Tuesday, February 24, 2009

'Prosecutors Are So Dreeeeeeamy!'

Houston attorney and renowned blawgger Mark Bennett says the state bar disciplinary counsel thinks "Prosecutors are so Dreeeeeamy." But when the state bar's disciplinary apparatus expresses such views, Scott Greenfield says forebodingly, it implies "that when one side is ascribed righteousness, the other is doomed."

They're referring to a post on the state prosecutors user forum by State Bar Disciplinary Counsel Deputy Laura Popps, who began by declaring, "Some of you know me from my days prosecuting statewide for the AG's Office," then went on to request notification when local defense attorneys are convicted of crimes. That much might not bear mention, but then she concluded:
I still think prosecutors are the best bunch of people around and I am proud to know so many of you! Keep up the great work!
To which Bennett retorts:

This explains why it’s so hard to get a grievance sustained against a prosecutor: even when they lie, cheat, hide evidence, and send unethical letters to people represented by counsel, they’re still the best bunch of people around.

And, really, can anyone expect a prosecutor groupie aggressively to enforce the disciplinary rules against the best bunch of people around?

"Groupie" might be hyperbole, but one wonders whether the state bar sends similar requests to defense counsel extolling their virtues and asking for examples where judges have ruled prosecutors wilfully withheld exculpatory evidence or sent "unethical letters to people represented by counsel"? And if not, why not?

I'll bet the Texas defense bar could come up with plenty of examples where judges have issued findings of misconduct but the prosecutor was never disciplined, if the state bar disciplinary counsel wants to going to go trolling for cases to investigate, whaddya think?

17 comments:

ATX Graffiti said...

What makes this even more disconcerting is the fact that some prosecutors really like to abuse their self-righteous positions of power.

During the 1990s the Chicago Tribune counted hundreds of cases where prosecutors withheld exculpatory evidence, induced people to perjure, or straight-up framed people.

Guard the guards much?

Anonymous said...

Her post DOES NOT say defense attorneys. Merely attorneys, which includes prosecutors.

Anonymous said...

I'll bet anyone here $100.00 (benefits payable to Pat Crow from Grits' last post) that someone files a grievance against that prosecutor this time.

Anonymous said...

Texas's population growth has moved the state into the position of a major national player within the last ten years.

If Texas lawyers want to have any national credibility, they had better start disciplining bad prosecutors with enthusiasm.

Texas has been operating off of the national radar for quite some time, with regard to much of these abuses. Death penalty is our lightning rod issue. The truth is, most people from other states cannot even imagine that we don't have safeguards in place to discourage such prosecutorial misconduct.

If Texas lawyers care about their professional reputation nationally, the Texas Bar should start disbarring prosecutors who violate the code of ethics for prosecutors of the American Bar Association.

Anonymous said...

Popps post was obviously designed to appeal to her audience in a forum for prosecutors, she's asking for information about convictions against attorneys. I'm sure she recognizes that there are bad prosecutors out there, but the TDCAA Forum is not the best place to seek them out is it? Maybe if the defense lawyers allowed outsiders to post on there forums, she would have posted a mirror-image posting there, but since they don't allow anyone but defense lawyers to join their site, she couldn't do that could she?

Anonymous said...

3:53:

I read her request as wanting prosecutors to out defense lawyers specifically, not just people they've prosecuted. I did not at all get a sense that she would give equal time to prosecutors accused of the same thing.

Anonymous said...

power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely

Anonymous said...

And of course, since prosecutors do all the prosecuting of criminals in the state, it would seem logical to post such a notice where...?

On a prosecutors forum, of course.

And anon 3:53: What you said.

Prosecutors don't get to troll around on defense lawyer forums, as they are closed to not only prosecutors but the public.

Prosecutors forums are open to all for public inspection. Lest they be accused of all sorts of evil by the liberal bloggers.

Anonymous said...

Most former prosecutors who now do defense work also "still think prosecutors are the best bunch of people around." and are "proud to know so many of you! Keep up the great work!"

It never ceases to amaze me when some technically ignorant defendant pays a former career prosecutor thousands of dollars upon the premise that he knows the system.

Then the stealth prosecutor turned defense attorney quickly sells the despised criminal down the river. Everybody profits with smug satisfaction. Another baddie off the streets.

Anonymous said...

