First, she's already consolidating her own leadership team, starting with a new first assistant, Jim Leitner, and also bringing onboard former Judge Roger Bridgwater. Murray Newman, who until yesterday blogged pseudonymously at Life at the Harris County Criminal Justice Center, was one of several prosecutors and investigators informed by the incoming administration that his services would no longer be required.
Murray campaigned vigorously for Lykos' main GOP primary opponent Kelly Siegler - a product of defrocked former DA Chuck Rosenthal's leadership team - and it was probably those harsh criticisms that earned his dismissal. I know from experience it's no fun to lose a job you enjoy in a political purge, but c'est la vie. Keep your chin up, Murray - the roses still smell as sweet from the other side of the bar. ;)
Meanwhile, Houston Chron columnist Rick Casey has an article on the new Lykos administration and recent idea exchanges with Dallas County DA Craig Watkins, a Democrat, who is wisely copying Harris County's "direct filing" intake system (see related Grits coverage) where prosecutors are on-call 24-7 to process cases:
As Harris County has done for decades, Watkins will make "intake" prosecutors available around the clock, seven days a week, to help police officers decide whether to jail suspects and how to charge them, and assist with paperwork.For her part of their mutual love-fest:
One result: Not exacerbating jail crowding with suspects whose cases are likely to be dismissed. Another: Cutting down on errors that can hamper prosecution.
"Harris County has it and they love it," Dallas First Assistant DA Terri Moore told the Dallas Morning News. "They think it's good and efficient."
DA-elect Pat Lykos is not above doing some things Watkins has pioneered. That shouldn't be surprising. Even though she, unlike Democrat Watkins, is a Republican replacing a Republican, like Watkins she ran on promises to reform an office that had become controversial for a win-at-any-cost mentality sometimes tinged with racism.These proposals in both counties sound positive. In Dallas, Watkins took heat when he first came onboard for firing top loyalists from the past administration, so arguably terminations of political opponents by Lykos are also following in Watkins' mold. With apologies and regrets to Murray and others who lost their jobs, I can't say I'm sorry to see the winds of change blowing at the Harris County DA's office.
Lykos said Tuesday she planned to put one of her prosecutors in charge of aggressively examining any post-appeal claims of innocence based on newly developed evidence.
She also said she, like Watkins, will have no tolerance for prosecutors who intentionally hide from defense lawyers evidence that might harm the prosecution's case.
Watkins told the Morning News last May that prosecutors who do this should face disbarment and if the harm was great, "it should be criminalized."
"The intentional concealment of exculpatory evidence is a very serious matter," she said. "It is a clear breach of ethics. Under certain circumstances it should be criminal."
That would probably require an act of the Legislature.