Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Memo to the Gang: Rotate Your Peeps

Now, I know that since the vast majority of the Gang Who Couldn't Shoot Straight haven't been prosecutors during this millennium that it probably stands to reason that they are currently unaware of the biggest internal enemy the District Attorney's Office faces.

Burnout.

More specifically, burnout at the level of Felony Threes.

I've explained the job duties before, but I'll do a brief recap (on the off-chance that you are as bad about finding articles in the archives of a blog as I am).

The Felony Three is the foot soldier of each District Court. They pull the docket every morning. They "screen" each new case, writing a Defendant's criminal history on the front of the file, as well as a brief synopsis of the case. If there are offense reports to be ordered, they do it. If there are preliminary calls to be made to Complainant's, they get to do that too. During court, they normally have to fill out the majority of plea paperwork, and then stand before the bench to "take" the pleas on behalf of the State. If any phone calls need to be made for various and sundry reasons, they are usually the ones to make them.

And now I'm sure they are getting to do more than their fair share of offense report copying, too.

In their multitude of "down time", they get to work their cases up for trial, and in some courts, that's just an intellectual exercise. It's difficult for Threes to get their cases to trial in some courts. Understandably, most judges will put a priority on trying a Felony Two's murder case over a Three's less than a gram Possession of a Controlled Substance case.

Most Threes quickly accumulate the 240 hours of Comp Time that they cap out on, and then spend their Sundays working for free by screening their cases.

If it isn't obvious, my point is that Threes burn out with massive workloads.

Luckily, the position in the standard rotation that follows being a Felony Chief is the position of Misdemeanor Chief.

The life of being a Misdemeanor Chief is important, but I think everyone would agree that it is significantly more leisurely. There are supervisory duties, but most chiefs don't carry much (if any) of a caseload for trial.

I know that when I was a Misdemeanor Chief, I was able to whittle down my 240 hours of Comp Time down to around 8 remaining hours over the period of a little less than a year!

And the rest was needed.

The first time up as a Felony Three is an overwhelming time period, and it often separates the prosecutors who want to be Career Prosecutors from those who don't.

But the average time that most prosecutors used to spend as First Time Threes used to be right around six months. After six months, they got rotated down to be Misdemeanor Chiefs and got the much deserved break they had earned during their time up in the Big Leagues.

Right now, however, Felony Threes are staying well past six months with no apparent end in sight as to when they get to go back down. In addition to other things that the Lykos administration has done to kill morale, failing to rotate the Felony Threes back down to misdemeanor is running good prosecutors into the ground.

It's tough on their health. Sometimes it can even be tough on their family lives.

So, here's the Memo to the Gang: you've got a lot of good people working for you at those levels, but they aren't bulletproof. If you don't start taking some more interest in trying to make their lives a little easier, you are going to lose them. They'll leave to save their social lives. They'll leave to save their marriages. Hell, they'll leave to save their sanity.

Do something about it, folks. You are really going to regret it if you don't. I know you've blown the budget already, so there is no hope of getting them some backup with adding a fourth person to the courts.

But you could still rotate your Felony Threes with your Misdemeanor Chiefs for no money!

It's common sense, and it's free.

But then again, it seems like a little common sense around the 6th Floor would be priceless these days.

10 comments:

Anonymous said...

Yup, that's gotta be done. Felony 3 is the toughest job in the building. Felony 2 is also difficult, due to the nature of the cases, but the actual workload is less than half of the 3.

Isn't there still 1 court with no 3 at all? Wasssup wit dat?

Rage Judicata said...

You mean the newest lawyers work the hardest?

Sounds like every law firm I've ever heard of, except we don't get comp time.

quitcherbitchin

Arthur Seaton said...

Yet another witty remark form the king of douchebags.

The DAs I know are too smart to work in the civil world. Only a moron with a sense of self torture would willingly work long hours on mind the mind numbingly inconsequential work you civil assholes do.

"Ohhhh I got to bill 5 hours on a meaningless discovery issue that has absolutely no impact on the case whatsoever! I am such a great lawyer!!!"

Congratufuckinlations.

Anonymous said...

Actually, Rage is right on here. Baby prosecutors learning the ropes have to work hard? Whaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa

Maybe the 1s and 2s shouldn't be so friggin' lazy!

Anonymous said...

Mr. Seaton,
Have mercy on Rage as he suffers through his mid life crisis. Some are not as satisfied as others when they reflect back on what could have been but for their lack of preparation and missed opportunity.
He is merely an angry little man with a big gun fetish.
We all know he has never worked for a prestigious civil law firm and never will except in his little fantasy world where he thinks a game of paintball is equivalent to a covert special ops mission. We used to have an ADA like him......

A Harris County Lawyer said...

I don't think anyone is objecting to Three's having to work hard, but the thing that differs for them and big firms is the salaries.

My point of writing the article was that if Lykos and the Gang want to keep good people working for them, they shouldn't run them into the ground. At some point the caseload that they carry isn't worth the toll it takes on their personal and family lives. Trust me, I lost a marriage to this phenomena.

At some point, a down-trodden three is going to leave for a more lucrative job.

Anonymous said...

"Be carefull what you wish for it might come true." After today's Chicken $h!t events I think that there should be an epidemic of the "Blue Flu" in the felony courts.

Anonymous said...

I am relatively new to the office. I did not have very many ties to the "old regime."

I'll be honest, when the new administration came in, I was open minded as to what might happen.

Well....today is the day Pat has lost what little respect she had with me. She is an absolute idiot.

In fact, if idiocracy were a crime, she'd be a true habitual.

She has no business being in a leadership position. It has actually become quite funny how much of a stumbling idiot she is.

Pat, how does it feel to know you have little to no respect with a VAST majority of the very people you are supposed to be leading?

Pat, how does it feel to know your "troops" laugh at the fact you have never been in our shoes and do not know what it is like to be in the trenches and fight for those who don't have a voice?

Jim, you're a pussy. But, I guess your insurance/benefits are about to kick in and you're in for the long-haul. Yes, I do know you read this blog (seen it on your screen, buddy)

Pat, how does it feel to know "we" literally despise the way in which you have so quickly dismantled office morale?

Well...I say open mike night at 1201 Franklin is officially over and it is time for Pat to exit stage left.

Anonymous said...

Did you hear about what happened today?

The Punisher said...

all you bitches who think we're whining - come give it shot. come do it yourself, 7 f#@$ing days a week with a chief up your ass, a judge up your ass and a family at home wondering where the hell you're are. We're not saying we didn't ask for it, or that we can't do it - we're just saying that we're freaking drowning over here and you wanna know why stuff isn't at 100% every damn minute?? because my eyes are bleeding and my brain is exploding. i've got cops calling in the middle of the night, witnesses calling at all hours (when i can find them) complaints calling because they want to know whats going on and people like you all basically saying i'm a puss because I get a little tired. Remember who you have to call if you're ever a victim of a crime. I hope you've got yourself a "fresh" ADA who hasn't been a #3 for too long. and now i remember why i stopped reading this damn blog. Because the people who've never done it, don't know SHIT about it!