Judging from the email and death stares I’ve gotten from my first post about Harris County District Attorney Mike Anderson’s initial attempt at training his staff, I’m not too popular in some Republican circles. Such is the life of blogging. And although I freely admit that I’m biased, my bias isn’t the reason that I’m putting this information out there. Not every Republican thinks that the criminal justice system needs to be a lock ’em up and throw away the key system, one in which prosecutors hide evidence from the defense or take shortcuts or abuse power to get convictions. Many of us think that there are times when you do lock ’em up and throw away the key but we also insist on transparency from those that try to lock ’em up and throw away the key.
I’ve actually taken the time to watch and listen to the entire training, several times in fact, pondered it over and over, and still come to the conclusion that the “training” was little more than reinforcement of Anderson’s us against them mentality. In this case, us is the valiant warriors of the district attorney’s office. Them is everyone and anyone that isn’t a part of that group: criminals, to be sure, but also taxpayers, voters, and bizarrely, the Texas Legislature. I think that if we allow that mentality to stand without challenge, we risk a return to the wild west days of hang ’em high “justice”, filling our jails and prisons with innocent people.
In that first post, I urged (begged) people to watch the training and form their own opinion. Based upon some of the quick response and outrageous claims (I love crime and want to coddle criminals?), it is apparent that most people didn’t do that. Hey, I get it – many of you are busy and maybe reluctant to invest a full two hours of your life in to this. So I’ll make it easier for you to get a flavor. Here are short excerpts from the training but lest I be accused of taking things out of context, remember, the entire, uncut video is posted here and you can watch it for yourself. Not all of the cuts below are necessarily “bad” – if some of them bother you, you need to watch the video for yourself.
Here’s Mike Anderson alleging that the Innocence Project thinks prosecutors are pond scum:
01. Mike Anderson says Innocence Project thinks prosecutors are pond scum
Anderson introducing Johnny Holmes:
02. Mike Anderson tribute and intro to Johnny Holmes
Holmes talking about the difference between prosecutors and defense attorneys:
03. Johnny Holmes on difference between prosecution and defense
Holmes insulting former DA’s Chuck Rosenthal and Pat Lykos:
04. Johnny Holmes insults Rosenthal and Lykos while annointing Anderson
The trainer, Rob Kepple of the Texas District and County Attorneys Association attacks Tea Party legislators:
05. Rob Kepple attacks Tea Party legislators
Kepple wishing reform would go away:
06. Rob Kepple bemoans Left and Right common ground on justice reform
Kepple claiming that business and conservatives are in cahoots with the ACLU:
07. Rob Kepple faults TAB and fiscal conservatives for working with ACLU
Kepple lamenting about how much cheaper it is to put people on probation:
08. Rob Kepple faults Punishment Standards Commission for wanting to save money
Kepple mocking the idea that cost should be a factor in the reform debate:
09. Rob Kepple mocks legislators for factoring taxpayers burden into justice reform debate
Kepple continues his theme that reform is only about cost:
10. Rob Kepple traces TAB backing prison reform with desire for tax cut
Kepple says that all DNA has been tested, so now prosecutors will be targeted:
11. Rob Kepple claims likely DNA exonorations have been done so Innocence Project now targeting prosecutors
Kepple on the Innocence Project:
12. Rob Kepple brags about slamming Innocence Project he thinks was acting like a bully
Kepple on Michael Morton (if you aren’t aware of this case, click here.)
13. Rob Kepple claims Michael Morton is wary of being exploited by Innocence Project
Kepple mocks the Dean of the Senate, John Whitmire:
14. Rob Kepple imitates Sen. Whitmire and stands up for DA Bradley vs. Morton
First of three mentions by Kepple of Pedro Oregon (click here to read about Oregon, shot and killed by officers for no reason):
15. Rob Kepple early in presentation – describes recklessness of HPD shooting of Pedro Oregon
Second of three mentions by Kepple of Pedro Oregon.
16. Rob Kepple end of presentation – defends grand jury inaction on Pedro Oregon shooting and Holmes’ callous comment
Third of three mentions by Kepple of Pedro Oregon:
17. Rob Kepple claims it was public trust in Holmes’ integrity that led public to accept lack of charges against HPD officers who shot Pedro Oregon
To those that say my filing the TXPIA and putting this information out there is nothing more than sour grapes because DA Lykos lost the primary, I will remind you that I supported Mike Anderson’s campaign after that. He was the best choice in the general election and I encouraged people to vote for him. This isn’t sour grapes, this is shining a light on the affairs of the office in order to keep the office from destructive behavior. Innocent people should not be in prison just because a prosecutor’s ego demands it. I hope that Anderson eventually realizes that the Innocence Project is not his enemy – I don’t think that Mike Anderson wants innocent people in prison any more than they do. I think that the tone of Anderson’s first training session was the wrong tone, sets up the office for failure, and hope that, in the future, he brings in trainers that do not have the same type of persecution complex that Rob Kepple displayed.
I just want to say thanks for exposing the mentality of who we elected. Andersons true colors are coming out now that the election is over. Keep up the good work!
Tom Kirkendall says
David, your criticism is spot-on. The negative reactions that you are enduring come mainly from those who are in what I call the “criminal-industrial complex” — that is, from those who have a vested interest in maintaining the status quo “lock the maximum number up-and throw away the key” mentality of the criminal justice system.
Unfortunately, given the huge growth of the criminal-industrial complex over the past couple of decades, those with vested interests in maintaining it have become a powerful political force.
Mike Anderson has the depth of character to change this mentality, but it is going to take folks such as you pointing out the futility of the current approach to bring about much-needed reform. Keep up the good work.
Martha L says
Thanks Mr Jennings for educating us. He wont get my vote next time.
Sally Belladonna Baggins Stricklett says
The best way to stop " bumker mentality" is to put daylight on it! Good job.
Thomas R. Griffith says
Mr. Jennings, thanks for taking time to assist the readers at large by breaking it down and for sharing this very helpful info. not covered by local media outlets.
Regarding the ol saying about 6 degrees of seperation –
I have just learned that the ADA of Record – Mr. Casey J. O’Brien whom is listed in the certified case files regarding my documented & blatant Texas Railroading was in ‘specilized crimes’ with Mr. Anderson “back in the good ol days”. With that tid bit, there’s no way that the Conviction Integrity Unit will consider my claim of wrongful convcition. Sadly, I assumed that by Mrs. Lykos creating it, I’d finally clear my name when she said that they would examine all claims. I’ll probably get over it one day, until then, I’ll continue to fill out job applications marking YES, I was Wrongfully Convicted and can prove it .
*Speaking of the C. I. U. , was it dimantled or is it still up and running? Thanks.