Friday, March 27, 2009

Who's the real victim?

Reaction to Harris County DA Pat Lykos' decision to suspend and reassign two prosecutors for a Batson violation has been interesting, to say the least.

Some have defended the two prosecutors, saying they were good lawyers without any racist tendencies and have criticized Ms. Lykos for her actions in the matter. Some have put blame on the judge for not placing the wrongly stricken jurors on the panel and for busting a panel the following day. Some have praised Ms. Lykos for signaling the end of the good ol' boy network at 1201 Franklin.

What few have done is focus on the harm to Ricky Whitfield. Mr. Whitfield has been charged with murder and aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. He has been held in the Harris County Jail, without bond, since January 4, 2008. Mr. Whitfield was given a new trial date - June 8, 2009 - after the second panel was busted the day after Mr. Whitfield's attorneys' successful Batson challenge.

Mr. Whitfield, who is presumed innocent unless the state can prove him guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, will have spent more than 15 months behind bars when he sits down at the defense table in June.

If the prosecutors' careers are tarnished as a result of their actions, so be it. It is because of their actions on this week, that Mr. Whitfield's day in court has been delayed.


Anonymous said...

There is only one person to blame for that. Judge Barr.

Paul B. Kennedy said...

Thank you for your comment.

I would only point out that Judge Barr did not make any of the strikes in question and that, upon being presented the opportunity to provide a race-neutral reason for strking the African-American jurors, the prosecutors could not do so.

I have worked with both prosecutors and find them to be very able attorneys. This situation has more to do, I believe, with the culture of the HCDAO during the prior regime(s).

Anonymous said...

I think you are one of the few that actually understands this. Of course, Mr. Whitfield is harmed. Nevertheless, everyone's focus is on the prosecutors who, purposefully or negligently, brought this upon themselves. Despite the fact that the prosecutors may be devastated in their careers, which is sad, Mr. Whitfield cannot decide what time to wake up, eat, bathe, shave, etc. The prosecutors are still afforded that opportunity.

Anonymous said...

I'm not talking about the strikes... I'm talking about the long reset. The Judge could have brought a new panel over the same day, the next day, the day after that. No one made her reset the case that long. I put the blame regarding the delay squarely on the shoulders of the Judge. No one else controls that.