Thursday, July 30, 2015

Waller Co. DA sets up Sandra Bland investigative panel

Ed. Note: As Grits prepares to go on vacation for a couple of weeks, Rebecca Bernhardt and Emily Gerrick from the Texas Fair Defense Project have agreed to guest blog in my absence. This is Becky's first post.

In an apparent effort to provide independent review of the death of Sandra Bland, Waller County DA Elton Mathis has established a panel of volunteer lawyers to investigate the case.

According to Texas Lawyer, the panel of four attorneys only has two members so far, criminal defense attorneys Darrell Jordan of Houston and Lewis White of Sugar Land.

While the effort to create some independent entity to replace the local DA's office in the criminal investigation should be lauded, delegating the authority to volunteers who have not been independently selected and lack the expertise and resources of a DA's office does not inspire confidence.

As noted criminal defense attorney Dick DeGuerin pointed out in the Texas Lawyer, DA Mathis has multiple tools available when his offices has a conflict in a criminal investigation:

1) Ask the regional presiding judge to appoint a special prosecutor;
2) Appoint a special prosecutor yourself, preferably someone with prosecutorial experience who is from another region of the state.

Of DeGuerin's suggestions, I prefer the first because it removes even the selection of the special prosecutor from local hands.


tiapa said...

DeGuerin is quite correct, especially on his first suggestion. I'm not sure why a lawyer would volunteer to juggle this hot potato. No matter the outcome bullets will be flying directly at Mathis and the volunteer panel. I assume this is why volunteers are not lining up at the door. As Grits suggested, "Ask the regional presiding judge to appoint a special prosecutor".

Unknown said...

A special prosecutor is extremely important. I am wondering why the DOJ and Loretta Lynch aren't stepping in here. Is it b/c this is a woman? A black woman? The videos of this arrest were tampered with which requires investigation and charges; and what was left on them is still horrific.

Kelley Ryberg said...

It's amusing how everyone is harping on the high profile criminal lawyer aspect like DeGuerin when it's obviously a case of civil rights violations. It's almost like the supposed Bland advocates want to lose.

Hire Gerald Goldstein in San Antonio, a firm that has a proven track record with SCOTUS if you want real results. Sandra Bland's family and everyone else deserve at least a serious look into this corruption of law enforcement.

Thomas R. Griffith said...

Rebecca & Emily, ladies please allow me to issue a hardy Congrats! regarding your first GFB Article. I apologize for coming to the party a lil late but to be honest I never noticed your name over in the margin until today.

Please consider creating more article(s) to submit to GFB in anticipation of slow days or, when Grits simply just needs some time off.

*I personally hope to read about your experiences and views in regards to the - Texas TapOut. They say it's got a good back beat but no matter how hard you try, you can't dance to it in a crowded judge's chambers (I should know because I tried). If you don't know about the Texas TapOut by now, you are either too old or, too busy tapping-out clients to realize it.