Wednesday, January 04, 2012

Is John Bradley the worst American prosecutor of 2011? ... and other burning questions

Here are a few, disparate items that won't make their way into full Grits posts but which deserve readers' attention:

Is John Bradley the worst American prosecutor of 2011?
At The Agitator, Radley Balko has placed Williamson County DA John Bradley on his list of nominees for "The 2011 Worst Prosecutor of the Year Award." Of course, he's up against quite a rogues gallery of competitors, and as of this writing is in second place. Go vote.

Send her to jail
Joe Gamm at the Amarillo Globe News has an article on the growing proportion of female inmates and the classification problems it creates in county jails. Sheriffs all over the state are dealing with the same issue.

Dallas man freed after 31 years after prosecutor misconduct revealed
A man in Dallas, Ricky Wyatt, has been released after 31 years after prosecutors agreed there was prosecutorial misconduct in the case where information wasn't turned over to the defense that would have changed the outcome of the trial if jurors had seen it. "Both [Dallas DA Craig] Watkins and Wyatt's attorney, Jason Kreag of the New York-based Innocence Project, said prosecutors withheld evidence that clearly disputed testimony by the victim that her attacker did not have facial hair and weighed significantly more than Wyatt did at the time." Grits recently argued that, given recent court precedents, in the near future prosecutorial misconduct claims may be the most fruitful avenue for non-DNA innocence cases because it's the one area where there's a clear, viable legal path to a new trial. This case is precisely an example of that.

Harris DA primary battle marred by challenger missteps
At the Houston Chronicle, Brian Rogers analyzes the primary battle to unseat incumbent DA Pat Lykos. Grits' prognostication: Her opponent, Mike Anderson, started off on the wrong foot, can't unseat her without attacking her viciously, and will lose most GOP women if he does, which in a Republican primary would be deadly. Anderson's poor positioning stems mainly from poor initial strategy by his campaign, IMO, and may have already doomed his candidacy. From the perspective of a political strategist, I could envision a path to unseat this incumbent, but Anderson chose a different one. He's already missed the opportunity to frame this (very short) campaign around wedge issues that might unseat her, and instead his bid looks from the outside as though it results from some highly personal squabble. The GOP establishment didn't want this fight, which even Anderson says he regrets undertaking (Big Jolly reports Anderson told him "he wished he hadn’t been convinced that he had to file"). Anderson could have been a very difficult opponent for Lykos, and may still be, but his own missteps have somewhat diminished the threat. Murray Newman can mock Pat Lykos all he wants, but if his own candidate doesn't improve - and improve by ceasing to pander to folks with Murray's views - Pat Lykos will get the last laugh on election day.

County would resurrect empty TYC facility as juvenile campus
Brown County may take over the old Ron Jackson Unit II detention center that was closed in the Texas Juvenile Justice Department consolidation and use it for the county's own, local juvenile detention center. Locals say it is "constructed better than the county’s current facility and is not in a flood plain," which are both strong arguments for a move. If counties are going to be responsible for ever-more juvenile programming, they'll need adequate facilities they haven't historically provided.

'This Old Courthouse: Harris County edition'
Paul Kennedy has pics of the renovated historic courthouse in downtown Houston which will soon house the 1st and 14th Texas Courts of Appeals.

Sam Sparks on humor in the courtroom
At Texas Lawyer's Tex Parte Blog, Federal District Judge Sam Sparks in a video interview discusses his recently controversial use of humor in the courtroom, and discusses the need for judges to provide on-the-job training to inexperienced attorneys from the bench.

So, you've been disappeared ...
See a tip sheet for American citizens indefinitely detained by their government.

'End of the Road for Bonnie and Clyde'
See a remembrance of Texas' most famous outlaws, Bonnie and Clyde, from a local paper in Bastrop, LA, where the couple was slain. Remarkably, after all these years, "Every now and then, visitors leave flowers at the site" of their ambush.


Anonymous said...

In answer to your first question...YES.

Anonymous said...

So making ethical complaints against prosecutors is the fashionable new way for criminals to try to get out of prison? How lovely. Given the predisposition on the part of many liberals to automatically believe any claim asserted by convicts, I'm sure the floodgates are about to be opened on these frivolous character assassinations.

