy $400 haircut/piece because this campaign stuff just ain’t your bag man…

Dark Knight said...

So Bradford's slimey buddy, super-mega defense lawyer, Rusty Hardin is having a fundraiser for him this eve.

If that's not a turn off enough, get a load of this - "Brad"'s charging supporters $500 a pop to get in the door...it gets worse; seems you're just an "Other" to Bradford if you can only cough up $250. And if you're a "Friend" forget about it -- it a $1000 shake down at the door .

With Friends like Rusty Hardin and Chief CO Bradford...who needs Friends.

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