Sunday, January 27, 2008

Peoples' Justice?

"Attorney Terry Yates [TY] continued to accuse the two grand jurors, foreman Bob Ryan and assistant foreman Jeffrey Dorrell, of breaking the law by publicly discussing the case outside the grand jury. ... In a scathing letter sent to the Houston Chronicle Sunday, Ryan blasted Yates for calling him and Dorrell 'runaway jurors' after they publicly criticized the [DA's] office. ... DeGuerin said he did not call the grand jurors nutty but had said that it was 'nutty' for a grand jury to indict people when prosecutors have said insufficent evidence was available to support an indictment", Houston Chronicle, 21 January 2008.

"I waited the appropriate 48 hours before communicating my displeasure with [TY] ... and his outlandish statements at his 'press conference' on Friday. As a former assistant [DA], he well knows that ... for a true bill to be handed up there must be a minimum of nine votes in the affirmative, not two 'runaway jurors'. ... Numerous people have called me to shed additional light on Yates' client. Many things that I have heard outside of the jury room give me pause to wonder what the real story is", Robert Ryan letter to the Houston Chronicle, 21 January 2008.

Bob "Ryan told me Monday, half kidding. 'Dorrell and I ... went public about the arrogance, the sheer arrogance, of the office of [DA].' The jurors' decision to comment on their verdict, which is public, may be the only check on a secret system", my emphasis, Lisa Falkenberg at the Houston Chronicle, 22 January 2008.

"A judge criticized the Harris County [DA's] office on Tuesday for not supporting a grand jury's decision to indict a Texas Supreme Court justice and his wife for a 2007 arson that destroyed the couple's Spring home. 'Why did they bring the case to the grand jurors if they didn't want the grand jury to do its job?' state District Judge Jim Wallace asked. ... Wallace disbanded the grand jury that last week indicted David Medina and his wife, Francesca, citing a procedural error by Harris County [DA's] Chuck Rosenthal's [CR] office. ... 'The unusal aspect of this case is that it was dismissed so quickly,' said Wallace, a Republican judge who has served 14 years. 'It should have been allowed to run its course'," Houston Chronicle, 23 January 2008.

"I have to wonder at the competence of a DA's office that couldn't get a grand jury--which is something of a captive audience--to decline to indict Justice David Medina in connection with what fire investigators say was arson that destroyed the Medina home. It's kind of the flip side of the old saying that a good prosecutor can get a grand jury to indict a ham sandwich. ... Victor ... Wisner's argument ... boils down to 'trust me,' and lists his own personal accomplishments as reasons why we should. ... Grand jury evidence is secret, but there is a provison in the law that would allow Medina, under certain circumstances, to ask a judge to make the evidence public. Any chance of that, your honor?", Rick Casey at the Houston Chronicle, 23 January 2008.

Why care what DA CR thinks? TY may have blown this as the case may become a reverse "Durham Three" as people volunteer information to Ryan and Dorrell. Stay tuned.

I'll suggest an answer Jim Wallace's question: CR expected the grand jury to return "no bill" and exonerate the Medinas. Consider: CR dismissed 30 other indictments because of the "procedural error". Why didn't CR find it before? Why didn't CR look for the "error" in the 30 other cases in question? How often has CR's office made such "errors"? Are there thousands of inmates in Texas' prison system that should similarly have their indictments quashed and be released? Was the "error" not an error at all, but made to thwart the grand jury's actions should it have returned a "true bill"? I don't believe the "error" story for a second. I'd like to see a new grand jury investigate CR's office.

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