Showing posts from November, 2009

Post-Thanksgiving Wrap Up

Since I first set foot in Harris County as a lawyer over ten years ago, I've always loved this time of year at the courthouse. Things are starting to wind down for the year. Prosecutors and Defense Attorneys are a little less snippy with each other. There's kind of an aura of goodwill towards each other that will disappear on the first work day of the new year. But, sadly, that also means that it is a really dull time to be a blogger. Yep, there just isn't too much to report on around the old CJC generally this time of year. About the only thing worth noting last week was that the Pre -Commits finally got sworn in as bona fide prosecutors. In typical fashion, Lykos kept it a closed ceremony so none of the new lawyers' families could attend. That was some PR genius, Snooks . But on the whole, things are quiet, and that's a good thing, I suppose. I will point out that my friend, Pat McCann , wrote a great piece in the Chronicle today about the execution of h

10 Years Ago Today

Ten years ago this morning, I woke up in a small house that I was renting over in the Timbergrove Manor part of town. I was a Baby Prosecutor of three months, assigned to the Justice of the Peace Division and I was due in Judge Patronella's court Downtown that morning. I got up, showered and got dressed with Good Morning America on the television set. I wasn't paying much attention to it until I saw that it was covering the Aggie Bonfire. I'm from Bryan, Texas and I grew up in a house about a mile and a half from the polo fields at Texas A&M. I graduated from there in 1995. So, when I saw that a national TV show was covering my hometown, my initial reaction was "oh, cool". I figured they were just doing a profile on the traditions of college football and they were covering the A&M tradition. It took me about ten seconds to realize that what they were covering was probably the worst tragedy that ever hit the community where I grew up. I stopped everyt

The Paralegal

I received a comment on the blog this morning under my previous post on Ethics Training that I thought was worth posting in its own article. If you recall, during the Brady hearing last month , the testimony of Denise Oncken was contradicted by longtime Child Abuse Paralegal Kim Flores. Shortly thereafter, Kim turned in her resignation and accepted a job working for Bill Stradley. In what I think is a pretty stand up move, Stradley was willing to give her a job after she made the courageous stand by testifying against her employers. Some might even call Kim a whistleblower . . . All was well in the wake of the Brady hearing. Lykos and company held an Ethics Training and then went about sweeping the whole incident under the rug. The media stopped paying attention to the violation and Kim turned in her two weeks notice. It was looking like Lykos and the Gang Who Couldn't Shoot Straight were going to successfully dodge the issue until yesterday. I'll just let "The Paral

What to Do With Susan Wright

Back in the Spring of 2004, I got the opportunity to sit second chair with Kelly Siegler on the State of Texas vs. Susan Wright -- a highly publicized murder case at the time which was made even more highly publicized during trial. The short version of the case was that a young mother tied her husband, Jeff Wright, to their bed and stabbed him over 190 times before burying him in a flower bed right outside their bedroom door. She then reported him to the police as having beaten her and then left their home on foot. For a more detailed version of the case, here is an article I wrote for TDCAA several years ago. The case got National attention when Kelly had us reconstruct the bed in the middle of Judge Jim Wallace's courtroom and did a re-enactment of the stabbing for the jury. (NOTE: No, I was not the dude in the bed. That was Paul Doyle.) Ultimately, Susan Wright was convicted of the murder of her husband and was sentenced to 25 years in TDCJ . The jury had rejected a claim of

On a Lighter Note . . .

Congratulations to all the Pre -Commits who passed the Texas Bar Exam today! There is nothing quite as miserable as those three to four months waiting for the results, and today should be one of the happiest days of your life. Although as you progress in the Office you will eventually get to know all of your fellow prosecutors, there will always be a higher level of camaraderie and friendship with the ones who are in your "starting class" with you. They will be the ones that you will celebrate your victories with, drink after your losses with, and grow up in the Office with. The longer you stay at the Office, the more they will become a second family to you. You've got some great times ahead of you. Enjoy them. And congratulations, again, for getting that damn test in the rear-view mirror.

Ethics Training

In response to the tremendous Brady blunder committed the week before last by the Harris County District Attorney's Office, fearless leader and speed-spender Pat Lykos decided to jump into action. Rather than take any sort of definitive action such as publicly calling any prosecutors names or issuing any type of apology on behalf of the Office, Lykos decided just to throw some money at the problem. She hired TDCAA representative Clay Abbott to come to Houston and give a lecture on Brady material. Now, I like Clay Abbott and he is a very good speaker. He speaks every term at Baby Prosecutor's School in Austin about Ethics. In addition to being an incredible resource on DWI cases, he is also a great teacher. I've got no gripes about him. That being said, the early reports that I've gotten about the training seem to indicate that the message was put forth that an open file policy was adequate to comply with Brady. I wasn't there, so if anybody wants to chime

Your Friendly Neighborhood Office Lobbyist

While Pat Lykos and her Gang seem to have been incapable of approaching the County Commissioner's Court to try and drum up a little money to pay their pre-commits, she seems to have had no problem in approaching the Court for money for an Office Lobbyist. Historically, the District Attorney's Office has sent a legislative liaison of some sort to Austin when Congress was in session to work with the Representatives and Senators on upcoming criminal law bills. This has generally drawn a disgusted eye roll from members of the Defense Bar, who assume that this was an example of a Police State trying to come up with more laws to imprison the poor citizen. However, the liaisons in the past have often worked along with TDCAA in trying to help the legislators keep from putting laws into effect just because they seemed politically popular. (EXAMPLE: Harris County actually tried to talk Legislators out of expanding the death penalty to non-Capital murder situations like sexual assaul

The Pre-Commits Get Screwed Over

The budget woes of the Harris County District Attorney's Office continued to deepen reportedly today. This time the folks losing out because of Pat Lykos' spending habits were the Pre-Commits. As I've mentioned before, the term "Pre-Commit" refers to recently (or soon-to-be) graduated law students who have been hired as interns for the District Attorney's Office. They are promised employment conditioned only upon them passing the Bar Exam. Prior to the Bar results arriving, they are employed by the Office as interns. My understanding is that they are paid about $12 an hour during their internship. Upon passing the Bar Exam, the Pre-Commits are then upgraded to a starting "real" salary, and they get sworn in by a judge in a nice ceremony that family can attend. At present time there are somewhere between 10 to 15 Pre-Commit Interns who are awaiting their Bar results. This week was supposed to be a big one for the Pre-Commits, because the Bar resu

Open Range

Okay Boys and Girls, I'm on vacation this week, so I don't feel like blogging on a topic right now. So you all can talk about whatever you want in the comments section (in an idea I totally am borrowing from Lone Star Times ). Have fun and keep it semi-clean. Sincerely, The Blog Czar (inside joke)