The Right Way and the Wrong Way

 Posted on April 30, 2009 in Uncategorized

When the streets are flooding and the rain is coming down (as happened last Tuesday) and there are people who feel a obligation to you to travel in to downtown from their homes, there's a right way to handle the situation and a wrong way.

The right way:

Some parts of town are underwater. It is still raining downtown. Make sure that you check with all the news sources in your area before you and your family attempt to drive in to downtown. Your safety is more important than getting to work on time.

The wrong way: don't tell anyone you're not going about business as usual. Let them brave the flooding and fight their way in to downtown.

The right way was the approach that Pat Lykos's DA's Office took on Tuesday in an email from second-in-command Jim Leitner to the troops.

The wrong way was the approach that the Harris County Courts took on Tuesday with regard to the public, including defendants, witnesses, jurors, and lawyers. To their (minimal) credit, none of the judges seem to have revoked anyone's bond for appearing in court late or not at all. But many people went to great trouble and some danger to come to court, and some of the judges didn't deign to appear at all.

The respectful way to handle this situation would have been to inform the public that the courthouse was open for business, but that their safety was more important than getting to court on time.

Judge Reagan Helm of County Criminal Court At Law Number One forced one lawyer to come in to court in the morning, despite the facts that a) the lawyer had his two young children with him; b) the children's school didn't open till noon; and c) the lawyer lived in a neighborhood that gets almost cut off every time there is even minor flooding. The lawyer made it in to the courthouse after dropping his kids off with their mom, but not without some unnecessary danger.

Tuesday's rudeness toward the public was extraordinary for some judges, and about par for the course for others who, among other things, require defendants to be at court at 8:30 in the morning but don't open the courtroom doors until nine or later.

Ex-Judge Hanger, who now holds herself out as a "defense lawyer", used to dress down defendants:

If an individual chose to simply answer "yes" to a question she asked, her mantra was as follows:"It's either Yes m'am, Yes your honor, or Yes judge. Now which one is it?!"

(She was one of the worst for treating defendants with disrespect. Is that how she'll treat her paying clients?)

All of Harris County's judges need to take a long, hard look at whether they are treating everyone before them with dignity and respect. I'm not the only one who notices, and some day the people of Harris County are liable to wake up and suddenly care.

Share this post:
Back to Top