A high-ranking member of District Attorney Susan Reed's team has left the office, weeks after the Express-News exposed a driving while intoxicated case involving her son that was dismissed with little explanation.The story concluded that, "Reed filed court documents last week acknowledging the case has caused a stir and asking County Court-at-Law No. 6 Judge Wayne Christian to appoint a new special prosecutor to re-examine it. Adriana Biggs has denied exerting influence over the case." See also a related Express-News staff editorial published online Friday titled, "Pretrial diversion should not be for a select few," which ended thusly:
Adriana Biggs — who had been a Bexar County prosecutor for nearly two decades, the last eight years at the helm of the white collar crimes division — left her post Thursday, First Assistant District Attorney Cliff Herberg confirmed. ...
Previously chief of the major crimes division, Biggs took over the white collar crimes unit from Herberg when he was promoted in 2005, and he said he will work with the division until her replacement is found.
Biggs' then-18-year-old son, Truman Biggs, was arrested during Fiesta last year after two Breathalyzer tests registered a blood alcohol level of 0.17. The legal limit is 0.08.
The case was handed to a special prosecutor, who declined to pursue charges in December, noting in court documents only that it was in the “interest of justice.”
This is the third time in three years that adult children of DA office employees, or who are friends of the district attorney's family, have been afforded the opportunity to participate in pretrial diversion programs not generally available to adult defendants in Bexar County.
In 2010, special prosecutor Therese Huntzinger offered pretrial diversion to Christopher Mueller, then 27, a Reed family friend, who was arrested after a weapon was found in his backpack at the airport.
In 2011, Samuel Brandon, then 18, son of Assistant District Attorney Jay Brandon, was given pretrial diversion after he was charged with felony theft after he and a friend attempted to walk out of a Wal-Mart with $1,800 worth of electronics, San Antonio Express-News columnist Brian Chasnoff reported.
In all three cases, the defendants benefited from being connected with the district attorney's office in some manner and having special prosecutors appointed to their cases who offered pretrial diversion programs.
Reed is working to establish a program by the end of the summer to allow pretrial diversion for young offenders ages 17 to 21 who are charged with nonviolent, misdemeanor offenses. Defendants charged with DWI and family violence would not qualify for the program.
Ironically, none of the recent cases handled by special prosecutors would have qualified for the program under the proposed guidelines.
Giving young adults who get into trouble with the law a second chance to get on with their lives and careers has merit. Allowing greater access to such benefits to a small group with the right connections does not.
It is time to balance the scales of justice for all defendants in Bexar County.