Wednesday, May 19, 2010


Bert Graham was not a rock star trial attorney; nor did he pretend to be one......but he sure as heck facilitated others to maximize their courtroom prowess. That is what an administrative leader does and Bert did that like a rock star.
Bert did not seek accolades or center stage for himself. He preferred to work behind the scenes to assure the most efficacious work environment possible for the ADA front line warriors and their support staff.
The Johnny Holmes era DA's office was a well oiled machine that Bert quietly maintained and managed. The transition to Rosenthal was essentially seamless for Bert; albeit often under difficult circumstances in the latter years with the plethora of issues Chuck brought to the table....pre and post meltdown.

Semper Fi was not a mere cliche for Bert.

Bert ALWAYS wanted to do what was RIGHT for the office BECAUSE it was in the best interest of the office.......self interest invariably took a back seat with Bert Graham.
The last forty or so years of Bert's life were dedicated to making sure that the Harris County District Attorney's Office was the best DA's office in the country.

Bert was a diplomat as well as a brilliant budget director/manager.
He protected and honored the office and those under his charge.
Bert was the antithesis of arrogance.....he socialized with the troops regularly; always in a sincere and dignified fashion, never sacrificing their respect or admiration.
Bert led by example....he appreciated the intrinsic weakness and corruption of cronyism. His leadership was always objective as he carried out his duties without a hint of playing favorites.
Bert's sense of duty was so great that he not only covered Rosenthal's failings with grace and humility; but also selflessly preserved the budgetary integrity and day to day operational side of the office during the initial transition phase after Rosenthal's selfish implosion.......thereby allowing a mere figure head and glorified baby sitter, Ken Magidson, to shine as interim DA. Bert never sought nor received recognition for his unyielding dedication during this phase of his career.
Astonishingly, Bert also offered his service and experience to the Lykos administration for their transition.
Notwithstanding, Lykos discounted Bert's expertise and he was tossed out.
DA Lykos misplayed her hand on a great asset and as a consequence of this grave miscalculation has not fared as well as Magidson.

Bert knew the budget. He made sure money was available for pay raises when somebody was promoted. He didn't spend money with out knowing how it would affect the overall budget in the long term. Bert kept very close ties to Dick Raycraft and spent only what he knew he had. 
Given the monetary shortfalls facing Harris County and much of the country today, Bert Graham is an even greater asset than ever before.

Bert may have gotten hung up on the details at times; but he got things done without making enemies.
It might be quirky of Bert to always have an apple for lunch and to eat at the same time and place every day. But that was Bert-- a man of routine.
Bert's discipline and routines were invaluable in the fiscal and administrative stability of the DA's office.

Every major law firm has a managing partner; an administrator of the day to day affairs so to speak.  Bert was the quintessential managing partner for the Harris County District Attorney's Office.

Bert did not play politics and was loyal to the office of District Attorney.
It is an honor to be a friend of now citizen Bert Graham..


Anonymous said...

A very well deserved tribute to Bert

jigmeister said...

2nd that emotion.

Anonymous said...

Bert is lucky Judge Pat didn't take him up on his offer. To see how miserable little Jimmy Leitner is as 1st ass. I wouldn't wish that on anyone. And Jimmy is supposedly Pat's buddy. Bert would have been crucified by that witch.

Anonymous said...

Cheers Bert we miss the hell out of you.

Anonymous said...

Well said Black Ink. Much deserved. Bert is a great man.

Anonymous said...

It always cracks me up when you people glorify Holmes and (now) try to distinguish him from Rosenthal. They were basically the same person, period.

And to glorify a time where junk science and false convictions ran rampant is pure ignorance.

The Fishing Musician said...

You scared me for a second that some tragedy might have befallen Bert. I wish Bert a long life full of joy and happiness. It was good seeing him in Corpus last September. He's a quality gentleman, and I've been hearing that for more than 30 years.

BLACK INK said...

Anon 7:22,
It is obvious that you know nothing about the character of JBH.
Chuck always wanted to be Johnny but could never measure up and ANYONE who KNEW them both knew that.

The fact that you buy Chuck's bullshit and believe the media's agenda speaks loudly as to your lack of insight.

Your pretence, sir/madame, "cracks me up".

Anonymous said...

To: Anon 7:22
You clearly don't know anything about Johnny Holmes or you would never put him and Chuck in the same catagory. They were not, and are not, anything like the "same person".

Just Sayin' said...

Anon 7:22's logic would mean that if any senior prosecutor who worked for Judge Pat later became the DA they'd be the same person as Judge Pat. Really???
Holmes' endorsement of Rosenthal was luke warm at best and only reluctantly given at the 11th hour to avoid a Lykos administration because Holmes knew that Lykos would likely destroy the DA's office.
That would make Holmes more like a prophet than like a Rosenthal.
Just Sayin'

Anonymous said...

Great post. As for him not being a Rockstar Attorney, maybe you should ask Ignacio Cuevas his opinion on that. ( can't...he was executed on 5/23/91).

I still recall being a baby prosecutor and watching the Cuevas trial in one of the big courtrooms (177th?) where Bert put this enormous metal "helmet" (that the escapees had constructed to facilitate a safe bullet proof escape)on his head and then he had to yell to be heard. It was very effective. I think he was a Rockstar trial attorney.

Anonymous said...

Bert hadn't tried cases in the past few years, but he was an excellent trial lawyer when he did try them.

All the rest - I agree with - he is one of the best people I have ever known.

Anonymous said...

I have known Bert since I was in law school; and have stayed friends with him for more than 20 years. I have spent those years as a prosecutor and defense attorney in many counties. Because of Bert, my only continuining professional disapointment from that relationship is the realization - not all prosecutors are really interested in seeking justice or following the law to do it, much less what is best for their community.
He still volunters and keeps his family and friends close. Happily we all get to see more of him since he is not at the office 6 days a week until 7 or 8 pm (depending on the Astros schedule).
Thanks to Bert, the bar of my professional expectations has always been correctly placed. I am please to read so many of you recognize some of those qualities and sacrifies.

Anonymous said...

Black Ink, I don't know who you are, but you description of Bert is spot on. I'm a better person and prosecutor because of Bert Graham.