Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Merry Christmas

What's so "Republican" About Pat Lykos, Anyway?

I've been running this blog for about three and a half years now.  According to my Stat Counter, this will be my 788th post.  I've received 10,482 comments.  I've gotten 1,143,398 "hits."  Other than a brief dalliance with something called "Ad Sense" in my second year, I've never taken a dime for what I write.

I've gotten used to the trends and the writings of commenters.  I know what posts will have prosecutors bashing me.  I know which ones will have the defense bashing me.  I know that I can write a post on liking puppies and Rage will find a way to get into a fight with someone over it.  I can usually make a pretty good guess on who the anonymous authors of substantive comments are.

I know my blog and I understand it for better or for worse.

But the one thing that I have never understood is the fascination the Republican Party has with Pat Lykos, and why they seem to consider her such a Republican Juggernaut for the 2012 election.

In the 2008 Republican Election, Kelly Siegler received 58,208 votes (41.31%) versus Lykos' 44,014 (31.24%).  As we all know, that election went to a run-off where Kelly Siegler received 18,962 votes (47.32%) and Lykos won the election with 21,106 votes (52.68%).  Yes, all is fair in love and run-offs, but I have never quite gotten why Lykos so many people think that the general voting Republican loves Lykos so much.  If you add the numbers of both elections, Kelly still received 77,170 votes compared to Lykos' 65,120.  That's a difference of 12,050 votes.

Lykos had her "ringers" in the 2008 election with Leitner and that odd Doug Perry guy that forced a run-off, and that, my Republican friends, is the only reason she won.  So, I suppose if the Republican Party Leaders thinks that their best example is the one who best manipulated the election system, that's a pretty sad statement.

Some die-hard Pat Fans will point out that she was one of only a handful of Republican survivors in the 2008 Democrat Sweep, and therefore, she must be the Chosen One.  Lykos did not win the 2008 election; rather, she simply failed to lose it.  In a race against a disgraced former police chief who had some of the City's worst scandals permanently tied to him (DNA lab, K-Mart raids, etc.), she won by a stunning margin of 4,784 votes (.42% of all votes cast).  She certainly didn't carry the rest of the ticket, did she?

In running against someone as bad as C.O. Bradford, that margin should have been higher, regardless of whether or not Obama Fever was sweeping Harris County.    Amusingly, if you were to add up Siegler's numbers with Bradford's, they still got more votes than Lykos ever did.

I understand that there are some diehard Pat Fans that have known her since 1982 and would vote for her even if she was running against Ronald Reagan.

But to the rest of the Republicans who have a mind of their own, I'm kind of wondering what you think is so Republican about Pat Lykos in the first place?

I'm sure she can give a fantastic speech about being Pro-Life and a long-time Republican.  That's super.

But the position she has run for and won is that of Harris County District Attorney.  Her abortion beliefs have about as much relevance to the job as whether or not she drinks Bud Lite because it tastes great or because it is less filling.

She's supposed to enforce the laws set forth by the Texas Legislature and administer Justice -- nothing more, and certainly nothing less.  Her administration of the job she was elected to do has flown in the face of the principles the Republican Party is typically known for.

Traditionally, the Republican Party has been known for its Pro-Death Penalty Stance.  Pat Lykos has dodged those types of cases religiously.  Her decision to plead Randy Sylvester to life in prison for the murder of his two children was nothing short of cowardice.  If anyone ever deserved the death penalty, it was Sylvester.  Lykos is now so celebrated for her anti-Death Penalty stance that she was even invited over to England on behalf of the Innocence Project.

Republicans are known for shunning ideas of "political correctness" and forging ahead with what they believe is right.  Pat Lykos attempted to destroy the careers of two highly respected prosecutors by bashing them in the press when she thought they had done something politically incorrect.  She didn't even bother to get the facts straight before talking.

