Tuesday, May 14, 2019

The Mad Queen

The CJC Community was shocked today by the announcement that Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg had fired her First Assistant Tom Berg.  There were rumors that a few other employees in administrative positions had also been fired.

The move is surprising for a couple of reasons.

The first reason being that Tom Berg has a stellar reputation for being a man of integrity, dedication, and knowledge.  He is a combat veteran who has dedicated his life to the Criminal Justice Center and he is very highly respected amongst both the Defense Bar and the Prosecution.  Tom spent the vast majority of his legal career on the defense side of the aisle so I was somewhat surprised when he joined the D.A.'s Office.  I thought it was a great hire by Ogg and I said so at the time.

Tom had a learning curve at the D.A.'s Office -- largely due to the fact that his primary focus of criminal law had been on the Federal side of things, as opposed to State.  He made a few missteps at first and made a couple of statements that he would probably like to have taken back.  None of those missteps or misstatements, however, undercut that he was a fair-minded man who left private practice to help make the Criminal Justice System better.

His firing today by Ogg says a hell of a lot more about the Ogg Administration than it does about Tom Berg.

Ogg's Office has been under scrutiny lately because of the mass exodus of Harris County prosecutors who are leaving their jobs for . . .  any job but that one.  Morale is in the toilet and a job that was once the most coveted in the prosecutorial profession is now one that nobody wants anymore.  Tom Berg was not a contributing factor to that lack of morale.  He did his best to rally the troops that the Office still had left.

But Kim Ogg has always seemed to embrace the idea that it is better to be feared than loved.  There were multiple prosecutors and defense attorneys today who were comparing her method of ruling to Sunday night's episode of Game of Thrones (No spoilers here, but if you watched the show Sunday, you should understand what they are talking about).

While Ogg is running off good prosecutors in hordes and firing leaders like Tom Berg, she is busily making blatantly political hires like troubled former-HPD Chief Clarence Bradford.  More troubling is the rumor that Berg's firing has paved the way for wildly unpopular controversial Division Chief, JoAnne Musick to be promoted to the position of Trial Bureau Chief.

To my brethren and sistren in the Defense Bar, if you think your trial court prosecutors are currently hamstrung by micromanagement and stupid policies, get ready for Ogg giving JoAnne a blank check to run the whole bureau however she wants.

The firing of Tom Berg probably won't really change the day-to-day operations of prosecutors in a way that is noticeable to the general public, or even the rank and file prosecutors.  The message that is implied in his firing, however, is beyond troubling.  While Ogg has been able to waive off previous departures from the Office as people who weren't committed to her "progressive" ideas, she can't do the same with a man that she handpicked to be her second in command.  She can't do that with a man who has the integrity and reputation of Tom Berg.

Apparently, the First Assistant didn't learn the First Rule of dealing with Kim Ogg.

To disagree with the D.A. is to lose your job.


6 comments:

Anonymous said...

Yes. More Joanne. Yay. Can’t wait. That sound you hear is 20 more people typing their resumes.

Phanco said...

Shit canned

Bummer

Thorhees21 said...

In my previous life as a federal prosecutor, I tried cases against both Berg and Ogg. I can confirm that Berg has more integrity in his little finger than Ogg has in her whole body.

Anonymous said...

So do you think that Tom was not going to go along with the coverup of Officer Goines' murdering that innocent couple? Just find it strange this occurred on the same day that Acevedo announced the end of his department's investigation into that botched raid. Certainly leaves you wondering if the two aren't somehow connected.

Murray Newman said...

Anon 8:24 a.m.,

I've heard a rumor that the argument was over the Alfred Dewayne Brown case.

I don't think Ogg has any intention of covering up anything on the Goines case. I think she is more than happy to go after the police officers involved on that one. There is no downside to her on it.

Anonymous said...

Berg was too good for the place. He's threatened to quit in the past and I was sorry he didn't follow through. He was treated poorly by Kim and Vivian. With him gone, we've finally got the leadership team Harris county deserves, and Tom can go do something worthwhile.