Magidson now, then and forward

HOUSTON Asked whether citizens would be in good hands, he said, "We'll see…That's going to be up to my successor." But he is confident that he will be passing on a strong operation to either former judge /*Pat Lykos*/ or former Houston police chief /*C.O. Bradford*/, who is trailing in the race by about 5,000 votes.

Steering clear of politics for now -- especially given, he said, officials still must review and tally a few thousand votes in the DA's tight race over the coming few days - Magidson wouldn't discuss specifics on whom he supported in the race. But the former federal prosecutor, who accepted a temporary gubernatorial appointment in March after then-sitting DA /*Chuck Rosenthal*/ stepped down amid scandal, did say he leaves behind an office and prosecutors postured to administer fair justice. And he urged the coming leader to be mindful, before making any staff changes, that he has spent the last few months bringing a stronger "sense of purpose" among staff at the office.

"You can't just be a caretaker. You have to be somebody who steps ahead of the curve," said Magidson, who served as an assistant U.S. Attorney for nearly 26 years before becoming DA.

Among the improvements Magidson will pass on to the new DA: a new vehicular crime unit that dedicates more staff to investigating and prosecuting mostly drunk-driver related cases.

He said when he arrived at the office, staff turned to him for leadership. They wanted to know, "I had their back." Some prosecutors, he said, lacked a sense of purpose and they "wanted to know, "who's in charge?" He also focused on reviewing the organizational chart, examining how the various units, including the team of investigators, operated, and goal-setting.

"I hit the ground running," Magidson said.

While in office, Magidson has made use of millions of dollars in a DA forfeiture fund, criminal activity monies. When he arrived at the office, the account balance was some $26 million. He has doled out nearly $8 million to area law enforcements agencies, to improve officer safety and evidence processing, and to the court system, which will be equipped with new audio and video equipment for more efficient operation.

Magidson plans to head back to the U.S. Attorney's office but leaves the door open for public office, such as serving on the bench or perhaps even running for DA in Harris County in the next election.

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