Sunday, December 28, 2008

Holiday Roundup: DA Edition

Here are several stories that deserve Grits readers attention heading into the new year, several of which involve big-city DAs:

Deserved kudos
The Dallas Morning News named Dallas County District Attorney Craig Watkins its "Texan of the Year," calling him a "transformational figure who has made a name not by securing convictions, but by clearing the way for them to be overturned."

Travis DA: Meet the new boss, same as the old boss
Let me direct readers to this Statesman profile of outgoing Travis County DA Ronnie Earle, who's been the District Attorney in this town since I was in elementary school. Enjoy the retirement, Ronnie, and if you're reading this, consider it an open invitation to you or Twila to guest blog on restorative justice topics (at least, once you're no longer The Man). And good luck to incoming DA and Earle's longtime First Assistant, Rosemary Lehmberg, who will take office when he departs. She's been running the day-to-day lawyering in Earle's office for many years, now, so it should be a smooth transition.

You're fired, again
Speaking of DAs, incoming Harris County DA Pat Lykos could have been little classier about ousting already-fired ADA Murray Newman - he of Life at the Harris County Criminal Justice Center notoriety - for writing a (mean-spirited) Christmas spoof of his new boss on his way out the door. Don't feel too bad for him, though - Murray was asking for it and maybe the experience will help him get into an oppositional mindset toward the DA's office now that he'll be facing them in court. On the plus side, Murray can now stay home on New Year's Day and watch football like a normal person. Since he'll soon be launching a new career as a defense lawyer, I'd suggest eating black eyed peas and ham for luck while the bowl games are on.

Departed Hero
Louie White, Austin's first black police captain and an avid police accountability activist after his retirement, died on Saturday at age 76 after spending the last several years struggling with poor health. He was a good man and I'll miss him.

Ugly Dallas jail death investigated
Despite enough recent improvements to earn the Sheriff's re-election, the Dallas County Jail is still bad for your health.

Column: Don't shortchange probation
The probation chief in El Paso, Stephen Enders, has an effective column in the (El Paso) Times arguing to increase statewide funding for adult probation by $71 million "just to cover the expected basic needs of community supervision in the near future." According to him, "The biggest challenge for the probation system, and not only in El Paso but throughout the state, is the need for more highly qualified supervision officers, as well as more treatment beds, drug education programs, counselors and an expanded Learning Center to help prepare offenders to take their GED."

For which he earned the distinguished Prison Librarian merit badge
The Amarillo Globe News has the story of a high school junior and Eagle Scout who spearheaded a local book drive for TDCJ's Clemens unit, gathering 2,900 books to donate with the help of area churches.

More Texan clout in Congress?
Though the GOP's Senate loss leaves Texans without many congressional leadership spots in Washington these days, it looks like Texas will gain three or four new House seats in the next Congressional reapportionment which will certainly boost the state's long-term clout. BTW, I am decidedly NOT looking forward to Texas' decennial redistricting fight in 2011.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Good job Enders. Near 75 for a case-load.....Bexar sits near 140. Probation done right does work. Now lets see how long it takes the rest of the state to get good officers in to do the job right.