I’m declaring Chuck Rosenthal “done”.

Sure, he can hold on to his office and his salary for a while. But the Texas Attorney General has opened an investigation into Chuck’s alleged misuse of county property, and that sort of thing is seldom good for one’s career in public service. At some point soon he’s going to be the underdog, and I might even stick up for him then.

We all know he won’t be DA in a year; we don’t know whether he’ll continue to set the tone in the office for the next 11 months as he has for the last 85. We also don’t know whether what awaits him after his public service ends is (a) a cushy job with a big paycheck in a civil firm, or (b) criminal charges and eternal ignominy. (Even Chuck’s control of the Harris County DA’s secret George W. Bush file may not get him out of this jam.)

I can’t help but think that if Chuck had looked to John 8 for the answer to the question abbreviated on the “WWJD” bracelet he always wears, rather than Exodus 21 (or Romans 13), he wouldn’t be in this position today. Karma’s a bitch.

Other unresolved questions: will the Assistant DAs continue to proudly declare in voir dire that they “work for the elected DA, Chuck Rosenthal”? No, probably not; more likely, we’ll have to help them make that point. And will they tell our potential jurors who attend Lakewood Church (all 30 thousand of them) that the view of the DA’s office is that members of that church are screwballs and nuts? No, we may have to handle that part of jury selection too. And the part where we discuss racist “jokes” and sexist videos making light of violence against women. And the part where we discuss hardcore pornography sent or received at taxpayer expense. You know, just to make sure they won’t hold it against the State in this particular case.

How long will it take Harris County juries to forget the glimpse they’ve had of the hidden sleaze of the Harris County DA’s office? Kelly Siegler is a hell of a trial lawyer. As I’ve written before, she stands out as a prosecutor in part because she exhibits the kind of creativity in the courtroom that defenders use every day. (Of course, prosecutors aren’t necessarily ethically permitted to exhibit the kind of creativity in the courtroom that defenders use every day, but that’s what the voters like to see.)

I don’t know what kind of administrator she will be. But Kelly Siegler is a member of Chuck Rosenthal’s inner circle, and if she is elected DA we can expect her to carry on Chuck’s legacy. If we’re looking for a DA who will continue the derailment of the DA’s office, Kelly is probably the best bet for the job.

Will the citizens of Harris County forgive Kelly her close relationship with Chuck enough to let her keep her job and take her own shot at the reputation of the office? (I wish I could find a link to the picture of her announcing her candidacy, backed up by 25 very worried-looking ADAs. Harris County has some 300 DAs, so an office insider with the active support of 25 of them is not making a very impressive showing.)

Or will they give the job to one of the outsiders who, in Kelly’s words, “don’t know where the restrooms are in the office“?


0 responses to “Done”

  1. There is nothing useful to Chuck in “the Harris County DA’s secret George W. Bush file.” I’ve seen it.

  2. Mark, those 25 D.A.s that showed up got the word that the press conference was coming at the last minute and God knows that by this time nobody was going to send a mass freaking e-mail for political purposes. It was all word of mouth, so don’t read too much into a lack of attendance. Those of us that were there weren’t worried, we were relieved. Chuck’s withdrawal the day before was the best news we had heard all week.

  3. Dad, you’ve only seen what they wanted you to see.

    Anon, thanks for your comment. It’s good to have the view from the other side.

    You don’t have to convince me that Chuck’s withdrawal from the race was good news for the line prosecutors; I wrote about that back on January 2nd.

  4. I would be interested in you posting your thoughts on who would be the second choice for the defense for D.A. Obviously Jim is a fantastic choice, but if he isn’t the guy, who is the best in your opinion? Lykos or Siegler? Bradford?!?!?!

  5. Anon,

    In order of preference, ranked by my perception of the positive change they will bring to Harris County’s criminal justice system (rather than of their entertainment value or how my clients will benefit) and subject to change:


    A DA should be a trial lawyer (because he needs to lead a bunch of trial lawyers, and I don’t see trial lawyers following someone who hasn’t walked the walk). Leitner and Siegler are the two trial lawyers on that list; Pat Lykos may have tried some criminal cases as a lawyer before she was a judge, but I’m not yet certain.

    A DA should also be an administrator. We had a taste of Bradford’s administrative skills when he was Chief; I’ll pass, thank you. I don’t know about Jim’s or Kelly’s administrative skills, but I’m putting Kelly dead last on this list, even behind Bradford, because she’s part of Chuck’s inner circle. Regardless of how much joy the Rosenthal/Siegler administration has brought to my simple life in the last couple of weeks, it’s time for a big change instead of four more years of “different mustache, same principles”.

  6. Kelly may have been part of Chuck’s inner circle for the first half of his administration, but I’m not so sure anybody is in his inner-circle at the moment. I think you ought to judge Kelly for Kelly, and not Chuck. I’m cool with Leitner, but Lykos and Bradford are horrible ideas under any circumstance.

  7. I’m not judging anyone, but from the outside, it appears that that office suffers from a culture of sanctimony that breeds illegal and unethical conduct. I like Kelly personally, but she doesn’t get a free pass for being a FOC for the first half (are you sure it’s not the first 87.5%?) of Chuck’s administration.

    Your view of Lykos seems to be shared by much of the bench and the defense bar. I never practiced before her; what’s the problem with Lykos?

    Incidentally, feel free to give yourself a pseudonym so that we know it’s you (whoever you are).

  8. As someone who actually supported Lykos the first time around and who takes some credit for getting her into a run off; I would not support her this time.

    I won’t go into my reasons that I no longer support her other than to say i fear the DA’s office would become an extension of the probation department and politically the Republic Women’s groups which were once her mainstay are no longer as active nor do they have the grassroots drive they once had.

  9. Mark, a “20 minute” plea in Lykos court would take in a hour in the old days-as you had to find out who Mr. Big was where he sold the stuff at; who was with your guy what all their nicknames were ect…

    Last time, Lykos first stated plans was to reform and expand Victim/ Witness (who in my opinion already does a good Job)and merge Family Violence with Child Abuse while opening channels with State channels to increase local prosecutions forcriminal non-support.

    I could be wrong on this but i seem to recall she also wanted to create a Liason position with CPS and replace County Attorney’s with Prosecutors to increase prosecution in child abuse/abandonment cases.

    She also at the time had a Grand Vision of expanding all the social service aspects of the prosecutors office (this was pre-drug court if i recall) with as many increased alternatives to incarceration as she could find funding for.

    Hence, my probation department crack.

    and I am one of the little dogs down at the Harris County Courthouse and am very happy in anonymity

  10. Davelaw,

    Thanks for the insight I’m a newbie, only having been down at the courthouse for about 13 years, and never got to practice before Judge Lykos.

  11. Kelly segler is the most unethical person I know.. I can just imagine how many minorities, non christians, and members of lakewood church will be stripped of their rights and sent to jail because sh concoted a farce against them. She will do anything to get a notch in her belt… and seek sensationalism and it does not matter who she hurt.. I know…Is this what you want for a DA or one that will be unbiased and ethical regardless if she wins or lose?

  12. I’ve seen some interviews with kelly, during which I felt she came across as arrogant and dismissive. I’m sure she was a dedicated and hardworking Prosecutor, however, she also seemed to have the type of attitude that would antagonize a lot of people.

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