Thursday, May 13, 2010

New Moves

Today, the Harris County D.A.'s Office posted some pretty significant moves that were only 3 weeks overdue. Some are really good. Some are interesting. Some are just downright confusing. On the whole, I'd give the moves a solid C+ from an administration that definitely needs a lift after Lykos' disastrous appearance on Channel 11 and Clint Greenwood's Not Guilty verdict in the Bellaire Police Officer Shooting.

The most intriguing of the moves is the creation of the "Capital Trial Division" which will be headed by Denise Bradley and Bill Hawkins. I'm not sure exactly what that means, but what I've heard from some of the prosecutors is that Bill and Denise will be serving as advisers to the Gang Who Couldn't Shoot Straight on Capital Murder cases. Lord knows that they could use some lessons..

After the Lykos' decision on the Randy Sylvester case, I'm thinking lesson one should be entitled: Ass vs. Hole-in-the Ground -- Learning the Difference.

In another intriguing move, they have changed the Felony Trial Bureau from five divisions down to three. Actually, given the budget crunch, this is probably a pretty fiscally savvy move.

Major kudos go to the Administration for the promotion of Lance Long to Division Chief and putting him in the Trial Bureau. Lance is a brilliant trial attorney who has the experience to lead felony prosecutors and teach them how to try serious cases. He's a good leader because he'll lead from the front. This move was waaaaay overdue, and I'm glad to see them making it.

In some of the more "odd" (not necessarily "bad") moves, the Office has moved long-time Welfare Fraud Division Chief Carl Hobbs to head the Misdemeanor Division. I'm sure Carl will do just fine in Misdemeanor, but I don't get this move. He knows Welfare Fraud like the back of his hand from literally decades of doing it. It's a tough job that nobody else particularly wants to do. Why move Carl now?

Probably because the person they are replacing him with is none other than Division Chief Don Smyth. Don (who we are hoping will be "Judge Smyth" after November) ran against Lykos' "Chosen One" Rachel Palmer in the Republican Primary, and he beat her. My guess is that this is Lykos' subtle way of giving Don the finger for running against (and defeating) Rachel.

Other strange moves included:

- the creation of a co-Deputy Dawg of Misdemeanor by adding Justin Keiter to share with Rachel Palmer's duties. Congratulations to Keiter, who was most likely promoted because he makes Jim Leitner feel taller.

-the move of longtime appellate guru Shirley Cornelius to truancy. Truancy? Seriously? What's wrong with you people?

and the move of experienced trial lawyer Charissa Sloan to Grand Jury. By all means, if you've discovered that you have somebody who knows what she's doing in trial, please get her out of the Trial Bureau as quickly as possible.

But, all in all, it was a fairly decent round of moves for the Gang.

I guess time will tell how it all plays out.


Anonymous said...

Sloan is your standard for an experienced trial lawyer? Has she finished getting all of her degrees yet?

Hawkins is just a year or two removed from juvenile. Now he's advising capital cases?

I'd be interested to hear more about what ADAs think about the Tolan shooting verdict. They're usually pretty gung-ho pro-police, so it seems that your particular critique is just that it was a not-guilty verdict that happened while Lykos was in charge. It's not like she tried it, so in order to be completely honest you'd have to call out the lawyer who did. But if they had witnesses saying that the cop was following his training, how can that be a certain conviction? I personally think the cop panicked and racially profiled Tolan. But he had a half way decent defense.

Murray Newman said...

Charissa is certainly an experienced trial lawyer, but I don't think I said anything about her being the "standard". And I don't get the reference to the degrees.

And yes, Bill Hawkins has plenty of experience to be advising on Capitals. He was trying them long before he went to Juvenile. I don't see your issue here either.

And as for the Tolan shooting verdict, it is a black eye for the Office as a not guilty on a major case. I don't believe I said anything more or anything less about that in particular.

Just Sayin' said...

Denise Nassar Bradley is the Capital Queen by default. However, Officer Rodney Johnson's family might not be that impressed with her voir dire skills and trial prep.
Bill "Hawk" Hawkins ain't all that but the office attrition helped his cause.
Lance Long is very well deserving of his promotion to Division Chief. He is smart, well prepared and an excellent trial attorney. Come November he'll be the only top notch ADA left.
As for the Tolan case I just wonder what Lykos' spin on the verdict would have been if someone else was at the helm.
Just sayin'

Anonymous said...

