Thursday, June 25, 2015

Widespread police testilying alleged: Tarrant DA responds by eliminating method of documenting it

When a prosecutor hears a police officer lie on the stand, should there be a process by which they document it, or should they just keep using that cop over and over as a witness in the future?

That's the core issue raised with the recent release of prosecutor assessments of alleged police officer testilying in Tarrant County DWI cases. In a story titled "Officers accused of lying, "winging it" by Tarrant County prosecutors, documents show" (6/20):
[Tarrant County District Attorney Sharon] Wilson said that though she could not confirm the allegations, she believed that handwritten notes on 19 of the forms potentially rose to the level of being Brady material — information that under the law must be turned over to the defense. Accordingly, her office as sent out some 4,000 Brady notices to defense attorneys who had cases in which the officer was in any way involved.

The 16 officers and three Breathalyzer operators whose credibility was questioned in the forms were unfairly maligned, were never given a chance to defend themselves and their agencies were never alerted, according to both a police union leader and an attorney for two of the officers. ...

Two Fort Worth officers and a former civilian breath test operator with the department were among those accused of lying, many times in testimony, during misdemeanor trials dating to 1993.

Nine other law enforcement agencies also received notice from the DA’s office that a former or current employee’s credibility had been questioned by prosecutors, including an Arlington sergeant who now serves in a high-ranking position.
Rather than formalize the assessment process, though, or assigning a supervisor to monitor content, the DA will simply cease having prosecutors fill out the forms. Seems like the wrong message.

The misdemeanor chief who authorized the memos, Richard Alpert, who is an appointee to the statewide Texas Forensic Science Commission, was demoted over the episode - for either not monitoring the contents of the memos (the stated reason) or for recording such opinions in the first place (a reasonable subtext) - and no longer manages other employees.

Grits continues to believe that access to documents about law enforcement misconduct for impeachment purposes will be the next big hurdle to full implementation of the Michael Morton Act and open-file discovery in Texas. Usually when I've said that I'm talking about police department disciplinary files, particularly in civil service cities. But this event reminds us that front-line prosecutors often are privy to testilying when it happens.

Shouldn't there be a requirement that they record it when they see it instead of eliminating the mechanism by which the DA's office discovered the problem? And now that the forms are gone, are prosecutors relieved of an obligation to disclose that knowledge just because they didn't write it down?

Read more here: http://www.star-telegram.com/news/local/community/fort-worth/article25066810.html#storylink=cpy

Read more here: http://www.star-telegram.com/news/local/community/fort-worth/article25066810.html#storylink=cpy ...


32 comments:

SJordan said...

There appears to be a misunderstanding of the circumstances surrounding the Tarrant County Criminal District Attorney’s handling of the forms you reference today, and on behalf of CDA Wilson’s office I wanted to make sure you are aware of the rest of the facts. Although not mentioned in the Star-Telegram article you reference, all of the information shared below is already public record. (This article was its second on this topic – the first on 06/13/15 does make mention of several of these points. The paper also ran a supportive editorial on 06/15.)

• First and foremost, rest assured: this discovery did result in a formalized assessment process policy – it inspired the creation of the first official policy for compliant disclosure in the State of Texas. The Tarrant County CDA Discovery Compliance Policy, announced 06/11/15, was developed through extensive comparative research and the full collaboration and cooperation of the police chiefs of every department in the County. It stipulates for which acts officers will be included, and designates the chain of communication on disclosure between the police departments, CDA’s office, and the defense attorneys on all applicable future cases.

• Senior ACDA, Chuck Mallin has been appointed to serve as the first Discovery Compliance Officer, with direct responsibility for overseeing all future Brady notifications.

• CDA Wilson and Criminal Division Chief Larry Moore also met with all Criminal Division ACDAs, and have implemented training to ensure the new Discovery Compliance Policy is fully understood and utilized. The police departments, who each have a newly appointed CDA liaison, are acting in full compliance.

