Thursday, February 21, 2013

Pulling back the curtain on prosecutor paranoia

Ever wonder how prosecutors speak to one another when they think no one's watching? Conservative blogger Big Jolly, a GOP activist in Houston, pulled back the curtain, obtaining a copy of a video under open records of the first mandatory prosecutor training under new Harris DA Mike Anderson, conducted by the Texas District and County Attorneys Association. Here's an excerpt from Jolly's summary:
The entire tone of the video suggests a sort of “bunker” mentality, an us against them, almost a “whine-fest” from the trainer, Rob Kepple of the Texas District and County Attorneys Association. Did you know the Innocence Project is the “enemy” of prosecutors? Nevermind that their work has resulted in the release of innocent men and women convicted by prosecutorial abuse. DA Anderson goes so far as to say that in the eyes of the Innocence Project, prosecutors are nothing more than pondscum. I suppose the old axiom is true – no good deed goes unpunished.

The “training” also describes our legislature as “out to get them” – “them” being prosecutors because they are “government employees” and the legislature apparently hates government employees. Oh, and the only reason crime has gone down since the 1980′s in Houston is because the legislature built more prison capacity. But now, “they” want to release criminals in prison for minor offenses because it is a whole lot cheaper to put someone on probation than it is to house them in a prison. Imagine that.

Mr. Kepple goes through a whole series of how people cheat in life and it isn’t cheating if you get away with it. I think his point was to say that prosecutors can’t do that but you’ll have to watch it to see how bad he made that point. And remember Pedro Oregon? You know, the guy that was killed dead, dead, dead because a bunch of yahoo cops forced a drunk driver to give them the address of his “dealer” and then started shooting for no reason? Yeah, he presents that as an example of using Johnny Holmes’ stellar reputation to get away with anything. Just totally bizarre.
Having worked for several years for the Innocence Project of Texas, I'm pretty used to prosecutors considering that group the "enemy," though like Jolly I've never fully understood it. After all, when an innocent person goes to prison, that means a guilty person remains free. One would think prosecutors would have an interest in rectifying that situation. Still, we see instances like in Williamson County, where DA John Bradley fought for years to keep the national Innocence Project from testing evidence that eventually exonerated Michael Morton. Does anybody believe that, if Bradley had agreed to DNA testing when it was first requested, that Judge Ken Anderson would currently be facing judgment in a court of inquiry? Things got to that point because, thanks to the bellicose stance of the DA, a balls-to-the-wall fight was the only way to prove Morton's innocence. The open-records requests that discovered alleged prosecutorial misconduct would never have even been filed if Bradley had agreed to retesting from the get-go.

Similarly, the idea that the Repbublican-dominated Legislature somehow hates prosecutors or is soft on crime beggars belief, but prosecutors and the police unions see themselves particularly at odds with freshman and sophomore Tea-Party types. These special interests are so used to absolute deference that they consider even modest questioning of their practices tantamount to betrayal.

I'll be interested to learn what Mark Bennett, Paul Kennedy, Robb Fickman and other Houston criminal defense lawyers think about the presentation. Sounds like quite a show. Grits hasn't had time to watch the full video yet, and may have more to say about it after I do. (I've heard Kepple's schtick and such paranoid, "us against them" rhetoric fails to shock me as much as it once did.) For now, head over to Jolly's shop to see it for yourself.

MORE: From Big Jolly, breaking out highlights from the two-hour event.

60 comments:

Anonymous said...

I learned long ago that when the govt provides something, it doesn't provide Cadillacs. It provides Yugos. You have to make the govt stop building Yugos. This guy is obviously in the process of building Yugos.

Anonymous said...

The reason most of us have a difficult time understanding the prosecutor and cop mentality is that most of us aren't psychopaths. Psychopaths have no conscience, feel no empathy for fellow human beings, and are attracted to positions in law enforcement where they can be in control of others and hide their crimes behind their badges. Psychopaths provide no benefit to mankind and everyone should be tested by their 21st birthday and if found to be a psychopath, they should be immediately put to death as most psychopaths are the results of genetics and their offspring will likely be a psychopath as well. Which explains why so many children of cops follow them into law enforcement.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

11:36, children are likely to follow their parents in every profession. There's a reason two of the 32 starting quarterbacks in the NFL are named "Manning," or that Kobe Bryant became an NBA stud.

It makes no more sense to paint with that sort of broad brush than it does for prosecutors to claim every small-government conservative is out to get them. Group-think is not psychopathy, and confronted individually outside the group setting, I'll bet a lot of folks in the room wouldn't endorse the more paranoid, insular or thick-headed aspects of what was said.

Anonymous said...

While 11:36 does paint with a brush that is probably far too broad, I wouldn't dismiss his point so quickly.

When I hear the word "psychopath" I tend to think of Ted Bundy. From what I understand, Mr. Bundy was intelligent and very charming.

I think there are a lot of psychopaths who function at a different level than serial killers. While sharing the same pathology - a need to inflict pain on others, a feeling that the rules don't apply to them, lack of a conscience, etc, - they don't commit murders but instead get themselves into positions of power where they can use that power to fulfill their own disturbed needs. They may be very likeable people on a social level - as Mr. Bundy was. But, when you look at how they wield power, they clearly fit the label. Grits, I know you are familiar with Jack Skeen and Matt Bingham. I have no doubt these two individuals are psychopaths. They enjoy inflicting as much pain and punishment on others as they can without regard to actual guilt or innocence, they think they are above the law and see the law and the rules only as things to be manipulated to their advantage, and they have no remorser for their actions.

