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.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.
But Anderson's office owes us an answer, and soon. Brown deserves justice. It's been a decade. He's still waiting.