Friday, March 23, 2012

"Reasonable" Accommodation

There was not a tremendous amount of news coming out of the CJC this week other than today's revelation that Lykos political hire and judicial candidate hopeful Lana Shadwick is moving to the Grand Jury Division (upon her request).

Now, as much as I love the fact that those political hires made by the Pat Lykos Administration pretty much get to dictate where they want to serve within the Office, I feel it is worthwhile to point out that this is the fourth slot that Lana has served in since arriving at the Office in 2009 (with little to no experience as a prosecutor).  Ms. Shadwick has already bounced from Child Abuse, Family Violence, and Appellate during her brief tenure at the District Attorney's Office.

Please keep in mind that although 99.9% of all prosecutors at one point or another spend at least some time in the trial bureau, Shadwick drew a special exception from Pat Lykos.  Perhaps Lykos thought that having the ex-wife of a prominent former Judge would provide some sort of political benefit for her down the road, and therefore there was no need to make her work in the trenches.  You know, the Shadwick name is recognizable and all that.

Unlike the other political hires that Lykos made (Leitner, Bridgwater, Chow, Barnhill, Morris, etc.), Shadwick wasn't hired to work in the upper-Administration.  Rather, her hiring is more of a blatant example of trying to find job placement for someone to draw a steady government salary without actually having to put them in charge of anything.  The unfortunate experiments of putting Shadwick in Child Abuse and Family Violence failed miserably, but she has managed to spend the past couple of years in appellate, quietly refraining from doing too much damage.

But apparently the pressure of being in the Appellate Division has proven way too much for Lana, especially since she is trying to run a campaign for judge against the vastly more qualified Kristin Guiney.  Word from the campaign trail has been the Guiney has been outclassing Shadwick so much during Republican events that now Lana won't even show up to events where her opponent will be present.  At some point this week, Shadwick requested to be moved to the low-pressure position of Grand Jury prosecutor.

Grand Jury prosecuting ain't a real tricky job.  Quite frankly, if you still have something to do in your Office that will go past noon, you are probably doing something wrong.  It is the very definition of a "cush" position.

But the pressures of the campaign trail were so demanding on Ms. Shadwick that she asked for some reasonable accommodation, and Lykos gladly complied.  Please keep in mind that Assistant District Attorneys Ryan Patrick, Brad Hart, Joe Vinas and Renee Magee have all somehow been able to run for office without asking for a lighter caseload from the boss.  Then again, they weren't Lykos Political Hires.

If you think I'm sounding even more annoyed than usual about this particular move, you're right.  I'm highly disgusted by it.

I have a hard time understanding why the Lykos Administration would make accommodations for Shadwick so that she could campaign more effectively.  In light of the fact that they wouldn't make any accommodations for Shirley Cornelius when she asked for consideration in light of her severely handicapped son, it bothers me tremendously.

I saw Lykos this morning, actually.  I was headed to interview a client at the jail, and she was outside smoking a cigarette, with Hannah Chow following diligently at her side.  I heard from a friend of mine that at about the same time, he saw Lana Shadwick getting her car washed.  I wonder if she took comp time to do so.

I'm sorry if these criticisms seem petty, but they really freaking bug me.  I thought the District Attorney's Office was supposed to be a place where people worked together to do the best job possible for the administration of Justice.  It isn't supposed to be some sort of political incubator where the main purpose is to help foster political allies.

Lykos and Shadwick just took cronyism to a whole new level.


Anonymous said...

Poor Lana is just trying to get by. As Lykos has already proved, you really don't have to know much to be a District Court Judge if you can just get appointed/elected.

Rachel probably wanted to move to Grand Jury with Lana except she couldn't present cases without taking the 5th...

Anonymous said...

The departure of Shadwick from the Appellate Division was undoubtedly met with uncharacteristic claps of joy and her arrival in the Grand Jury Division will surely be met with corresponding moans. Probably, however, there was no overly exuberant celebration, particularly among the normally subdued appellate staff, since fireworks are illegal in the City of Houston. Offense is taken, however, to Murray's implication that the Appellate Division has not seen excellent lawyers, specifically trial lawyers, assigned to the Division over the years. Even a short list of those lawyers is impressive; Mac Secrest, Mary Lou Keel, Bill Burge, Sam Robertson, Harvey Hudson, Tim Taft, Cathy Cochran, Leslie Brock, and Bill Delmore have passed through its doors among many others. Shadwick's stay was fortunately of such short duration that it should not be a permanent blot on the Division's legacy.
Calvin A. Hartmann

Murray Newman said...


If I made any implication that Appellate was not a vital place where excellent lawyers have served and continue to serve, was completely unintentional. Believe me, the prosecutors of appellate bailed my butt out in the middle of trial on many and many occasions.

Unfortunately, Lykos has used it to hide out people like Palmer and Shadwick. That does not reflect on the Division as a whole, obviously.

I'm sorry if my post indicated otherwise.

