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Showing posts from 2010

Double Standards

I love being a member of the Defense Bar. And I remain eternally appreciative of the help that I have received from other members of the Harris County Defense Bar over the past two years as I began a defense practice. I've been honored to work alongside some of the best in the criminal defense business. And I've been a very enthusiastic and dedicated advocate to those clients who have entrusted me with their cases. Contrary to the belief of some, this wasn't all that big of a transition from my job as a prosecutor, which I held for a little over 9 years. I never relished in the misery of a defendant that I was prosecuting.  I was always keenly aware of the repercussions prosecuting somebody had on collateral matters such as a defendant's family, his job, etc.  I've written here before about one of the most memorably heart-breaking moments of my career was when a small child came waddling up to me moments after his father had been sentenced to life in priso

Lykos 2010: A Year in Review

JANUARY January 4 – Upset that her goddaughter, Rachel Palmer, didn’t get the free walk to a judgeship that she wanted for Christmas, Pat Lykos asks Palmer’s opposing candidate, ADA Don Smyth, to switch races.  He declines. Moments later, Smyth is approached by Jim Leitner and asked when he is planning on retiring from the Office. January 12 – A massive earthquake strikes the island-nation of Haiti, ultimately causing the death of approximately 250,000 Haitians.  Arch-conservative Pat Robertson and Republican sleaze bag activist Terry Lowery argue that this is punishment from God.  Lykos takes the high road, announcing there was no earthquake, but that 250,000 deaths was the “normal rate of attrition” for Haitians. January 15 – Longtime legendary Administrative Assistant Barbara Eaglin retires after decades of harassing baby prosecutors that have come through the Office.  Lykos and the Gang celebrate.  Their initial plans to fire all popular members from previous administrations ha

Merry Christmas Eve to All

Happy Holidays and Merry Christmas Eve to everybody down at the CJC. As per tradition, I have begun the morning by the Ceremonial Firing of Myself. I know it is a late start, but if anyone wants to do the 12 Days of Lykos for 2010, feel free. You can seek inspiration from past lists here and here . Or, you could just enjoy the day with friends and family, which is what I'm planning on doing. Whatever you choose to do, I hope you all have a safe and happy holiday season. Merry Christmas, Murray

Rifi Newaz

Unfortunately for the citizens of Harris County, the departures at the District Attorney's Office are now coming in so rapidly that I can't even keep up on the official "obituaries" that I've been doing for the Assistant District Attorneys who are leaving. The past couple of weeks have seen the departure of Environmental Law prosecutor Will Graham, Felony Prosecutor Samantha Cox, and Misdemeanor prosecutor David Zeitzoff . There may be more I'm not aware of. This week has seen prosecutors Colin "Judo" McLaughlin and Daphne "Jazz Hands" Newaz turning in their resignations. Judo and Jazz Hands are headed to be prosecutors in other regions -- Tarrant County and the U.S. Attorney's Office in El Paso , respectively. Felony Two Abraham Hamilton is also having his last day today as part of the "normal rate of attrition". All of these guys were/are great prosecutors. Also leaving along with Daphne, will be her husband, Rifi

Interesting Moves

Today, the District Attorney's Office issued the memo on moves across the board for their personnel. It is an interesting read. Quite frankly, I don't know that I've ever seen as massive of a shift in positions since I've been in Harris County. Some of the moves are great calls. Some are reflective of the budget crunch. Some are just downright bizarre. Here's my take. 1. The promotion of Wes Rucker and Jon Stephenson to Felony Chief was an absolutely outstanding move. These two guys represent everything that is right about being a prosecutor. They are honest, straightforward, and fair. They need more prosecutors in leadership positions like them. 2. The promotions of Amy McCauley , Lauren Bard, Amanda Skillern , and yeah, even Scott Pope to Felony Two are also solid decisions. All four (even Pope) are hard working and dedicated prosecutors who will be good down the road. I'm glad the Office finally recognized that. And here's where things ge

Holiday Cheer- Every Half Hour on the Half Hour!

Back in the Olden Days, when the Harris County District Attorney's Office used to resemble an actual pleasant place to work, we used to have these things called Christmas Parties. No tax payer money was spent. Funds were collected from the prosecutors, secretaries, and investigators, etc. And the parties were fun. It was a great time unwinding with the people you worked with and getting to meet their families. This has now, apparently, been replaced by the Lykos version known as "Holiday Cheer". Well, I'll agree that it is a holiday, but "cheer" might be something in shorter supply than prosecutors around that office lately. The funniest thing to me is that the "invitation" to Holiday Cheer has been regimented down to half hour increments that each floor has gotten where they will be allowed the honor of hanging out with the Gang Who Couldn’t Shoot Straight Executive Leadership Team. The 1st & 6th floor get to celebrate from 2:00-2:30

Making Positive Changes

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You know, I have never over-estimated the influence of this blog. I write to inform. I write to amuse. I write to hopefully make some positive changes every once in a while. Those positive changes are often few and far between, but when you do write something that was so influential that it changed someone's life, you never forget that moment. Today is one of those days. Clearly after writing this post last month, I helped change the life of one of our elder generation of lawyers. Today, my heart was warmed to see this positive change: It does my heart good to see that, working together, we can make the CJC a better place. You're welcome, Pete. And from all the pimps who now have clothes for the winter, thank you for your donation.

