Friday, January 18, 2008

"An offense to justice"

Republican Texas Supreme Court justice gets indicted for evidence tampering in an arson investigation (while Mrs. TSC judge catches the actual arson charge). Republican DA refuses to indict. Assistant foreman of the grand jury returning the indictments -- also a Republican -- goes public with the charge of political fixing.

Sorry, we've run out of popcorn; will chips and salsa be OK?

"Rosenthal resisted these indictments with a vigor I have never seen or heard before. The DAs office called my office last week and said we should not meet, the case was not viable and we should not indict. Obviously, that came from the top."

He continued, "Rosenthal went to the press (at the end of October) ... where he tried to sweep it under the rug. This really pisses me off. I am offended at his actions."

Dorrell said, "Our term ended on November 2 but our investigation of this issue had not been completed. We were held over for three months. This was the only case on our docket. Twelve citizens have put in countless hours on this issue. It is very irritating for someone who was not in the room with us decide not to prosecute.

"If this was a truck driver from Pasadena, he would have already been tried and convicted. Instead, there was a concerted effort by his office to protect this sitting elected Republican from the normal process of justice ."

"It is an offense to justice", Dorrell said.

Everybody caught the Joe Horn reference, right? Now Charlie:

Remember, Rosenthal had no problems taking C.O. Bradford (the Democratic nominee for DA this cycle) to court on flimsy evidence, and while he went out of his way to not prosecute onetime local GOP kingpin Steven Hotze on a drunk driving charge. He has an established history of questionable judgment, and it would seem that it's no better today.

Please note that I am not claiming that Justice Medina is guilty of anything. He very much gets and deserves the presumption of innocence that we all enjoy. My layman's view of the news stories, which I had not followed very closely before now, is that the state's case would be very circumstantial. It's quite possible that despite Mr. Dorrell's protests, Rosenthal is making the correct call to not pursue these charges. If Rosenthal's judgment were remotely trustworthy, there wouldn't be that much to say about this story. But his judgment is anything but trustworthy, and so I and I'm sure many other people are deeply suspicious of Rosenthal's actions here. That's corrosive to the justice system in general, and very unfair to the Medinas, who is owed a real chance to clear his name.

I don't know what's going to happen. Even with Rosenthal's issues, it would be a bad precedent for public opinion to put pressure on a DA to prosecute someone when that DA thinks the evidence is lacking. All that I can really conclude is that Rosenthal is well past his expiration date, and would be doing everybody a huge favor if he'd just get the hell out. That's the kind of public opinion pressure I can get behind.

Kuffner's being even-handed, but note for the record that there might be another axe to grind: that GJ asst. foreman is a very soft Republican, having resigned as a precinct chair to vote for Chris Bell in 2006.

Why he still remains a Republican after all the offense he has taken at their hands, I cannot fathom.

One last thing that goes back to the original complaint of evidence tampering against a sitting Supreme Court judge: the house in Spring -- the one that burned, the one Medina's wife is accused of torching -- wasn't insured, and Medina didn't know it.

Got that, all you homeowners out there?

I presume this would be evidence supporting Justice Medina's presumption of innocence. /sarcasm

Update: Here's this morning's update from the Chron. And Lisa Falkenberg adds:

A couple of weeks ago, when (grand jury foreman Robert) Ryan and Dorrell were trying to set up a date for the grand jury to meet again, the two jurors said (prosecutor Vic) Wisner tried to talk them out of it.

"He seemed very upset," Dorrell told me. "He said, 'Why are you guys meeting? This isn't a viable case.' "

Then Thursday, when Ryan told Wisner what indictments he wanted prepared, Ryan said the prosecutor refused: "He said, 'I will not do it.' And I said, 'Well, get your boss in here.' And he said, 'He knows all about it.' And he slammed the door and left. He came back later and said, 'All right, I'll prepare the indictments.' "

If the indictments are dismissed, Ryan said, grand jurors may try to re-indict. It's unfortunate when a panel must go to such lengths to carry out justice.

It's worse if the district attorney has gone to such lengths to obstruct it.

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