Republicans are known for the unwavering support for police officers.  Pat Lykos pled a cop killer to 40 years in prison.  He wasn't even convicted of Capital Murder. It is no wonder the police unions spoke out against her. (NOTE:  For those Lykos supporters who want to grumble that Republicans are anti-Union, please remember you are talking about a group of POLICE unions -- not the Teamster's).

Republicans (at least, theoretically) are supposed to be the Party of Lincoln.  Yet, Lykos' early personnel moves showed retaliation and racism.

Republicans are generally thought of as the "tough on crime" Party, yet Lykos created the DIVERT program which gives all DWI first offenders a free pass on their DWIs, and has now made it possible for a person to have three DWI cases against them before it is considered a felony.  Additionally, her decision not to file crack pipe residue cases has not made the police very happy, seeing as how the Penal Code kind of allows for it.

Most importantly, Lykos has lacked integrity since the day she set foot in that Office.  Actually, she lacked it waaaay before then, but I only have so much time to write.  She has promoted political cronies (like Roger Bridgwater, Jim Leitner, Hannah Chow and Lana Shadwick) to soft positions where their lack of intellect won't be blatantly revealed, while running off experienced prosecutors with excellent reputations in droves.  Those experienced prosecutors who still remain at the Office have had their discretion and authority taken away from them to the degree that courts have become gridlocked with otherwise resolvable cases.

In short, Pat Lykos has virtually destroyed the Harris County District Attorney's Office.

So Republican activists, when Jared Woodfill or your Precinct Chair comes to you and tells you that a vote for Pat Lykos is good for the Party and she is a shining example of your Conservative Values, you may want to ask them for some examples.   I'd like to hear the answers.

I know that I'm going to get bashed by several sections of blog readers for this post.  That's okay.  I expect it and I understand it.

But, I'll be damned if I can understand why the Republican Leadership seems to think that Pat Lykos is a candidate that adheres to their values.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

No Confidence in Pat Lykos

Channel 13 is reporting today that five police unions have held a press conference denouncing Harris County District Attorney Pat Lykos.  Although the article does not specify all of the police unions, it is clear that the City of Houston Police Department's union and the Harris County Deputies Organization are two of them.

The article points out that five Unions denouncing the elected-District Attorney is unprecedented and serves as a testament to just how bad things have become under Lykos' brief tenure.  Although their aggravation with Lykos' policy of not filing crack pipe cases will certainly be up for debate, the fact that they describe the relationship between Lykos and law enforcement as "antagonistic" is huge.

As the District Attorney, it is absolutely critical that there be a good working relationship between the D.A.'s Office and the law enforcement agencies that file cases in the Harris County Jurisdiction.  This press conference has tremendous implications for a Republican candidate who doubtlessly will want to portray herself as pro-law enforcement to her Republican constituents.

It appears that Lykos' game plan of making the entire office's central job to be enhancing the glory of Pat Lykos is starting to cause some problems for her.

There have been rumblings that the Unions were going to make this announcement for several months now, so today's news wasn't a big surprise to those of us around the CJC.

What is very interesting, however, is the fact that the Unions are stating that they are not endorsing "anyone else at this time."

Although I have absolutely no inside knowledge of any candidates making any announcements any time soon, I do know that there are a lot of prosecutors and police officers right now who are dreaming of a Mike [Anderson] Christmas.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Lykos on Immigration

I had to swing by D.A. Intake briefly this morning and found this sign in the front window.

Man, nobody is going to accuse Pat Lykos of not taking immigration seriously if she doesn't even let the non-citizens sit down.

Friday, November 18, 2011

New Reasonable Doubt Commercial

Regular viewers of Reasonable Doubt may have noticed that over the past few weeks, our host, Todd Dupont has been letting his beard grow.

And grow.  And grow.

Based on his new appearance, we decided to shoot a new promotional commercial for the show that you can catch here.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Reasonable Doubt (11/17/11)

Join me and Todd Dupont for Reasonable Doubt tomorrow night (Thursday, November 17th) at 8 p.m.

Our guest will be defense attorney and Grand Juror (no, not a 185th Grand Juror) Carmen Roe, who will talk to us about the basic mechanics of how Grand Juries work and what it is like to serve.

