Sunday, June 23, 2013

The things we (allegedly) do for our kids: Bexar prosecutor edition

The things we (allegedly) do for our kids: On Friday afternoon the SA Express-News published a story titled "Prosecutor leaves DA amid controversy." Here's how it opened:
A high-ranking member of District Attorney Susan Reed's team has left the office, weeks after the Express-News exposed a driving while intoxicated case involving her son that was dismissed with little explanation.

Adriana Biggs — who had been a Bexar County prosecutor for nearly two decades, the last eight years at the helm of the white collar crimes division — left her post Thursday, First Assistant District Attorney Cliff Herberg confirmed. ...

Previously chief of the major crimes division, Biggs took over the white collar crimes unit from Herberg when he was promoted in 2005, and he said he will work with the division until her replacement is found.

Biggs' then-18-year-old son, Truman Biggs, was arrested during Fiesta last year after two Breathalyzer tests registered a blood alcohol level of 0.17. The legal limit is 0.08.

The case was handed to a special prosecutor, who declined to pursue charges in December, noting in court documents only that it was in the “interest of justice.”
The story concluded that, "Reed filed court documents last week acknowledging the case has caused a stir and asking County Court-at-Law No. 6 Judge Wayne Christian to appoint a new special prosecutor to re-examine it. Adriana Biggs has denied exerting influence over the case." See also a related Express-News staff editorial published online Friday titled, "Pretrial diversion should not be for a select few," which ended thusly:
This is the third time in three years that adult children of DA office employees, or who are friends of the district attorney's family, have been afforded the opportunity to participate in pretrial diversion programs not generally available to adult defendants in Bexar County.

In 2010, special prosecutor Therese Huntzinger offered pretrial diversion to Christopher Mueller, then 27, a Reed family friend, who was arrested after a weapon was found in his backpack at the airport.

In 2011, Samuel Brandon, then 18, son of Assistant District Attorney Jay Brandon, was given pretrial diversion after he was charged with felony theft after he and a friend attempted to walk out of a Wal-Mart with $1,800 worth of electronics, San Antonio Express-News columnist Brian Chasnoff reported.

In all three cases, the defendants benefited from being connected with the district attorney's office in some manner and having special prosecutors appointed to their cases who offered pretrial diversion programs.

Reed is working to establish a program by the end of the summer to allow pretrial diversion for young offenders ages 17 to 21 who are charged with nonviolent, misdemeanor offenses. Defendants charged with DWI and family violence would not qualify for the program.

Ironically, none of the recent cases handled by special prosecutors would have qualified for the program under the proposed guidelines.

Giving young adults who get into trouble with the law a second chance to get on with their lives and careers has merit. Allowing greater access to such benefits to a small group with the right connections does not.
It is time to balance the scales of justice for all defendants in Bexar County.


John C. Key MD said...

This is a no-brainer. This pre-trial practice should be applied to ALL eligible offenders, not just scions of the legal elite. Mom doesn't need to resign, though. Just clean up the hanky-panky.

Anonymous said...

Sounds like she is about to launch a successful political career.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

That's the Us vs. Them shit in action and in your face.

If we checked on Harris County, we'd see that this is bidness as usual. Family taking care of family.

rodsmith said...

no 1:23 it's not who you know!

It's WHAT you know on who you know that counts!


JJ said...

When I was 19 years old I was charged with Using DL of another (1990). I was booked in jail just before midnight and released shortly after midnight receiving credit for 2 days in jail. This negated the fine for the offense and I didn't get any indication that I needed to go to court to follow up. Just book, release, and nothing. Well, now my record shows a conviction for Fraud, somehow morphing from a Class C misdemeanor to what appears to most as a felony. I can't tell you how many times this has cost me a job. That was over 20 years ago and here I sit. Unemployed. Again. Because of this stupid teenager thing. And I don't have any recourse under Texas law to get it changed. This is very frustrating seeing all the high class misdemeanors and felonies wiped away on the privileged while I continue to get punished for a Class C misdemeanor committed over 20 years ago. I wish someone could help.

Bruce D. said...

I agree with Force, this mess needs to be cleaned up and everyone needs to be treated equally.

Unknown said...

I think what's really going on here is that the defense lawyers who are appointed to be special prosecutors are just that, defense lawyers. They see, on a daily basis, how disproportional punishment is for youthful offenders who commit some relatively minor offense, who then have it branded onto their record for life. Without the constraint of the current DA's prohibition on pretrial diversion, these defense lawyers are free to offer up a more just resolution of the cases. I know it looks like favoritism, but (in my opinion) it's not.

Anonymous said...

Sadly, the ADA was fired because she refused to make a public statement that she only spoke to the special prosecutor "as a mother, not as an ADA." She refused to sign such a statement because she never said a single word to the special prosecutor. The elected DA then gave her a choice--resign or be fired. She emphatically refused to resign because she didn't do anything wrong. Thus, she was escorted out of the building and fired!!!! Bexar DA Susan Reed is off her rocker.
In a recent case she refused to recuse her office from prosecuting her OWN DOCTOR--who passed a polygraph where the results showed he was truthful when he stated he had sex with her!