The 177th's Death Penalty Hearing

The media (especially the Houston Chronicle ) has been abuzz this week over the hearing going on in Judge Kevin Fine's court about the death penalty. Specifically, this morning, the Chronicle seems aghast that District Attorney Pat Lykos would order her appellate division (represented by Alan Curry) to remain silent during the hearing . The Chronicle calls Lykos' move "bold". I'll call it something else -- smart. Yes, I know you are probably shocked that I agree with Pat Lykos on something, but let's look at what other choice does she really have in this matter at this point? The Harris County District Attorney's Office has registered their objection to the hearing taking place at all. They have put those objections in writing and Judge Fine has overruled them and is proceeding with the hearing anyway. So, the move Lykos and Company are making is really the only one they can play now. They don't believe that the hearing has any legal value be

John Jocher

Friday marks the last day of 248 th District Court Chief John Jocher from the Harris County District Attorney's Office. Out of all the prosecutors who have left the Office over the past two years, for some reason, John's leaving has kind of brought about a melancholy feeling for me. I couldn't be happier for him as he heads to the Federal side of the street, and I know that he'll be happy there. But John is like a brother to me, and seeing him leave that place for good almost feels like losing family. John and I interviewed for the job of Assistant District Attorney on the same day back in the summer of 1999. We'd never met before, and we didn't actually meet that day either. I remember seeing him waiting for his interview with the hiring committee, though. A few weeks later, on August 16 th , we both started on the same day as prosecutors. I was sent to the Justice of the Peace Division and he went the Juvenile route. We didn't really get to know

More Holiday Dress Code Violations

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Despite last year's public service announcement regarding Courtroom Dress Code Violations during the holidays, it appears the message was lost on some of our more elderly attorneys. This year's violation is ten times worse than last year. Somebody please alert the fashion police and have them arrest this man on sight.

Adios Andrew

Today marks the last day of Felony Two Andrew Leuchtmann, the Two in the 263rd District Court. Andrew is headed for greener pastures over at the Feds, like several other Assistant D.A.'s have done over the past few months (including a certain sock-tie wearing Chief who shall remain nameless). Andrew started at the Office several years after I did, and I never had the occasion to work with him when I was a prosecutor. He did have an excellent reputation as a smart, hard-working prosecutor who was good in trial. Shortly after I left the Office, he was moved to the Special Crimes Division where he worked under John Brewer in the Major Fraud/Identity Theft Division. Like Craig Still before him, Andrew took to the new job division like a fish to water. He was highly respected amongst the Defense Bar as a prosecutor who was knew his cases and what he was talking about, and was willing to work with whatever information an attorney provided him with. I got to deal with Andrew on a c

Brian Rogers "Expose"

In what is clearly the "harshest" treatment of Pat Lykos by the Houston Chronicle , Brian Rogers wrote a n article about the "two sides" of Pat Lykos . Brian has been working on the story for some time now, and I'm glad to see that the fan club over at the Chron allowed it to actually be published. All in all, it is a pretty fair piece to Lykos , due in most part because they let her rebut (and by that I mean "spin") those negative things said about her. I'm keenly aware that most fans of Lykos label me and the commenters who blast her as "malcontents" who are suffering from "sour grapes" and who are so bitter over our "reign of terror during the Rosenthal Administration" ending that we can't see that Pat is the second-coming. That's fine. But those who would argue that my motives in blasting the current Administration are somehow tainted never seem to actually rebut the facts and the message that I&#

Veteran's Day

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With Veteran's Day tomorrow, and the Marine Corps Birthday today, I wanted to post something about the Veterans in my family that I am very proud of. My father, Louis Newman, was a Marine Corps Officer who served three tours of duty in Vietnam between the years of 1967-1969. During that time, he earned the Silver Star, two Bronze Stars, and two Purple Hearts, amongst other medals. He is, without a doubt, the toughest man I know, and I don't think I tell him enough how proud I am to be his son. His father before him (also named Louis Newman) was an Officer in the Army Air Corps and a pilot of B-29s (just like the Enola Gay ) and he was based off the island of Tinian in the Pacific Arena of World War II in 1945. He flew bombing raids over Japan, and even piloted his plane over the USS Missouri during the official surrender ceremony of Japan to the United States. My dad was one year old when his father went to Japan to fight. On the day of his first birthday, my grandfat