As always, you can tune in and watch it live streaming by clicking here.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Feast Of Fashion

This Friday, November 18th from 12:00 p.m. - 3:00 p.m., attorney Julie Jones and friends are once again hosting the annual Feast of Fashion, which raises money to send children with cancer to summer camp.

For every $500 raised for this wonderful cause, a child gets sent to camp.  It is an event that is made all the more entertaining by the participation of judges, prosecutors, and defense attorneys.

The luncheon is held at the Magnolia Hotel in Downtown Houston and tickets are $50 a piece, or $500 for a table of ten.  Even if you can't make it, please consider donating.  The contact numbers for where to get tickets are on the link above.

Thank you to Julie and all who donate so much time and money to such a wonderful event.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Tru TV's In Session

Not to go all Womble on everyone, but I did want to post that I'm very excited to be appearing on Tru TV's In Session today and on Monday to talk about the Susan Wright re-trial.

On Friday, I'm scheduled to be on between 11 a.m. - 1 p.m. (CST) and on Monday, I think the schedule is 8 a.m. - 10:00 a.m.

Today's topic:  Why couldn't the Harris County District Attorney's Office have found someone better looking than John Jordan to replace me as second chair in the re-trial?

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Tonight's Reasonable Doubt (11/10/11)

Although tonight's Reasonable Doubt will not be nearly as good as it usually is because Franklin Bynum is subbing in for me while I'm out of town, I highly recommend you tune to catch Todd Dupoint, Franklin, and guest Dane Johnson.  I'm going to go out on a limb here and guess that they might talk about the B.A.T. Van controversy.

As usual, you can tune in to watch it live streaming by clicking here.

And, I'm just kidding about it not being as good because Franklin is co-hosting.

Kind of.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

A Significant Ruling

Ted Oberg at Channel 13 did a report tonight on County Court at Law # 1 Judge Paula Goodhart granting a Writ filed Defense Attorney Brent Mayr in a B.A.T. Van case.

The long story short is that Brent took a case to trial earlier this year where his client was charged with D.W.I. and the results of an intoxilyzer from a B.A.T. Van were used in the trial.  The client was convicted and Brent filed this Writ on the grounds that the Harris County District Attorney's Office failed to turn over exculpatory evidence to him regarding the reliability of the vans.  In essence, the allegations of the Writ were Prosecutorial Misconduct that resulted in his client not receiving a fair trial.

Judge Goodhart granting the Writ is tremendously significant, because that means that she felt the facts of the case supported what Brent said in his Writ -- the Harris County District Attorney's Office withheld exculpatory evidence.  Regardless of what happens with the 185th Grand Jury, we now have an official ruling from a court that Pat Lykos' gang is definitely not shooting straight when it comes to the Rules of Evidence.

As I was thinking about the significance of this Writ being granted, it jogged my memory to an incident that had occurred earlier on in the Lykos Administration.  Apparently, allegations of withholding evidence favorable to a client isn't something exclusive to B.A.T. vans.

If you will recall, back in October of 2009, a hearing was conducted in a Child Abuse case where a Judge found that the District Attorney's Office had withheld Brady (exculpatory) material in trial.  At that point, although the Judge made the ruling, it was found to be "harmless" error because the trial was still proceeding.  Little ever became of the issue after the trial.

But another one of the similarities that I recalled from the 2009 trial was the role of a Whistleblower.

In the Child Abuse case, a Harris County D.A. paralegal named Kim Flores confirmed that exculpatory evidence had been withheld.  Ms. Flores suffered the same fate that Amanda Culbertson is currently going through.

Rather than be rewarded for bringing to light the D.A.'s Office's errors, she got fired (after she had turned in her resignation letter).

She wrote about it on the blog back in 2009.

At some point, I'm hoping that the folks around this county are going to take notice of the Lykosian method of dealing with Brady violations.  It is worth noting that thus far, there has been no statement from Lykos or her Council of Geniuses that condemn the hiding of exculpatory evidence.