Anonymous said...

Murray- thank you for your response - I guess that I am too thin skinned in my old age, but I had the opportunity to supervise some very talented lawyers at the HCDAO, some of whom are still there, while I was fortunate to work for Johnny Holmes. It just really, excuse the proverbial "french" (or is it just plain profanity), pisses me off that Lykos has seemingly sought to make a division of very talented lawyers her dumping grounds, although for different reasons, for the likes of Shadwick and Palmer. One would think that based upon her prior arguably abysmal
judicial performance she would have learned to hold the Appellate Division in a much higher regard.
Calvin A. Hartmann

Anonymous said...

Did Palmer and Shadwick get along in Appellate?

Anonymous said...

I would be shocked if RP had nothing to do with this. How else would she figure out the only place easier than misdemeanor "supervision"?

In the broader view, this doesn't matter. But this crap is really disheartening to the line prosecutors busting their humps for a woman who doesn't even know their names. They should be the ones who are pissed.

Anonymous said...

Don't underestimate she who must not be named. Those pesky grand juries caused headaches. Maybe she wants someone on the ground who claims to like her?

Anonymous said...

1:25 - the grand jury division doesn't operate that way. They do not handle the complex or important grand jury investigations. Those are done by the prosecutors in Special Crimes, Public Integrity, etc. The only duty for the prosecutors assigned to the grand jury division is to indict the run-of-the-mill drug cases, burglaries, etc. They don't even handle "routine" murders or sex assaults.

Traditionally, this has been a spot to give a #2 prosecutor (those who handle the bulk of murders, sex assaults, etc) who needs a break from the brutual trial bureau schedule.

Lana is taking a break from ...a break. While the Appellate Division is crucially important, she hasn't done any substantive work while there. And now she will have to do even less.

Anonymous said...

I would loved to have been a wall flower to hear that conversation between Lykos and Lana:

Lykos: Lana, I'm getting complaints that you haven't turn out any Appellate Briefs lately. What's the problem dearie?

Lana: Judge Pat, you know how it is, I just can't possibly do any work for the County AND run for Judge! I mean, look at Roger. He hasn't done anything for months now and he's still getting Bureau Chief's pay!

Lykos: You're right Lana! Don't know what I was thinking. I can't even come to work on Fridays because of my campaigning and I'm late getting in most days too. Good thing I don't have to fill out a time sheet like you peons.

Lana: I'm glad you get the picture Judge Pat. Now, you know I'm special so how about letting me take over Carl's assignment of staying by the Grand Jury door so I can keep you informed over who the Rangers are having testify before the Grand Jury that's investigating the investigation you didn't order? I promise to be your "eyes and ears" there.

Lykos: Great Idea Lana. Plus that would free up Carl to actually present some of those pesky criminal cases. I have got to decide which other category of crimes not to prosecute so Carl will be available in case I need need to investigate the grand jurors who are hearing evidence against me. Crap! Forget I just said that. I am not a crook!

Lana: Totally forgotten your Majesty. And thanks for the break! If I get elected as a Judge, I'll be sure to appoint Little Jimmy to some cases when he leaves in June.

Anonymous said...

Go see the new "Snow White" movie and then avoid all mirrors and get out the vote. The wicked Queen witch really is a dead ringer in caricature of several prosecutors at the Harris County Office - elected and not.

However, for the movie to apply completely in this instance the script would have to be re-written because NONE of the “ladies” I am thinking of were EVER the fairest of them all.

Anonymous said...


Just another move by the gang that spits in the face of every hard working DA in the office.

We all know GJ was where you sent burned out #2's who needed some time off. Of course, that's how it used to be. Since PL, she decided that the "next" chief needed a stint in GJ. I mean, if you can't indict a burg building, how could you possibly try a capital? Although it's not a written policy, based on the last few chiefs, it's the pattern (Justin Wood, Stephenson, Rucker, Tara, Todd, Alison). But GJ has also turned in to a joke. Alexis has been there for 2 years and now handles all the stautory sex cases (which boggles everyones mind) and then there is Carl. Talk about worthless. He doesn't do crap and all the other Chiefs had to get assigned direct murders since Carl doesn't have time to do them since he plays waiter all morning upstairs.

Now you send Lana there and that validates what a joke GJ is. Has she even tried a case while being a DA? Has she ever handled a PCS, Burg Bldg or BMV 3rd? I'm guessing not.

And lets not forget that Felony #2's take ALL their own cases in.

I hope Guiney does a records request a month from now for Lana's time sheet, or better yet, let's call Wayne.

Anonymous said...

Funny thing about office moves -- per office policy Lana will now need a performance appraisal to be done. Lets see if Lykos bends that policy a bit to make sure it does not happen until AFTER the primary. Fire up those open records requests people.

Mark W Stephens said...

Murray - There might be a need to post a list of candidates that are "Lykos approved" so we know who all NOT to vote for...