Vying to be Harris County's top prosecutor

October 23, 2008 5:36:54 PM PDT
It's a race everyone will be watching. Who will be the next Harris County district attorney? It's an office tainted by scandal. Earlier this year, 13 Undercover exposed racist and pornographic emails on former DA Chuck Rosenthal's office computer. Rosenthal later resigned. The two candidates hoping to take his place held a debate in our studios Thursday.

Both Democrat C.O. Bradford, a former police chief, and Republican Pat Lykos,a former judge, want voters to know that restoring public trust in the office of the county's top prosecutor is their number one priority. And both say they are interested in dispensing justice in a fair manner. But in speaking with both of them, I asked them how either of them could take the reins of the office, given that neither of them has ever tried a criminal case.

"My opponent has not prosecuted a criminal case. I have not prosecuted a criminal case," said Bradford. "We both have worked as civil lawyers. The DAs job is a position of leadership, leading the organization forward. How do you utilize resources? How do you set policy? I've led a 5,000 force of police officers, a $500 million budget, implemented many public safety strategies that have in fact been successful. I think we should move forward and acknowledge that it is a leadership position. It is a position that requires one to demonstrate that they can lead."

"I am a lawyer who tried cases in federal court, in state court, in local courts and also practiced some appellate law," countered Lykos. "So I've tried cases before judges. I've tried cases before juries. I've defended criminal cases. In order to run a law firm the size of the district attorney's office, you must have trial experience. You must know all of the issues, all of the factors that are involved in the criminal justice system. As a judge, I dealt with them."

Both candidates also say their respective career paths taught them lessons about leading and team building. Both say they are ready to lead on day one.

The office is currently under the direction of interim DA Ken Magidson, who took over when former DA Chuck Rosenthal resigned.

The controversy at the DA's office began with the Ibarra civil rights case. The brothers sued after being arrested in 2002 for videotaping a drug raid at a neighbor's house. They won their suit, however during the trial, Rosenthal's emails were subpoenaed, revealing some sexual and racist content. Rosenthal resigned in February.

You can watch the debate between district attorney candidates Pat Lykos and C.O. Bradford on Channel 13. It will air Sunday at 11am.

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