The Houston Chronicle editorial board has endorsed Pat Lykos for DA. The column endorsing her regurgitates her campaign soundbites — basically, she sold herself to them. There’s a lot of empty air in Lykos’s campaign promises. In fact, they are almost 100% empty air. But the Chronicle editorial board doesn’t understand the criminal “justice” system any better than the voters, so Lykos’s empty promises sound good. With this endorsement, the blind are leading the blind.
Virtually everybody who actually practices law down at the Harris County Criminal Justice Center, however, agrees that Lykos is not the best person for the job. AHCL and I might disagree on whether she is the worst, or only the second- or third-worst of the four-candidate Republican field, but we — and the vast majority of defense lawyers, prosecutors, and judges we know — agree that Jim Leitner, at least, is a better choice for DA than Pat Lykos.
The good thing I can say about her is that, if elected, she’ll bring change that Kelly Siegler wouldn’t bring. The anarchist in me relishes the idea of the DA’s office being gutted by (or gutting itself under) Lykos and taking a decade or more to recover. I have reason to think that a Lykos administration will be repugnant to the judiciary (most of whom came up as prosecutors under Holmes or Rosenthal) as well, which will probably help to end their feeling of affinity for the DA’s Office. The quality of justice will likely improve when judges feel less familiality with the prosecutors in their courts.
The pessimists in the criminal defense bar worry about an influx of new criminal-defense lawyers — refugees from the DA’s office — if Lykos becomes DA. They feel threatened by the prospect. I’m not worried about it — few people could come out of that office and immediately be a real criminal-defense lawyer, and those that do will displace the pretenders who already embarrass the criminal bar.
But still I am keenly aware that, in the words of Pat McCann, “things could always be worse.”