I think 11:36 is right about people like this being attracted to law enforcement. While I wouldn't say a majority of those in law enforcement are this way, I think the percentage is likely significant.

Btw, these people are also often attracted to politics.

Anonymous said...

First off, Big Jolly was in bed with Lykos (I'm hoping that's just a bad visual image, not an ironic one), and was staunchly opposed to Anderson. The fact that he is reporting on it is just pure sour grapes. Yes, it should be known that Anderson is like this. But for Big Jolly to report on it? It's pure-d chicken shit.

Big Jolly and his party are more than OK with locking people up by the thousands, they're no friend of the IPOT, and their "tuff on crime" policies are the reason the Texas prison system is over-loaded and under-funded. The fact that he's complaining about any of this is just absurd.

Second, I'd like to give a big shout-out to my buddy Murray Newman and say: I TOLD YOU SO. Anderson really seems to be no different than Rosenthal or Holmes.

I guess you really can't teach an old dog new tricks. You can shave off his moustache, but he's still the same old dog.

Rage

Gritsforbreakfast said...

Rage, Jolly posted the video so folks can see it for themselves and make their own judgment. Whether he supported Lykos is irrelevant, it's not like he fabricated the video.

Also, BJ tends to be more moderate on criminal justice stuff than you portray, in the way that many "small l" libertarians are in the modern Tea Party movement. This isn't inconsistent in my experience with what he's written on these subjects in the past.

Anonymous said...

Here's the problem with the bill that would require training for prosecutors in Brady. Such training would invetiably be geared towards ways to get around Brady rather than towards compliance.

Anonymous said...

He had a peculiar interest in this particular race, Grits. It's a bigger deal personally than it seems to you. And I agree (and said so) that everyone should know what Anderson is like. Hell, I said he'd be like that months ago. But a Republican like BJ crying about a bunker mentality from a prosecutor is backward. He's only complaining because he bet on the wrong horse. Did he report on Lykos spendig money like it was going out of business? Nope. How about anything that Lykos did that may have been inappropriate? Nope.

Rage

Gritsforbreakfast said...

Rage, most of his critique was of Rob Kepple at TDCAA, who to my knowledge wasn't on the GOP ballot last go-round.

I wouldn't dismiss BJ's critiques any more than I'd dismiss Murray's out of hand. He hated Lykos with a purple passion but that doesn't mean that when he backed up his arguments with evidence instead of pure bile, his critiques weren't sometimes accurate. Same goes for Jolly.

Edward Greff said...

Speaking of Group-Think, you are one to talk Mr. Grits. You and those who support your line constantly pick the criminal justice system apart. However, you don't devote much time proposing a practical replacement. We have to retain some resemblance of law and order.

Anonymous said...

Murray Newman is a DAMM FOOL and we all know it Rage! I dont think it has anything do with what BJ thoughts were in the election, it has to do with what a Damm fool we put in the Harris Co. D.A.s Office and BJ just exposed it.

Anonymous said...

thanks for share.

Anonymous said...

I only wonder When Harris County is gonna quit electing this mentality in thier courts.The Might makes right attitude is a cancer in Houston that wont go away.

RSO wife said...

Anon 4:07. To answer your question, we will stop electing these types of people when people actually get off their butts, check out the facts and go vote. If you look at the percentage of the population who really goes to the polls, it's extremely low. And those who do vote don't really check out the candidates, they believe the ads on TV. Not sure if this dumbing down comes from lethargy or the sheep mentality. But as long as it's there, we will have the same crappy politicians in office we have now.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

EG, which "group," exactly, do you think I'm parroting? For that matter, when have I suggested "replacing" the justice system? That's just silly. Meanwhile, nearly every policy criticism on this blog is accompanied by specific suggestions for reform.

Anonymous said...

I've been looking at the videos. I'm not finished yet, but so far I do not see the paranoia described here. It seems like standard ethics training fare. Some negative examples of unethical begavior that is tolerated and even extolled by society at large. Some motivational talk about how unethical behavior can damage employees personally and the organization as a whole. Some mission statement stuff and how unethical begavior is counter to the mission of the organization. Some team building talk about how we're all in this together. Maybe there is something important that I haven't seen yet. But so far this seem much ado about less than nothing.

Anonymous said...

Pass mandatory sentencing guidelines. Overnight prosecutors will no longer have as much leverage. Under the current system prosecutors are able to use fear of a huge punishment to coerce into a guilty plea. There needs to be a more distinct seperation between the finding of guilt and sentencing.

AND there needs to be some form of sanctioning for defense attorneys who simply don't do anything to represent their clients.

Anonymous said...

