Saturday, June 20, 2009

Lykos and the Legislative Update

With the closing of this year's Legislative Session, it is now time for Judges, Prosecutors and Defense Attorneys across the State of Texas to begin familiarizing themselves with the newest laws that are coming into effect on September 1st.

The Texas District and County Attorney's Association (TDCAA, for short) which is an organization of all the prosecutors across the State of Texas has typically spearheaded the teaching of the new laws as their upper administration travels from venue to venue across the State, holding day-long seminars that cover everything you need to know. In the past, every two years, there will be a seminar that joins together Judges, Prosecutors and Defense Attorneys. TDCAA, especially Staff Attorney Shannon Edmonds, does a thorough and entertaining job of presenting all the new criminal laws.

Obviously, in years past, the Harris County District Attorney's Office has comprised a very large portion of the attendees there. Prior to Pat Lykos' arrival on the 6th Floor, Harris County was one of the two most sizeable and active counties involved in TDCAA, and it was a great relationship. TDCAA is a wonderful organization that serves as an excellent resource for prosecutors across the State. They organize Continuing Legal Education (CLE) seminars year-round, including the incredibly helpful Baby Prosecutor's School for rookie prosecutors.

More importantly, TDCAA helps foster a feeling of camaraderie with all prosecutors and builds friendships and contacts across the State. One of the things I hated the most about leaving the D.A.'s Office was that I was no longer a member of TDCAA. It really was something I was very glad to be a part of.

Apparently, however, Pat Lykos is taking a bit of a more chilly approach to TDCAA.

Prosecutors were informed on Friday via e-mail that the Harris County District Attorney's Office would not be participating in this year's Legislative Update in Houston. Instead, they would have several prosecutors from within the Office giving lectures on the new laws.

The kicker on the deal, however, is that the in-house update is occurring on July 23 from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. So, after a long day of work, Patsy and her Gang are going to make all the prosecutors and investigators stay until 7:30 p.m. to get their CLE. I guess if you have such a thing as a "family" or some of those pesky "children" thingies, you are going to have to get a babysitter or make other arrangements.

God knows that Patsy, Little Jimmy and Roger could give a crap less if they are inconveniencing you.

It is worth noting, however, that at the end of Bridgwater's e-mail regarding the new mandatory CLE, he notes that the Houston Legislative Update offered by the TDCAA is still going on at South Texas College of Law on July 31st. However, he posts the following caveat:

Please be advised should you desire to attend that presentation it must be on self-pay basis and using vacation or comp time.

Are you freaking kidding me, Roger? I mean, I can understand you making the prosecutors pay for the class if they want to attend, but seriously, comp time? A prosecutor wants to go listen to the organization that helped write a lot of these laws actually speak on the topic and you are treating it like they are taking time off the go see Weekend at Bernie's II? If a prosecutor is willing to pay to take the class to make them a better prosecutor, then don't insult them by making them take Comp Time.

Here's the bottom line on this, folks. Once again, Patsy and Crew are making an ass out of themselves and the entirety of the Office. By pulling out of attending the TDCAA Seminar, she is guaranteeing that the seminar will be better attended by Judges and Defense Attorneys than prosecutors. Seeing how TDCAA is an organization for prosecutors, that's just embarrassing. And taxpayers should be aggravated that Lykos is going to make all of her prosecutors and investigators earn some comp time with her stupid after hours lessons.

As a side note, these after-hours training sessions are nothing new. Bridgwater has been forcing his misdemeanor people to have after hours training sessions quite frequently on Thursdays. Kind of funny when you consider the fact that even the Babies have more prosecutorial experience than he does in recent memory.

So the big question about Lykos' decision to pull out of the seminar is "Why?"

I can think of three possible scenarios. Let me know if you've got a theory.

Scenario # 1-recently, Lykos tried to persuade TDCAA to move the Advanced Advocacy Training from Waco to Houston. TDCAA looked into it, but ultimately declined. The leaving of the TDCAA Seminar is possibly nothing more than a straight up retaliation from a cranky old lady in a snit.

Scenario # 2-given the absolutely sterling budget management that Lykos and the Gang have exhibited during their six months in Office, they flat out just don't have the money. Looks like the water coolers that were strategically placed throughout the Office by Hannah Chow were more important than actually, uh, having prosecutors who were up-to-date on the law.

