Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Challenger doubles John Bradley's fundraising as rivals slug it out for Williamson DA

A pair of local news stories update us on the status of the Williamson County DA's race, where challenger Jana Duty has more than doubled incumbent John Bradley's fundraising total. The story this morning by  the Austin Statesman's Claire Osborn opens:
In the Republican primary campaign for district attorney, Williamson County Attorney Jana Duty had raised more than twice as much money as her opponent, incumbent John Bradley, according to the most recent campaign finance reports.

Duty raised $83,211.09, and Bradley raised $38,604.06, according to campaign finance records filed at the end of December with the Texas Ethics Commission. Duty said last week that she has since raised $30,000. Bradley said he has raised $20,000 since the beginning of January and expects to raise another $20,000.
Osborn points to Duty's successfully luring even self-described friends of Mr. Bradley like Austin attorney Roy Minton into her camp:
Austin criminal defense lawyer Roy Minton said Bradley is a longtime friend but that he is supporting Duty in this campaign.

"I believe that John has not shown the concern that I would like to see prosecutors have for young people that get into difficulties and need to be rehabilitated and continue in society without carrying with them a conviction or penitentiary time," Minton said.

Minton contributed to Bradley's 2002 campaign, campaign records show. Filings from July show that Minton's law firm also contributed $500 to Bradley's current campaign. Minton gave $500 to Duty's campaign, reports show.

Duty supporter Mark Brunner previously worked as an assistant district attorney under Bradley and is now a criminal defense lawyer in Georgetown. Brunner said he trusts Duty and said she "fosters a sense of a search for the truth."

Some criminal defense attorneys have said prosecutors under Bradley had offered defendants one-day deadlines for deals in their cases rather than allowing defense attorneys access to evidence, such as videos, that would help them make a decision for their clients.

Access to case files has become easier for defense attorneys since the Michael Morton case, Brunner said. Bradley did not prosecute the case but refused for six years to allow DNA testing on a piece of evidence for Morton, who was wrongfully convicted of the death of his wife, Christine Morton. Morton spent 25 years in jail before he was released in the fall; another man recently was charged in connection with Christine Morton's death.
Conversely, Your News Now Austin has an interview with John Bradley by Alana Rocha in which the incumbent takes his best shots at the challenger (and pretends his Forensic Science Commission nomination was shot down by "liberal Democrats" when Republicans drove the nails in the coffin). My own, admittedly biased estimation is that Jana Duty's much-ballyhooed troubles with the state bar - which largely stem from competing criminal and civil roles of the County Attorney's office - don't rise to the level of concern as John Bradley's politicized stewardship as DA, including but not limited to his aggressive opposition to possible innocence claims. Williamson County voters in the GOP primary, of course, must make their own judgment.

Fundraising is a tell-tale metric in politics, however, and usually the most reliable indicator after polling as a predictor of who will win an election. So for a challenger to "lap" the incumbent, as the Statesman headline writer put it, even an impartial observer (and Grits won't pretend impartiality) would have to conclude that John Bradley appears to be on the ropes, with most of the momentum so far on Jana Duty's side.

Still, even if both campaigns meet their fundraising projections, we're not talking about a lot of money given Austin-market TV prices, so much depends on a) how effectively the campaigns spend what they have, b) the few, limited remaining opportunities for earned media (Bradley may need some to alter his downward spiral), and c) whether Bradley's local establishment allies decide to hang him out to dry. I don't  know who benefits more from the likely postponement of the primary date: Normally I'd say the challenger, but it may be Mr.Bradley. Judging by the campaign's fundraising totals and projections, he may need some luck and all the time he can get to turn things around.


Don Dickson said...

I have been presented with the Williamson County District Attorney's today-only plea offers at a first appearance without having seen a shred of evidence. It is difficult for me to imagine a more odious manner in which to prosecute felony cases.

JH said...

My practice is 4 hours away from Williamson County - but I donated to JB's opponent. His manner of prosecution is an offense to prosecutors and defense attorneys.

Texas Maverick said...

Don't forget in his classes for prosecutors he suggests- strongly states- they include an agreement that the defendant agree to allow destruction of evidence being held. No appeal if that is signed, no deal if you don't sign.

Daniel said...

Don, if there is a more odious manner of prosecution, rest easy. John Bradley will find it.

Hook Em Horns said...

Agree Don.

TC said...

In response to what Attorney Roy Minton had to say about John Bradley: Attorney Minton is correct but understated. John Bradley has no regard for the youth of Williamson County. He is responsible for sending many of our young adults to prison, even innocent ones. VOTE FOR JANA.