I tend to agree with EG, Grits. Your blog does seem to promote a lot of overheated and unjustified rhetoric aimed at prosecutors which, like it or not, remain an indispensible component of our criminal justice system (just like judges, juries and defense lawyers). Along with a complicit liberal media, you are using a few extremely rare and anecdotal examples to imply that prosecutors, as a whole, are corrupt. I expect that kind of talk from most criminals who've been prosecuted, but you can do better. No one has suggested that what happened in the Morton case is excusable. But that case also happened over twenty years ago when Brady and discovery rules were far different and less evolved than they are today. But you rarely speak of advances or improvements in the system which have occurred over the last two decades (See, for example, Kyles v. Whitley). I wonder sometimes if you're really an anarchist. You routinely use cases like Morton to castigate prosecutors, and paint with a really broad brush. I wonder to what extent, if any, this anti-prosecutor incendiary rhertoric might have contributed to the recent cold blooded murder of Kaufman County prosecutor Mark Hasse. Maybe none. Most likely, he was a public servant who was just murdered in retaliation for doing his job. But still. I understand that it's "sexy" for you to point out instances of bad government or where the sytem sometimes fails. With that said, crimes are still committed (sometimes really bad ones) and criminals must be brought to justice. Most law abiding people would still like to be protected. Perhaps it sells more papers or increases the number of hits on your blog when the "bad apples" are exposed. However, I think you're undermining public confidence in the system while rarely offering any reasonable solution or alternative. Instead of promoting all of this unjustified hysteria, why don't you dig into the issues a little deeper and add something constructive to the discussion? It appears Texas prosecutors are willing to participate in a discussion about discovery reforms and ideas to improve the system. But if the objective of the opposition is just to keep moving the bar and making it harder to convict the guilty or to drive prosecutors out of the profession, then I'm not sure that discussion is going to get very far.

Anonymous said...

Waco DA situation exploding

http://www.wacotrib.com/opinion/editorials/192438361.html

-Sleepless in SanAntonio

Anonymous said...

10:35, he didn't expose a damn thing that I and lots of other people didn't already know. The problem is that he didn't expose other abuses by Lykos because he was in bed with her.

Grits, if Murray doesn't report on Anderson's mistakes, I'll say the same about him. That's the difference--Murray had evidence and brought it out. BJ did, but sat on it. Now he's just whining because his horse lost--when he "reports" on other abuses by other Republicans I'll believe he's moderate, or otherwise interested in fairness. I won't be holding my breath, though.

Anonymous said...

I agree with anon 2:37. They are are already very adept at "not being aware" of evidence withheld by police and not holding police feet to the fire when evidence that should be there is not turned over. They just accept it when LEOs say there is no video when we know there should be and there probably WAS...video that was lost on purpose. DAs should have access to everything LEOs have. They don't because of a wink and nod relationship that says don't send me Brady and I won't seek it. After all they don't want that stuff in their "open file". DAs should be making it clear that law enforcement agencies must not withhold Brady material and that doing so may result in case dismissals where that withheld information is likely to alter the outcome of the case. That is how to train law enforcement on this issue. It is not ignorance, but rather intentional misconconduct to withhold evidence that would destroy their case. It is a wide spread practice and we must not stop raising the issue until DAs get on board to resolve it rather that feign ignorance of it.

Thomas R. Griffith said...

Grits, you aren't on trial & haven't said anything that needs to be defended against or clarified here or elsewhere (especially if they don't have the balls to do it in person) So, please consider not replying to these F-ck wads.

So far they have made themselves look like lil girls defending other lil girls. Thanks.

*Did you notice none of them used the "pro criminal" label yet? I've always wondered where in the hell that shit comes from, due to never seeing you and / or any identifiable commenter siding with friggin criminals. Like I said, F-ck wads.

Anonymous said...

Anon 7:41said:"I think you're undermining public confidence in the system while rarely offering any reasonable solution or alternative. Instead of promoting all of this unjustified hysteria, why don't you dig into the issues a little deeper and add something constructive to the discussion? It appears Texas prosecutors are willing to participate in a discussion about discovery reforms and ideas to improve the system"

Prosecutors engaging in unethical and illegal behavior while other prosecutor not only turn a blind eye but defend them is what undermines public confidence. Your statement that prosecutors are willing to participate in a discussion is completely ridiculous. The only constructive suggestions or discussions I've heard coming from prosecutors is to require defense attorneys to give them information.

I ask you: Please provide one constructive suggestion that has been made by prosecutors to address the serious and pervasive and ongoing problem of intentional and deliberate prosecutorial misconduct.

Your assertion that because cases discussed occured years ago that there the problem has been solved is also ridiculous. First, misconduct tends to remain undetected for years. So, in 20 years we'll be talking about cases occurring now. Second, there is ample evidence that it is an ongoing problem. See, for example, the recent Mineola Swingers Club Case from Smith County in which prosecutors withheld evidence, hid a witness, sponsored perjured testimony, and inappropriate conspired with the judge. There are DA's offices where this type of behavior is commonplace even though much of it rarely sees the light of day. There was a time when child sexual abuse was thought to be much rarer than it is because it wasn't talked about and was just ignored.

Again, I ask you: Give me one suggestion prosecutors have made to address this problem.

Until prosecutors are willing to remove their heads from the sand and look at the problem, they aren't going to be willing to discuss it.

I haven't seen a single discussion over on the TDCAA board about this issue, other than one about the "gathering clouds." I haven't seen any constructive suggestions made there are here to address the problem. WHy is that?

Many, many constructive suggestions have been made here by both Grits and commenters. You see those suggestions as heated rhetoric because you don't want to admit there is even a problem.

Additionally, if you find the comments on here so offensive, who is forcing you to read them?

Anonymous said...