At a minimum, I suppose that Kim Flores and Amanda Culbertson can at least start a support group for each other.

Mark Bennett & The Time Lines

If you aren't a regular reader of Mark Bennett's Defending People because it isn't quite as wildly entertaining as mine is, you should be.  Both he and Paul Kennedy have been doing an excellent job of trying to keep up with the debacle with the 185th Grand Jury.

Yesterday, apparently, Pat Lykos posted on her website her own time line about the B.A.T. van scandal, and in typical Lykosian fashion, left out the parts detrimental to her and, according to Mark, flat out lied in other places.

You definitely should check it out by clicking here.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

A Hypothetical Situation for the Conspiracy Theorists

As the investigation into the Harris County District Attorney's Office continues to heat up, Lykos supporters are starting to grumble about the timing of the "Runaway Grand Jury" and they are trying to connect the dots between the Grand Jury and rumors of Republican challengers for D.A.  To catch a summary of what they are saying, you can check out Mark Bennett's blog post here or listen to what Gary Polland is saying in the hallways.

Let me give you a real-quick hypothetical, here:

Let's say you are a high-profile defense attorney well known for your aggressive representation of your clients.

Let's say that the District Attorney's Office has been making some very loud noise about indicting a client who has retained you in advance.  She's heard the rumblings and (like any other law abiding citizen) would really prefer not to get indicted.

Along the way, as a high-profile and intelligent defense attorney, you have heard that the District Attorney's Office doesn't have "clean hands" exactly in regards to how they handled evidence that they didn't want to hear regarding some super-high-tech equipment utilized by the Houston Police Department.

Being the high-profile, aggressive defense attorney that you are, you elect to take the tack that the "best defense is a good offense" and you send a letter to one of the five Grand Juries in session asking that they look into how the District Attorney's Office is handling their investigation into your client.

They agree to do so.

The timing of the investigation corresponds to the time that members of the District Attorney's Office were going on the offense against your client.  The fact that they chose to do it right before the filing deadline for the Republican Primary was their call, not yours.

Whoever is sitting on the Grand Jury and who has ties to who is absolutely none of your concern.

Whatever special prosecutors are appointed to investigate the D.A.'s Office doesn't particularly interest you.

The news media is thoroughly fascinated with the idea of a bullying D.A.'s Office.  The elected D.A. is really miffed and calling it all a political conspiracy.  They continue to just make matters worse for themselves as they panic that they might get indicted.

You don't really care.  Nor should you.

Go home and have a beer.

Know that you just did a really damn good job for your client.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Next Prediction

Okay, so for my last prediction, I guessed that the contempt hearings for two prosecutors and two court reporters would be delayed with a Motion to Recuse.

I was right about that.

I also predicted that this morning's proceedings would be interesting.

I was kind of wrong about that.  They were actually pretty dull and filled with bench conferences that most of the audience could not hear.

So, here is what I was able to gather from the morning events.  It was a very packed courtroom with members of the media, the defense bar, and the prosecution occupying every available seat.  Jim Leitner and John Barnhill were there.  Pat Lykos was not.  Special Prosecutors Jim Mount and Stephen St. Martin were present, but not directly involved in the bench conferences.

Randy and Josh Shaffer were there on behalf of Steve Morris.  Bill Hawkins was there for Carl Hobbs.  Brad Beers was there for both court reporters.  Hawkins, Beers, and the Shaffers conferenced with Judge Brown for lengthy periods of time.  My understanding is that Brad initially filed a Motion to Recuse Judge Brown, but then withdrew it.

At some point during the hearing, it was pointed out that on the day that Hobbs, Morris and Shaffer were kicked out of the Grand Jury, Judge Brown told one of the court reporters to just make a record of any testimony taken that day.

Nothing wrong with that.  She was just saying "keep a record and we'll figure out what needs to be done with it later."

