Tuesday, June 05, 2012

Presumptive DA's stoner husband gets freebie on DWI beef

This set of facts out of San Angelo is cracking me up:

Earlier this spring, the husband of first assistant District Attorney Allison Palmer, who is now the Republican nominee for DA in Tom Green County, caused an auto accident. He told police he'd been drinking earlier in the day and officers could smell the pungent aroma of marijuana in his truck. They brought in a drug dog which alerted and a search revealed a baggie with rolling papers, seeds and "small pieces of a green leafy substance."

The local police chief and state troopers were called to the scene, but Palmer was not arrested and instead taken to the hospital for minor injuries. He was never given field sobriety tests, refused a breathalyzer, did not have blood drawn, and out of more than 12 hours of dashcam footage from various police vehicles at the scene, he was never captured on video once during the incident. As a result, the Tom Green County Attorney dismissed charges TWO days after Palmer won her primary race, which seems particularly well-timed for her.

So the husband of the presumptive District Attorney gets a freebie, with the County Attorney stringing along the public - pretending he might still be held accountable - until after his favor to a colleague's pot smoking husband could no longer damage the wife politically.

Maybe Mrs. Palmer didn't know about her husband's pot smoking, police didn't intentionally avoid gathering evidence against him, and the County Attorney based his decision on the evidence as quickly as he could. Perhaps everything's on the up and up. But from a distance, it all seems like an instance of brazen hypocrisy combined with crass, good-ol-boy back scratching. The idea of the DA prosecuting the war on drugs while hubbie drives around San Angelo smoking out in his truck is really quite an image.

UPDATE/CLARIFICATION: Palmer was charged with reckless driving, reports the San Angelo Standard Times, and a Class C paraphernalia charge has been appealed to a County Court of Law. So no DWI or pot possession arrest, but charges weren't dismissed entirely.


Prison Doc said...

She may turn out to be a real enforcement hard-ass. After all, our Stoner-in-Chief has not been particularly favorably disposed toward medical marijuana and other liberalizations, despite his self-admitted useful indulgences.

FleaStiff said...

So what's the big deal?
Its always been "Us" versus "Them" when it comes to law enforcement.
And so it shall ever be!

DLW said...

It seems to me your beef should be with the cops and not so much with the County Attorney. He should not go forward with a case he can't make. I know Chris Taylor and he is an honorable a prosecutor as I have dealt with in 37 years.

He did the right thing and criticism should be directed at the guys who decided to not gather evidence.

Had they gathered enough evidence to file a charge and if the ADA's husband had no previous criminal history the likely result would have been a pretrial diversion.

He should still face driver's license consequences under the ALR scheme.

Kenneth D. Franks said...

If it had been someone else there would most likely have been evidence collected including a blood test since he went to the hospital and how can none of this be on a video somewhere?

gravyrug said...

This is exactly the sort of thing that makes people distrust the police and DA's office. When the law is very obviously applied differently to different sorts of people, there is no incentive to respect the law.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

DLW, agreed he shouldn't go forward with no evidence, but it sure was awfully convenient of Mr. Taylor to wait till AFTER the primary to announce his decision. I'm sure he was very busy, though, and it was impossible to do before the election, right?

Also, there's the matter of the rolling papers, seeds, and "small pieces of a green leafy substance." If you or I were caught with the same "green leafy substance" in San Angelo, I'm betting Class B possession charges would pretty much be automatic. Not for Mr. Palmer, though.

Anonymous said...


For a moment I thought you were slamming Bush, but then I remembered, he was a cocaine user with a DWI who had the AG get him out of jury duty so he didn't have to admit to being convicted of DWI in the past.

But man, you sure got Obama, who admitted to smoking pot!



Anonymous said...

Obama admitted to smoking a lot of weed and a lot of "blow" among other things. Drop the self righteous hot air, por favor.

DLW said...

Grits, it is not uncommon at all in San Angelo for the case screening process to take several months. I primarily practice in Abilene and 2 to 4 months between arrest and the filing of a complaint is not unusual.

As for the pot, remember that there has to be a usable quantity and that stems don't count and seeds don't count unless they are germinable.

However, a class C paraphernalia charge would seem clear cut.

DLW said...

One of the linked articles reports that the videos took several weeks to obtain. That is also not unusual.

A good many cops are now doing the SFST's off camera because the Defense Bar has many members who have taken the certification class and will know that the cop didn't correctly apply them.

Prosecutors should reject any case where a video could have easily been made but was not. Judges shouldn't let them get by with saying that the video was "lost" or that parts were "accidentally erased".

DLW said...

An update reveals that the CA filed a charge of reckless driving on Palmer and the paraphernalia charge was appealed to County Court at Law and is pending.


Anonymous said...

"...officers could smell the pungent aroma of marijuana in his truck..."

Ummm, officer that, that's, just my all natural car air freshner.

Anonymous said...

Clarification, please. What's the difference between the county attorney and the district attorney in Tom Green County. I'm lost as to the two positions and their respective duties. Thought the county attorney handled county civil issues and the DA criminal prosecutions.

DLW said...

San Angelo, Tom Green County, has a Constitutional County Attorney and 2 Constitutional District Attorneys. The CA handles misdemeanors, juvenile, CPS cases and advises the Commissioners Court etc.

The 2 Constitutional District Attorneys have overlapping jurisdiction in Tom Green County on all felonies. The 51st DA has felony jurisdiction in Tom Green, Schleicher, Coke, Sterling and Irion Counties. The 119th DA has felony jurisdiction in Tom Green, Runnels and Concho Counties.