Michael said...

Anonymous 12:38: This is Grits's blog, so it's his right to let gutless and brainless sycophants accuse anyone making an ethical complaint against a prosecutor of being guilty of a crime. I wish you had read the article he linked to before criticizing it -- or maybe you did, but just have no problem accusing a six-year-old playing doctor of felony sexual assault? At any rate, thanks for displaying your own expertise at frivolous character assassination.

My name's Michael M. Simpson, by the way. Go to the state bar website and you'll find my address and phone number.

Rick said...

To 1/04/2012 12:38:00 PM

Hey Marty!

Anonymous said...

Uh, Rick, that wasn't me, if I am the Marty you are referring too.

Marty Ley
TDCJ Region 3

Gritsforbreakfast said...

@ Marty Ley, "Marty" is what John Bradley's personal friends and family call him. I don't think Rick meant you! :)

Anonymous said...

So, you've been disappeared ...

The federal or should I say feral government has officiallly gone rogue. Both the Congress and Senate have voted a majority "approval" of this and so I would advise the enforcers to remember the rule of unintended consequences. I'm ready to die for my freedom, are you willing to die to enforce unconstitutional law? What the hell has happened to this country.

Anonymous said...

It's quite amusing to me that those who like to coddle criminals, e. g. Grits, the left leaning editorial board at the Houston Chronicle, etc., seem to be so enamoured with Pat Lycos and her administration of the Harris County District Attorneys Office. That pretty much tells you all you need to know, doesn't it?

Gritsforbreakfast said...

Hardly enamored, 3:58, I just don't understand the extreme levels of vitriol. Murray Newman and his core commenters, in particular, are virtually obsessed.

That said, this post didn't approve or disapprove of Lykos' policies but instead critiqued her opponent's so-far ham-handed campaign strategy. As a former professional oppo researcher I think I'm qualified to speak on that score, and IMO Anderson already missed his biggest and best opportunity to frame this campaign by pandering to folks exactly like you. Lykos is a lifelong Republican, crime is declining, and the public sees no immediate public safety crisis. So you're not going to beat Lykos in a GOP primary by calling her soft on crime - not when folks like Michael McSpadden are the first ones to leap up and call BS on the attacks.

In politics, particularly in campaigns as truncated as this one, you don't get a second chance to make a first impression. Anderson could come back from his missteps, but I doubt he will. Indeed, I doubt he understands precisely what they were.

Anonymous said...

A late surge carries jb into the lead. Looks like a mobilized grassroots effort is paying off after being down 138 votes.

Anonymous said...

I'm tired of seeing phrases like "left leaning" and "liberal agenda" when it comes to advocating for the wrongfully convicted. Open your eyes people. The legal system is seriously flawed. It's not about being left or right, it's about doing the right thing. Politics should not enter into the equation. Lawyers on both sides should act together, following the same procedures without any "agendas." The objective should be fair justice.

Anonymous said...

The "Right on Crime" crowd is enamored of the criminal. These groups have not one good word to say to the victims of these criminals. Not a single word. Unlike this crowd, I consider the victims who stand up to these criminals to be the real heroes. Here is a story that this crowd will hate.

A young Oklahoma mother shot and killed an intruder to protect her 3-month-old baby on New Year's Eve, less than a week after the baby's father died of cancer. When these two men kicked in her door she protected herself.

If this had happened in liberal New York, they would have gone after the mother! We see so many articles here from the The New York Times. This crowd is just as enamored of the New York Times and their far left opinions.

Anonymous said...