The New Public Defender

Local news stations are reporting that Alexander Bunin has been selected by Harris County to be the new head of the Public Defenders Office. I am not familiar with Mr. Bunin, but those folks that I've heard from who do know him are giving very glowing reports about him as a defense attorney and administrator. He's got a big task ahead of him. The PD's office is going to have to find a place to house itself, and then find the staffing necessary to manage the caseload it is tasked with. It will be interesting to see where Mr. Bunin will recruit those new Assistant Public Defenders from. As an anonymous, large, Irish defense attorney friend of mine suggested, perhaps the pool will come from departing Assistant District Attorneys, but I kind of doubt it. Most prosecutors that leave the D.A.'s Office generally leave for the freedom of being their own bosses and the opportunity to make more money. A transfer over to another government entity would seem to negate tho

Congratulations to Jack Roady!

I know that this blog tries to focus mainly on what is going on in Harris County, but I am so very excited about my friend, Jack Roady, winning the Galveston County District Attorney position. Jack started at Harris County about the same time I did, and I can honestly say he is one of the nicest guys you will ever meet. He has spent the majority of his time in the appellate/writs section of the Office, so Galveston citizens can expect not just a very kind elected D.A., but also a brilliant one. For the prosecutors in Galveston who don't know Jack, you don't need to be scared of him. He is going to be a fantastic boss to work for. For the defense attorneys who practice in Galveston, you'll be happy to have him there. He'll listen to everyone's input and carefully consider all sides of the story. I don't have anything bad to say about the current sitting D.A., because I don't know him. But I do know that you can't go wrong with a prosecutor like Ja

Election 2010

Well, it doesn't look like the 2010 Election is going to be much of a nail-biter. All the Republicans on the criminal bench are easily winning as of this writing. Quite frankly, the only reason I'm even writing this post is to hear your feedback on the elections, because this certainly isn't that shocking news. I'm terribly disappointed that Loren Jackson seems to be headed for defeat. He truly brings something special to the office of the District Clerk, and I feel pretty confident in saying that he brought about more positive changes during his short tenure than Chris Daniels will over the next four years. Once again, straight-ticket voting has proven itself to be an evil, evil thing. However, one thing that does seem to have died during this election is apathy. As sad as I am about Loren, I'm glad to see voter involvement making such a dramatic comeback after 2008. Hopefully, we'll see this kind of involvement again in 2012. Especially during the Re

The Sound and the Fury . . .

. . . signifying nothing. Word is that a jury has just sentenced Susan Wright to 20 years on her punishment retrial for stabbing her husband, Jeff Wright 193 times. The reality is that the change in her sentence is minimal in the big scheme of things. She received 25 years the first time, and after monumental legal wrangling, she got just a five year discount. She'll be eligible (not entitled) to parole two and a half years early. I know that prosecutors Connie Spence and John Jordan did an excellent and thorough job. I know that defense attorneys Jon Munier and Tommy LaFon also did an excellent and thorough job. But the bottom line is that this case involved trashing the reputations of Neal Davis and Todd Ward, when they didn't deserve it. They did a thorough and good job the first time around. They made judgment calls during the first trial that, quite frankly, I agreed with from a defense standpoint. Jeff's family, who are some of the sweetest people I'v

An Aggressive Prosecutor

One of the things that I am not proud to admit about myself is that I do actually have a subscription to the Houston Chronicle . In my defense, it is only a weekend subscription and I have it because I do like to kick back on Sunday mornings and read the newspaper and drink coffee. This morning's edition, however, has a column in it from Rick Casey that (as of this writing) still hasn't hit the on-line edition, so I guess for once, it at least helped me get a head start on writing a post. The title of Casey's column nearly made me laugh out loud. It read: My Fantasy: Siegler puts DA on trial. Now, nevermind the fact that Freud could have a Field Day with Mr. Casey based on the title alone, I was still shocked to see Casey write something that could even remotely be considered complimentary of Kelly Siegler . Let's face facts, the Houston Chronicle wouldn't say nice things about Kelly if she took a dinner spoon, dug a mile into the earth, and rescued 33

Last Day of Early Voting

Just a friendly reminder that today is the last day you can early vote. For those of us who work Downtown, the ease and convenience of running over to the Harris County Administration Building to early vote is about 5 billion times than tracking down your actual polling location on Election Day. I hope you'll take advantage of that. I've been excited to see the turnout so far. From what I'm hearing, a lot of the traditionally Republican strongholds around the county are generating the most traffic, which most folks are thinking is indicative of a good year for the 'pubs. I'm hoping that my Republican friends here will still take the time out to VOTE FOR LOREN JACKSON FOR DISTRICT CLERK But whatever you do, just get out there and vote.

