Sunday, May 05, 2013

Charges filed against former Nueces County DA

Charges against Williamson County District Judge Ken Anderson following the court of inquiry in the Michael Morton case aren't the only recent example of a former District Attorney coming under indictment for alleged prosecutorial misconduct. Former Nueces County DA Anna Jimenez - who was appointed to the slot in 2010 by Governor Rick Perry but failed to win re-election - faces charges for allegedly falsifying affidavits in a murder case. Jimenez went on to work at the capital defender's office on Lubbock, where here boss has suspended her while issuing a supportive press statement. Here's a copy of the indictment (pdf) and some brief news coverage. (Coverage from the Caller Times is behind their paywall.)

Between the Anderson and Jimenez indictments and Travis County DA Rosemary Lehmberg sitting in the county jail over a DWI, this has been a harsh few weeks for the prosecutorial profession in Texas. Republican state Rep. Jeff Leach recently authored a column titled "Prosecutor misconduct swept under rug for too long." Relatedly, a recent ProPublica story asked, "Who polices prosecutors who abuse their authority? Usually nobody." But recent criminal charges against allegedly rogue prosecutors add to the impression that, increasingly, "Texas prosecutors are no longer unassailable." Whether we're witnessing a paradigm shift that could fundamentally alter the prosecutorial culture that engenders misconduct - or just a temporary flash in the pan in response to media criticism - remains to be seen. But in my adult lifetime, Grits can't think of another period when so many current and former prosecutors found themselves in legal hot water all at once.

32 comments:

Anonymous said...

It's about time.

Anonymous said...

Whoa, timeout!!! This indictment stems from her actions as a CRIMINAL DEFENSE LAWYER and you're using this to castigate prosecutors??? Give me an effing break!!!

Anonymous said...

I have the same point. Jimenez's alleged perjury came when she was no longer DA. It happened in the course of her work representing. Convicted murderer. To hold this up s an example of prosecutorial misconduct (and without noting the context) is simply dishonest reporting on this blog's part. Are these the standards you employ in your defense investigative work?

Lee said...

I thought Connick v Thompson in 2011 freed prosecutors from liability?

Gritsforbreakfast said...

1:06/1:52, it's hardly just me, go look at the MSM coverage and see if you can find a single news item that doesn't identify her in the headline as a former prosecutor. That's not just my spin, I'm reacting to the press coverage. Also, far from failing to divulge the context, you learned of it through the link I provided. The news stories don't give that detail. So you accused me of concealing information that you actually learned because I supplied it to you. That's okay, though, I'm used to it by now.

I don't have anything against Jimenez and for all I know the capital PD is right and she's innocent. I thought quite highly of her decision to be a whistleblower on alleged prosecutor misconduct at the Nueces DA, but figured if I was going to cite her when she alleged misconduct I should acknowledge when she's accused of it.

Anonymous said...

A common thread seems to be Governor Perry. I think Perry appointed Anderson to the judgeship, Bradley to DA, Jimenez, and Jack Skeen to a judgeship. It seems that Perry has a knack for appointment unethical prosecutors.

Anonymous said...

Connick v Thomspon is probably seen to have reaffirmed absolute prosecutorial immunity from CIVIL liability. Although, the actual holding is probably somewhat more limited because the plaintiffs were seeking to have a jury verdict upheld on the basis of municipal liability. The issue came down to whether there was a policy and practice of withholding evidence or whether you cuold have single incident liability. Because they couldn't go after the prosecutors directly, they went after their employer for failure to train. Connick was really more about municipal liablity than prosecutor liability.

Proseuctors are not immune from criminal liability.

Anonymous said...

I agree that GFB's "reporting" of this item is not very forthright.

Shannon Edmonds said...

Uh, Scott, you are really off-base here. Ms. Jimenez is accused of perjury WHILE WORKING AS A DEFENSE LAWYER, well after she was not re-elected as Nueces DA. To state that this is an act of prosecutorial misconduct--or fail to correct that statement after learning otherwise--is beneath you, and you know it. You should do the right thing.

Anonymous said...

Sorry, that should've said "imply" rather than "state" -- I hit post instead of preview! My error. (Gee, see how easy that is?). -SE

Anonymous said...

Reply to Anonymous 04:23

The common thread is that they are all republicans. Republicans need to be wiped out in concentration camps. Hitler had the right idea and we need to reinstitute his idea here in America.