Defense attorneys have no obligation to achieve "fair justice" or any kind of justice. In fact, it is perfectly appropriate that they do everything the can within the rules to obtain an acquittal for their client even though they're guilty. Nor do they have comparable ethical constraints in terms of talking to the media or requiring them to disclose evidence. In short, it remains an adversarial system that works 99.9% of the time. The number of documented actual innocence findings pales in comparison to the number of proper findings of guilt in a single year, let alone over the decades. Unfortunately, in those very few cases where mistakes have been made either due to misfeasance or malfeasance, the media hysteria sucks all of the oxygen out of the room. Isolated instances of failure of the system is not necessarily indicative of the need for change. Tons of lives are lost each year due to the 70 mph speed limit but does that mean it should be lowered? In my opinion, many of those advocating reforms to the system have suspect motives. Instead of being interested in justice, they only want to make it harder to convict the guilty. This is especially true of many defense lawyers whose financial livelihood can be tied to their success. We, as a society still have an interest in a criminal justice system which can protect us from those who won't follow the rules or who will do us harm. While improvements should continually be sought when feasible, let's be careful not to get sucked into the "sky is falling" mentality evidenced so frequently by many posters on this blog and weaken a system which continues to work and serve us quite well.

Anonymous said...

Okay, 7:09, are volunteering to be one of the wrongfully convicted. I assume you are willing to sacrifice 20 years of your life. No big deal, right? A few small mistakes is no big deal, unless its your life we're talking about. Lets see if you are man enough to stand behind your convictions, are you willilng to serve 20 years in prison to protect your precious system that works 99.9% of the time (by the way, there is substantial proof that it errs much more frequently than 0.1 % of the time). But, 7:09, I suspect you are not man enough to stand behind what you said if it means sacrifice on your part. It is purely moronic, in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary, to argue the system is working just fine. It is purely moronic to bury one's head in the sand and refuse to consider reformst that will improve the system. It is moronic to assail everyone who recognizes the obvious and calls for reforms as being "libera" and "criminal coddlres." Unfortunately, there are many people who lack the intellectual acuity to take a critical look at a situation and see the reality that there are problems that need to be addressed. Instead they repeat a mindless mantra, throwing around political labels and defending the indefensible. I wonder 7:09, have you ever had an original thought in your life. I'd realy like to hear youre answer as to whether you are willing to sacrifice 20 years of your life to protect this wonderful system you defend. After all if you are one of the few errors, it ain't no big deal, right?

Anonymous said...

Those who come on here and defend people like John Bradley are the real "liberal criminal coddlers." Think about it, Morton was innocent, so he's not a criminal. When a prosecutor commits misconduct they are likely violating criminal laws like official oppression, abuse of official capacity, and the federal law making civil rights violations a crime. So, Morton was not a criminal, Bradley and those like him are. So, those coming on here defending Bradley and his kind are the real "liberal criminal coddlers." Their claim to believe in law and order is obviously disingenuous because they are defending criminals. Furthermore, they can't be conservatives because they defend big government beuracrats like Bradley and want to expand the scope and power of the government through the criminal justice system. Furthermore, they can't be conservative because conservatives are supposed to beleive in the constitution but they believe there should be no repercussions for those like Bradley who wipe their asses with the constitution.

gravyrug said...

I was going to go vote for Bradley, but when I read the whole list I couldn't pick just one. Where's the "All of the Above" option?

Anonymous said...

I'll do you one better. I'm willing to take the chance that I'll die in a plane crash in exchange for the convenience of flying. The point here is that there will always be the potential for someone to be wrongfully convicted as long as there's a human element in the system. I don't think anyone WANTS for someone to be wrongfully convicted, but the only way to insure that no one is wrongfully convicted is to not have a system at all; or to weaken the system so extensively that it becomes ineffective for its purpose. I'm not ready to return to anarchy anytime soon. Like air travel and highway transit, I'll continue to have faith that the system gets it right with such a high frequency that I'll be fine.

Liberty said...

To: 1/04/2012 05:58:00 PM
Amen. I think we should be concerned about the disgruntled who use phrases such as "bleeding heart liberals" and are in opposition to real Truth and Justice. We need to weed these people out of our courts.

I'm also tired of the same individuals who want to paint the rest of us as somehow victimizing victims because we advocate for the innocent.

These folks are seriously messed up.

Daniel Simon said...

John Bradley conspires with higher ups in Wilco "law enforcement" to refuse even token enforcement of a State Jail FELONY passed by the legislature.

He "instructs" LEOs to lie to parent/victims who are deprived of their time with their children per court order...having them tell people "it is not a crime...but civil and you have to hire a private attorney and go back to court civilly".

