U.S. District Judge Kenneth Hoyt, in a scathing opinion overturning Guerra's conviction more than a decade later, accused Harris County prosecutors of "poisonous speculation," half-truths, innuendo and prejudice during the trial. Their methods were "draconian," their misconduct "rank," designed and calculated, the judge wrote, "to obtain a conviction and another notch in their guns."
The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed Hoyt's ruling. In 1997, Judge Frank Maloney, a retired appellate judge and former prosecutor, reached the same conclusion in state court: Prosecutors committed "intentional misconduct," acting "in bad faith" to manipulate young, uneducated, Spanish-speaking witnesses and suppress evidence that could have proven Guerra not guilty. ...
"The concept of deceit was planted by the police and nurtured by the prosecutors," Hoyt wrote.Thirty years later, reported Falkenberg, Bax still defends his actions in the case, a fact that gives her pause regarding his new position. Her column concluded:
There's something in me that wants to believe Bax when he says he's unaware of any police intimidation. And I'm not convinced he's the corrupt, calculated prosecutor that Hoyt's ruling suggests. But he clearly made mistakes that even 30 years later, he won't allow himself to see.MORE: From Houston criminal defense lawyer Paul Kennedy.
It's that tunnel vision, that inability to learn something, anything, from this tragedy that's chilling. Dick Bax is not only denying himself the truth, but the chance for other prosecutors to learn from it.