Scenario # 3-since Pat Lykos is clearly not a prosecutor and is more interested in appeasing the media than doing her job, she may be a little bit nervous about what TDCAA might have to say about some of the bills that she had the Office advocate for -- especially that whole Journalist Shield Law that TDCAA has always opposed. God forbid that the scenario arose where TDCAA came to town and had to talk about what a bad idea for prosecutors that bill was. That scenario might have Lykos looking like, um, I don't know, perhaps, an idiot.

Whatever her motives were, Lykos is once again showing her unbridled arrogance. She has been a prosecutor (in title only) for less than six months and is already shunning the guidance and assistance of the best prosecutors organization in the country for her own "wisdom".

She continues to be an embarrassment to Harris County, and now she is taking it to a Statewide level.


Anonymous said...

She deserves credit for trying ot save taxpayer money by having the very qualified ADAs do in-house CLE. However, making it after-hours and forcing people to take comp time as an incentive to skip TDCAA's update isn't going to instill loyalty.

Arthur Seaton said...

For three Thursdays in a row over the last three weeks, all misdemeanor prosecutors have been required to be in "training" from 5-7 PM. I'll let you guess how productive the sessions were, with the exception of the last one taught by Marc Brown.

Anonymous said...

The TDCAA legislative updates are well prepared and presented, but in reality most of the value of the updates is in compelling neighboring prosecutors, police, judges, defense attorneys, probation officers and others to sit down together and exchange ideas about the changes to the law. I guess Harris County Assistants do not need that contact with the outside world.

Anonymous said...

I am speechless.

Anonymous said...

I plan on attending the legislative update on my own tab and time. Oh gosh, who do I want teaching the legislative update, the people who were up there during the legislative session, knows the history of the bill and participated in the legislation by testifying or giving input to the committees, discussed the bill with various expert prosecutors throughout the state or local ADAs who might have given some input but certainly did not give any testimony or have just learned they are experts on the bill and are expected to teach. This is not to say the persons at the office who are currently reading the most recent legislation are not capable of telling what the new law says but really, TDCAA personal should be teaching the new law. I heard this was a decision made by Roger Bridgewater, if so, another wrong decision by Roger, if not, then Lykos is at it again.

Anonymous said...

I tend to favor #1 and #3, if not both, since they share elements of retaliation. TDCAA has been known to defer payment for a few months, taking into consideration budgets and the like, so I'm more inclined toward #3.

TDCAA is, if you will, "the industry standard" for training in Texas and there is no excuse for her office not to attend in full force.

Maybe Patsy doesn't like the idea of her people mingling with offices from around the Houston area who commonly attend these updates. Perhaps she is afraid they might meet job contacts at the seminar.

The fact that she is making them take comp time tells me they did something to piss her off and that this is retaliatory. Usually, at every other office in the state, and formerly at Harris County, if you were willing to pay for some CLE that was tangentially related to your job, then you were allowed to do so to better yourself and get some CLE.

Also suspicious is the fact they are not having it in the jury assembly rooms. Although some past updates were held at nearby UH-Downtown, why not be hosting it at the jury assembly room if not retaliation?


Anonymous said...

Duh, Roger is trying to get himself comp time since he has missed so much this year. Once again, all about them. Don't worry about my kids..... Some of us aren't on the retirement program!

Anonymous said...

What time of day do you propose training sessions should be scheduled? Many moons ago, during the JBH administration, we had training sessions after work. It didn't seem fact it was fun. Of course, Bert Graham, and his cast of characters made it fun. I don't think the Lykos crew understands the concept of having fun while learning.

Not paying for TDCAA is semi-understandable in the current budget "crisis". Forcing the use of vacation or comp time IS unreasonable.

Thomas said...

I think its a great idea to have the classes taught in house. It was a waste of taxpayers money to send people there. I support pat very much on this decision.

Anonymous said...

Why waste taxpayer money to attend the seminar? Looks like there were so few changes any moron could read and be aware of them in a couple of hours. Yhey need some more ethics training instead.

jigmeister said...

I can't imagine why the people who work at the office seem to be the least important ingredient to this new regime.

Anonymous said...

So you are a defense attorney? Sounds like you would rather be back prosecuting...

A Harris County Lawyer said...

