Monday, August 27, 2012

Welcome to the newest berobed prosecutor

As predicted here the other day, Gov. Rick Perry appointed GOP nominee, and career prosecutor, Ryan Patrick to fill out Kevin Fine's term on the bench in the 177th District Court. And why not?

Mr. Patrick is the son of the ultimate wingnut, State Senator Dan Patrick. Oh, and did I ever mention that that is the same Dan Patrick who, as sports anchor at KHOU-TV in Houston, painted himself blue one night on the air as a publicity stunt for the Houston Oilers?
I am a Constitutional conservative who will put law and order back on the bench in Harris County.  As a career prosecutor, I have fought on the frontline to keep our community safe.  I have secured convictions in cases ranging from misdemeanor assaults to aggravated sexual assault and murder.  I want to put my experience as a prosecutor to work for you.  Currently, I am assigned to the Major Offenders Division where I am entrusted with prosecuting the worst criminals in our community.
Nice words, Mr. Patrick, if you're running for district attorney or sheriff. For those naive enough to believe that Mr. Patrick won't be a prosecutor in a black gown, that statement tells you all you need to know about our newest judge. How exactly will his experience as a prosecutor serve him on the bench?

And just what the hell does "Constitutional conservative" even mean? Does it mean he will take the words in the Bill of Rights literally and defend the public's right to be free from unreasonable search and seizure? Or is it just his way of saying that he will follow any precedent out there that makes it easier for the government to intrude upon the lives of our clients?

I hate to tell Mr. Patrick this, but his job is not be a liberal, a conservative or anything else other than a detached and neutral arbiter when sitting on the bench. His job isn't to see that the state obtains convictions and that his docket moves along nicely. His job is to ensure that a criminal defendant is presumed innocent unless proven guilty. His job is to ensure that the due process rights of a criminal defendant are protected. His job is to rule against the state when the agents of the state have violated the rights of the defendant.

As Scott Greenfield has pointed out countless times, judges like to believe that the police are telling the truth. Given a choice between believing the word of a defendant against the word of a police officer, the judge will take the latter every day of the week and twice on Sunday.

Why? Because most judges step onto the bench after working as a prosecutor or clerking for a judge. They've seen every case from the same perspective. They've never worked in the trenches getting their hands dirty. We hear the stories everyday about how the government imposes its will on the populace regardless of what the Constitution or Bill of Rights says. We know enough to be skeptical that the bag of pot just happened to fall out of the defendant's pocket as he was running from the police.

But for those who've never sat on that side of the courtroom the story the man in the uniform tells just sounds right.

Mr. Patrick's "career" has consisted of being a prosecutor since 2006. Six years. Six years in the DA's office. That's more than enough time to develop a full understanding of the law and how to apply it from the bench.

It is enough time, however, to take a ride on your daddy's coattails and ascend to the bench.

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