Last Week in DA Politics


Last Tuesday six police unions announced a vote of no confidence in Harris County DA Pat Lykos. Last Wednesday retired judge (some might say, former prosecutor who happened to wear a black robe for much of his prosecutorial career) Mike Anderson filed to run against Lykos. Harris County DA Candidate Mike Anderson

Is the timing mere coincidence, was Anderson's filing prompted by the union announcement, or was the union announcement timed to precede the Anderson announcement? My guess is the last: a concerted attack on Pat Lykos.

The Republican filing deadline was originally 2 December (later bumped back to 15 December). I suspect that the plan was for the unions to announce their votes, then for Anderson to announce right before the deadline; when the filing deadline moved back, the plan didn't move back.

A friend, more politically savvy than me, suggests that the extra two weeks to file may be a problem for Anderson. My understanding of the problem is that if another candidate or two joins the race and the anti-Lykos vote is split, Anderson might wind up in a primary runoff against Lykos, in which Lykos supporters will be more likely to vote than Lykos detractors. So Lykos could get less than half the vote in the initial primary, and then more than half the vote in the runoff—recall that Lykos came in second in the 2008 primary, and then came back to beat Kelly Siegler 52.6-47.3.

The other wild card here is the grand jury proceedings relating to the BAT vans. If Lykos is hurt by the investigation, her challenger has a better chance.

I'm not backing either candidate. Aside from the fact that my endorsement couldn't help but hurt my chosen candidate's chances (and I won't lie just to help whoever I think would make a better DA), I have no idea who the best person for the job is. Lykos has done some good, and I'd just as soon not go back to the Rosenthal days, but an Anderson DA's Office could be highly entertaining.

What will be fascinating to watch is if Lykos loses the March primary or an April runoff: without political ramifications to guide her decisions, how will she know what to do?

2012 might be a really rough year for Democrats in Harris County. As in 2008, much will depend on the fight at the top of the national ticket. But at the top of the countywide ticket on the Democratic side, Zack Fertitta is running. In the primary he'll demolish gadfly Lloyd Oliver, and he'll have enough money available to be a serious threat to either Anderson or Lykos in the general.


7 responses to “Last Week in DA Politics”

  1. Since reading your post about the way the grand jury was assembled, I am curious if a federal grand jury could be empaneled to investigate those irregularities if they were to issue any indictments? Also, I have read (mainly on Newman’s blog) that Lykos can be quite retaliatory once someone takes a position against her. Do you predict any retaliation against cops now that they have come out against her?

  2. Mark, Have you tried cases in front of either or both? Just curious.

    I had a very contested hearing on a motion for new trial as well as a punishment hearing in front of Lykos, and I handled a few cases in her court when she was judge. I didn’t like the way she conducted business (and tried to avoid business – including a fight to get my appeal hearing docketed). She ruled against me on the MNT when I think I should have won but she gave a huge break to my client on the punishment case. She was a typical judge at least from my viewpoint and experiences. To my knowledge, she was not ever an ADA (athough she was a cop many years ago.)

    Anderson was an ADA and he was tough but seemingly fair enough – I had a couple of cases against him but no trials. I don’t remember him having a bad reputation. But, as a judge – he was B A D. I tried a case in front of him in which he was definintely prosecution oriented – over the top. He interferred. He ruled unfairly. In a specific instance – during the re, re, re (you get the picture) direct of client, I admittedly lead just to quickly clear up a point or two. He called both sides to the bench (no objection from the state) and advised that he “cannot just sit there & listen to me lead my witness.” I responded that I had not heard an objection from the state. You get the point. [In the end, my client was found not guilty of first degree injury to the elderly after we had offered before trial to consider a deferred on a class A misdemeanor assault – which was rejected by the state. Anderson was not pleased.]

    I am also aware of another case in which a man was charged with sexual assault of a child – the child was about 4 years younger than this man & they ended up married with a family. The defendant got deferred which was later revoked on technical grounds (no law violations) and he was given a very large sentence (I think 40 years – not sure). Daucie handled the case. Just completely outrageous.

    Bottom line is – scary, scary stuff. Seems like he was okay when he was a hired employee but the fact of facing election really had an influence on him (or something did.)

    Do you know why he “retired” when he did?

    • I never got to try a case before Lykos, but I tried one before Anderson. He was fair enough, for a prosecutor. That’s the thing: the qualities we should look for in a judge are not the same qualities we look for in a DA.

  3. My concern was the difference between him as a hired ADA and him as an elected person who is worried about re-election, & they all jump on the “pro-law enforcement” bandwagon – even when they are civil judges having nothing to do with criminal cases.

      • The elected DA should be pro doing the right thing, even if law enforcement has other ideas. I like to think judges and DA’s should be like a great poli sci professor I had who said “If you can tell what my personal feelings are, I’m not doing my job right”.

      • Not feeling well & not making my point clear – sorry. My point is that he seemingly is greatly influenced by the potential impact of his actions (or perceived actions / inactions) on his voters – not a good thing no matter what elected position he is in. That’s my take on the difference in his behavior as ADA (pd employee) and judge (elected). And, the DA is obviously pro-law enforcement but there are many choices that a DA makes – such as Lykos’ decision regarding trace coke cases, DIVERT, etc., that seems to be aimed at doing the right thing. Will Anderson’s concern be about doing the right thing – or appeasing voters? Again, why did he retire when he did?

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