Saturday, March 02, 2013

Prosecutor accused by courts of 'intentional misconduct' named Harris DA general counsel

Yesterday was a rough media day for Harris County District Attorney Mike Anderson. Not only did the Houston Chronicle editorial board harshly criticize a recent ethics training, Chron columnist Lisa Falkenberg offered up an item about the DA's office titled "'Intentional misconduct' no bar to top job?" in which she questioned the wisdom of appointing attorney Dick Bax to "an influential government position: general counsel of the Harris County District Attorney's Office, at a salary of $140,000." She's talking about the wrongful capital murder conviction of Ricardo Aldape Guerra in 1982. Following his conviction:
U.S. District Judge Kenneth Hoyt, in a scathing opinion overturning Guerra's conviction more than a decade later, accused Harris County prosecutors of "poisonous speculation," half-truths, innuendo and prejudice during the trial. Their methods were "draconian," their misconduct "rank," designed and calculated, the judge wrote, "to obtain a conviction and another notch in their guns."

The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed Hoyt's ruling. In 1997, Judge Frank Maloney, a retired appellate judge and former prosecutor, reached the same conclusion in state court: Prosecutors committed "intentional misconduct," acting "in bad faith" to manipulate young, uneducated, Spanish-speaking witnesses and suppress evidence that could have proven Guerra not guilty. ...
"The concept of deceit was planted by the police and nurtured by the prosecutors," Hoyt wrote.
Thirty years later, reported Falkenberg, Bax still defends his actions in the case, a fact that gives her pause regarding his new position. Her column concluded:
There's something in me that wants to believe Bax when he says he's unaware of any police intimidation. And I'm not convinced he's the corrupt, calculated prosecutor that Hoyt's ruling suggests. But he clearly made mistakes that even 30 years later, he won't allow himself to see.

It's that tunnel vision, that inability to learn something, anything, from this tragedy that's chilling. Dick Bax is not only denying himself the truth, but the chance for other prosecutors to learn from it.
MORE: From Houston criminal defense lawyer Paul Kennedy.


Anonymous said...

I've said it once and I'll say it again, the voters made a big mistake placing Anderson in office.

Anonymous said...

Next thing you know the prosecutors association will name this guy prosecutor of the year. No, there is no problem with the culture among Texas prosecutors, none at all.

Brad Walters said...

I have seen more than a couple prosecutors dressed down by judges for their position in protecting law enforcement when they are less than forthcoming with Brady material, but every time it happens it is only lip service, not on the record, which does nothing to curb the wink and nod relationship between some ADAs and police agencies that says if the evidence hurts the case the agency won't send it to the DA and the DA won't ask for it. Basically an unwritten policy of don't ask don't tell for Brady material.

The conventional wisdom among DAs is give the case a year to plead out and if it actually goes to trial turn Brady over if aware of any Brady material, but certainly remain ignorant of it if at all possible.

It is the rare case where a judge names names on the record. It is almost always an appeal. Misconduct by law enforcement and willful ignorance by DAs is commonplace. Even the DAs who will hold an officer's feet to the fire in an individual case will still protect that officer's credibility for other ongoing and future cases. Why do you think they want us to sign agreements to use copies of offense reports only for the case at hand? Hmm! See how open that file is when the case is dismissed and you get another case with the same officer.

Anonymous said...

Wow, for prosecutorial misconduct to be so "rare," it sure does seem to happen a lot.

Anonymous said...

Hopefully, the push for district attorney accountability is going forward. From the disgrace of the DA in Tulia, Texas to the scurrilous behavior of convicting innocent persons by Henry Wade in Dallas county to the grudge of Ken Anderson in Williamson county as he wept through his testimony about how he suffered for 18 months as he worried about this. I’m sure the most worrisome of all was that he got caught!!
We need to have a conversation of what accountability for DA’s would look like. Legislation with penalty of fines (we all know that a conviction of ‘wrongful convictions’ would never land a DA in prison) to the tune of several thousand dollars taken from their pockets, and NOT from the county coffers would need to be written and passed. Permanent or temporary disbarment would also be appropriate.
Maybe then DA’s will stop being so cavalier about intentionally railroading innocent persons through the court system and into prison to pay for a crime they did not commit.
Former Dallas police officer
Former TCLEOSE instructor

Anonymous said...

We had a prosecutor who was appointed District Judge in Parker County. Later we heard he resigned as a Tarrant County prosecutor due to a lack of respect for the constitution. When he was a prosecutor it was said, "Innocence is no defense". The voters did not elect him to his appointed post. He would like for me to say his name due to his addiction to publicity, but I won't.

Anonymous said...

This is what the people in Harris Co. have to deal with the next few years. Thanks for keeping us informed. Hopefully Mike Anderson will be a one term D.A.

john said...

The lower you are in the pecking order, for example--non-gov-employee citizens who are fee'd, fine'd harassed, taxed & possibly tazed towards oblivion; the more you recognize collusion over the arrogant and/or incompetent people in office--some of whom showcase the Peter Principle of being promoted beyond their competence.
Look also at the Feds: Clinton, Bush, Obamarx AND MANY OF THEIR (& lower) QUESTIONABLE APPOINTMENTS.
Would honorable and sane folks be like that? Or is it just greedy sociopaths?
But in reality, even when the Electronic Voting Machines allow us to choose someone, most people never hear what tiny amount of "news" slips out. Those with big money pay the "news" and everyone up the chain.
Conspiracy was never a theory; it's a practice of policy evolved beyond & outside authorized duties.
The concept of "public servant" is long lost, for sale, mercenary & egregious. Would-be rulers and their willing henchmen merely feather their nests while thumbing their noses at the rest of us. There's no militia, the military is kept out of the land, and the gun clubs will continue to stand down, as trained. It doesn't matter how many bullets you stockpile.

