Certainly, the spectacle of a prosecutor taking the 5th Amendment to avoid testifying was an almost absurdist display, and Grits cannot recall another DA called to testify before a grand jury in the fashion that occurred here. I'm not sure what if anything has been resolved, or what conclusions to draw. I'll look forward to reading a copy of the grand jury's report.
"There was no evidence of a crime," said grand jury foreman Trisha Pollard.
Pollard signed off on a one-page report blasting the DA's office for "unexpected resistance" and accusing the office of launching an investigation into the grand jurors, the special prosecutors and judges.
The grand jury also harshly criticized Rachel Palmer, a prosecutor who invoked her fifth amendment right to refuse to testify.
"The stain upon the HCDAO will remain regardless of any media statements issued or press conferences issued by anyone," according to the statement.
MORE: Big Jolly, who sees this as vindication for Pat Lykos, has posted the grand jury statement and Lykos' official response. Lykos portrays the grand jury proceedings as a witch hunt by her political enemies, and there is something to that assessment. But I also think the DA's Office and especially Houston PD bear responsibility in the matter. One of Lykos' prosecutors, Rachel Palmer, notoriously took the 5th (the right against self-incrimination) instead of testifying about activities performed on the job. That's a highly unusual development, and it's hard not to wonder if the outcome of the investigation might have been different if the ADA had testified. Lykos likely deflated the matter as a campaign issue, though, by testifying herself.
The DA's public statement declares, "Despite repeated public insinuations to the contrary, there was no criminal conduct in the operation of HPD BAT vans, nor was there suppression of evidence." "No criminal conduct" I'll accept, but the truth is Houston PD knew about problems with BAT vans in fall 2010 when the issues were raised by their own analysts, two of whom later resigned rather than participate in flawed forensics. It was only after defense attorneys found those ex-analysts and brought one of them to court that anyone in officialdom publicly acknowledged potential problems with BAT vans' accuracy. So while this may be the end of the runaway grand jury story (and HPD BAT vans generally, which are being phased out later this year), your correspondent sees little vindication for anyone coming from this episode, just an enormous politicized mess that pretty much tarnished everyone remotely associated with the process.
AND MORE: From Mark Bennett, who thinks the DA's Office may have improperly used a secure database in violation of federal law.