McKee said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

This looks like it might be a case of payback to me. The indictment appears t come down to, she said she couldn't interview theses folks and they said otherwise. Perhaps she and her investigator were not communicating. Perhaps this is trumped up revenge for blowing the whistle.

Anonymous said...

Grits, unless you are bored out of your mind, you don't have to explain, defend or point out posted links. FWIW, we appreciate the posting and supportive links provided.

Anonymous said...

Uh, Shannon, if you insist on commenting in order to distance yourself and the profession from a criminal just because you got a memo to do so from your buddies up at 1:06 PM, you should check out the rest of section first, vs. just the title. You were made to look like a simpleton and we know you aren’t. See Grit's 2:36 PM above or start fresh and read the post with links. Wake up, she was a former prosecutor. If she was former dog catcher she'd be referred to as a former dog catcher. Uh.......... how many times do we hear the former bragging about his or her being a former. Uh….. this is the first time we’ve seen it being attacked as a bad word.

You are in a leadership role and should display that at all times and that includes doing your home-work. The Posting is only two paragraphs long and it's about former prosecutors’ but by now, you know this.

Anonymous said...

(Republican state Rep. Jeff Leach recently authored a column titled "Prosecutor misconduct swept under rug for too long.")

I'm not in any the political gangs but this is worth your time folks, and it's from an 'R'. With that, I'd like to see a deletion of the passionate but unwelcome vile above to keep it clean & on track.

Grits, have you had time to read it yet? Makes you want to call him and man-hug him for going public with the taxpayers' (& Texas as a whole) best interest at heart, mind & soul.

Anonymous said...

WOW - this thread shows that there is a problem with the culture among Texas prosecutors. One brave prosecutor sticks his head up to denounce prosecutorial misconduct, and almost immediately he is shamed into removing his comment by his colleagues. Why is it that so few prosecutors have the courage to stand up for what's right. Shame on you Mr. Edmonds. You run a forum where dissent is not tolerated and you come on here and shame a lone voice from speaking up. No wonder prosecutorial misconduct is such a widespread problem. There appears to be a culture that encourages it and where anyone who speaks up about it is immediately chastised. No matter how many discovery bills we pass, we won't make a dent in the problem until and unless either prosecutors start demanding higher standards of behavior among their colleagues or we remove absolute immunity.

Anonymous said...

@1:34, I can assure you that if this was a story about a former dog-catcher gone bad as a criminal defense lawyer, it wouldn't be posted on Grits' blog. And for that matter, his justification on this thread for his misleading and transparent attack on Texas prosecutors is lame at best. The fact of the matter is that this particular post is totally irrelevant to the issue of prosecutor misconduct in Texas--to the extent that is even a problem at all. The mainstream media has been milking the Michael Morton story for all it's worth. But aside from the Morton case, and a very small handful of other cases, the media has been unable to show that there is any rampant problem with misconduct by prosecutors in Texas (and before you go off on Timothy Cole, the Dallas exonerees, etc., you would be well served to actually research how many of those exonerations were based upon any claim of prosecutor misconduct). Consequently, in order to demonstrate that there's a problem with prosecutor misconduct in Texas, Grits (and, as he puts it, the MSM) is now left to the coverage of misconduct by....FORMER PROSECUTORS (who are, in reality, criminal defense attorneys)!

Anonymous said...

Whoa--settle down everybody. The indictment of a recent metropolitan prosecutor is certainly newsworthy. If the indictment holds water then it may bear looking into her work while in Nueces County.

The real story here is the DA who indicted her!! Anybody ever work with Bobby Bell? He makes the likes of Ken Anderson and John Bradley look like kittens. I'll bet you a dollar this is a retaliatory indictment (happens all the time in Jackson County, just ask around) because Ms. Jimenez was representing her client a little too zealously. Check the archives of the Tribune. I think they covered his antics a few years back.

Anonymous said...

@ 5:38 I think you meant The Austin Chronicle.

http://www.austinchronicle.com/news/2005-10-21/301887/

Looks like Ms. Jimenez should have sought the advice of reporter Jordan Smith before taking on a case in Edna.

http://www.austinchronicle.com/gyrobase/Archive/search?Search=Bobby%20Bell

Anonymous said...

2:54, reminds me of the commercial that has two dudes in the same sweater trying to use the same key board. Despite the number of people it took to type it up, one seems to get it. The others are in denial or it could be something like a gene deficiency that prohibits one of you from being able to see the title due to the color of the font.

