Why Chuck Won’t Leave


Hypothetical question:

If Chuck Rosenthal resigns, who is in charge of the DA’s office?

Answer: First Assistant Bert Graham.

For how long?

Until governor Rick Perry appoints a new DA.

Well, who does he appoint?

Maybe Pat Lykos.

So?

So whoever Perry appoints goes into the primary with an advantage.

Again: so?

So the general feeling among prosecutors is that Lykos would be a disaster as a DA.

Why?

Well, first, they’re concerned that she’ll come in looking to prove that she’ll change the office, and will gut it. Second, Lykos has a bad reputation for dishonesty from when she was a felony court judge.

How so?

Here’s an anecdote: Judge Lykos took long lunches. After at least one such lunch during a jury trial she came back late, keeping the jury waiting. Judge Lykos told the jury that she had admonished the lawyers for coming back from lunch late and keeping the jury waiting.

Is that anecdote true?

I couldn’t swear that it is fact, but I’ve heard it from two independent and reliable sources, one of whom is a criminal district court judge.

Anything else?

She is reported to have referred to a lawyer’s father as an “asshole” and then, when the lawyer filed a motion to recuse her, claimed under oath that she never used such language. A prosecutor in her court swore that she used such language all the time.

Why is a DA’s honesty important?

That’s a stupid question.

How does the defense bar feel about Lykos?

Mostly, they seem to feel about the same about Judge Lykos as the prosecutorial bar.

Why?

Same reason, I guess.

What about you?

I don’t know Judge Lykos personally, but I’m reconsidering my former ordering of candidates to raise Kelly Siegler above last place.

Why?

Because things could always get worse. A DA who lies to juries and lies under oath would set the wrong example for the office, and might well be worse than another four years of the Rosenthal-Siegler regime.

So what does that have to do with the title of this post?

Ah. If Chuck still cares about the Office, he might see himself as a better caretaker for the next two months than Judge Lykos would be.

The next two months?

After the primary, the governor is likely to appoint the primary winner to the DA’s office if given the opportunity.

And what if Judge Lykos is the Republican candidate?

Let’s cross that bridge when we come to it.

Is there an alternative to Chuck staying in office till after the primary?

Sure. He could negotiate the governor’s promise to appoint a caretaker interim DA.

Like who?

There are several viable candidates who know how to run a DA’s office and don’t aspire to do so. Former DA Carol Vance and former DA Johnny Holmes come immediately to mind.

Any chance of such a negotiated resolution?

Sorry, that’s way above my pay grade.

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0 responses to “Why Chuck Won’t Leave”

  1. Kelly Siegler in LAST place? Seriously? And you wonder why they are calling you names on my blog!!
    You think that Doug Perry is a better candidate than Kelly?!?!?!?
    And you think that Bradford is a better candidate than Kelly?!?!?!?!
    I agree with your assessment of Lykos, and I’m glad you published what you know about her.
    You know that Jim Leitner in one of his speeches said that the next DA needs to be a trial lawyer that the ADAs will respect.
    Now, Mark, you can’t disagree with Jim, now can you?
    And by the way, I think there are alot more interesting Lykos stories out there. Keep digging.

  2. I can’t help responding to AHCL.

    The public needs a DA who doesn’t come in with baggage. Siegler and Lykos both have a lot of baggage; the only difference is that Lykos’ baggage is worn and people vaguely remember problems with it, while Siegler’s baggage aggressively delivers itself. By comparison, Perry has only a carry-on bag, but it’s plastic and has “HEB” printed on the sides. Odder still, Bradford has some baggage, but checked it with the skycap and is meandering down the concourse with a Trailways ticket in hand.

    I’m pulling for Leitner to infuse some calm and reason.

  3. If the DAs office has any chance of recovering and rebuilding it’s reputation in the wake of this Chuck-created mess, then Jim Leitner or Kelly Siegler are the ONLY 2 candidates in the entire race who are qualified to run the DAs office.

    You are right about Lykos. She would be a disaster. And Perry knows nothing about being a DA or a trial lawyer. He may have been a good cop, or good a running the jail, but there is a lot more to running the DAs office. Just look at his push cards. His only concerns are how to make thing easier for police officers. This is all well and good, but there is much work to do for the DAs, and he does not have the first clue.

    I know many DAs will leave the office if anyone other and Kelly Siegler or Jim Leitner win this election. The defense bar will be flooded with qualified defense attorneys, and the victims of harris county will suffer the loss of many great prosecutors who cared about seeing justice done.

  4. AHCL,

    I can disagree with Jim; I feel like he missed an opportunity by not filing suit to get everyone but Chuck off the ballot. I figure there’s about a 50% chance that after the primary there’ll be a whole lot more lawyers on both sides of the bar who agree with me.

    I don’t think trial lawyers will follow someone who hasn’t walked the walk, which narrows the field to Jim and Kelly. I haven’t yet decided how dysfunctional I want the DA’s office to be.

    I’m open to being convinced, and Kelly will get a chance to convince me on February 19th at the debate. Four more years of “win at all costs”, which I expect from Kelly, may not be the last thing Harris County needs; it may wind up being the lesser evil.

    When we get right down to it, Kelly’s reputation for truthfulness is not spotless. There are some “interesting” Siegler stories out there as well; we’ll get to those in due time.

    Leviathan,

    Great metaphor. What’s your backup plan?

    CJC attorney,

    Whether they are qualified or not, time will tell, but the defense bar will welcome, with open arms, all refugees from the DA’s office. (Are you listening, Chuck?)

    Since most prosecutions involve victimless crimes, and since you guys don’t represent the victims anyway, and since you guys often don’t even give a damn about the victims’ interests, I think the victims will be okay. Unless by “the victims of Harris County” you mean, “those who have suffered at the hands of Harris County”; those folks might actually benefit.

  5. I don’t really have a backup plan.

    If it comes down to the unlikely choice of Perry and Bradford. I plan to rent a moving van. If not Perry, then anyone other than Bradford.

    Leitner, of course, would be my preference in the current field; the other two present me with a Morton’s fork. Siegler’s judgment – both as a prosecutor and a manager – concerns me, but she is “the devil I know.” Lykos, since leaving the bench, has been working on criminal justice issues, largely out of the public eye. I don’t know whether that experience has sufficiently changed her perspective such that she would behave differently than she did as a judge. I was one of the many people who, without the courtesy of explanation, spent far too much of my time (and, thus, far too many taxpayer dollars) sitting in her court, waiting for a moment of her time.

    I’d just like to have someone who understands that he or she serves as the elected DA for all the people of Harris County – the victims, the defendants, and those fortunate enough to be neither.

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