Saturday, April 25, 2015

Texas justice strikes again

If it was a teevee show script, it would be laughed out of development.  Not even House of Cards would consider it because it's so ridiculous.  But it is government business as usual in Texas.

... Justice Bob Pemberton has worked for the former governor, representing him in court as his deputy general counsel. After that job, Perry appointed him to the Third Court of Appeals, which is now considering a request from Perry's lawyers to dismiss the abuse-of-power charges against him.

Pemberton also clerked for Tom Phillips, the retired chief justice of the Texas Supreme Court who is now on Perry's defense team. Pemberton's website features a photo of him being sworn in by Phillips — "his friend, supporter, and former boss." 

In addition to once working for Perry, being appointed by Perry and having clerked for one of Perry's current lawyers, Pemberton has been a political supporter of the former governor. Pemberton chipped in $1,000 for Perry's 2002 re-election campaign, according to state records.

No rational mind could come up with a scenario so absurd and call it 'justice'.

Judges are bound to have some connection to Perry, the longest-serving governor in Texas history, but Pemberton's relation is beyond the pale, according to some good-government experts.

"That court has always acted in a partisan manner, but in this case, Justice Pemberton should definitely recuse himself," said Craig McDonald, head of Texans for Public Justice, a liberal-leaning watchdog group responsible for the complaint that led to Perry's indictment. "There should definitely be a recusal." 

According to the Texas Rules of Civil Procedure, a judge must recuse himself or herself in any proceed in which "the judge’s impartiality might reasonably be questioned."

Pemberton did not respond to return a call and email Friday afternoon, and a court representative said he could not comment on the situation. In an email, Perry attorney Tony Buzbee rejected the need for Pemberton recuse himself. 

"Is it a conflict that our trial judge used to be supervised by the special prosecutor and that the trial judge then appointed the special prosecutor? I do not think it is a conflict or a story," Buzbee said.

Buzbee has, as he continues to reveal, gone way past his ethical expiration date also.

Judge Bert Richardson, who is now on the Court of Criminal Appeals, continues to oversee the Perry case. He was appointed after Travis County judges recused themselves from hearing the case. He appointed Mike McCrum as special prosecutor. McCrum used to supervise Richardson when the two worked at the U.S. attorney's office in San Antonio.

On Wednesday, the parties in the case were notified that three judges had been tapped to hear the appeal: Justices Scott Field, Scott David Puryear and Pemberton.

Where have we heard Puryear's name mentioned previously? Oh yeah, he and Pemberton sat on the three-judge panel that dismissed Tom Delay's money-laundering conviction, telling us that the definition of "campaign funds" does not include checks.

Perry's lawyers are working to persuade the appeals court to dismiss the indictment against the former governor, who was indicted last year on charges he abused his office and coerced a public servant. Perry's attorneys are seeking to reverse a decision in January by Richardson to let the case proceed.

Perry's lawyers have also filed a separate request to Richardson to quash the indictment, which was amended by prosecutors.

The fix is in again, folks.  This is what you get when you vote for people because they have an R behind their name.  And also what you get when you don't bother to vote at all.

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