If you are too poor to hire an attorney? Then screw don't see your child!

I went through this hell myself...but knew the law and threatened to perform citizens arrest on my ex myself if the Wilco (Williamson County, Texas) Sheriff's dept wouldn't do their job!

A courageous and honorable Wilco Lt. bucked Bradley's "policy" of non-enforcement and called my ex and told her it was indeed a felony and he would personally arrest her himself if she didn't give me the kids per the order!

Problem solved for me several years ago...but unlike Bradley I have a conscience and cannot forget the hundreds of other of his victims in my county.

read "we don't enforce that felony" on my website. with a page in the works specific to why Bradley is the biggest criminal in the county!

rodmsith said...

7:52 you are so full of it with this statement!

"I don't think anyone WANTS for someone to be wrongfully convicted, but the only way to insure that no one is wrongfully convicted is to not have a system at all; or to weaken the system so extensively that it becomes ineffective for its purpose. I'm not ready to return to anarchy anytime soon."

Nobody here is saying weakon the laws to allow criminals to get off easier. WHAT we are saying is that When a DA or a Judge or Cop is caught BREAKING the law during a trial either by HIDING evidence from the defense they are REQUIRED BY LAW TO DISCLOSE or by allowing people to testify they KNOW are LIEING!



THAT is what we are pissed about!

Gritsforbreakfast said...

Y'all, I just deleted a comment here because it threatened violence against a prosecutor's children as a form of vigilantism, etc., after axing a similar one yesterday. I get that the writer likely didn't mean it, but things that may sound like a joke when said aloud in private take on a life of their own in print (not to mention eternal life, on the internet), so the intent of the author doesn't really matter. Please, just don't do that juvenile crap. I don't limit debate much on this blog, but will eliminate such comments when I see them. Save us both the trouble, if you don't mind.

Thx. The Management.

RSO wife said...

First I want to say thanks to Grits for all the good information you post. I never knew all those sources of information were out there til I started reading your blog. I am grateful that you take your time to get both sides of the story and tell it unbiased so I can make my own decisions on the subjects you discuss.

I certainly hope that Anonymous 12:38PM never gets arrested for something he (or she) didn't do, or for something that was a minor offense that gets taken to felony status. Maybe if Anonymous would talk to some family members of those incarcerated you might view this in a different light, but maybe not!. I'll bet you are even a church going "Christian".

Nobody wants to see anyone who is really guilty of a crime go unpunished. What Grits along with the majority of the rest of us with half a brain want is to give people a fair trial. Stop judging them and finding them guilty without the benefit of ALL the evidence and a fair trial with an unbiased judge. And be willing to take a second look if new evidence becomes available, and for heaven's sake make the punishment fit the crime.

We don't have justice in Texas, or even in other parts of the US. We have self serving injustice, egged on by self righteous people like Anonymous 12:38.

It's amazing to me how many people are bamboozled by politicians without knowing all the facts. We just keep electing the same types of people over and over and expecting different results. In a program I belong to that's called insanity.

rodsmith said...

hmm i guess one of those posts was mine about the possibility of vigilante justice and necktie parties.

that wasn't a threat. BUT a reminder that if govt refused to punish lawbreakers no matter WHO they are eventualy as show by any NUMBER of events in history. The citizens WILL eventualy reclaim that right to dispense JUSTICE and do it THEMSELVES!

that is no more a threat then walking up to your door and telling you i saw sparks coming out of the power box on the side of your house and you MIGHT want to FIX IT!

Anonymous said...

This is a matter of holding public officials accountable.

This isn't a matter of whether you are coming from the left or the right.

to 12:38, 1:05, on and so on

Soft penalties for criminal I would agree is more of a "left, liberal, softie, or whatever you want to call it.

I can't tell if you just have your heads up your asses or if you just aren't aware of the number of death row cases that were proven to be wrongful convictions let alone all the number of cases who serve a sentence or end up on probation because that can't affored to fight the charges.

Sounds like you are advocating Tyranny under the smug assumption there is no way that you will ever be tyranized?

Now that's just asinine.