Things are getting kind of crazy over at the Harris County District Attorney's Office.
Last week, Misdemeanor Chief Angela Smith went to turn in her two weeks notice to the Office and was met with a surprising reaction from the Gang Who Couldn't Shoot Straight: they begged her to not quit.
Obviously, this is a stark contrast to the Administration's dealings with Trial Bureau prosecutors, which heretofore was pretty much a firm policy of "Screw them." However, with the budget constraints and the county-wide hiring freeze in place, I think that Lykos and Crew may suddenly be realizing that they are headed toward a personnel crisis of epic proportions.
And Angela Smith is a damn good prosecutor.
I dealt with her on a few occasions when she was in the 262nd, and her level of preparation, knowledge of the law, professionalism and courtesy was excellent. I certainly don't fault Lykos for giving her a hard sell on begging her to stay.
But the lengths that they were willing to go to keep her at the Office were pretty dramatic. Apparently, Angela was told that if she agreed to stay, she could write her own ticket as to where she would go in the Office.
This is an absolutely unprecedented amount of power to be handed to a person on the Misdemeanor Chief level (which is roughly about a 2 year lawyer in most circumstances). Angela chose to go to Public Integrity, which is considered a very prime position within the Office, and one where (in years past) there was never a slot for someone below the level of Felony Two.
So, what's behind that?
Did Lykos finally realize that her prosecutors are more talented and dedicated than she and her crew of boneheads have been giving them credit for? Doubtful.
The more likely situation is that as people are leaving the Office and realizing that they can't be replaced because of the hiring freeze, Lykos is starting to panic. They are headed toward a serious shortage of prosecutors and the Gang is trying to operate within their budget constraints to keep those prosecutors that they do have.
But this was a very dangerous precedent to set.
They are already promoting people to higher level positions within the Office with out the corresponding pay raise. I have heard from more than one source that if a prosecutor doesn't wish to accept the "more work for the same pay" position, they are told not to be expecting the opportunity for the promotion to come around again.
There is also word that Lykos has issued the edict that from now on, in Misdemeanor cases, each case can have three settings and then must be set for trial. I'm not sure exactly how that is supposed to help with the budget, but it does seem to guarantee that the remaining Misdemeanor prosecutors are going to be forced to bust their asses to get ready for trial a lot faster.
At the same time, the Administration is trying to restrict the earning of comp time by those misdemeanor prosecutors.
So, to do a brief recap --
1. Lykos has less prosecutors available to do misdemeanor work.
2. Lykos is encouraging the work rate be drastically sped up.
3. Lykos is cutting the amount of time the prosecutors have to work outside of regular business hours (which, keep in mind, at least half of which are spent in court docket).
Folks, the D.A.'s Office is cratering and it is cratering profoundly. I anticipate that more prosecutors are going to be realizing that they can't keep up working under those conditions.
I wonder what Lykos will offer them to stay.