Back in April, I did a couple of articles on how the Intake System and the Probable Cause Court System worked at the Harris County District Attorney's Office. One of the things that I didn't cover back then was the madness behind the method that went into assigning what prosecutors were going to cover what shifts for either P.C. or Intake.
First, a little background on the shifts themselves:
Outside of the regular 8-5 weekday shifts, additional prosecutors are needed to cover the night and weekend shifts. Since only chiefs can work Chief Intake and Probable Cause Court, that means that, at most times, there are two Felony Chiefs on duty.
On week nights, Chiefs are needed to work a Five to Midnight and a Midnight to Eight schedule for both Intake and P.C.
On the weekends, the shifts change a little bit. A Chief works from Midnight to Eight and then another is needed to work from Five to Midnight at the Intake Position. For some reason, a Chief is not called for between the hours of Eight to Five. However, since Probable Cause Court has a docket every two to three hours, there are shifts on the weekend for a Probable Cause Court prosecutor from Midnight to Eight, Eight to Four, and then Four to Midnight.
Prior to the Lykos Administration, every three or four months, Chiefs had to go through the dreaded and incredibly annoying process of "Intake Sign Up". One of the conference rooms on the Fourth Floor would have every last chief who worked intakes crammed into it, taking turns signing up for all the shifts that were coming up over the next few months. We would all take our turn and sign up in a crazy process that normally took a minimum of two hours. The chaos that ensued was frustrating beyond belief. While all other intake shifts for non-Chiefs were randomly assigned by computer, the Chiefs went through a process that made the floor of the New York Stock Exchange look neat and orderly.
In my opinion (and the opinion of most chiefs), the Probable Cause Court shifts were much more desirable than the Intake shifts. Intake can make you go crazy with the frantic and incessant phone calls, the warrants, and the screening of cases. The Probable Cause shift is typically more leisurely, with the prosecutor having to go and basically act like (what I always referred to as) a Reading Monkey. He mindlessly reads a summary of the offense to the Magistrate who then finds probable cause (or not). It isn't exactly high stress.
In addition to the P.C. shifts being a little easier than intake, obviously, the timing of the shift was very important to those of us signing up for them. For me, personally, a good old Eight to Four shift on a weekend was better than a Five to Midnight shift. And I usually traded away those Midnight to Eight shifts that I signed up for. But, all things considered, a Five to Midnight shift wasn't such a bad thing. You still had time to go home and get a few hours of sleep before reporting back to work the next morning.
During Intake Sign Up, the Eight to Four P.C. shifts were always snatched up first, quickly followed by the Five to Midnight shifts. The Midnight to Eight shifts usually went dead last.
The Lykos Administration took the much-needed step this week of abolishing the inefficient Intake Sign Up, and brought it back to random sign ups for the shifts. Prosecutors who are assigned shifts that they can't (or won't) work are still free to trade with one another to get something that better fits into their schedules.
That was a good move.
But, apparently, operating under the theory of "To the Victor Belongs the Good Shifts", the list wasn't quite as "random" for some prosecutors as it was for others.
First Assistant Jim Leitner seems to have been "randomly" assigned only Probable Cause Court shifts that fall on weeknights between Five to Midnight. Bureau Chief and former-Judge Roger Bridgwater also "randomly" was only assigned the exact same types of shifts. New Division Chief Clint Greenwood does have a couple of Midnight to Eight shifts that he will be covering, but he is only doing Probable Cause Court, and not any Intake shifts.
I suppose Lykos' new leadership either a) knew well enough that they weren't qualified to try and tackle the hectic and difficult work of intake, so they stuck to the "Reading Monkey" positions instead; or b) they were just too lazy to work the hectic shifts.
It is worth noting that during my tenure at the Office, I never saw the First Assistant working an Intake Shift, but I can certainly sympathize with Jim working extra shifts to make ends meet. I have a child of my own, too. They can be expensive!
But as Jim, Roger and Clint enter into the Wacky World of Intake, I hope they will remember that even if you are working cushy assignments like ones you've "randomly" been assigned, you will still be expected to be at work on time the next morning.
Failure to do so could have your right to work intake arbitrarily removed from you without warning -- whether you have kids or not.