Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Graves: State bar should discipline Charles Sebesta

Now that the Texas Legislature has extended the statute of limitations for the state bar to discipline prosecutors, exoneree Anthony Graves wants former Burleson County District Attorney Charles Sebesta to face discipline for withholding exculpatory evidence in the trial that sent him to death row. See coverage from:


Anonymous said...

Please join with your fellow prosecutors during the 2014 Prosecutor Trial Skills Course, where the esteemed Charles Sebesta will be our guest speaker and provide hints on cleaning old files after a verdict.

Registration underway now: http://www.tdcaa.com/training/2014-prosecutor-trial-skills-course

See you there!

Anonymous said...

This Sebasta story can't be right. After all, TDCAA issued a report last year on how ethical their members are and how rare prosecutorial misconduct is in Texas. Prosecutors would never cheat to win a case or fight to keep an innocent man in jail. Someone call John Bradley, he's a TDCAA expert on prosecutorial ethics, maybe he can tell us what's really going on with the allegations.

Anonymous said...

Intentionally orchestrating events with knowledge that a specific innocent person could very likely be killed...didn't that used to be a crime way back in the 90s?
I don't know, it's been a long time since law school and I don't practice.

The Homeless Cowboy said...

Sort of a sad commentary on the state of ethics in Texas Jurisprudence. Perhaps we should do a yearly roast of all the prosecutors that have completely twisted the legal system and ruined other peoples lives. It seems we could do so with the terrible state of affairs we are embroiled in what with the Bradley/Anderson fiasco now here comes Sebasta. Who have we become?

Michael Lowe said...

Good luck to Graves and his lawyer on moving forward with this --- as a veteran criminal defense lawyer practicing in Dallas, it will be interesting to see what happens in this state regarding prosecutorial misconduct in the next couple of years.

Anonymous said...

@10:02 AM
I honestly don't understand how that isn't (attempted) first degree murder. That the weapon used is the courts doesn't make it any less heinous.

Lee said...

While I do wish Anthony and his allies success in this endeavor I think that it might be more difficult to come by.

I have heard that they are trying to use a new law that resets the statute of limitations from when the misconduct was discovered to the date of the defendants release for grievances against prosecutors. The problem with this new law (that might be appended to the MM Act) is that it was passed in 2013 and Sabesta committed his misconduct long before that. The "ex post facto" part of the law means that it is real difficult (and almost unfair) to apply new laws retroactively to old cases. "Ex post facto" means that one is only held responsible for actions based upon the laws that were in effect at the time of the action. Humans cant be held responsible by future or past laws but only the laws that were in effect at that time. While the new MM Act makes it far easier to guard against future prosecutorial misconduct, it may not mean anything in this grievance. Grits, care to weigh in?

dfisher said...


Well here we are three weeks into the new year and we have the first accusation of prosecutorial misconduct, and this one came during the trial in open court.

In Wichita Falls TX the former Tarrant CO ME who performed the autopsy on the 4-month-old baby testified he was under threat from the Tarrant CO Chief ME, Peerwani and two county prosecutors, who were trying to pressure him to change his testimony. Cut and paste the below link to read the article.


Here you have a deputy medical examiner blowing the whistle on the collusion between the chief ME and district attorneys.

According to reporters from other news media who were present during the testimony, they said it was far worse for the prosecutors than the Reporter News disclosed in their article.

The thread that binds both the Michael Morton and Anthony Graves wrongful convictions is both had the same corrupt Travis Co former ME Roberto Bayardo.

As a final point, the Tarrant CO Chief ME Peerwani mentioned in the Times Record News article, just happens to be one of Perry's appointees to the TX Forensic Science Commission.

Go figure!

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Honestly, we're honest. We say so:

Anonymous said...

It isn't clear from the news article on the Benefield trial what specifically the prosecutor was being accused of that might constitute misconduct. Does anyone know, for certain?

dfisher said...


The DA wanted Lloyd White to testify the way she wanted him to, which was not what White's findings were. When she couldn't get White to commit perjury, she then wanted the Chief ME Peerwani to testify in place of White, like Peerwani did in the death of Ft. Worth police officer Dwayne Freeto in 2009. In the Freeto trial Peerwani testified he was present during the autopsy, but White says that is a lie. The autopsy was done on a Sunday and he was the only ME on duty that day. Peerwani had to testify he was present during some part of the autopsy to get around the confrontation clause of the U.S. Constitution.

This same thing almost happened in Johnson CO just before Christmas last year in the Angle Cook case, but when the District Attorney learned the autopsy report had been tampered with, he dropped the charges.

KAUZ Channel 6 TV News is doing an investigative piece this Thursday, Jan. 30, 2014 dealing with the underlying issue of the legality of Tarrant Co doing Wichita CO's autopsies. You can play the Friday pre-story report at:


Anonymous said...

So a JP must make a determination of cause and manner of death without the benefit of an autopsy. That sounds stupid.

dfisher said...

07:00 p.m.,

That is not what the statute says.

Under TX law since before the current constitution, JP's have been required to conduct "Inquest" not autopsies. Autopsies are discretionary and they are not required.

This has been the ruling of TX Courts for more than seventy years and ignored by those same court at the same time.

Medical Examiners, like JP's are also required to conduct Inquest and like JP's, they are magistrates. And under TX statutes, JP magistrates cannot order medical examiner magistrates to perform their autopsies.

The only way a JP county can have a medical examiner perform their autopsies is addressed under the TX Code of Criminal art. 49.25, sec. 1(a).

You should read John Cornyn's 2002 AG Opinion JC-0542. I think it will be helpful.

Anonymous said...

The ADAs in Dallas County pull the same stunts for those scientific experts that testify for the defense -- spread lies, infer they are hired whores, veiled threats of criminal prosecution. Then, the ADA bring in their own charlatans and suborn perjury knowing that only the DA's Office can pursue criminal charges of perjury.

Quid Pro Quo -- The charlatans get paid for lying, the ADAs don't charge them with perjury, the defendant goes to prison.

Anonymous said...

"...White tried to invoke his Fifth Amendment rights because he felt he was being harassed and bullied on the stand. Judge Bob Brotherton said White would have to testify..."

Are we to assume that he was subpoenaed by the defense? And why would he be forced to testify if he invoked his 5th?

"...White said he was threatened by the Wichita County District Attorney Maureen Shelton and Chief Medical Examiner Dr. Nizam Peerwani if he testified..."

Now that White has made the accusations, who investigates?

dfisher said...

10:50:00 PM,

I understand the the Dallas U.S. Attorney's Office asked the FBI to open an investigation into several issues involving the Tarrant CO ME's office and Peerwani.

I understand the medical examiner who did the autopsy on Trayvon Martin left the Tarrant CO ME's office for the same reason.

Anonymous said...

I'm still looking for details on what White is alleging. What is said in the article - that he was threatened if he testified - doesn't make any sense. If the defense subpoenaed him, he would have to testify. He couldn't just refuse to testify if called. So he was being threatened over something he had no control over?

Anonymous said...

10:19 - "...infer they are hired whores..."

That is a cross-examination tactic that is not specific to the prosecution. It is also commonly used by defense attorneys. Expert witnesses just accept this type of questioning as a routine element of the confrontational process.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps if prosecutorial misconduct were punishable by a death sentence, we could deter or eliminate it. The only thing rare about misconduct in Texas is that DA's and prosecutors are not caught in the act -- if it were not the case we wouldn't have burgeoning numbers of innocence cases and exonerees. Holding a man or woman's life in the balance while seeking justice should carry complete dedication to the truth. Consequences in abuse of the judicial process should be mutual and reciprocal.