Anon 10:59 a.m.,
Don't confuse the fact that I and 99.9% of everyone else who has ever been a prosecutor know more about prosecuting and are more qualified than Lykos, Jim and Roger are at running the D.A.'s office with me wanting to be a prosecutor.

I enjoyed the hell out of being a prosecutor and I'm proud of my service, but I'm quite happy where I am now.

So are my clients.

And FYI, you get no originality points. That line has been done to death.

Anonymous said...

The moderator of the Harris County in-house seminar actively participated in the crafting of the legisation. Many people from the office also went up and testified on that legislation, and I wouldn't be surprised if the "teachers" were some of the ones that did. Also, the materials prepared by TDCAA will be handed out at the HCDA in-house session.

That said, forcing people to stay late when they'll get just as many no-shows from a Friday afternoon training as they will from this Thursday after-hours one seems unreasonable. Forcing those that have other family commitments to take vacation or comp time to stay updated on recent legislative changes is not only unreasonable, it's a clear morale killer.

Anonymous said...

Were the after hours mandatory Spring training sessions during the Holmes administration viewed by ADA's as "unreasonable" and tearing them away from cherished moments with their families and loved ones? Seriously... all current administration gaffes aside (and there have been major ones), this whine is pushing the outside of the envelope on legitimate areas of complaint.

They chose to provide a free in-house legislative update for their employees at a time that would not conflict with dockets and afternoon trials. The audacity, the cruelty, the total and utter disregard for all that is sacred and human. Distraught children will be heard sobbing in the streets. Neglected wives will leave their husbands. Confused family dogs will surely begin sleeping with disoriented house cats. God help all navigate their way through this time of total despair. My thoughts and prayers will be with those being forced through this impending CLE Bataan Death March.

Okay... perhaps I digress.

Anonymous said...

This is the same Roger Bridgwater who "disinvited" Rusty Hardin from training the misdemeanor prosecutors after Rusty had agreed to do so. Good job, Roger! What could the misdemeanor prosecutors (or felony prosecutors for that matter) learn from one of the nation's best trial lawyers? Roger and Jim, you were both mediocre defense lawyers (at best) and have shown yourselves to completely lack any leadership skills.

Roger's and Jim's disconnect with the office is so well shown by their emails insisting that we all go to the training, and doing everything they can to prevent us from attending TDCAA. Did these assholes even apply for CLE credit?

Pat, you already know that everyone hates you, but it is obvious that you don't care. Jim, everyone is disappointed in you, and has come to despise you. You disgust all the rank and file prosecutors. Roger, you are almost as worthless as Hanna Chow, who currently carries the title of most worthless employee at the DAs office.

And I am not one of the "old guard" prosecutors. I am one of the regular, work every weekend, work every evening, neglect my family prosecutors. Thanks for giving me less time with my family. We all appreciate what you do.

Anonymous said...

Have you heard about the 8-5 memo and the inevitable follow ups? B/C they have determined that mandating a 1 hr lunch and strict 8-5 schedule (unless you get bureau chief permission and keep it on file with Leitner) to professionals makes them more "productive." Nevermind those Sundays and 15 hr days.

Anonymous said...

This CLE policy is no different than what most civil forms do. If you can do it in-house and not disrupt work, it's worth the occasional working late inconvenience.

I hope the constant sniping at Lykos ends sometime soon. There has to be more to talk about at the CJC than every Lykos decision you disagree with.

Anonymous said...

I heard about the Rusty decision as well. Roger Bridgewater has proven himself to be no better than Leinter. Both guys are intimidated by talent because neither had any. Don't stop what you are doing Murray.

In terms of how civil "forms" do it, I want to respond by telling you to go f yourself with that b s analogy but I won't.

Instead, I will tell you that civil "forms" have CLE's during the lunch hour to allow their people to bill during other hours.

The people who respond justifying Reverend Roger and Reverend Jim seem to have fact issues.

No surprise, we know their real motto, "If it sounds good say it, the public will never know any better."

Anonymous said...

The difference between job of those attorneys working at civil firms and my job as a prosecutor is a question of compensation. I make nowhere near enough to justify any more sacrifices to my family and my health than I already make. I make a government salary, albeit a good one. I chose this line of work because I believed I could make a difference. I stayed because it was fun. With every day that passes it becomes less fun. With every plan that is disseminated without any thought to implementation (Flex time, DWI plan, discovery policy), it becomes clear that the 6th floor could care less about what I or any of the other 250+ attorneys at the office think.

