Thursday, February 19, 2009

Will state bar discipline prosecutor who withheld Brady material in Austin murder case?

I'm amazed to see yet another gruesome murder case in Austin tainted by apparent prosecutorial misconduct. The Texas Cable News Network reports that "The 3rd Court of Appeals upheld Laura Hall's conviction but threw out her five-year sentence it said prosecutors withheld material evidence in the case." Hall had been convicted as an accomplice for hindering apprehension after the brutal murder of a UT-Austin student.

According to the opinion, the Third Court of Appeals found that "the State acted wilfully in failing to disclose the statements." The opinion doesn't name the prosecutor the court found improperly withheld information, but the result is certainly a black eye for the Travis County DA.

Relatedly, I noticed recently that the state bar's Office of Chief Disciplinary Counsel is scouting around for criminal defense attorneys who should lose their licenses over criminal convictions, posting requests to the prosecutors' user forum asking for recommendations whose bar license to pursue.

One wonders, in cases like Laura Hall's where courts have already found "wilfull" Brady violations, whether the state bar will just as aggressively seek to discipline prosecutors who engage in misconduct? History suggests, probably not. But if they did, maybe it wouldn't happen so often.

SEE ALSO: More detail from the Austin Statesman.

13 comments:

anon.at.work said...

There is also a post on TDCAA about the Laura Hall case, but none of the prosecutors posting about her there mention the reason she is receiveing a new sentencing trial.

Rage Judicata said...

But.. but... but Arthur Seaton says the system is as good as it can possibly be!

Anonymous said...

I think the population of Texas has grown to a point where national attention will focus on the many unconstitutional features of our 'criminal justice system' as well as the egregious behavior of many of our prosecutors. If lawyers in Texas want to have any credibility, the Texas Bar had better start disciplining in a real way. I'm so thankful to all the people who have been activists about this, including Scott at Grits, Craig Watkins, Ronnie Milsap, and countless others.
Thank you thank you thank you. We shall overcome.

Anonymous said...

I think they should discipline those at Travis County who were involved regardless if they're still in Travis County or not.

This is not just a case of misconduct on behalf of Travis County against the accused - it's also a huge case of misconduct on behalf of Travis County for the victims of this crime, to wit, Jennifer Cave's parents, Jennifer's friends, and all her family's friends who will have to endure this nightmare once again. Please, Travis County get it right this time. If Laura's innocent, then set her free. Her confinment won't bring back Jennifer, or the broken hearts of her friends if she's just "confined" on a suspicion. If not, and she's guilty, then hold her accountable.

Travis County: Yogurt Shop. Jennifer Caves.

You're really hurting the victims of these cases by having us relive them again, and again, and again. It's doesn't help at all.

Sincerely,
Friend of Victim and Family

Anonymous said...

can y'all send those who are getting this prosecutor's problems addressed to GA for a bit? we need David McDade of Douglas County handled

Gritsforbreakfast said...

"... Ronnie Milsap, and countless others"

Wow, you mean the blind country and western singer is an activist on prosecutorial misconduct? ;)

Anonymous said...

Why I didnt see the names of the unethical prosecutor(s) printed in the linked stories?

Gritsforbreakfast said...

The weren't named in the stories or in the court opinion, but it turns out the lead prosecutor in the case was Bill Bishop, who, ironically, recently announced he's running for judge in next year's Democratic primary against Charlie Baird, the judge who presided in the Tim Cole case.

Anonymous said...

The opinion is not by Will Flowers. He was the judge at trial. Bob Pemberton was the appellate justice writing this appeal, along with two other judges.

You really are a moron who didn't finish college, aren't you?

Gritsforbreakfast said...

Thanks for the correction, anon 6:47, but you're becoming a one trick pony with the name calling and complaining that I don't have a college degree. Let's see you write 3-5 blog posts per day and never make an error. And while you're at it, grow some stones and put your name on your comments if you're going to call someone a "moron."

Michael said...

I think there are way too many commenters on blogs who don't realize that "anonymous" is the Latin word for "pussy".

Anonymous said...

Takes one to know one, Michael. Nice avatar, btw.

Pete Smith said...

OCDC persecutes only when: atty is behind in child support; or there’s a political animus; or there’s media attention and facts would ordinarily warrant discipline; or there was a fiduciary duty owed by atty to complainant. http://knowyourcourts.com/Wilson/TexasStateBar.htm