Tonight's Reasonable Doubt Halloween Episode

Join us for tonight's Reasonable Doubt, which will be a special Halloween episode. Our guest will be defense attorney and former-prosecutor Mike Hinton , who is going to share with us his memories of prosecuting Ronald Clark O'Bryan -- the famous murderer from Houston who "ruined Halloween" back in the early 1970s. You can tune to it on live video by clicking here . The show starts at 8:00 p.m.

Have You Early Voted Yet? Loren Jackson needs your help.

Normally, when I send out my reminders on this blog it is because of dismal early voting numbers. From the totals that I've seen so far this go-round, it doesn't appear that you guys need too much encouragement to get out the vote. The number of early voters has been excellent. Most folks that I've talked to seem to agree that the conventional wisdom is for a Republican Sweep this year. For the most part, I'd be pretty happy about that. But as in every election there are several "babies" that we don't want thrown out with the bathwater. Please please please remember to take your time through the ballot and make sure to vote for Loren Jackson for District Clerk . I don't care if you are so Republican that you make Dick Cheney look like Nancy Pelosi -- Loren has created a model District Clerk's Office that needs his leadership in the years to come. Please vote for Loren, and remind your friends and family to vote for him too. Even if one o

The End of the Harris County District Attorney's Office

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Well, you know, I always said that I thought Pat Lykos would destroy the Harris County District Attorney's Office, but I was just using that as a figure of speech. Apparently, however, according to the new business cards that the Assistant District Attorney's are getting, the institution that I once worked for is no longer in existence. It has been replaced by The Office of Patricia R. Lykos, District Attorney. So, what are the artists formerly known as Assistant District Attorneys now referred to as? Assistant Pats? Lykosites? Baby Snooks? Little Jimmy and the Minions? I'm so confused. Oh, by the way, for all of you folks who staunchly defend Pat Lykos and say that the Office isn't just all about her and her ego. I offer this as Pat's Exhibit 1.

From Our Society Column . . .

Last Friday, many of our Judges, Prosecutors, Defense Attorneys, and other courthouse personnel put together a fashion show at the Magnolia Hotel benefiting The Jeanette Williams Foundation for Children's Cancer Research . The event, entitled the Feast of Fashion, was for a wonderful cause, and was put together by attorneys Julie Jones, Sherah Miller, and I'm sure a host of other dedicated individuals who worked behind the scenes. The models for the fashion line included court coordinators, defense attorneys, prosecutors, and even Judge Belinda Hill. Julie's husband, attorney Ron Johnson, served as Master of Ceremonies, and attorney Tim Weltin provided the modeling music. It was a great joint effort by a lot of different attorneys in the Harris County Criminal Justice Community. Everyone involved looked amazing! (NOTE: Actually Ron and Tim only looked "okay" compared to the models.) The proceeds of the sold-out event go toward sending children suffering

Early Voting Begins Tomorrow

Monday, October 18 th is the start of Early Voting. As one of my commenters mentioned below, given the confusion following the fire that engulfed the voting machines and who knows what else might cause confusion, the earlier you vote the better. You can vote wherever there is an open polling location during early voting. The ballot for Harris County is apparently about five freaking miles long, but I hope you will take the time to go through each race one by one in making your selections. Straight ticket voting is not responsible voting, and there are some great candidates on both sides of the ballot. As usual, the races that affect us at the CJC are going to be fairly far down the ballot. It is worth the extra time to work your way through it, folks! Frankly, I'm hopeful that the vast majority of the incumbents will be returned to their benches on the judicial side. There are several folks running that have never seen the inside of the courtroom, and have no business b

The Revelation of Rage?

Rage Judicata. You know him. If you're an ADA, you probably don't love him. He and I have had a contentious relationship on this blog. He makes some bombastic statements that I often disagree with. But sometimes he makes some good points and counter-arguments that I think add to the debate. Rage attacks anonymous posters and the blogger known as Black Ink for their views and insults them for their anonymity. His frequent barbs with the late blogger, Arthur Seaton , were often mesmerizing battles of insults unmatched outside of a marriage. However, in the comments section of my link to Black Ink's latest post, Rage threw down a challenge to an anonymous commenter that went something like this: I tell you what, I'll make you the same deal I made Arthur Seaton , and now Black Ink, both of who were too chickenshit to take me up on it--you put your name out there, and I'll put mine. This morning, said Anonymous commenter revealed his name: Harold Simons .