Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Fort Bend DA accused of Brady-related misconduct by state bar, and other stories

Grits has just returned from a whirlwind 2,000 mile car trip; here are a few items which appeared while I was gone that merit readers' attention:
  • KHOU reports that Fort Bend District Attorney John Healey and chief prosecutor Mark Hannah have been accused of Brady violations by the State Bar Commission for Lawyer Discipline stemming from one of the cases in the Jonathan Salvador fiasco. The prosecutors allowed evidence to be destroyed that could have been exculpatory and failed to notify the defendant in question about crime lab problems which would have supported habeas corpus relief. Lisa Falkenberg wrote about Healey's recalcitrance last year. There are many hundreds of similarly situated cases and more DAs than this one who didn't adequately notify defendants.
  • The Tarrant County DA issued thousands of Brady notices related to DWI blood tests performed at Integrated Forensic Laboratories and an analyst who switched samples in the lab. According to attorney Deandra Grant, "Apparently the new story is that Elizabeth Feller’s name may be on countless lab reports but she did not perform the actual analysis. Or maybe she did.  No one but IFL knows." See coverage from the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.
  • A South Texas police chief accused of stealing money from the feds has been found dead, a suspected suicide.
  • The number of defendants on death row is declining, but not because of more executions, which have also gone down, reported the Texas Tribune. Instead, there are fewer new death sentences on the front end, and no new death sentences so far in 2015.
  • The Court of Criminal Appeals turned down Fran and Dan Keller's petition to be declared actually innocent. Last month they overturned the conviction but not on actual innocence grounds.
  • Here's a local story on how Amarillo officials are wondering how they'll combat truancy now that it's decriminalized. I'm sure they'll figure it out, lots of other states have. See a related editorial from the Dallas News.
  • It'll be fascinating to learn after everything shakes out how many of the 177 bikers arrested in the Twin Peaks massacre in Waco and saddled with million dollar bail turn out to be completely innocent. I bet it's a bunch of them. I'm also curious to learn how many of the 9 dead were shot by law enforcement. Those data haven't been released yet.
  • Pam Colloff knows something Murray Newman doesn't: You can't argue with stupid. Read as Murray valiantly tries to edumucate a self-styled right wing journalist on the Anthony Graves case via Twitter. Really quite out there for anyone who knows the story.
  • Speaking of Anthony Graves, Grits was notified today via press release that the exoneree and former death row resident was named to the board of the Houston Forensic Science Center, recently spun off as an independent agency from Houston PD. Congratulations, Anthony!
  • See coverage of a Fourth Amendment victory at the Supreme Court.
  • I'm late to the party - comments closed May 15 - but check out draft regulations issued this spring from the National Commission on Forensic Science on a variety of important forensic-related issues. 


Anonymous said...

Rachel Alexander reminds me of some Smith County officials, particularly Matt Bingham's position on the Mineola Swinger's Club cases and the Kerry Max Cook case. The Mineola case was clearly a witch-hunt based on the imagination of a crazy foster parent but Bingham would still insist it all happened. The evidence of Kerry Cook's innocence is overwhelming, yet Bingham is still vigorously opposing his attempts to clear his name. This type of thinking is beyond just the inability to conceded a mistake has been made and is clearly evidence of some deeper psychopathology.

Thomas R. Griffith said...

Welcome Home Grits. 2000K! After all of that sitting on top of constant 10 & 2, consider taking a well deserved break man.


Gritsforbreakfast said...

What's this 10 and 2 you speak of? Naturally, I tend to drive with my knees so I can text! ;)

john said...

As I'd mentioned, in a simple traffic-ticket case, making a request to HPD for personal and Brady info triggered them into writing the State AG for protection. They gave me nothing, but dropped the case.
That's all right; if 87% of cases end with pleas, I always request a jury trial, as if the jury has a clue, and as if actual information or Grand Jury indictment are ever used (even if the latter applied).
The also-lawyer AG covered for them. All cover for all, I guess. The unlicensed buddy system (Bar) rules, even though illicitly put in place by Senate lawyers--who had credible conflict of interest.
We The Poor People are without representation. It's a scary life.