Monday, April 20, 2015

Waiting for Mr. Goodhart

The Court of Criminal Appeals in November overturned Alfred Brown's capital murder conviction for allegedly shooting a Houston police officer "after the Harris County District Attorney's Office acknowledged it had withheld material evidence that supported his alibi," reported Lisa Falkenberg at the Houston Chronicle. Since then, Brown has waited in jail while the DA's office ponders whether to attempt to retry him. Wrote the columnist:
Much has happened since then: a transcript showing a grand jury threatening Brown's alibi witness into changing her story, and news that the foreman of the grand jury was himself a cop - a longtime colleague of the Houston police officer Brown was accused of murdering - set off a debate about how grand jurors are selected in Texas and calls for reform. Last month, a reform bill passed unanimously out of the Texas Senate.
Meanwhile, however, Brown is "is still there. He is still waiting." Indeed, wrote Falkenberg, "Five months after the district attorney agreed to review Brown's case, her office won't say what is taking so long."

Normally, regrettably, waiting for justice is not news. But sometimes - when reporters must wait while the principals in their stories wait for justice - they dig around long enough to generate news independently, which is what's happened in this latest story.

In this instance, no news was not good news for the prosecutor in Brown's case, Craig Goodhart, who fell more directly under Falkenberg's scrutiny as a result of this unexplained delay. For good measure, she littered her column with examples of past questionable episodes involving Goodhart, who perhaps understandably would not return her phone calls. For example:
In the 1997 capital murder trial of Joe Durrett, who was accused of killing his ex-wife and her sister in Pasadena, [defense attorney Katherine] Scardino presented a credible witness who accused Goodhart of trying to manipulate medical examiner findings. In her closing arguments, Scardino told jurors that the prosecution, which had earlier included Goodhart, "has treated you like idiots." With that, Scardino won a rare acquittal in a death penalty case.
In another murder trial that same year, Goodhart was demoted temporarily after slapping a defendant on the back so hard during his closing arguments that the judge declared a mistrial.
More recently, in February, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals cleared the way for a hearing into allegations that Harris County prosecutors coerced and blackmailed witnesses to convict Linda Carty, a British national on death row since 2002. ...
As the Chronicle's Lise Olsen reported, most of the allegations of prosecutor misconduct were leveled at Assistant District Attorney Connie Spence, but a key eyewitness in the Carty case also accused Goodhart of threats, intimidation, and coaching his testimony.
"It didn't seem to matter what my eyes had actually seen," the witness, Christopher Robinson, wrote in an affidavit. "They were always pushing me to change things around and add more."
The district attorney's office has not yet responded to the February ruling, but officials have said a county probe is ongoing.
Falkenberg quoted Scardino, who is now representing Alfred Brown, in the article's denouement:
"They don't have any evidence on Alfred Brown," Scardino says. She believes another suspect, already identified, is likely the real killer. Prosecutors may still feel very differently about that.

But Anderson's office owes us an answer, and soon. Brown deserves justice. It's been a decade. He's still waiting.
MORE: A commenter brings word of today's announcement that Falkenberg won a Pulitzer Prize for her columns about Brown's case. Congratulations on a well-deserved honor.


quinnopolis said...

Not being a lawyer, I don't understand how someone can be kept imprisoned once their conviction is overturned. Seems like they should be freed immediately, only to be rearrested if retried and convicted.

Anonymous said...

Congrats to Lisa Falkenberg for winning a Pulitzer for her important columns on Mr. Brown's case:

Anonymous said...

Perhaps after hiring Rick Perry, the new Palau DA should hire another, equally capable assistant: Mr. Goodhart. For that matter, maybe an arrangement can be made: when a prosecutor has successfully completed his Texas internship, he may be sent to Palau.

DEWEY said...

Business as usual.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

OMG, what I wouldn't give to learn in tomorrow's Chronicle that Goodhart had resigned to take a post in Palau!

In fact, feel free to use this space to suggest other Brady-violating prosecutors besides Mr. Goodhart who deserve a post in Palau - maybe Texas could bundle a bunch of ours together and get rid of them in a batch.

Pat Hartwell said...

Thanks for the article. We are sitting now in the Courtroom for another hearing for Alfred Brown #999504. Keep up the good reporting, Lisa - we need a thorn in the system's side!

Pat Hartwell said...

Thanks for the article. We are sitting now in the Courtroom for another hearing for Alfred Brown #999504. Keep up the good reporting, Lisa - we need a thorn in the system's side!

Gritsforbreakfast said...

@quinnopolis, he's being detained pretrial just as though he'd been arrested again for the offense. But at some point, and IMO we're past that point now, they ought to charge him or let him go.

Anonymous said...

Hey Grtis,

It's now "...reported Pulitzer prize-winning Lisa Falkenberg..."


Thomas R. Griffith said...

“In fact, feel free to use this space to suggest other Brady-violating prosecutors besides Mr. Goodhart who deserve a post in Palau - maybe Texas could bundle a bunch of ours together and get rid of them in a batch.”

Darn, Grits, I can't tell if you are slinging Greenfield's deepdish style of snarkism or actually asking readers to contribute to a list of mofos that should be in prison (on a slow boat with a leak to Palau)? Here goes nothing with a side of something. The brochure indicates that if we pack ‘em in sideways, we can get these four there by Sunday for $19.99 plus shipping/handling.

*Ken Anderson
*Johnny Holmes
*Casey J. O’Brien
*Craig Watkins
*Your favorite criminal goes here


"they ought to charge him or let him go"

I bet if you created a one paragraph GFB Petition utilizing Red 42 degree and up font, we'd see him freed within days of it being published. (After the public learned about the extra $80K plus, plus, Anderson & Co. happily added to his account, they just might send her packing.) Yes, you have the correct amount of lumens to pull it off, understandably, it's the spare time that gets in the way.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

Come on, TRG, give me some current ones! That's the Golden Oldies version.

Thomas R. Griffith said...

Mark Skurka – Nueces County

Michael Parrish – Tarrant County

Richard "Rick" Roach – Gray County

John Mann – Gray County (we’ll have to dig up this worm dirt)

Stephanie McFarland – Travis County

John H. Jackson - Navarro County

Charles Sebesta - Burleson County

Terry McEachern – Tulia

Henry Wade – Dallas County

Anna Jimenez – Nueces County

Karren Price – Shelby County

Armando Villalobos - Cameron County

Tiffany Lewis - Tarrant County

Rosemary Lehmberg - Austin

Bowie County – James Elliott

(no one had the balls to publish the name of the rogue P.O.S. (Yes, the ‘S’ stands for Shit) that prosecuted Dale Lincoln Duke in 92)

Stay tuned folks, this lists will grow.

*Those seeking to learn more about these and other ‘Rogue’ Public Servants allowed to go bad, are invited to take a stroll on over to where a real CDL & longtime GFB commenter (Mr. Michael Lowe) has detailed info. But only after you have had a full belly of gritsforbreakfast. And, if that doesn’t do it for you, then try wading through the info over at the National Registry of Exonerations.

On that note, a work in progress – the National Registry of the UnExoneratables ribbon cutting is on track for this year. The documentary entitled - The UnExoneratables will follow. In order to qualify for inclusion, you must be ‘disqualified’ by Rules, Policies and Requirements (aka: Loopholes’ & Hurdles’).

Thanks Grits.

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