Prosecutors, like many government bureacrats, hate any forum that lets people who disagree with them voice their opinions. There was a time, before the internet, when the mainstream media pretty much only published what prosecutors wanted published. With the internet, they've lost that control. They can't stand that people can now criticize them. They can't stand the fact that the other side can be told, that they can be exposed. Some of their power has been taken away and they don't like it. The ability to criticize the government is a fundamental part of our society. But, of course, those in power don't like to be criticized. I believe it was an anonymous critique that had a lot to with startng the American Revolution, wasn't it? I guess I can see why those in power fear free speech.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

7:41, you're something. You accuse me of "overheated and unjustified rhetoric" and then suggest my blog (!!) is responsible for a prosecutor murdered by white supremacists. Wow. Yeah, I'm the biased one. The truth is I rarely offer criticisms without accompanying solutions, including on prosecutorial misconduct. However I don't give prosecutors credit, you're right, for stuff like Kyles v. Whitley that had to be imposed on them by the Supreme Court. Why should Texas prosecutors get credit for that?

Otherwise, you're a coward and a punk to spew that sort of garbage while hiding behind anonymity like a child behind mommy's skirt. Grow a pair, put your name on your comments, then we can have a real conversation.

Anonymous said...

How many of you prosecutors out there will join me in calling for an investigation into allegations of misonduct by prosecutors in Smith County in the Mineola Swingers Club Case and the ongoing fight of Kerry Cook to clear his name where the DA has lied to the court, both in oral arguments and in pleadings.

You say your willing to talk - lets talk about recent misconduct and what should be done about it. If, as one of you alleges, the problem has been solved, then an investigation should reveal no misconduct. Therefore, you have nothing to fear from such an investigation and you should endorse it as a way to prove that the problem has been solved.

So, any prosecutors out there willing to step up and do the right thing? Or, will you all continue to turn a blind eye to or defend misconduct by your colleagues? If you are serious about going after the "bad apples," time to put up or shut up.

Bill Miller said...

I'm a licensed private investigator. About ten years ago one evening in a social setting I was introduced to a friend of a friend who is Harris County prosecutor. When I meet new people, I always try to establish rapport with them. When I told him my profession, I thought that it would establish some kind of rapport with him since it meant that we both toiled in the vineyards of the legal profession. (My mother was a lawyer who right out of law school used to work in Harris County criminal intake.) I was surprised when he jokingly referred to me as "the enemy." Yes, it was said in jest, but underneath the humor there's that mentality that sees private investigators as mere tools of the defense bar. In truth, almost none of my cases have been in criminal court, but even if they were it would not change one iota how I operate. A lawyer has a problem, he comes to me because he wants information. I do my work and write my report. It's the same report regardless of which party he represents. I don't care who is guilty or liable; that's for the courts to determine. I gather facts and submit a report, and perhaps testify. That's when I am working on an hourly basis for a fee.
Without going into details, these days 100% of my practice involves holding people accountable in civil court. In a sense, I actually have more in common with prosecutors in criminal court.
But it didn't matter to that prosecutor. I was disappointed to see that bunker mentality on display. How do you go about fixing that? I don't know.

Anonymous said...

you should consider reading evil genes by Barbara Oakley.

Anonymous said...

Millon's subtypes classify these types of people enforcing/tyrannical/spineless sadist's. however sadistic personality disorder was removed from the DSm-iv because few people seek treatment...as it isn't a problem unless you are "caught". conduct disorder, antisocial and narcissistic personality disorder are often found to occur alongside SPD.

Thomas R. Griffith said...

Hey Mr. Casey J. O'Brien aka: jigmeister –

A few ADAs’ have chimed in saying that GFB and the readers are pro criminal and offer nothing positive to the mix resulting in piss & vinegar being thrown in every direction. With that, I propose that you & I team up and put our money where our mouths are.

Let’s meet at the Channel 8 News offices and arrange to publically announce your apology and my forgiveness regarding your documented role in my wrongful conviction. Afterwards, we can announce our - “2013: Pros & Cons Expose” a 254 county-wide field trip aimed at addressing the cause(s) and effect(s) of: wrongfully prosecuting the falsely accused, being wrongfully convicted and what can be accomplished when a heart-felt apology is accepted with true forgiveness.

Together (unless we can get others to climb on the criminal justice system reform bandwagon) we can make a difference for generations to come with a simple hand shake and a team effort to repair a twisted, broken & corrupt system. You and I both know that ‘all’ prosecutors are not evil or the enemy.

You said it best - “we each get caught up in playing our own role in the game.” I’m willing to spend the rest of my life seeking justice (a public apology will do) if you’ve made up your mind to take it to the grave. Ignoring the document facts (certified case files, HPD Incident Report 11 x 8 ½ color booking photo) only leaves it for others. This is a chance to show the world that the ADA of record and his victim can apologize and forgive and allow others to learn from the experience.

*When my granddaughter said she “apwogides” for bumping into my foot with her new doll stroller and I replied with a “that’s ok”, she said “no I wuz wong”, it brought tears to my eyes and made me think of you. I don’t want to do that ever again, life’s too short. Let’s do the right thing for the right reason(s). Thanks.

Jefe said...

Anonymous 7:23,
Mandatory sentencing guidelines give prosecutors leverage, not take it away. Go visit any federal court.

Anonymous said...

Grits,

Allowing anonymous posting and then attacking people for posting anonymously is a chump move. You're better than that. It's not 2002 anymore; we're all used to teh interwebs by now, so demeaning the manhood of those who, for various reasons, don't attach their names to their posts is weak.

And please don't deny your anti-prosecutor bias. You're not pro-criminal, you're probably not an anarchist (at least in the Leon Czolgosz sense), and you certainly didn't have anything to do with that horrible killing in Kaufmann County, but something about prosecutors just sets you on edge. Fine by me, but please don't deny it.