Keiter, Carl and Rachel. Now that is a threesome......

Anonymous said...

I can't figure out why Clint left an attorney who is the daughter of a cop on the jury. This is the same lady who has been on every news station talking about the case. Seems like a rookie mistake to me.

Anonymous said...

The cop was doing what he was trained to do. Everyone dislikes cops and lawyers til they need one. The verdict was the right one.Clint and Steve did their job . The jury did their job

Anonymous said...

Charissa is a very good trial lawyer. I've just finished a four day trial with her today; she didn't seem to view the move to Grand Jury as anything more than temporary-she certainly didn't seem to view it as the Siberia of old.

Justin is good at what he does as well; I'm glad to see him moving out from prosecuting Kiddie cases.

Anonymous said...

Moving Hobbs makes no sense. HE IS the guru of that section. The Long move is, pardon the pun, long overdue. Moving an appellate guru to truancy makes absolutely no sense.

There have been a lot of other asinine moves in recent previous months, although mentioning them would not be fair to the people moved and since I don't work there, I don't want to cause my friends who do problems.

Suffice it to say that the idiots running the office have moved or run off many other VERY TALENTED people in the past year and a half, who are quite literally ROCK STARS in their particular areas, to other areas where their talents and abilities are sorely wasted.

I once wanted to work in that office, but am now glad I lived in other places and worked in other DA's offices.

Note that most statewide in the field of prosecutioni feels that (most of) the people (i.e. pre-Liekos hires and a few post-liekos hires) are bad, but it is well discussed that the upper administration and their bootlickers are a bunch of idiots.

Murray, you need to run for DA next time.

Anonymous said...

Is Mr. Greenwood considering a return to private practice? His recent big time loss seems like a case that should not have been tried in the civil court. They are no billing murders that have some merit yet trying dogs like Greenwood's most recent case that should have been left to the civil arena?

Anonymous said...

Just sayin':
"As for the Tolan case I just wonder what Lykos' spin on the verdict would have been if someone else was at the helm."

You must be kidding? After an infusion of nicotine and a liter of Jack Daniels The Troll would be squealing: R-A-C-I-S-M and "culture of corruption" as she waddled off to the Houston Chronicle.

Anonymous said...

Hawkins has tried over 30 capital cases, put 12 people on death row, and is well-suited to the new position. He is one of the most obsessively-prepared trial attorneys that I have ever seen. He will be fantastic in his new position-- as will Denise Bradley.

Although I have a few doubts and questions about some of the moves myself, these two prosecutors will handle capital cases with skill, tenacity, and vigor. The only problem that I anticipate is trying to fill Denise's slot in January....

Anonymous said...

anon 9:07,
hope you be right bro' we'll just have to see.relative to who Hawkins will be compared to in January it ain't saying much.

Anonymous said...

Word here is that Rachel is being groomed for the slot held by Denise.Supposedly she is in special training

Aggie Pct Chair said...

I spoke to some insiders and Lykos' treatment of Don Smyth is abominable. He has experience and is a text book Republican. Those who are hitched to her wagon better enjoy it because their stay at the top of that office is going to be for one term.

Anonymous said...

RE: Aggie Pct Chair-

We can only hope your prediction is correct. It will take a decade to rebuild the HCDA after her 4 years of mismanagement.

Getting rid of Chow, Leitner, and Jokewater will be a huge first step.

Anonymous said...

APC, your opinion blows like the wind.

Just Sayin' said...

Anon 12:25,
APC has opened his eyes to the reality of Lykos and her gang while your eyes remain closed as you perfect the art of "blowing".

Just Sayin'

Anonymous said...

Stealth wrote a great piece on Bert. Check it out.

Anonymous said...

Clint Greenwood is a loser with nice clothes. He was carried as a reserve deputy with Precinct 4 for many years. Nobody that I know ever saw him work a single shift or do anything but have his commission carried.

He defended crooks like Ron Hickman and traded favors to use his position to get Hickman's buddies off the hook.

He is still using his position at the HCSO to run favors for Hickman. Run around and teach ethics classes to those who have not seen your true colors in the workplace.

Garcia needs to wake up and dump this crud before Greenwoods dirty hands soil the sheriff's office.

Chuck Rosenthal

I heard this morning that former District Attorney Chuck Rosenthal passed away overnight.  He had been in ill health for quite some time and...