Monday, March 26, 2012

This is a paid political announcement...

Murray, Murray, Murray.

Sometimes it appears that my colleague, and friend, Murray Newman, still wishes he were at 1201 Franklin Street infringing upon the liberty of our fellow citizens. Here of late Murray seems to be on a crusade to send Mike Anderson to the 6th floor of the Criminal (In)justice Center and to help smooth the path for more prosecutors to transfer to the judicial branch of the Harris County DA's Office (See here, here and here.)

While there is plenty to castigate Pat Lykos about, Murray is using Ms. Lykos' decision not to prosecute so-called trace cases as his ammunition. And that, quite frankly, has me just a little bit befuddled.

Why on earth would a criminal defense attorney want the state to prosecute more trace cases? Why would a criminal defense lawyer want to see more people arrested, booked into jail and forced to post bond when there isn't enough dope to retest? Why would a defense attorney want to make it easier for the state (and the judges) to line up defendants "on the chain" for mass pleas that make a mockery out of our legal system?

I get it, Murray, you really don't like Ms. Lykos. But for the election of 2008, you might still be working as an assistant district attorney. Ms. Lykos came into office and purged 1201 Franklin of as many supporters of Kelly Siegler as she could. Murray was one of the prosecutors swept up in that.

I'm sure Murray would like to see some of his friends sitting on the bench - not because there might be some undue influence - but because it's nice to see your friends and colleagues succeed. But Murray, there are more than enough black-robed prosecutors in the criminal courthouse as it is. The last thing we need are more former prosecutors without any experience on the other side of the well sitting on the bench thinking they're part of the law enforcement team.

That's the kind of crap that gives us judges who are more than willing to sit by a fax machine when the police want to run a No Refusal Weekend and wait for fill-in-the-blank affidavits to come it so they can blindly rubber stamp them in the name of public safety. It's the mentality that gives us the spectacle of the mass plea and the fiction that an attorney can adequately represent a citizen accused in the ten minutes it takes to read the police report and ask the prosecutor for time served.

I, for one, don't give a damn about who gets the cushy jobs under Pat Lykos. As far as I'm concerned, when you take a government job you take it understanding that your boss is a political figure who serves at the whim of the electorate. If Jim Leitner chose to prostitute himself out to Ms. Lykos, so be it. Hey, why a criminal defense attorney would want to be a district attorney is beyond me (and, judging by what's happened up in Montgomery County, not a very desirable situation).

Pat Lykos is a known commodity. She's willing to experiment. Some of her ideas are good (trace case policy) and others are illegal (DIVERT), but she's not afraid of innovation. Mike Anderson is campaigning to take us back to the past (sorry, Mike, been there, done that). Zack Fertitta is the wild card - the defense attorney who wants to be a prosecutor. God only knows where that will go.

The one thing I know is that my job will be the same come next January as it is now - regardless of who's sitting behind that big desk on the 6th floor.

1 comment:

A Harris County Lawyer said...

Paul Paul Paul,

Just when I think I've got you understanding me, i think we have to go back and visit the counselor again.

Yes, I want Kristin Guiney to win. She's a defense attorney (not a prosecutor like Lana Shadwick). She's awesome and would be an amazing judge. I want Joe Vinas and Brad Hart to win (they are prosecutors who know the law and have exercised compassion and fair dealing ever since I have known them). And right now, I'm just focusing on the primary, so we'll have to discuss this issue all over again when get to November.

I want Mike Anderson to win because I know that he will return discretion back to good prosecutors. You know, the ones who aren't afraid to dismiss a case because they are scared shitless that they will lose their jobs. Trust me, if you are doing your job right, you'll find that a legion of prosecutors with discretion and a belief in doing the right thing is much better for BOTH sides of the bar than having them all beholden to a leader that they are frightened of. That leader hands out "favors" to her chosen few, and cares little to nothing about justice as a whole.