But, in doing so, she made herself a fact witness.  That doesn't mean she did anything wrong.  She did the right thing by instructing that a record be kept.  However, it does probably mean that she shouldn't be presiding over the Show Cause hearing, because she is, potentially, a fact witness.

So, Judge Brown did the prudent thing and recused herself from hearing it.  It will now go to another Judge to hear.  I don't know who and I don't know when.

But I have a prediction.

My guess is that there is some ambiguity surrounding the circumstances of when the record of testimony was made and when the District Attorney's Office came into possession of it.  If there is ambiguity, that probably means that nobody is going to be held in contempt.

So, I would guess that once this case lands in front of a new judge that the new judge will not find anyone in contempt and this entire situation will blow over.  As far as the contempt charges go, this whole episode will fade away.

But the 185th Grand Jury will keep marching on.

Now Trying Live Tweeting

Just an experiment in the sidebar. Going to keep my live tweets updating. We shall see how it goes.

Friday, November 4, 2011

My Prediction for Monday: Delay of Game

Mark Bennett e-mailed me yesterday asking me if the reason I hadn't written anything in a couple of days about the 185th Grand Jury was because I was representing somebody involved.

I told him that I wasn't (and I won't because that would preclude me from writing any more about it), but that there wasn't any news to publish that I was aware of.  The 185th Grand Jury (I believe) meets on Mondays and Thursdays.  There were rumors afloat yesterday that many of Pat Lykos' "leadership team" had been subpoenaed, but I have no confirmation of that.

Right now, I'm pretty much just waiting to see what happens on Monday in the 185th District Court with the Show Cause hearings.  My prediction on what is going to happen is nothing.

Although I've never been held in contempt (believe it or not) and I've never represented a fellow lawyer who was, I spoke with Todd Dupont who has handled contempt matters.
NOTE:  Todd was NOT held in contempt (believe it or not).

After talking to Todd, my guess would be that the District Attorney's Office is going to file a Motion to Recuse Judge Susan Brown from hearing the contempt hearing.  According to Todd, that's something that any officer of the court (i.e., a lawyer) is entitled to.  It's nothing against Judge Brown, and I don't think it will affect the ultimate results of the hearing.

But it will possibly delay them.

And it will absolutely make the District Attorney's Office look like they are hiding something, in my opinion.

The question that will be interesting is are the two court reporters involved in the Show Cause hearing also going to be entitled a different judge.  If they aren't, Lykos is going to have a tough decision to make.  If the two lawyers accused get a new judge, do they really want to be dealing with two different hearings.  I don't know the answer to that question, but I will be interested to see how it shakes out.

Additionally, the rules regarding conflict of interest are coming into play very much at this point.  I don't know what the circumstances are behind the District Attorney's Office being in possession of Grand Jury witness testimony, but there is a huge probability that the interests of the court reporters may very much conflict with those of the prosecutors.

Think of the mantra from A Few Good Men:  "Who ordered the Code Red?"

If there is a conflict of interest (and I tend to believe there will be), who represents everyone?  It would seem to me that if General Counsel John Barnhill (presuming he isn't a witness) is representing them, that his duty would be to protect the Office.  The interests of Pat Lykos' offices most definitely could conflict with those of the court reporters.

Having Scott Durfee (also with the General Counsel's Office) doesn't really solve that problem, either -- any more than having two partners in a law firm representing two sides of a lawsuit would be permissible either.

Either way, I just keep coming back to the same conclusion:

Monday is going to be an interesting day.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Off Topic: New Lunch Spot in Downtown

Just a quick lunch recommendation for those of you tired of eating at the same five places around the Courthouse, there is a new place to eat Downtown.

It is called the Capitol and it is part of the St. Germain, located in the same building as Flying Saucer.  The food is good, with a lot of different sandwiches and burgers on the lunch menu.  It is slightly higher in price than some of the regular places.  Probably around the same price as Mia Bella.

I highly recommend it.

Reasonable Doubt Returns

New episodes of Reasonable Doubt return tonight after a several-week hiatus (due to City Council debates).