• The week the Brady notices were mailed, CDA Wilson and Chief Larry Moore met personally with the Tarrant County Defense Lawyers Association to walk them through the process, and let them know that an office has been set up at the Tim Curry Criminal Justice Center at which both the forms that resulted in Brady notices and the hundreds of ambiguous “fudge” forms are available for defense attorneys to review personally at any time during business hours of 7:45A – 5:30P.

• And finally, Richard Alpert has not been demoted, for this or any other situation. He now holds the position of Criminal Division Expert, which allows a more direct utilization of his expertise as the leading State expert on DWI and intoxication manslaughter cases and as an appointee to the Texas Forensic Science Commission.

I hope this information clears up any misconceptions you may have had. Sometimes we can all use a reminder how important it is to do one’s due diligence by hearing all the facts of the case.

Anonymous said...

This shouldn't be a Brady issue at all, because if a cop lies once, he should never be allowed to testify again. Period. All cases he is involved in should be dismissed. What kind of a prosecutor would be willing to give the liar an opportunity to ruin someone else's life? Does a defendant's life mean so little to prosecutors that they are willing to take that chance? No wonder our prisons are so full.

There should be in place a system where the cop that lies is immediately disqualified from appearing in court and obviously, this isn't a decision that should be left to our convict-no-matter-what prosecutors. I can't even imagine how scary it would be to be a defendant in a criminal case today knowing the prosecutor is out to get you and has a known liar testifying against you. Is this America?

If we are going to continue letting police that lie testify, we should just skip the court process altogether and let the cops decide punishment at the time of arrest. Save a lot of money instead of pretending to have a fair justice system.

Anonymous said...

I agree with 11:01

Where are the perjury charges? Where are the disciplinary actions for the prosecutors NOT filing perjury charges?

Or are perjury charges only reserved for witnesses of the Defense?

Removing a Prosecutor's Immunity may motivate those to be more truthful, forthcoming.

Pulau harapan said...

http://gritsforbreakfast.blogspot.com

Anonymous said...

Don't focus on Morton when the evidence is Brady. The Morton law is less than two years old so the State still gets sympathy for their "efforts" and their brave "struggle" to comply.

Brady, on the other hand, was decided in 1963 and is incorporated into the state bar's disciplinary rules of professional conduct. There is no excuse for Brady violations.

Anonymous said...

National District Attorneys Association
National Prosecution Standards
...
1-1.6 Duty to Respond to Misconduct
A prosecutor is obligated to respond to professional misconduct that has, will, or has the potential to interfere with the proper administration of justice:
a. Where the prosecutor knows that another person associated with the prosecutor’s office has engaged, or intends to engage in professional misconduct that could interfere with the proper administration of justice, the prosecutor should address the matter in accordance with internal office procedures.
b. If the office lacks adequate internal procedures to address allegations of professional misconduct, a prosecutor who learns of the misconduct may, in the first instance, request that the person desist from engaging in the misconduct. If such a request is, or is likely to be, futile or if the misconduct is of a sufficiently serious nature, a prosecutor should report the misconduct to a higher authority within the prosecutor’s office.
c. If, despite a prosecutor’s best efforts, no action is taken in accordance with the prior procedures to remedy the misconduct, a prosecutor should report the misconduct to appropriate officials outside the prosecutor’s office (to the extent permitted by the law and rules of ethical conduct of the state).
d. A prosecutor's failure to report known misconduct may itself constitute a violation of the prosecutor's professional duties.

Got it?

Jeez.

Anonymous said...

This is way before Brady v. Maryland (1963).

See...Mooney v. Holohan, 294 U.S. 103 (1935).
A criminal conviction procured by the state prosecuting authorities solely by the use of perjured testimony known by them to be perjured and knowingly used by them in order to procure the conviction is without due process of law, and in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment. P. 294 U. S. 112.

Robert Langham said...

This kind of thing destroys the justice and police systems for all of us. Disbar a few of them and prosecute the prosecutors and police and strip them of commissions and pensions. To encourage the others.

Anonymous said...

