Meet Pat Lykos

 Posted on January 30, 2008 in Uncategorized

I'm not the biggest fan (y'all might have detected this) of the idea of Kelly Siegler as Harris County D.A. It's time for a change at the DA's office, and unless Kelly starts telling us how she would institute real change at the Office, I'll be dubious about whether she will bring real change.

But they tell me that change is not always good; they say that things could always get worse.

If the prosecutorial and defense bars were to get together and choose the next DA by consensus, it would be Jim Leitner. If they were to get together and eliminate a candidate by consensus, I suspect that it would be Pat Lykos. I never got to practice before Judge Lykos, but I've heard some of the stories.

So, it turns out, has the New York Times. Twelve years ago the Times printed an account of then-Judge Lykos refusing to let a witness testify while wearing his yarmulke. AHCL makes a big deal about this today, challenging Chronicle reporter Alan Bernstein to write something about this incident, as he wrote about Kelly's use of the verb "to jew down" in a trial 20 years ago.

Lykos claimed that she required the witness to remove his yarmulke because of "a Supreme Court decision that no lawyer or expert witness could have that additional authority of religion"; Mensan (why is Kelly's Mensa membership mentioned in every story about her?) Kelly Siegler claimed that "It never even dawned on me [that ‘to jew down' is antisemitic]. I probably would have even spelled it ‘j-u-e,' that's how stupid I was."

When Kelly realized that she had offended a juror, she went to that juror's house and apologized in person; Judge Lykos apparently never apologized, but the witness who was ordered to remove his yarmulke to testify filed a complaint against her and "said he sought nothing more than a clarification of this issue, and he noted in his complaint that Judge Lykos appeared to be "a nice person" and that he did not think she was anti-Semitic".

Best-case scenarios:

Kelly, ignorant of the offensive meaning of "to jew down", uses it. She learns that she offended a juror, and goes out of her way to apologize to the person she offended.

Lykos, ignorant of the scope of a Supreme Court opinion, orders a witness to remove his yarmulke. She learns that she offended the witness, and doesn't apologize.

Worse-case scenarios:

Kelly uses "to jew down", meaning (for some inscrutable reason - this is the worst-case scenario) to offend. She then goes out of her way to apologize the person she offended.

Lykos orders the witness to remove his yarmulke because she just doesn't like Jews (again, worst-case). She then claims that she vas chust following orders.

With apologies to my readers who come here for the Kelly-bashing, I think Ms. Siegler has the better of this little argument whether you are a prosecutor (and assume the worst of everyone) or a defender (and assume the best).

A good apology makes all the difference in the world. I'd much rather put my confidence in someone who apologizes when she screws up than in someone who, shrublike, denies ever screwing up.

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