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.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.
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.
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.