Just in case, here it is black ink.

"Charges filed against former Nueces County DA"
You didn’t ask (or did you & you got over ruled?) The first paragraph displays the word - alleged, allegedly. The second includes the word allegedly and if you look real good you'll even see that Grits took time to include “effing” links.

Anonymous said...

Over lunch, one of us believes that the problem seems to be related to scanning vs. actually reading a posting (starting with the title) prior to commenting. One table over ties it to being on an email listing where you get prodded to comment and happily do so without reading the posting because you assume they already did. The senior of the group just chimed in with, being in a gang is tuff stuff, especially when you are forced to comment instead of enjoying ones golden years.

While the rest have come to the conclusion that this haphazard display of attacking Grits for re-reporting (with links) is directly due to training. Whether its old school or recent isn't known just yet, but it’s very clear that none of the attackers have actually read the effing post or the title in their rush to distance the waning profession from a former colleagues allegedly gone bad in her new career.

If they scan and assume in their spare time and attack the writer without actually performing basic due diligence, one has to assume they do this at work. Would the rate of wrongful convictions be much lower if they actually took a timeout and whoaed down to read the police reports or interviewed the crime victims in order to verify their version of events vs. taking their (L.E.) word. No ? marks, just questions as you are left with

“Read ‘All’ About It!”

Anonymous said...

http://www.austinchronicle.com/news/2006-03-24/349749/:

"So police gave Castañeda cash and sent her out to troll for crack on the streets of Edna's predominately black southeast side, armed only with a small tape recorder they placed in her handbag. The only evidence police had was the scratchy recording of Castañeda talking into the tape, telling police where she was driving and to whom she was talking; indeed, police failed even to maintain visual contact with Castañeda during her alleged buys.
Rick Patterson was one of only two of the 29 defendants who refused to cop a plea offered by longtime Jackson Co. District Attorney Bobby Bell. Patterson, who, like his wife, Jocelyn, was born and raised in Edna – and who raised his own family there – had no criminal record of any kind. (He had never even been cited for so much as a speeding ticket.) Without any evidence, he felt certain he could beat the flimsy rap. But in August 2004, a Jackson Co. jury found him guilty and sentenced him to 10 years in prison. In an extra measure of spite, Bell subsequently had Patterson indicted on a perjury charge, stemming from Patterson's testimony at trial during which he insisted upon his innocence.

Frightened by the outcome of her husband's trial, Jocelyn – who was indicted on a single count of selling crack to Castañeda after her husband declined to accept Bell's plea offer – pled guilty to the charge (a plea she ultimately tried to rescind) and was sentenced in November of 2004 to two years flat time, meaning without a chance for early release. But in an unexpected and relatively rare move – one that, perhaps, belies the strength of the state's case against him – Rick Patterson was informed late last month that the parole board has granted his bid for early release, and is slated for release in late September or early October."

Anonymous said...

11:44 and 1:02, thank you for your little sanctimonious lectures. Now go back and read the first sentence of Grits' posting which states, "Charges against Williamson County District Judge Ken Anderson following the court of inquiry in the Michael Morton case aren't the only recent example of a former District Attorney coming under indictment for alleged prosecutorial misconduct." The problem here is that the attorney in question was NOT indicted for alleged prosecutorial misconduct. If you'd take the time to actually read the links, you would find that she was indicted for misconduct as a criminal defense attorney. Personally, I think an objective headline on this post would read "Charges filed against current Criminal Defense Lawyer." But that would kind of run counter to the popular narrative on this blog, now wouldn't it?

Anonymous said...

So this was just your run-of-the-mil he said she said misunderstanding?

Gee, thanks, Grits.

rkollman said...