I've been a reader for a while. And I read a lot of other blogs where police and prosecutors aren't really well regarded. And, frankly, I understand and sympathize. I don't like being told what to do anymore than the next guy.

But careers take us in odd directions, and now I'm a prosecutor. It's been a neat and encouraging experience. From the inside, I'll tell you that there's a lot let less misconduct than I presumed I would encounter. I've seen some minor police fibbing here and there, but I've yet to encounter a case where I wasn't comfortable with the defendant doing time. Mistakes are bad, and genuine misconduct is worse, but both are the exception. The System processes enough people that there are a lot of exceptions. But that doesn't make them the rule.

If push came to shove, I'm sure you'd be as pro-prosecution as anyone. We all know that certain behavior must be punished, and someone's got to do that work. When genuinely bad things happen, we all want to see cops, and judges, and grim men in suits explaining to a jury why THAT GUY needs to be separated from society. No one is "pro-criminal".

My suggestion for you -- and I'm still going to be a reader if you don't follow it, no melodramatic threats from me -- is to think precisely about what any "prosecutorial reforms" will actually look like on the ground. In particular, think of training. The training you seem bothered by in this post doesn't seem bad to me. It encourages prosecutors to be ethical and abide by a more stringent set of rules than others abide by. It encourages them to establish a reputation for honesty and fairness in their communities, so that when a hard situation rolls around their communities will trust their judgment. And it encourages prosecutors to be more open to innocence claims than the law requires. The "bunker mentality" that you object to in that training was a very small part of it, relating to some inside baseball about funding from the legislature.

But that training is the sort of thing you're going to get if you require more and more prosecutor training. Actually, that training was much better than most. Most training for government employees is simply a tedious powerpoint about something or other. As a prosecutor, I beseech you: Don't take your anti-prosecutorial bias out on us by having us watch dull powerpoints! Most training does not help anyone (except the trainer, who makes money). The vast majority is a waste of time. Perhaps you want to waste our time to prevent us from prosecuting people?

Keep up the more-or-less good work. Just, if you're going to attack others for being in a bunker, come out of your own bunker first. The prosecutors have a point of view, so do you.

Anonymous said...

"I've seen some minor police fibbing here and there, but I've yet to encounter a case where I wasn't comfortable with the defendant doing time."

That comment right there says a lot about your character, or rather, lack thereof. You admit that you have knowledge of instances of police lying. If this was under oath and you did nothing about it, then you are a unethical prosecutor. THis is an admission that you have the end justifices the means type of warped sense of ethics that leads to cases like the Morton case, the Graves case, the Cook case, etc. If you have knowledge than a police officer lied under oath and you had an obligation to inform the ocurt. If you did not, you violated the rules of ethics and should be sanctioned.

This illustrates the entire problem. Prosecutors think its okay to break the rules if you are "comfortable with the defendant doing time." So, you say its okay to look the other way when police lie because the defendant is guilty. Well, what if you're wrong about that? This is the same mentality that Ken Anderson, Charles Sebesta, Jack Skeen and others like them have and it has repeatedly led to gross injusticies.

We certainly should not take the word of someone who admits to engaging in prosecutorial misconduct but says that it is rare. Apparently, you don't even recognize it when you do it.

If you have any integrity or sense of ethics you will immediately go the judge in those cases where the police "fibbed" and tell him/her about the lies. Then you will report yourself to the bar for disciplinary action for failing to disclose this sooner. But, you won't. Because you believe that sort of thing so okay as long as, in your mind, the defendant deserved to go to prison. Again, what if you're wrong. Or what if those officers who "fibbed" believe that since they got away with it that time its okay next time.

I'm sorry, but it is just amazing that you openly admit to misconduct without even apparently recognizing it as misconduct. You certainly don't belong in any office of public trust.

Anonymous said...

It seems that some prosecutors have rationalized this behavior in their own minds to the point that they know longer realize what they are doing is wrong. That's why they think prosecutorial misconduct is so rare. When the people enforcing the laws can no longer tell right from wrong, we have a big problem.

Anonymous said...

"Above the law attitudes" of prosecutors is not contained in the silo of prosecuting criminals. There should be a major accounting for all $$, especially seized $$. I think the public would be very shocked at how much money prosecutors spend wining and dinning law enforcement as a mechanism for securing votes for another term. Prosecutors are always screaming that their slush funds "can't" be audited because of confidential nature of their work. Bad ethics/morals will surface in other aspects of official duties and what better way for citizens to say we mean business.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

4:16, as I've said many times, I allow anonymous comments because sometimes people who work for the government can't write under their own names but have something constructive to say nonetheless. That happens often enough to put up with the negative that comes with it, but that doesn't mean I condone nor respect cowards who hide behind anonymity to spew bile, e.g., blaming a blog post for white supremacists assassinating an ADA. That's BS and I'll never think twice about calling such cowards out.

Interesting that you think police testilying is okay if you personally think the defendant deserves to do time. Tellingly, only someone commenting anonymously would justify police perjury thusly - that's an example where anonymity promotes clarity, since you obviously wouldn't say that under your own name. That's quite a different thing from smearing others.

If I have any bias against prosecutors it's that they're consistently one of if not the chief opponents of rational reform to the justice system. As I said of Ken Anderson in the post, nobody would have ever gone after him if his protege John Bradley hadn't fought tooth and nail to prevent Michael Morton from proving his innocence. Similarly, I'm not afraid to engage in a fight when prosecutors pick one, even anonymously. That doesn't mean I hate nor even dislike them, I was just raised not to back down from a scrap.