For those of you die hard Republicans that are applauding Pat's decision b/c it saves your tax payer money you should realize that training money has always come out of the tens of millions collected in asset forfeiture and check fraud penalties. While you're pondering that, you should also ponder that Pat has EXPONTENTIALLY increased the budget by hiring lateral hires and paying them more than their pay slots would allow as well as spending $30,000 to fund a program called "Do the Write Thing" that allows troubled junior high students to write about their feelings in an attempt to lower crime. GIVE ME A BREAK! Check out the Commissioner Court Agenda online for the following tidbits:
$17500 to hired lobbyist (Feb 24)
$30000 to Do the Write Thing (4/7)
$58000 more to the same lobbyist(6/9)

Anonymous said...

Looks like 10:07 has issues.

Why don't y'all post under your names, instead of being anonymous cowards?

Anonymous said...

Wait a minute, Pat paid a lobbyist $75500 for what? Is he a friend of hers? Was he ever there (at the legislature)? What did he do, get the press shield law passed? I thought Anon 12:56 said the in house moderator of office was up there and so involved in the legislation. If that was true, did Pat just give the $75500 to the lobbyist or did she just give our in house moderator a vacation in Austin for 6 months.

I know our ADA was not on vacation in Austin for the last 6 months so I assume Pat just gave away more money

Seer said...

I've been a prosecutor in other counties for 14 years. I'm an active member of TDCAA and teach for them. I also teach in house and for other organizations. TDCAA has excellent programs and I'm honored to have taught for them.

That said, you're off the mark on this one. Big offices have to do some "in house" CLE. Legislative update is one that is well suited for in-house presentation.

My father taught me no job worth doing can be done in 40 hrs. Both offices where I have worked required modest commitments of time outside 8-5 for training. As a trainer, my preparation time is 9-11 pm after the kids are asleep and on Saturdays and Sundays around and between ball games. I don't think asking for an hour of your time after 5 is too much when I spend 8-12 hours of my own time preparing to teach you.

And, are you really telling me you don't work after 5 and on weekends to prepare for trial? We are part of a profession that is always changing and keeping up with that requires a investment of time just like trial prep.

I love your blog. Keep it up. And attend TDCAA's leg update. You can see your old friends from the office at docket.

Anonymous said...

Patsy's blown budget is not the issue as she can easily tap into forfeiture funds for training expenses.

Patsy's primary reason to nix the multi-county training is to preclude Harris County ADAs from mingling with their counterparts from other counties and talk shop. Ayatollah Lykos wants to quarantine her troops and contain her mismanagement as much as possible. Patsy may control Brian Rogers and the Houston media; but media in all other counties are not for sale and under her insidious rule.

Secondly, she can spin this as "in house" will save money for the black and white concrete thinkers. For those that have no clue on how a DA's office really conducts business, boiler plate generalities sound appealing. However, those with actual prosecutorial experience capable of abstract thought appreciate the folly of this misrepresentation. Input from the collective diversity of other counties offers invaluable insight on addressing common issues. If just one (1) ADA gleans a pearl of wisdom or establishes a professional relationship at TDCAA to better serve the administration of justice in our community we are all better off--not only financially but also with respect to community safety.
Arrogance breeds ignorance and stifles diversity of thought limiting the creativity that is the essence of higher learning.

But then again we may all be over thinking the issue......Sociopathic Pat may have unsuccessfully engaged her arbitrary strong arm tactics on TDCAA for some self serving political sound bite and when they didn't stand down she stuck a fork in them.

Anonymous said...

Whining about the "great sacrifice" mandatory in house after hours CLE might be for some prosecutors underscores the Judge's position and detracts from the real issue.
In house CLE no doubt plays an integral and important role in the training of prosecutors. However, that does not obviate the importance of TDCAA or State Bar sponsored training seminars outside of the office and Harris County. Why not expose prosecutors to other counties perspectives? Are we so smart and special that we can only learn from within the hallowed halls of CJC? Should any exposure to outside CLE be dictated and controlled by the Judge?
The real issue is: Why does Judge Pat want to isolate her people from outside influence unless she personally selects the speaker and topic (eg. the crackpot who tried to teach us how to make the Judge look arduous task to say the least)?