Elizabeth said...

"An update reveals that the CA filed a charge of reckless driving on Palmer and the paraphernalia charge was appealed to County Court at Law and is pending."

... Time to revise the headline of the original post? Most readers probably won't get as far as the update

Gritsforbreakfast said...

Elizabeth, I fail to see what part of the headline that "update" would change. No pot possession arrest for the "leafy green substance," no breathalyzer, field sobriety tests, etc.. Reckless driving? That won't even get him a surcharge! He did get a freebie.

DLW said...

Scott, he doesn't get a surcharge but he does get 2 driver responsibility points if convicted of the reckless driving charge with carries the same penalty range as a first offense DWI. 6 driver responsibility points gets a surcharge.

But here's the deal. He wasn't going to get a surcharge even if the CA had filed a DWI he had no evidence to support because the guy would have qualified for the Tom Green County Pretrial Diversion program.

Assuming the paperwork was filed he will have his DL suspended for 6 months for declining a BAC test and will have to pay a reinstatement fee to get it back. If he wants to drive legally he will have to pay his Lawyer to file a Lawsuit asking for an essential need license which will be limited by hours of the day and geography and purpose and the clerks office will charge court costs for that and the DPS will charge an issuance fee. He will have to purchase an SR22 from his insurance and they will likely raise his rates just for the DL suspension.

That is hardly free.

Would you actually want the CA to file a pot charge if the cops don't have a usable quantity of marijuana as required under Texas Law?

The guy had to be transported to the hospital. Is it your position that he should be removed from his wrecked vehicle and put through some agility tests in spite of any impairment caused by the wreck? Any results would have had little, if any, evidentiary value.

You know, he has the right to refuse a chemical test and he did that and the DPS will go forward with a suspension action.

My criticism of the cops would be that if they thought he was intoxicated they could have gone to a Judge with an affidavit and if that Judge found probable cause, a warrant could have been issued for a blood draw.

What, in your opinion, was the probable cause for a blood draw. Odor of alcohol from drinking sometime earlier in the day? The smell of pot? What is the presumptive level for intoxication by THC? What were the symptoms of intoxication observed by the officers that would have justified the issuance of a warrant by the Judge?

The fact that they might have handled another investigation differently doesn't mean they had PC to draw blood in THIS case.

In the interest of disclosure, while I practice in Tom Green County occasionally, I do not know Mr. Palmer or his wife.

I do know the CA, Chris Taylor. I am critical of prosecutors every day as are you but Taylor did exactly what we say we expect good prosecutors to do. He did not file a case because there wasn't evidence to support it. He did the right thing. Palmer shouldn't be treated differently just because he wife was running for DA.

J.S. said...

Have you ever looked into selective prosecution in Travis County? After I was the victim of a violent crime I couldn't get a protective order from the CA and the perp was not arrested or charged. The female police officer falsified the police report to claim I said there was no attemted sexual assault. At the scene she told me the "best she could do" was to take me to the salvation army. She was supposed to take me to Safeplace. When I refused her offer the three responding white officers drove away left me with my white attacker.

I realized I had been penalized for calling 911 for help and my attacker cleared.
It was an obvious falsification of the report. Later I created an Apd myspace page to recruit new police officers. So that these racist officers could be replaced.

DEWEY said...

One more time: GOOD OLE BOY'S CLUB !!!!!

Anonymous said...

This is nothing new. Take this guy for instance, he was DWI and fled the scene of two wrecks, and then crashed his car and couldn't run no further. But he works in the DA's office so charges were quietly dismissed a few months after he was arrested: http://www.chron.com/news/houston-texas/article/Harris-County-DA-s-investigator-charged-with-DWI-2080092.php

DISMISSED CHARGE DWI: http://www.hcdistrictclerk.com/edocs/public/CaseDetails.aspx?Get=2EKSRVJyraTG9fXfGaFPAIhzNP7jI8O/hX4xt9lVucwyhKlDCH7UtOsTVN/mVfUIsAKvFykEyuzYspg06+crm8pxEluhqG1SNpi1nCaUeHo=

DISMISSED CHARGES HIT & RUN: http://www.hcdistrictclerk.com/edocs/public/CaseDetails.aspx?Get=2EKSRVJyraTG9fXfGaFPAIhzNP7jI8O/hX4xt9lVucwyhKlDCH7UtOsTVN/mVfUIsAKvFykEyuyJix61nhsQcdQRl9+xGky0+iW09rgHAmg=

Don't you wish you had the right connections and could do anything you pleased without fear of prosecution?

Pat Lykos routinely dismisses similar charges against law enforcement officers, as well as other felony charges such as domestic violence, drug possession, and even child pornography and molestation charges. She simply refuses to prosecute those in law enforcement. She has given them Carte Blanche to do as they please in HER county.

When the law isn't applied equally with everyone prosecuted with the same vigor, it seizes to be the law and those being prosecuted are actually being persecuted..

Anonymous said...

Yep, there are DA's Offices that are legit and expect a high standard of ethics from their staff.

...And then there is the "other group," you know the ones whose staff are caught driving drunk on the way to-from the liquor store or bar and then given a "professional courtesy" by law enforcement.

It's really the difference of viewpoints by Government Leaders. For some it is a privilege to serve and for the others it is the doctrine of power.

Anonymous said...

Did it mention that Palmer, also has a business, in San Angelo for many many years?
It was his daddy's company, now he is in charge of it.