The Law West of the Pecos

PROSECUTORIAL MISCONDUCT

This court will come to order. There is an old activist movie called “Billy Jack” that is remembered for only one line in it. “When policemen break the law, there is no law.”

Well, today I want to talk to you about a more serious offense and a more serious issue called Prosecutorial Misconduct. When prosecutors break the law, which is something this country and even Texas has seen quite a rash of lately. The most obvious example is United States Attorney General Holder and his involvement in the “Fast and Furious” operation that was undertaken by his Department of Justice. It was a blatant violation of several laws, Federal and State, and likely resulted in the death of border police and contributed to weapons being provided to the terrorists south of our border that only recently murdered over 40 people and mutilated their bodies. The Attorney General was aware of this project, and the only real question was when he was aware of it. An independent prosecutor should be appointed to investigate this obvious misconduct by the chief law enforcement officer of the United States, and he should step down during such investigation. That is what the law calls for and what a prudent, honest person would do. However, Mr. Holder’s boss will not do that. No surprise there, so perhaps Congress, or the people themselves, should see to Mr. Holder’s recusal and the independent investigation.

It appears that District Attorneys, another name for prosecutor, in Texas have also been involved in misconduct. The Cameron County District Attorney, Armando Villalobos, has been indicted by a Federal Grand Jury for taking over $100,000 in bribes and kickbacks in exchange for using his prosecutorial discretion to reduce or even stop criminal charges against felons, including a convicted murderer. This has been going on for years and, what further aggravates the matter, and Billy Bob Bean as well, is a local judge was also involved and has already pled guilty to similar charges. Villalobos should step down from his position and do so immediately. He cannot be allowed to continue to exercise the incredible power that a District Attorney has on a daily basis over the lives of Texas citizens. But get this, he is also running for the US Congress from the new 34th District. He has raised $150,000 for his campaign, has been ranked second in the Democratic primary by some polls…..AND HE REFUSES TO STEP DOWN AS DISTRICT ATTORNEY AND WILL NOT SUSPEND HIS CONGRESSIONAL CAMPAIGN.

CD-34 Republican candidate, Adela Garza, has been warning citizens in the district of the culture of corruption existing in the area. It turns out she was absolutely correct. When prosecutors break the law, there not only is no law; but innocent citizens are placed at risk, can be intimidated with the abuse of the incredible power of the prosecutor, and there is no justice. This is something the State Attorney General, Greg Abbott, should investigate as well. Mr. Villalobos must step down or be removed, and he must suspend his Congressional Campaign.

Yet another District Attorney, Pat Lykos in Harris County, is facing a primary race in the face of a state Grand Jury investigation into her office. The investigation doesn’t seem to have produced evidence of criminal wrongdoing, but Lykos should have stepped down during that investigation. She did not. It appears that she does not have any management or people skills. Most of her assistant District Attorneys have left the office because of her management “style”. Citizens, hear Judge Billy Bob Bean on these issues: When District Attorneys are involved in questionable behavior it must be reviewed, and because they are attorneys, they have an ethical responsibility to avoid even the appearance of impropriety. This requires that they remove themselves from the situation during the investigation and yet some do not do so. This reflects poorly on the legal profession and it destroys public confidence in the powerful function of prosecutor. When Prosecutors Break The Law, There Is No Justice.

Several Texas District Attorneys are facing primary opposition this year. In Travis County, Ronnie Earle, who had been the DA for decades, a Texas legend and involved in all kind of things, was replaced in 2008 by Rosemary Lehmberg. Now she has a primary opponent, Charlie Beard. It has been ages since there was a contested Democratic Primary in Travis County for District Attorney. Mr. Beard is running on the same slogan Robert Kennedy ran on…"We can do better". He and others have questioned the huge amount of money donations to Lehmberg by defense attorneys in Austin. Folks, pay attention to this election because it brings up the subject of money being given to District Attorneys. This is always a touchy area and it can be the beginning of impropriety. You need only look to Cameron County to see where money surrounding prosecutorial discretion can soon lead. Nothing apparently wrong here….yet.

The District Attorney in Montgomery County is facing fierce opposition from two opponents in the Republican Primary. Allegations have surfaced that prosecutions have been focused on innocent citizens and that tax dollars have been wasted on mean spirited and abusive prosecutions taking legal positions not supported by the law. Additionally, questions have been raised about large campaign donations to the District Attorney by a law enforcement officers Union. One opponent, Gilbert Garcia, has suggested that the District Attorney has wasted tax payer money on such prosecutions. Indeed, Judge Billy Bob recalls an article in the Wall Street Journal on December 13, 2011 showing a $300,000 military style drone, painted like a Montgomery County Sheriff’s vehicle, and an equally expensive armored car from out of a World War II movie. I wonder if the Montgomery County voters really wanted to pay for such things, and for goodness sakes, what is the District Attorney doing with an unmanned drone? One of the opponents has accused the District Attorney of “conduct unbecoming a District Attorney” and released a video of the District Attorney in a “controlled rant” wherein he appears to be intimidating people present at a candidate forum, including a judge. These issues present some serious concerns about leadership by the District Attorney and, once again, money being given to a sitting prosecutor in the form of a campaign donation. Citizens, this list could go on for awhile. I want to urge each of you to be mindful of your freedoms, first among those being the right to vote by a secret ballot. Make certain that you vote. All of the above circumstances have one unfortunate trait in common. Each of these prosecutors appears to have engaged in various forms of misconduct or the appearance of impropriety. They have forgotten that they are Public Servants, with the emphasis on the word Servant. You are that public. You may express your disapproval of certain of your servants. That is what voting and elections are all about. Show your servants what you think of them.

WHEN PROSECUTORS BREAK THE LAW, THERE IS NO JUSTICE.

This Court Stands Adjourned.

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