Bexarly legal

It seems for the first time in Bexar County District Attorney Susan Reed’s 12-year tenure as the County’s chief prosecutor, she has found herself an opponent. And it’s one that especially aggravates her already overly molested sense of indignation (or is that just a slowing digestion?). Nico LaHood, son of a prominent local judge, is young and charismatic. He’s tied up high-profile endorsements from the San Antonio Spurs roster as well as Bexar County Sheriff Amadeo Ortiz. And he happens to be a former drug offender. It all likely gets under Reed’s skin, but it’s that last bit of LaHood bio that drew out what may go down as Reed’s most memorable “soundbite” from the campaign. Speaking of LaHood’s transformation post 1994 drug arrest, Reed told Express-News writer (and former Current staffer) Gilbert Garcia, “Then he says he’s been reformed, and yadda, yadda, yadda.” LaHood characterizes the comment as betraying Reed’s lack of empathy or even an inability to accept that non-violent drug offenders can be reformed. Reed makes no deals with drug peddlers; every case is prosecuted no matter how non-violent they may be, her second told the Current over the summer. Which may have something to do with why Sheriff Amadeo Ortiz decided to back LaHood, an up-and-coming attorney who has been working overtime these last 15 years to repair the damage his early drug involvement has caused himself and his family (See “Nico on Defense,” July 21, 2010). Of course, Reed’s time in office hasn’t been unblemished, either. And, ultimately, it may be her record that becomes the stumbling block for voters on November 2.

Whether she was threatening to arrest and prosecute non-profit employees working to implement a Texas Legislature-approved needle-exchange program that advocates say would have saved lives in San Antonio, or picking up unregistered (illegal) airline tickets for a cheap vacation, or intervening when her son’s friend tried to carry a firearm through San Antonio International Airport, the rules of the game seem to have melted around the veteran prosecutor these past years. But probably the most interesting thing about Reed is her incredibly cautious nature when it comes to anything that doesn’t conclude with a locking cell door. It’s a point LaHood zeroes in on.

“Drug and veteran’s courts are models currently met with great resistance. The DA says her prosecutors are ‘not social workers.’ To this I say, ‘Shame on you.’ The DA’s office should be doing its part to lower the recidivism rate,” LaHood told the Current this week. “The current DA also does not support pre-trial diversion which gives the court the option in low-level, first-time offenses to place offenders under community supervision with the opportunity to eventually have a case dismissed so that a minor offense does not follow someone for life. This also helps to lower the jail population by moving cases along quicker. There are cases on docket up to five years old. And the longer a case is on the docket, the weaker (and more likely to be dismissed) it becomes.” 

Reed told the Current she was too busy campaigning to participate in an interview. We judiciously studied her willful absence and opted to give LaHood the last word. Here goes:

“House Bill 2391 gives law enforcement officers the option to give citations to people for low-level, Class B offenses instead of taking them immediately to jail. According to a study by the `Bexar County` Commissioners’ Court, one week of this would pay $10,000 a day. Susan Reed simply needs to write the legal language for the citations but she refuses because she’s taking a stance on being tough on crime. If I didn’t know I couldn’t do a better job, I wouldn’t be running.”


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