Apologies for this being off topic, but I wanted to follow up on your open records request on recorded conversations between Stacy Kuykendall and Todd Willingham. Your wrote that TDCJ told you there were no responsive documents to the request and that you don't actually believe them, but it would take a lawsuit to force them to tell us more. Fair enough. Do you know if any of the entities pursing a Posthumous Pardon for Willingham did so? It seems like a fruitful course of inquiry.
Thanks very much
Cowboy Wally

Anonymous said...

How come we never hear about Brady violations at the Harris County DA's office when everyone knows its the most corrupt in the nation?

Gritsforbreakfast said...

I don't know the answer to that, CW, sorry.

RE: "Richard Alpert has not been demoted," sayin' it don't make it so. He was a division head and now supervises no one. That ain't because they chose to better utilize his expertise, it's a consequence for the management snafu that's come to light.

Anonymous said...

It doesn't appear that any formal charges were brought against of the lying officers in Tarrant county. A prosecutor's job is to see that justice is done, but most just want to win, so they make excuses for the lies, protect, and, continue to use cops that lie. Indeed, how else could these sorry excuses for attorneys win cases, unless the deck was stacked. The very last thing they intend to do is prosecute the liar. This is a huge problem that prosecutors have created -- it gives them unfair advantage and power.

The Texas Code of Criminal Procedure, Chapter 20 Duties and Powers of the Grand Jury, Art. 20.09. DUTIES OF GRAND JURY. The grand jury shall inquire into all offenses liable to indictment of which any member may have knowledge, or of which they shall be informed by the attorney representing the State, or any other credible person.

IMO this says that someone other than the DA's can notify the Grand Jury of an incident of perjury (or any other credible person). Defense attorneys have the required backbone to bypass the prosecutors and do this. Sure, they will have to deal with the wrath of the prosecutor, at first, but if they take it upon themselves to get the liars indicted, they won't ever have to deal with that liar again. And by doing so, it will send a messasge to the prosecutors that they will not put up with the lies anymore. The defense attorneys should feel free to get the media involved, let everyone know what is going on. The general public needs to know what their elected DAs are doing or not doing. At the very least, it will give some deserved respect back to the defense attorneys and help bring back justice in our courts.

It's not really fair to ask the defense attorneys to do the prosecutor's job they are paid to do. But we can't wait around for the prosecutors, they want to win -- remember. This is a problem everyone needs to know about, rather than one that is the subject of secret lists buried in prosecutors files.

laura jenkins said...

What happens when the prosecutor "coaches" the police officer to wrongfully testify? When former ADA Richard Alpert led the prosecution of my son's case...see justice4royjr.com...Euless PO Deana Ramsour testified she turned off her car video camera before she exited her vehicle to explain why our son doesn't appear on her tape. We obtained an affidavit from Mr. Herbert Joe, M.A., J.D., LL.M., B.C.F.E., C.F.C. In 12/2011, we submitted our 2nd habeas corpus writ which was, of course, denied by Judge Gallagher.

Anonymous said...

4:38-

Great point. But it seems like the prosecutors were actually pissed that their witnesses lied (hence the documents). So if a defense attorney reported these lies to the Grand Juries, there wouldn't be much push-back from the prosecutors.

Sure, the prosecutors should be doing their jobs (and should be penalized for not doing so), but this could be rectified by a (few) heroic defense attorneys and a huge media campaign.

Anonymous said...

Wow you spoke my thoughts. Cops and prosecutors work together to secure a conviction at all cost--including lying. It's a shame but it really is the Texas "justice" System.

Anonymous said...

I had an Travis County Sheriff's Office employee tell me she had never witnessed so many adults willing to lie until she went to work for the TCSO.

George said...

@SJordan, hard to tell for sure just exactly who you are, a DA or an apologist, perhaps both. The bottom line is that what your'e trying to sell here just ain't gonna fly. The days when persecuting (sic purposefully ) attorneys can run their offices as they deem are coming to an end, one step was the new law dealing with how grand juries are formed. Most DA's run terror campaigns and use fear-tactics, smear-tactics and outright lies to increase conviction rates which equal reelection campaign fodder.