Meet the poster child for Governor Rick Perry's political appointees, Anna Jimenez, under indictment for four counts of aggravated perjury in Jackson County.  She was a green assistant district attorney when she was first propelled into the media spotlight in 2007 as second chair to veteran Nueces County child-abuse prosecutor Sandra Eastwood in the now-infamous "salt poisoning" Hannah Overton capital child-murder trial. In 2010, Gov. Perry appointed Jimenez as Nueces County District Attorney to fill her Democratic predecessor's unexpired term. She lost no time in firing Eastwood and other senior prosecutors, including the Democrat to whom she lost the election in November 2010. During her brief months in office and while campaigning for election, she told Overton's lawyer that Eastwood had not given a critical lab report to the defense. This was false, but it catapulted the Overton case into a media frenzy. Jimenez signed an affidavit for the Overton defense that accused Eastwood of prosecutorial misconduct. In spite of the bounce from the free publicity (or perhaps because of it, child murderers not being a particularly influential demographic), Jimenez lost. She then got hired at a state-funded agency, the Regional Public Defender's Office, defending high-profile capital murder cases. In May 2011, during the Overton media frenzy she herself had instigated about the so-called "newly discovered" lab report, Gov. Perry appointed her (ironically) to the state-wide "Family and Protective Services Council." In April 2012, she stepped into the witness stand and the national media at a hearing in the Overton case, in her self-created role as savior of child murderer Hannah Overton, now portrayed, thanks to Jimenez, as tragically and wrongfully convicted. Despite being confronted with deposition testimony taken two months before the Overton trial that showed Overton's trial counsel questioning the medical examiner about that very lab report Jimenez swore Eastwood had never given the defense, Jimenez refused to change her story. National, state, and local media attention was riveted on the Overton case: 20/20, Katie Curric,Texas Monthly.... Meanwhile, we now suspect (thanks to the Jackson County perjury indictment), within weeks of the Overton hearing in April, beginning in early June 2012, Jimenez filed a series of affidavits in another capital child-murder case, falsely claiming efforts to contact and interview witnesses, including a state trooper. She stated under oath that the Jackson County DA had instructed the witnesses not to speak with the defense, a major ethical violation. The Jackson County DA produced affidavits by the witnesses denying Jimenez's claims, and Jimenez herself admitted that the witnesses spoke with her investigator. Similarly, Jimenez lied under oath in the Overton case, by affidavit and in court, about a fact easily disproved by documentary evidence (the pre-trial deposition). Jimenez has now twice accused other lawyers of serious professional misconduct, and in both cases her accusations launched her role in the case into the national media spotlight. Accordingly, this indictment has profound implications on a sanctions motion pending in the Overton case, in that it evidences a pattern of intentionally deceitful conduct by the former Nueces County district attorney. The Overton writ of habeas corpus, which is pending at the Court of Criminal Appeals right now on arguments based on Jimenez's false testimony, is in big trouble. So guess who now is also defending Jimenez? Overton's lawyers. Do I need to add that Overton also is seeking a pardon from Gov. Perry that relies on his protege Jimenez's false testimony? Or that channels running clips of Gov. Perry's endorsements of Jimenez on utube were deleted Saturday morning?

Anonymous said...

Rogue prosecutors are in hot water. That's good news for all of us.

Anonymous said...

Ms. Jimenez has a very long history of deplorable and unethical actions. Three years ago when the Governor appointed her to the DA position, she was neither qualified or experienced enough to run a DA's office in a county the size of Nueces. She ran out three prosecutors specifically who I'm sure would've held her to the highest of standards and she knew this and she knew she would be caught in her unethical practices. One of the three people she ran out of the office came back and beat her silly in the election, another voiced her opinions through the news media, and the third quietly and very simply resigned on principal after being demoted to a position ( and salary) he had three years prior. But that's okay, the third individual went on to open a successful law practice in the Austin area and never looked back. If this blog author would like the rest of the story, you can do your research.

Anonymous said...

in this case she has done nothing wrong but deal with crooked bobby bell! some r pointing fingers abt other things in this case she's innocent n thats a FACT

Anonymous said...

http://lubbockonline.com/filed-online/2013-05-29/perjury-case-dropped-against-former-south-texas-da

Looks like some of you might be right... Maybe the real story here is this Bobby Bell character. Surely he wouldn't use an indictment to intimidate an officer of the court?? Wow...

Anonymous said...

C'mon Grits... This deserves some follow-up.

SursumTX said...

Anna Jimenez is a courageous attorney. I speak from experience. She testified in a hearing in April 2012 about my niece, Hannah Overton, in which she outed the prosecutorial misconduct and untruthfulness of her fellow prosecutor in that case. The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals today (Oct 30 2013) granted a hearing with oral arguments for Hannah that will occur after Jan 22 2014. Hannah has been in prison for 7 years for a crime that she not only didn't commit, a crime that did not occur. Read Pam Colloff's excellent coverage in Texas Monthly here: http://t.co/obqhmf2n9x