From my source in the Harris County DA’s Office, Mr. X:
From: “Jordan, John” <JORDAN_JOHN@dao.hctx.net>
Date: February 15, 2011 11:19:24 AM CST
To: “Misdemeanor Division” <MisdemeanorDivision@dao.hctx.net>
Cc: “Bridgwater, Roger” <BRIDGWATER_ROGER@dao.hctx.net>, “Evans, Catherine” <EVANS_CATHERINE@dao.hctx.net>
Subject: Trial Competitions
We are now six weeks into the new year and I wanted to announce some Trial Competitions.
Vehicular Crimes Section Award
The first ADA to try 10 DWI jury trials in 2011 will win this award. The prize….you will get to sit second chair on an Intoxication Manslaughter or Felony Murder case with a prosecutor in the Vehicular Crimes Section. You will be involved in trial preparation, take witnesses, and participate in the trial.
Trial Dawg Award
The first ADA to try 12 jury trials in 2011 will win this award. The prize… you will get to sit second chair on a murder case with a felony chief level prosecutor from either the Trial Bureau or one of the specialized divisions, such as Major Offenders. The trial record does not matter, except you have to be above 50 %.
Trial Court Award
If a court tries and completes THREE jury trials in a single week, the prosecutors in that court can comp. out by lunch time the following Friday. It is encouraged that the members of the court do something together….lunch, movie, bowling. Who will cover their court in their absence…keep reading. The court (that has a 2 and a 3) that does not try any cases the same week the winning court(s) tries three cases, will have to cover the duties for the winning court. If all courts , that have a 2 and a 3, try cases it will be up to Justin, Rachel, and I to cover. We have excluded five courts from this competition for equity purposes.
The purpose of these competitions is to reward folks who go to trial and achieve justice. In addition, hopefully it will be fun for all. Those who have already tried multiple cases already this year have a head start on others. Let the friendly competition begin….
And it goes without saying, what we do is always about justice. Hopefully this will allow us to have some fun while we strive to achieve it…..
I love that right at the end John stuck in that nod toward justice, which “goes without saying.” It’s almost like he knew I’d be giving him hell for turning what should be very serious matter of freedom, future, and reputation into a fratboy game for 25-year-olds to play to get Friday afternoons off. (At least he didn’t specify that the tried cases should be whales, though the winner of the Trial Dawg Award does have to win at least six of her twelve cases, which may amount to incentive to try more whales.)
Morale in the DA’s Office must be in the basement for the Office’s management (the word “leadership” no longer makes sense in this context) to have to resort to summer-camp contests to get its prosecutors to try cases. Trying cases is work, but it is enjoyable, educational, and otherwise rewarding work. It is why many criminal lawyers on both sides of the bar went to law school, and—I suspect—why many prosecutors joined the DA’s Office in the first place.