By Eric J. Davis
When can an elected official quietly go to Hawaii on the tax payer's dime (only to have most of the county find out about it), face getting indicted by a Harris County grand jury, and be called to testify during a DWI trial to repeat unflattering statements made against one of her most powerful supporters all in the same week?..... Only when you feel so comfortable in your office that time spent there feels like time spent drinking tea in your living room.
This week, Harris County District Attorney Pat Lykos has come under fire for issues surrounding mobile breath alcohol testing vans (BAT Vans). Certainly the District Attorney's own suspicious activities have set the District Attorney's Office ablaze with concern and worry. And it is proof that politicians who are too comfortable in their positions in office are usually reckless and lazy in their positions on policy. And I am proud to say that SUSTAINED!'s own Jackie Carpenter, while fighting for her client who is charged in the DWI trial, has added fuel to the fire.
Apparently, a whistle blower who had a hand in maintaining breath testing equipment and who was working for the Houston Police Department (HPD); reported that the results from BAT Vans were unreliable and sometimes false. She ended up leaving her employment with HPD and working for a vender of Harris County. After this came to light and she made more statements publicly, the County terminated that company's contract. Witnesses testified before a grand jury on the issue and Assistant District Attorneys were expelled from the room by the grand jury. While it began to look more and more like the DAs office might be a target of a grand jury probe; Pat Lykos went on television and made statements about BAT Van testing, indicating that she did not trust HPD's handling of the situation. (Click on her photo to see the video).
|Harris County District Attorney Pat Lykos gave an interview |
wherein she questioned the reliability of BAT Van results.
Enter Attorney Jackie Carpenter.... Her client is charged with a DWI with a breath test from a BAT Van. Carpenter argued "How could the DA sanction a prosecution in a case where she has publicly opined that the evidence is unreliable...." Carpenter issued a subpoena for Pat Lykos to offer this testimony to the jury and the Judge has ordered her to appear. Of course, had Lykos been in town, this may not have been much of an issue. But her assistants had to explain to the Judge that she was unavailable because she was at a seminar in Hawaii. The Judge said she had to appear or a video/audio of her statements would be admitted.
After nearly three years with Lykos at the helm, the District Attorney's Office is taking on water. When Lykos first took office, she had many bold ideas that were applauded by everyone. She was not afraid to start new, progressive policies that changed things that needed to be changed. For example, her leadership in changing law enforcement's policy and practice regarding crack pipe residue cases was brave. And her creation of the DIVERT program which allowed some well screened defendants in DWI cases to avoid convictions on their records, showed political skill in dealing with aggressive pro-law enforcement organizations like Mothers Against Drunk Drivers (MADD) and forged the creation of a lasting program. But recently, Lykos has not been hitting them out of the park in the policy arena. It seems like she hasn't even been swinging. This is crunch time.... It is time for her to put down that cup of tea (or that Mai Tai in Hawaii) and step back up to the policy plate and start swinging for the fence.