Murray Newman laments what he expects to be the loss of prosecutorial discretion in the Harris County District Attorney’s Office under the Lykos / Leitner regime.
Murray misses the old days. Ah, those glorious Rosenthal / Siegler days, when prosecutors had discretion — discretion enough to run amok… when 29-year-old misdemeanor chiefs with no life experience were the ones providing critical ethical training to 25-year-old misdemeanor threes.
As a result of all that discretion, and absent meaningful adult supervision from the top down, a culture of arrogance prevailed in the Harris County District Attorney’s Office. Many young prosecutors (most of whom are still employed there) proved themselves in need of a more structured work environment. That’s what you get when you give 27-year-old children who’ve never had their butts kicked by the world the power to decide who deserves what: a culture of arrogance.
The ethos of The Office is set by its leaders. The Harris County DA’s Office has, for the last eight years, had the personality of Chuck Rosenthal — juvenile (e.g. fireworks in the stairwell?) with less than good judgment (e.g. improper emails on a public computer) and an attitude of being above the law (e.g. deleting those emails).
To the prosecutors who have been whingeing for the last twelve months about all the harm Chuck Rosenthal has done to the DA’s Office: stop.
You benefited from working under Chuck Rosenthal, cashing the
paychecks, accepting his assignments and promotions, even supporting his reelection campaign in 2004, and you never
said the first word about all that harm. As a party to whatever
Chuck Rosenthal “did to the office”; you’ve got no moral authority to
complain. Now you’ve got the more structured work environment that it appears you needed? GPTW.
Now we’re in backlash mode. Will your work environment be inappropriately structured? Will the new regime’s reaction to the culture of arrogance be overreaction, an attempt to break the will of you, the working lawyers of the DA’s Office?
You, ladies and gentlemen of the Harris County District Attorney’s Office, will decide that tomorrow. You’ll determine what the ethos of the office for the next four years will be. If you don’t exercise your discretion tomorrow and stand up for yourself (Murray doubts that you will, but I am ever hopeful), then you’ll be giving up whatever discretion Pat Lykos would care to take. If you’re there for her swearing-in tomorrow you’ll be a party
to the Lykos administration just like you were a party to the last one.
If you give her the power to order you into her presence for a meaningless ceremony on a county holiday, lament the circumstances that prevent you from behaving as a highly-trained adult professional should behave, but don’t come crying to me about your loss of discretion. It may not be what you want or deserve, but you’ll be getting exactly what you’ve asked for.