Anonymous said...

Anon 7:01,
Trish "the Troll" Lykos will be the moderator for an ADA ethics seminar series.These mandatory ethics CLE classes will be held on the 1st and 3rd Sundays of every month from 7 AM through Noon starting July 5th.Whining about family time,church or holiday conflicts,will not be tolerated as this is a higher calling.The keynote guest speakers for the inaugural session will be Hugo Chavez and Raoul Castro.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous coward 11:45,
It looks like fellow anonymous coward 10:07 hit a nerve. Sometimes the truth does that.
Another Anonymous Coward

Anonymous said...

I find it amazing the primary objection here seems to be that you have to improve your career on your own time.

Whining that CLE happens after normal work hours? Call the waaahmbulance!

That's seriously spoiled and out-of-touch. It must be some great bubble you've been living in, but most folks have to do their own continuing education on their own time.

Sounds to me like the original author is very spoiled. It's one thing to dislike the new policies that bring your group into line with most other careers, but to cry about it like a baby is something else entirely.

Lykos ain't the most affable broad, but the snarky personal attacks undermine the more serious elements of your argument by demonstrating your pettiness and frustration.

Anonymous said...

anon 6:00,
how long should a non-business lunch really take? come on if you had employees working for you would you really allow them to have hours for lunch and beer? maybe you wouldn't have to work so much overtime if you didn't take so long at lunch and maybe you'd be more productive if you returned to work sober after lunch. just a thought. pat should make all the lunch abusers blow when they stumble back to work. employees don't make the rules the boss does.

A Harris County Lawyer said...

Anon 9:21 a.m.,
The primary objection is actually the insult to TDCAA, an excellent organization of experienced prosecutors. The fact that people would have to stay from 5:30 to 7:30 is just an added insult to her own prosecutors. Don't forget that her people are getting the big civil firm bucks. They get comp time. And a large amount of them are maxed out on that, so they will be attending the seminar without pay.

And you are talking about me undermining my own argument, and yet you used the term "waaahmbulance"? Hey, Pot calling Kettle.

Anonymous said...

If your main point is a perceived insult to TDCAA, then it wasn't clear in the piece because of the sidetrack whine regarding time. A good many professionals attend continuing education and other career-enhancing educational seminars without being paid.

It's an investment in yourself, future earning, and career path stability.

Pot called Kettle? Missed the logic there, but hey I appreciate you took the time to respond.

Anonymous said...

To Anon 10:58:
Uhhhh.... I would actually prefer to take no lunch (eat at my desk) or at most 1/2 hour. I resent being told what will make me, a professional, more productive. For many of us this was not our first job an we are not of "frat" age. Apology accepted.

Anonymous said...

So, I suppose at this point most within the office have heard about Bridgwater's behavior at the staff meeting today. Bridgwater, drunk with his perceieved power, made it clear to all in attendance that the "leadership team" would not tolerate anyone questioning them over anything. Surprisingly, Bridgwater has now shown his true colors as an arrogant bully.

Chuck was an incompetent moron. But he didn't run the show. Those who actually ran the day-to-day operations were solid. The old bureau chiefs were all lions of their profession. The average prosecutor would be honored to carry their briefcases. Look who we now have. Who would want to try a case with Hanna Chow, Bridgwater, or Leitner? While there are still some good bureau chiefs remaining, there are only a couple.

Roger, you were a half ass defense lawyer, not even a one term judge who no one elected, and you are now a substandard bureacrat. While I truly am sorry for your illness, that does not excuse your arrogance. You personify disappointment. But I never knew until today that you are also a bully.

Anonymous said...

Fellow ADAs, we need to come up with a winable Republican primary opponent and Democrat opponent for 2012. The disgruntled ADAs (which include virtually every felony prosecutor at all levels) certainly have enough connections for funding. As prosecutors, we are people of action. It is time to get into gear, and quit bitching. Instead, let's focus that energy on ridding ourselves of the problem. If we can replace Pat with a competent leader, then we no longer have to worry about the idiocy of the others in charge of our office. Most of us won't care if it is a Dem or a Rep, just so long as it is a person of integrity.

Anonymous said...

Agreed, but who? I don't think my candidate would do it again.