You're perhaps right that the "bunker mentality" is a small part displayed most prominently at the Legislature, but I'm not a lawyer; that's where the fights occur that I'm principally involved in. Anyway, I appreciate you at least acknowledging that such a bunker mentality exists. It's a start.

Anonymous said...

"but I've yet to encounter a case where I wasn't comfortable with the defendant doing time."

It seems some prosecutors want to usurp the power of the judge and the juries in deciding on their own whether certain evidence is admissible and whether the defendant is guilty. The judge decides on the admissibility of evidence and the jury decided guilt or innocence. Yet, some prosecutors don't find that acceptable so they withhold evidence where they can make an argument that it might not be admissible and they use their determination of the defendant's guilt to justify cheating. Their job is to present their case to the best of their ability while complying with the rules and law. Because their first duty is to justice, they are obligated to present the facts as they are and let the trier of fact make call on guilt or innocence. If a witness lies, they have an obligation to correct that lie. Why are these things so hard for prosecutors to do.

Calling lies "fibs" is just an attempt to minimize perjury. I suppose we could say that when the Texas Ranger testified in the Gaves case that the guy who committed the murderers had never changed his story about Graves involvenment, that was just a "minor fib." But, that "minor fib" put an innocent man on death row; didn't it?

Also, I'm sure that Ken Anderson was "comfortable" with Michael Morton going to prison. I'm sure that Charles Sebesta was "comfortable" with Anthony Graves being executed. I'm sure that AD Clark and Jack Skeen were both "comfortable" with Kerry Cook being executed. Just because these prosecutors were "comfortable" that these defendants were guilty, didn't make them guilty; did it?

"When genuinely bad things happen, we all want to see cops, and judges, and grim men in suits explaining to a jury why THAT GUY needs to be separated from society. "

Genuinely bad things happened in the Morton, Cook, and Graves cases but I haven't heard a single prosecutor argue that Anderson, Sebesta, Clark, or Skeen should be "separated from society." So, apparently, even prosecutors aren't always "pro-prosecution."

As far as the "bunker" mentality. We know it existed, at least at one time, in the Harris County DA's office. We have the words of none other than the hero of prosecutors across the state, John Bradley, on that subject. In an interview about his alleged "conversion" he said that he was trained there to view the defense attorneys as the enemy. I wouldn't be surprised if things have not changed since then.

Anonymous said...

It's 4:16 here again. I'll stop commenting now, as it seems to make you guys run into your bunkers. A couple of observations before I leave (and get called a coward by several Very Big Men).

Neat how in your paragraph about how you aren't biased against prosecutors your example includes, for whatever reason, how brave you are in accepting fights when prosecutors pick them. I was with you when Art Acevado slimed you last year, and I've agreed with you lots of times -- in fact, almost every time -- when you point out prosecutors behaving badly, but those aren't really examples that refute my observation that you've an anti-prosecutor bias. Own it and move on.

As a note, for those half-dozen people who read this comment but haven't watched the video, the speaker in the video, Rob Kepple, attacks John Bradley (including showing the campaign signs with the red bandannas attached to them) as part of explaining why prosecutors should go further in their truth-seeking than the law requires. In fact, Kepple attacks several examples of illegal prosecutorial misconduct, as well as several examples (like Bradley) of prosecutors who followed the law but disregarded their truth-seeking obligations. If you read Grits's comment, you'd imagine the video held Bradley up as an Ideal Prosecutor.

Lastly, attacking anon comments is still a chump move, no matter how you rationalize it to yourself. The internet's a wild and woolly place, but most of us here are big boys (or girls; ever think that Big Man comments like "grow a pair" might be directed at someone who has ladyparts?). Personally, I don't care about the size or existence of anon's (or your) cajones, I just want people to act like adults.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

12:37, to be clear, I didn't attack all anonymous commenters, just as I didn't attack you. I criticized those who hide behind anonymity like their mommy's skirt to make personal smears. I allow anonymity because otherwise folks like yourself would never comment. However, my desire for open dialogue simply doesn't require me to respect trolls, sorry.

We all have biases, and if slugging it out with prosecutors at the Lege over every inch of criminal justice reform terrain for the last decade has left me with some, so be it. IMO you mis-characterize my views to claim I dislike prosecutors generally for reasons supplied in your first comment ("when push comes to shove," etc.). In fact, even in this string I've insisted against painting prosecutors with a broad brush (@ 12:17 above, third from the top). But of course, you're welcome to your perception. Cheers!

Anonymous said...

I think we all are forgeting the point of the article. The point is that Harris Co. has a District Atttoney that really scares me.

Anonymous said...

Pychopaths, paranoids, cowards and punks. Go after them Scott! Never, ever let up on the bad guys.

Anonymous said...

I sincerely hope that those responsible for the recent killing of the prosecutor are never caught and that this is just the beginning of a long, long career for them. We need more heroes like them in this country who are willing to take out the trash. The only thing better would be for them to gut the families of prosecutors, then post the video online. Now that would be justice!

Anonymous said...