Anonymous said...

Grits, do us all a favor and please stop linking to the Houston Chronicle as if they are some sort of objective source on criminal justice issues. The Chronicle has been way out there on the left for many years now. So much so that they make even you look like the Wall Street Journal by comparison. At least you are willing to admit your own bias or conflicts on many topics. The Chronicle, under the pretense of being mainstream media, won't even do that. Their circulation stats have been declining for years because they are totally out of touch with the views of most Houstonians. Exhibit A is their inability to accept the loss of their choice in the DA election, Pat Lycos, and stop bashing Anderson. If your going to use the Chronicle as a source, at least include some kind of disclaimer.

Anonymous said...

Any news source that a person disagrees with must be biased.

I don't live in Houston and don't know much about the Chronicle. But, I do know that in 2000 the Chronicle published a series about the Smith County criminal justice system. The stories were 100% accurate. In my opinion, they were quite restrained, considering all the garbage that goes on there.

The stories were primarily about the practices of the DA's office under Jack Skeen. Skeen sued the paper for defamation but the Texas Supreme Court found the article to be well sourced and dismissed the suit.

A few years later, despite the well known misconduct occurring in the DA's office under his watch, Rick Perry appointed Skeen to a district judge slot. And, unfortunately he's still there making up rules of evidence to help the prosecution win (that's what the 14th Court of Appeals said and I certainly would not consider them a biased source).

It's a shame that the local Smith County media lacked the courage to report on the situation. The situation has not changed at all under the current DA but the local media still refuses to report those things. Kudos for the Chronicle for having the courage to expose this kind of thing.

Anonymous said...

Anon 1:42 attacks the Chronicle for being biased but fails to refute anything they said. The article contains a lot of facts and, unless those facts are untrue, this man should not have been appointed to this position. So, Anon 1:42, which of these facts are untrue? Or, are you claiming the Chronicle is biased because it printed the truth (just the truth that you don't like)?

Speaking of bias, I assume you have the same contempt displayed frequently by judges in favor of the prosecution? Also, do you have a problem with the fact that most jurors are biased towards conviction when they walk into the court room?

No point screaming about bias unless you're prepared to talk about all of it.

Anonymous said...

1:42 Has a common affliction. Seems to think the discussion is about left vs right when it's really about right vs wrong.

dfisher said...


AS you are aware prosecutors across the State think the laws of this State are for everyone else, but not them.

I hope to change the Ector CO. District Attorney's way thinking, that laws and constitution don't apply to him in the Adopted Russian Boy, Max Shatto's death.

Friday I filed a State Bar Complaint against DA Bobby Bland for aiding and abetting the illegal autopsy of Max Shatto among other things.

Ector CO's medical examiner is holding two appointments for profit at the same time, which is forbidden under the TX Constitution, Art. XVI, Sec. 40. The medical examiner's appointment was voided in February 2006 when county commissioners re-appointed the ME to be the Ector CO. Health Authority. Since the constitution forbids hold 2 appointments for profit at the same time, the second appointment automatically voids the first appointment.

Additionally the medical examiner testified in court that he doesn't perform autopsies or any other duty under the statute, just signs death certificates. Ector CO pays their medical examiner $12,000 a year and records the ME's as a part time employee in the county budget.

Midland TV station KMID ran the story Friday and their is more to come.(Russians don't know the autopsy was illegal yet) You can see the video at, ""

PAPA said...

This just makes my case, here is the DA, where is the CONSTITUTION/BILL of Rights, remember the DA takes an OATH to be an OFFICER of the COURT, so the Lawyers, what does that say, it says, they are NOT for you, they are "FOR" the Court System...and now for themselves...

Thomas R. Griffith said...

Hey Grits, or Mr. Walters, re: "the wrongful capital murder conviction of Ricardo Aldape Guerra in 1982"

Wasn't Mr. Casey J. O'Brien aka: jigmeister, the ADA of record?
*Note: as everyone is well aware of by now, there has been a regular GFB visitor that throws around crap that begins or ends with - "pro-criminal" and how come you always bring up Morton and Graves when talking about wrongful convictions’ and harp on Anderson and Bradley when talking about bad prosecutors.

Yes, it does sound like wrongful convictions are an isolated incident when only a couple of names are a constant theme.

So for the record, Mr. Casey J. O'Brien is on record as being the ADA of record (in my certified case files) as he's shown knowingly & willingly performing his role in my documented wrongful prosecution but the record reflects that he engaged in a conspiracy with: 2 - HC deputies & 4 - HPD robbery detectives to achieve his notch. Sadly, the record also shows that the presiding Judge allowed the process to play out in front of a Jury as he doodled, in which the Defense and Crime Victim are shown to have 'all' joined the State's Team.

Add these verifiable names and a real life sized incident to the list and one sees a pattern where the rogue went on to train but if it was devoid of: DNA or Death Row, it escapes the radar.

Disqualify documented incidents on the basis of being devoid of: DNA, Death Row, exhausting all direct appeals, or when no money is to be made on the post conviction end and you engage in "Cherry Picking for Justice". Thanks.