I've said it before here on this forum, any elected or appointed official who knowingly and intentionally breaks the law or even plans on breaking the law should be held to a much higher level of punishment. That's the only way to help prevent this sort of thing from happening in the first place.

There is no reason, none whatsoever, that any average citizen in the USA should fear ANY elected or appointed official, perhaps in Russia or China, but not here. It is past high time that we make this perfectly clear to those in office.

In my opinion, todays DA's are pretty much cut from the same cloth. I would dare say that ALL of them have lied while in office, and likely most, if not all, have broken laws or ethics rules during their tenure. That it despicable and the son of bitches need to face due reckoning and serve hefty sentences in TDCJ. They'll see then what their form of "justice" is like in real life. Do this often enough and the message will filter up the chain and then, perhaps then, change will occur.

It is our duty, OUR FREAKING DUTY, as citizens, normal everyday tax paying citizens, to become aware of what our elected and/or appointed officials are doing and to stand up and speak out when we see corruption and official misconduct. These low-life scumbags cannot hide anymore, the spotlight is on them and they are squirming. Do not let up until fundamental changes take place and real reforms are in place. Even then, history tells us that things will try and return to where they are now so vigilance is the key to it all.

As citizens we should expect and demand that our elected and/or appointed officials follow the laws of the land, respect the consitutional rights of all citizens, and to just basically do what they know in their hearts are right and just. Everybody in their right mind knows the difference between right and wrong. The ones who enforce the laws and administer judicial issues MUST be held accountable when they themselves break laws and lie.

laura jenkins said...

Work with me to hold Alpert accountable. See justice4royjr.com. My son was convicted in 2005 for intoxication manslaughter for the death of Grapevine Police Officer Darren Medlin on 6/12/2004. My son was not intoxicated; epilepsy seizure caused a horrific accident. Been in jail for almost 10 years; denied parole 4 times...supposedly because he won't say he was drunk. Have Alpert text to widow in 2013 regarding "sending" letter to parole board to keep my son in jail.

Richard Alpert directed the Euless Police to take blood draw to his colleague at the Tarrant Co. ME office. I learned this week that the Euless Police Dept ALWAYS, ALWAYS uses IFL (contractor for DPS)for their blood draws. If expediency was reason for not using IFL, hospital could have provided analysis immediately.

Laura Ann said...

My email is lauraannjenkins@yahoo.com. Would appreciate any comments/questions regarding my son. I work daily/weekly on efforts to obtain justice. On Tuesday, I spoke at the Euless City Council Meeting...interesting reaction from Council and attendees. Don't think Richard Alpert can continue standing while DA Wilson takes down police officers that have "lied".

john said...

Yet you KNOW the lawyers are there mostly to cover each other. The illicit Bar Association (put in by Senate lawyers in spite of the constitution and their conflict of interest) is there to keep their cush jobs and get very rich, off judging and persecuting We The Poor People.
Only the Bar judges whether Bar lawyers have done something wrong. And they have pre-decided, unless it's very heinous and gets lots of publicity, the lawyer is never to be held responsible. The most The People can hope for is enough complaints that the lawyer's insurer will eventually balk.
Because lawyers move to judge and Legislator and supremes position, they continue to cover for that good-ol' boyz club. They don't really fear publicity, since the vast majority of citizens (or anyone) are just too poor to pay attention.
I guess you could say, the legal system is a not-paying attention tax.

Anonymous said...

Well in a court in Kountze, I witnessed the county attorney show 2 pieces of paper to a DPS trooper on the stand and ask if these were the documents, a daily log sheet and a speed report, sounds OK, well either of those document were admitted as evidence !?
The defendant nor the jury got to see them.
And when ask to produce those document the county attorney is silent, will not say anything.

Anonymous said...

It would be nice if prosecutors are always right in their opinions about someone, but no one knows better than defense attorneys that isn't the way it is. Misdemeanor attorneys especially are often recent graduates with no experience. Not sure I would automatically trust their opinions about a police officer. We all have to remember that sometimes an experienced officer knows more about criminal law than a prosecutor who's been licensed only a year or two. Kudos to the new DA for addressing the Brady issue. I don't see anything wrong with her not wanting to document unsubstantiated statements about an officers credibility. Especially since the assistant DAs were apparently talking about trial testimony which generally is going too mean the defense attorney was there to cross and address any testimony issues and it sounds like none of them raised the credibility issues.

bacchys said...