Anon 4:16, Is that "minor fibbing" that you occasionally see, usually cases where the exclusionary rule would apply? And was video or other evidence that you would expect to be present nowhere to be found (withheld)? You sir are part are part of the problem and buried in denial to the point you that can't admit it so things can get better. Though the innocence project did not say it, I will...YOU ARE POND SCUM and so are the others like you who allow "minor lies" to go uncovered. If you are not stopping them everytime you know they lie you are immoral and unethical and need to find work where your ethics don't have the potential to do so much damage. My secondary mission as a defense attorney is to change the hearts of people like you or drive them out of a job that carries the mandate to do justice. It is not a game where you try to get more convictions than your peers to move up. It is about doing justice AND protecting the rights of the citizens. If you have to violate rights or turn a blind eye to those who do in order to convict, that is not our system of justice. Please stop rationilizing your unethical behavior and help us clean up the process or find other work where you can meet the ethical challenges. Brad Walters.

Anonymous said...

4:16 presents the a perfect example of why there need to be either civil or criminal (preferably both) liability for prosecutorial misconduct. His comments show that he doesn't get it. The threat of a civil suit or prison is the only thing that will make some of these guys get it. I'm sure most criminal can rationalize reasons why their crimes are okay. 4:16 is no different.

Anonymous said...

In civil court when an attorney refuses to turn over properly requested discovery causing the opposing counsel to do extra work, financial sanctions such as attorney fees are ordered. I will jump for joy the day I see a criminal court judge tell an ADA to get out her check book and write a five hundred dollar check for each setting that was required because of delays in turning over Brady material. But the last time a judge helped me get the material there were no sanctions, warnings or reprimands or apologies for dragging the case out, just a comment that "you have the evidence now". Thanks, but the problem will keep reoccurring because no penalty was paid for withholding the evidence for months.

I had an ADA on another occasion where I was seeking withheld video tell me he would pull his plea offer (divert at that time) if I subpeonaed the video that he claimed did not exist. His chief pulled him back when I told her, but the idea that these guys would try to coerce a plea rather than insist that law enforcement turn over their video of the stop really offended me. The prosecution and defense should be on the same side when it comes to dealing with LEOs who withhold evidence in a case. Silly me for expecting them to do the right thing. No, they need to be under threat of punishment to prevent this unspoken approval of LEOs witholding Brady material.

rodsmith said...

when i see things like this happening and statements like this!

I just want to hurt govt employees!

"Calling lies "fibs" is just an attempt to minimize perjury. I suppose we could say that when the Texas Ranger testified in the Gaves case that the guy who committed the murderers had never changed his story about Graves involvenment, that was just a "minor fib." But, that "minor fib" put an innocent man on death row; didn't it?"

Sorry but the last time i looked UNDER the LAW if your under oath on the stand in front of a judge and like you say "fib" or "lie" sorry by LAW it's Perjury! you know a FELONY! no matter what costume you might be wearing at the time.

Anonymous said...

rodsmith,
I sense your rage. Everytime you post, I sense your barely contained rage.

Anonymous said...

District Atttoneys really scare me. They enjoy inflicting as much pain and punishment on others as they can without regard to actual guilt or innocence. Should they be immediately put to death as psychopaths? One could argue it either way.

rodsmith said...

that was good 1:12.

What can i say when i look at the treasonous retarded govt stooges who have basically destroyed this country over the last 50-60 years...yes i'd love to hurt a lot of them. But and there is of course always a BUT. So far they have not materially interfered in MY life. The day that changes all bets will of course be off and suddenly all that nice expensive military training i got will be used!

Yes i said traitors! According to our govt we are at WAR! and will probably be at war for the next 2-3 generations minimum! Treason in wartime is punishable by death!

A govt offical who violates thier oath of office has comitted treason.

Our chickenshit courts who are busy comitting their own version don't have the time or balls to call the others on it.

IF the judges had any balls. A testilying cop on the stand would only be going to jail in handcuffs as he/she left it along with any DA who Knew said officer was comitting perjury!

At that point maybe...just maybe the people of america would stop laughing at the joke our injustice system has become

Anonymous said...

Is the Innocence Project running a smear campaign against proscuters and the courts?

Robert Langham said...

As a casual observer, I knew this was going to be intense, but I didn't know it was going to be THIS intense. There's evidently quite a problem bubbling around under our Texas Justice system. Thank goodness some folks, (Grits), have the inclination and nerve to actually drag it out into some light.

Anonymous said...

Prosecutors want to make everyone believe that prosecutorial misconduct is a "rare" occurrence. If you think about it, murder is actually a pretty rare occurence also. I bet prosecutorial misconduct occurs more often than murder. So, applying the prosecutors' logic to murder, since it is so rare, we don't need to bother with investigating and prosecuting murderers.

Anonymous said...

You have some very scary posters.

rodsmith said...

Your so right 12:04.

Of course the TRUTH is a scary thing!

Thomas R. Griffith said...

Hey Grits, at 8:01 PM, we learned that one of the candidates / nominees for "Texas's Worst District Attorneys" was apparently trained in Harris County.

With the GFB Post topic being a training video and subsequently Big Bad John Bradley claimed / blamed his training for his transgressions / views toward the Defense, I'm curious if you happen know who the DA was and the years he was in H-Town? Thanks.


*If you say he was born in the Holmes Stable, then mystery solved.

*BTW, that was one of the best online spankings I’ve seen (and for some reason now, “no one is pro-criminal”) WTF? That’s scary, when they bump & hug ya.

Anonymous said...

OK God Damn it,

Anon. to Anon.
We can hav our own opinons and heroes holmes. Yes We can say wat the hell we want. But when u are wishin for death and guttin of someone as an Anon, an Anon has to step up and ask u to shut the fuckup with the dumbshit. Keep it to yourself holmes.