So join me and Todd Dupont and our guest, former prosecutor and future Assistant Public Defender Scott Pope, as we talk about the current state of affairs at the Harris County Criminal Justice Center.

Trust me.  We've got A LOT to talk about.

You can tune in to watch it live streaming at 8 p.m. by clicking here.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

An Eye for the Arts

A reader forwarded me this link to an artist who apparently painted a portrait of District Attorney Pat Lykos.

I was very impressed with the artist and decided to have him paint my portrait too.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

An Interesting Docket Entry

Anyone who wants to take a look at the 185th District Court's docket for Monday morning, November 7th might be surprised to see some familiar names on the list.  Most notably, The State of Texas vs. Carl Hobbs and The State of Texas vs. Steve Morris for Ex Parte Proceedings known as "Show Cause" Hearings.  Additionally, there are two Grand Jury court reporters also on the docket for the same reason.

What "Show Cause" hearings typically deal with are people (lawyers or otherwise) who have been or are possibly about to be held in Contempt of Court.

If you will remember, Steve Morris (the Harris County District Attorney's Office Bureau Chief for the Governmental Integrity Bureau), and Carl Hobbs (the DA's Office Division Chief over Grand Jury) were two of the three prosecutors who were kicked out of the 185th's Grand Jury two weeks ago under threat of arrest.

What exactly they are being called to the 185th on Monday for is something that I'm not sure about.  I've heard rumors from multiple people, but I'm not in a position to confirm or deny anything at the moment.

But I think that if you have two of the three prosecutors involved in the original 185th Grand Jury incident coupled with two Grand Jury court reporters, one might be able to read between the lines that the District Attorney's Office has clashed, yet again, with the Grand Jury.

Keep your eyes on this one, folks.

I think Monday is going to be an interesting day.

Caught in the Middle

Out of the entire debacle going on over at the Harris County District Attorney's Office with the Grand Jury, the people that most folks are concerned for are the Baby Prosecutors who were having to handle B.A.T. van cases.  Relatively brand new to their jobs, they were put in positions to try cases where they, themselves, might not have even been informed about the swirling controversy surrounding the vans.

Yet, in the District Attorney's Office, the youngest of the prosecutors are the ones who would be trying the vast majority of those cases.  The vast majority of them have probably been out of law school for under two years.

Their direct supervisors run from Deputy Division Chief Rachel Palmer to Misdemeanor Division Chief John Jordan to Professional Development, Community Protection & Ethics Bureau Chief Roger Bridgwater to First Assistant Jim Leitner to Pat Lykos.  They've been doing this a lot longer than the Baby Prosecutors, and they have the D.A.'s Office's General Counsel John Barnhill looking after their best interest.

Want to know whose interest John Barnhill is NOT looking out for?  The Baby Prosecutors.

The Lykos Administration would probably spend asset forfeiture funds on a bus for the sole purpose of throwing the younger prosecutors under it if they thought it would help them with the 185th Grand Jury.  Any young prosecutor, who at this point, still believes that the upper Administration is looking after his or her best interest is not thinking this through.

There are several defense attorneys out in CJC community who will be more than willing to advise and (if need be) represent the young ones if they need it.  If you are involved in this whole mess and need some advice, you should give them a call.

Additionally, if you want to talk to Special Prosecutors Jim Mount or Stephen St. Martin, they are also easily accessible.

Jim can be reached at 713-650-8700 and Stephen can be reached at 713-222-1133.

I have no idea what is going on with the 185th's Grand Jury investigation at the moment.  Quite frankly, I tend to agree with what Rage and some others have said about it most likely leading to no indictments.  However, every matter involving a Grand Jury needs to be taken with the utmost seriousness.

None of the Baby Prosecutors need to get caught in the middle.

Episode Seven: The Voters Awaken - A One Act -Sci-Fi Play

SCENE:  The Death Star orbits over Downtown Houston. [INTERIOR] The Imperial Council Chambers. EMPRESS OGG sits at the head of a long table ...