The prosecution website, TDCAA, chooses to be a public forum. The defense attorney listserve, TCLDA, chooses not to. One important reasons is that defense attorneys represent clients, real people. DAs do not. They represent "the State." They do not have to worry about attorney-client privilege. Defense attorneys use a private forum to bat around ideas to help their clients. If this were public, DAs could easily figure out what case an attorney is seeking help with and use that information to the attorney's/client's detriment. The client could file a grievance against the attorney. That's why the TCDLA listserve is private.

And since when have prosecutors cared if they are accused of "evil" by "liberals?" On the contrary, they seem to relish it - it is their highest honor.

Anonymous said...

I realize that there are ethical lawyers and prosecutors out there. Somewhere.
To me, as someone who has witnessed a miscarriage of justice: It takes two to tango. Both sides can be complicit in their own way. Whether its just the "good ole boy" system or actual misconduct, the loser is usually the individual up against the legal entities. While lawyers and prosecutors vie for the highest prize, what is frequently left out is that people's lives can be changed forever and not always for the better. With every story, post, and comment I see on many sights, the bottom line is: The legal/justice system is anything but legal or just and things need to change.

Jackie Buffalo said...

"Texas has been operating off of the national radar for quite some time, with regard to much of these abuses. Death penalty is our lightning rod issue. The truth is, most people from other states cannot even imagine that we don't have safeguards in place to discourage such prosecutorial misconduct."

For emphasis, ditto !
My families are from Maine and North Carolina; likewise I have spent quite a bit of time in those states. Once I was introduced to the way that the police and prosecutors behave here, my conscience was literally shocked. After just a little bit of research I found that this has been standard operating procedure, most likely, forever. Then I had to ask myself, how has this been able to continue here in the United States?!
Maybe the geographical isolation acted as a type of buffer, along with the political makeup of the state?
That day has come to an end.
I believe the internet is helping to close in on the buffer space these corrupt cops and prosecutors have been enjoying.

Of course, leading the nation in overturned convictions on DNA evidence is another lightning rod.
I believe that it's very evident that the day has closed on the prosecutors who play dirty little games with other people's lives while they focus on advancing their careers and patting themselves on the back.

Jackie Buffalo said...

Oops!
I almost forgot what happened to Mike Nifong, in my home state of North Carolina !
Maybe I was naive before I moved to Texas and prosecutors setting up people just to advance their careers was the way it was done everywhere.
At least I can say that my home state of North Carolina stepped in and did the right thing by disbarring the corrupt DA.

Anonymous said...

No one relishes being called evil.

Hilary Sheard said...

A modest proposal: I'm a defense lawyer. I read a lot of cases.

Since I do habeas corpus work, I read a lot of cases involving ineffective assistance of counsel ("defense lawyer screwed up") cases and a lot of Brady ("prosecutor hid the good stuff")cases. It is extremely rare to see the lawyers who are found to have been ineffective, or to have committed prosecutorial misconduct, named in those court opinions. That means that the lawyers go unidentified, and the public has no way of identifying them without plowing through the actual court files. So why not name them? Good, hardworking and ethical lawyers will not have a problem with the prospect of their names being published if they are found to have failed in some way - it would in fact create a great incentive to keep one's nose clean, and to work hard and work ethically. And any privacy interest that the lawyer might invoke should surely give way to the public's right to know what goes on in the courts and particularly what prosecutors, who are paid public servants, get up to.

I normally sign my comments anonymously, but in the spirit of this suggestion, I'll go public this time.

Anonymous said...

I guess it makes absolutely no sense for this lady to be posting a request to be informed about lawyers who have been convicted on a prosecutor's web site. If you need to buy a car, you go to a car dealership. If you need to find out when a lawyer is convicted, you go to the website where prosecutors hang out. What is wrong about that? Attorneys belong to a profession that polices itself, much like doctors. There is a disciplinary board that makes decisions about whether an attorney has done something to merit losing his or her license. Anyone can file a complaint against an attorney through the State Bar of Texas. Once a complaint is filed, the process begins. If you think an attorney has violated the law or the cannon of ethics, you, too, can file a complaint. Any attorney, including criminal defense and prosecutors, can be brought before the board to defend his or her bar card. No conspiracy about it.

Anonymous said...

Another reason the defense counsel have a closed web page is because private attorneys must pay dues to join and support the organization. The Prosecutor's dues are usually paid by our tax dollars. It is only fitting that such a benefit be public if it is paid mainly by our tax dollars and the private organization must provide value for dues or membership.