We let it slid for this long caus u might hav been screwedover in the past by a prosecuter or could just be someone tryin to start shit? Jus in case u comeback we don't expect to be hearin anymor from yor direction.

Thomas R. Griffith said...

Now that Murray Newman’s creepy Blog stopwatch has ceased to tick regarding his even creepier comment directed at GFB in general relating to a most disturbing anon comment that didn’t get any play, folks should know that it’s been over 48 hours since Murray refused to post any additional comments / replies.

While it may not be considered disgusting, it’s definitely the first time we've witnessed flat out weird and strange behavior on his part, especially since he refuses to post any follow up replies, as if no one is replying to his and / or his gang’s replies.

With that, just because Murray’s Post attempts to end in his backyard as he took his toys home, the comment section continues here.

FWIW, There is no bunker mentality when everyone is on the same page and discusses issues like adults.
Thanks.

Thomas R. Griffith said...

This statement came from the same person that has the following proudly displayed on his home page.

"I'm a Criminal Defense Attorney and a former Harris County prosecutor. I've been involved in Criminal Law since I was in college, and I've been practicing in Houston for over 11 years. Most people never have to come down to the Harris County Criminal Justice Center unless they have jury duty.

This blog is meant to give the Outsider an inside view. These are just my opinions.

The opinions of the Commenters are also just their opinions and I don't endorse them. But (within reason), I want everybody to be able to have a forum to say what they want to say." Murray Newman

Thomas R. Griffith said...

In reponse to a flakey article posted over at Life at the Harris County Criminal Justice Center -
the following is just one of those that questioned why Mr. Murray Newman would even go there?

"Damn Murray, closing up a piece like this with the Cutting & Pasting of a quote left by an Anonymous commenter in a reputable Blog's comment section, as going to the character of ‘all’ simply because you've monitored it for 48 hours & it garnered no reaction(s). Now, when the victim's family researches his legacy they'll see this article that ends with an Anon's statement having nothing to do with anyone's Post. I hope they understand Grits is very busy and the act of ignoring is the proper thing to do until he gets time to clean house and it’s hoped they don’t bash you for the lumping.

‘You’ could consider Replying to the Anon. You could consider ignoring or replying to Grit's Reply. Then there's apologizing or not and the thought of sharing the I.P. address to verify if it's a frequent visitor of yours under a different name. Thanks.

*FWIW. I've never seen Grits appoint any of the very persistent Anon.(s) chain yanking / passionate / vile commenters' to you or anyone for that matter. Blawgs bashing Blogs over Anons. Comments’ regarding the actions’ & inactions’ of the public at large and /or blog owner considered disgusting and a bunker mentality. I believe that's a first." Thomas R. Griffith March 3, 6:14PM

--------------------------------
Thanks Mr. Griffith,

"Your feelings towards prosecutors is well documented." Murray Newman March 3, 7:21PM

-------------------------------
"Thanks Mr. Newman,
Wow! What comment are you reacting to?" Thomas R. Griffith March 3

--------------------------------
"Thanks Mr. Newman,
for the kind words. Not to correct your grammar but if you removed the ‘s’, it would be in the singular tense and spot on.

You have no idea of how good it feels to know that you (a former ADA turned Criminal Defense Attorney / Lawyer) has followed my claim of innocence in a documented Texas railroading showing: ‘the’ lone ADA of record as Mr. Casey J. O’Brien." Thomas R. Griffith March 6.

-----------------------------
"Mr. Thomas Griffin you apparently are not aware that Casey O'Brien and Mike Anderson were joined at the hip while serving together in Special Crimes back in the good old days when they were both ADAs with Harris County." Anon. March 7, 3:25PM

-------------------------------
Thanks Anon. with that tidbit, there's no way in hell that my claim of innocence and related supporting documents (10pg. HPD Incident Report, 11 x 8 1/2 color Booking Photo & certified case files) will remain in the Conviction Itegrity Units' stack. I can hear the shredder from here.

The era of cover ups could end with Mr. Anderson but the thought of throwing good buddies from "the good old days" under buses just aint happening. Thanks anyway.




Thomas R. Griffith said...

Mr. Downey said -

"The one thing Mr. Holmes taught everyone who worked under him was a simple rule that all prosecutors should keep in mind: Prosecuting is not a team sport. You do what is right."

"That may mean going to trial on cases with thin evidence that you might lose because after evaluating the case, you believe that the defendant is guilty.

Because It is not about winning and losing. And it also means dismissing cases when things are done wrong, or can't be proven or get screwed up because you don't cover up mistakes. Instead you do the right thing and unpopular thing and move on."

"And then the system gets stronger because smart people learn from mistakes."

Mr. Downey, I purchased copies of the 10 pg HPD Incident Report, ‘Color Booking Photo & Certified Case Files showing exactly the opposite regarding (1) one student of the Holmes Stable. But if living the land of Mottos makes you feel better.

*If Mr. Holmes is a HCCJC subscriber, I ask that you consider the fact that I was railroaded (behind your back) and the proof was sold to me and readily available for inspection & vetting over at the Conviction Integrity Unit. I wouldn’t take a Full Pardon if you personally hand delivered it (the application process is mind numbing), as a Public Apology would suffice, allowing me to forgive and seek gainful employment. Thanks.
Thomas R. Griffith March 8, 2013