Harris County Assistant District Attorney George Weissfisch, hours after giving notice, sent the following email to Pat Lykos, CCing all employees:
This is part one of a six email series of my suggestions to improve the office.
THE OVERWORKED #3s PROBLEM
We have never been able to fill the felony courts with #4s.
Weissfisch solution: We make a new hire’s first stop in the office the #4 felony position. They then go to #3 in misdemeanor. Rather than throw new hires right into trial with no experience we start them out as 4s in felony. Their job is mostly to handle rip calls and any other to do (which should be limited under the no more to dos system- coming soon) #4 can sit 2nd chair with the number 3 or sometimes with the number 2. The advantages of this system is that all new prosecutors get their initial training from a district court chief rather than a felony 3 (misd chief). Second they get their feet wet on how to try a case before they have to try cases solo. Third they get a better perspective before going to misdemeanor (in terms of the seriousness of cases and how to interact with the defense bar and ethics) The burden on the felony #3 is alleviated and some #3s may even be able to take some of the #2’s trials. The rotation should be for no more than 6 months. There should be no #4s in misdemeanor and the rotation after #4 in felony would be exactly as it is now.
Under this system the next 22 people that we hire would fill the 22 district courts with #4s. If we add paralegals one day then it’s even better because the #4 won’t have to do as much of the grunt work and can learn more before misdemeanor.
STAY TUNED FOR HOW TO REWORK INTAKE
(D.A. Lykos: Do not doubleplusunhire George like you did Murray. I did not get this from George, but rather from Mr. X.)
This is a reasonable suggestion. It’s got some merit, and it shows that George gave some thought not only to the problem of overwork, but also to improving training and giving new prosecutors some perspective before they start trying even misdemeanor cases. I’m sure there’s a downside to it that I’m not seeing, but at least it deserves discussion.
It also whets the appetite for parts two through six of George’s suggestions to improve the office.
If I were in charge of an organization, I would want its members to discuss ways to make the organization work better. As president of HCCLA I’ve favored more open discussion rather than less, and gotten crosswise with those on the board who knew that free discussion would not lead to the result they desired.
Someone at the Harris County DA’s Office has a different philosophy, though, and George was told in no uncertain terms that sending out parts 2-6 to all prosecutors was not a proper use of the “all prosecutor email function.”
So, George, if you want the rest of the Office to read and discuss your ideas for improving the Office, those ideas are welcome here.