Because the legal industry is the most corrupt in the Republic and prosecutors and judges are the worst of the lot.

bacchys said...

Because the legal industry is the most corrupt in the Republic and prosecutors and judges are the worst of the lot.

Anonymous said...

What makes anyone think a grand jury will indict an officer for lying when they won't indict one for shooting someone?

Anonymous said...

Richard Alpert should be fired and investigated by the justice department for his conduct. How many people were convicted by lying police officers or by witnesses Alpert coached? Tarrant County needs to take a stand and make a statement regarding this type of conduct. Otherwise it will be seen as condoning Alpert's conduct.

Anonymous said...

Alpert's conduct is a violation of the Disciplinary Rules. Why hasn't anyone filed a complaint? Is Tarrant County trying to cover up the shame/embarrassment/legal liability caused by Alpert? Why does Alpert still work for the DA's office? I agree with above there should be an external investigation by an Independent Investigator or Feds to see if laws or civil rights were violated.

Anonymous said...

This would cover Mr. Alpert's conduct:

http://www.justice.gov/crt/addressing-police-misconduct-laws-enforced-department-justice

Federal Criminal Enforcement

It is a crime for one or more persons acting under color of law willfully to deprive or conspire to deprive another person of any right protected by the Constitution or laws of the United States. (18 U.S.C. §§ 241, 242). "Color of law" simply means that the person doing the act is using power given to him or her by a governmental agency (local, State, or Federal). A law enforcement officer acts "under color of law" even if he or she is exceeding his or her rightful power. The types of law enforcement misconduct covered by these laws include excessive force, sexual assault, intentional false arrests,

or the intentional fabrication of evidence resulting in a loss of liberty to another.

Enforcement of these provisions does not require that any racial, religious, or other discriminatory motive existed. What remedies are available under these laws? Violations of these laws are punishable by fine and/or imprisonment. There is no private right of action under these statutes; in other words, these are not the legal provisions under which you would file a lawsuit on your own.

How to File a Complaint with DOJ

Criminal Enforcement

If you would like to file a complaint alleging a violation of the criminal laws discussed above, you may contact the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), which is responsible for investigating allegations of criminal deprivations of civil rights. You may also contact the United States Attorney's Office (USAO) in your district. The FBI and USAOs have offices in most major cities and have publicly-listed phone numbers. In addition, you may send a written complaint to:

Criminal Section
Civil Rights Division
U.S. Department of Justice
P.O. Box 66018
Washington, D.C. 20035-6018

Anonymous said...

Apparently, Denton knows how to deal with prosecutors who hide evidence.

see: http://www.johntfloyd.com/disclosure-favorable-evidence-materiality

Anonymous said...

I can't believe Richard Alpert is still prosecuting and working for Tarrant County. Did you know he was on the Forensic Committee for the State of Texas? He was responsible for rules regarding DNA test for Murder and rape trials. A person, who allows officers to lie on the stand. I wonder how man innocent people sit in jail because of this man. It seems other counties are prosecuting and firing their prosecutors for the same actions that Alpert has done. Why is Tarrant County protecting him? He should be prosecuted and disbarred. He reminds me of the prosecutor in the Netflix show "Making a Murderer."

Anonymous said...

Alpert was demoted/promoted from being the head of the misdemeanor section to a "special" prosecutor that handles DWI cases. I'm sure Sharen Wilson is handling the issue. She doesn't seem like the kind of boss that would let Alpert's behavior go unpunished.

Anonymous said...

It is amazing that Richard Alpert is still an employee of Tarrant County. Google his name and read the articles and come to your own conclusion He has tarnished the good reputation of the Tarrant County DA's office. Surprisingly he is still employed by the Tarrant County DA's office. Disgraceful!