March 16, 2009

commentary from the Houston Chronicle

Rick Casey notes a change from passive to active voice in pronouncements from the District Attorney's office:

There are places and institutions where what District Attorney Pat Lykos did last week would seem normal.

But this is Harris County, Texas. And the institution is the District Attorney’s Office.

So what Lykos did verged on the revolutionary.

She not only admitted mistakes, she used the active voice.

In a report detailing the sorry series of errors that led to the false child rape conviction of Ricardo Rachell and his more than five years in prison, she didn’t conclude by burrowing into the conventional refuge of bureaucrats, the passive voice. As in: “Mistakes were made.”

Instead, she detailed the specifics and named names of prosecutors, defense attorneys and police officers who ignored evidence supporting Rachell’s innocence.

And she apologized to Rachell and the public.

Granted, it’s easier to apologize for mistakes made during your predecessor’s tenure. Another test will come when inevitably, given the size the caseload of the Harris County District Attorney’s office, her own staff makes a mistake.

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