Harris County Grand Jury Reform

It has been widely reported that Harris County DA’s office decided to send the HPD homicide investigation to Montgomery County DA Brett Ligon. While this is not a crime in and of itself, Houstonians deserve a complete and independent investigation by a source free from connections to HPD. I am sure that Harris County District Attorney Devon Anderson would argue that she would have been criticized if Harris County had retained the investigation or farmed it out; but, was it really necessary to send the investigation to the district attorney with direct connections to the Houston Police Officers’ Union? This is a fundamental question of judgment.

The Chronicle has it right when they call for an independent investigation of the Police. The officers themselves should want their names cleared by an independent investigation. Think about the crime lab investigation performed by Michael Bromwich, an independent entity.

The investigation cannot remain with the Harris County District Attorney’s office because Ray Hunt Anderson Photothe current appointed district attorney, Devon Anderson, has a relationship with the Houston Police Officer’s Union. This group was instrumental in generating an opportunity for Mike Anderson to be elected. Additionally, we know that Devon has represented at least one member of the Houston Police Department. After Mike took office, the remaining Chad Holley cases were delegated to special prosecutors because Devon represented one of the police officer defendants.

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Mike Anderson whispering to his 4 time appointed grand jury foreman Patricia Pollard, and the grand jury foreman of the 185th grand jury.

Then, Allen Blakemore’s connection to everything evil cannot be overlooked. He served as Mike’s political consultant. He is currently Devon’s consultant. He is Brett Ligon’s consultant. He has a relationship with the police union. It is public record now that Allen Blakemore knows how to use a grand jury for a political purpose: think 185th. That evildoing involved Judge Mike Anderson’s longtime grand juror, Patricia Pollard, along with Blakemore, Judge Susan Brown, and many others. A picture is worth a thousand words.

While this group is willing to use a grand jury (along with special prosecutors, the District Attorney’s office, and judges) for a political purpose, the real issue is the grand jury system. The major metropolitan areas in Texas have done away with the grand jury commissioner system. Not only is it unnecessary, it is unjust. The commissioner system allows judges to pick their friends as commissioners and grand jurors. It permits people like Pollard to sit on multiple grand juries for the same judge. We know that she served as Mike Anderson’s grand jury foreman for four grand jury terms.

There is a just alternative: selecting grand jurors from the jury pool. A few Harris County District Court judges have pulled their grand jurors from the jury pool; so, selection from the jury pool can certainly be done in Harris County. Of course, this system would not allow judges like Susan Brown to put together a political grand jury. It would also stop shenanigans like Judge Marc Brown, Susan’s husband, appearing before his wife’s grand jury without a prosecutor. And, a grand jury from the jury pool would easily sniff out “special” prosecutors like Jim Mount and Stephen St. Martin.Screenshot 2014-04-13 10.19.07

In 2004, the Houston Chronicle pointed out the ethical dilemma of the grand jury commissioner system. The system was designed for actors with integrity. Without people of integrity, the system fails.

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8 thoughts on “Harris County Grand Jury Reform

  1. Facts are a stubborn thing. I am having fun going back and reading some of the comments, always Anonymous said….One that I thought deserved special mention, and we will be discussing many for the Murray’s Morons/Seigler feet in the air of the Crown Vic supporters, is this one. I want you to think about why this comment is being called out. It is not because of what this particular Murray moron says. It is a sincere belief that this person thinks they are defending justice and Rachel does not. Quite the opposite because when you support the type of BS that went on with the 185th Grand Jury you are the criminal. I am betting this person also knew that Patricia,”Bat Shit Crazy”, Pollard was Mike Anderson’s Grand Jury foreman 4 times, just like the commissioners that Susan Brown had select her. How dare this mental midget question Rachel’s integrity. There is a special place in hell and Mike Anderson is keeping it warm for you!

    From Murray’s Blog on December 20, 2011
    Anonymous said…
    (I am an ADA here in Harris County, and I am pissed. I started writing a comment, grew even angrier and more verbose, and decided to break it up into three separate comments. )

    Part 1:
    I don’t know if people outside the CJC have any idea of the number of truly heinous crimes and tragedies we handle every day in the courthouse (I don’t think that Lykos herself understands, really). Just take a look at the first 10 headlines on any given day, and most of them are cases that the DA’s office is handling or will be handling—children beaten to death, children molested by a trusted coach, people abducted, etc. These cases continue on unabated in spite all the foolishness of the administration.

    Those of us who prosecute know that the families of these victims trust us with what little faith they have left to muster. We know how difficult and sometimes depressing (although rewarding) it is to meet with those families. Occasionally, those families have thought about seeking their own vengeance. We persuade them to just wait, trust the system, and let the process play out while we seek justice. They need to believe that we are sincere, trustworthy, and that we will spend the needed time and resources on their case. It is so difficult to gain the trust of those families, and so easy to lose it.

    And now…I know some of those families are watching the coverage of the mockery that this administration is making of this DA’s office and the justice system. It pains me to think of them watching us defend ourselves at all costs, including the cost of their own loved one. What clowns they must think we are—publicly so focused on delaying justice, when their own loved one’s killer waits seemingly forever for trial. I think of their sleepless nights after seeing this. How can they possibly believe that we are actively seeking justice for them, when we are so busy defending ourselves? How they possibly trust a system that top DAs are now publicly claiming is broken?

    Palmer doesn’t understand why we are all furious with her. It’s because those of us who have stayed despite everything do so to try to minimize the damage this administration has done to justice. We fight every day to make a difference in the cases that we handle, to prosecute thoughtfully and wisely. It’s like standing here plugging our fingers in a crumbling dike. This choice comes at a real cost to most of us. I hoped that maybe even though I was working overtime and missing my child, maybe I could make the world a little bit more just, maybe help someone else’s child that doesn’t have all the advantages that mine has. Because of all that, I AM PISSED IN A VERY PERSONAL WAY AT THE ADMINISTRATION AND PALMER. We sacrificed all this for you to throw it all away?!? For a piddly county election seat?!? THESE ARE PEOPLE’S LIVES. Neither Lykos nor Palmer care one whit for the victims of Harris County, nor for the defendants, nor for justice.

    Shame on all of you. Rachel. Lykos. And Jim and Roger. Each of you would rather bring down every last one of us, let every defendant walk, and let every victim twist in the wind rather than ANY of you taking a righteous stand.

    Even Chuck, in his pain-pill induced state, was willing to step down rather than take the entire office and justice system down with him. Congratulations, you have less integrity than Chuck Rosenthal in his darkest days.

    Signed,
    Angry ADA Seeking Justice
    December 20, 2011 at 10:35 PM

    Anonymous said…
    Part 2

    I don’t think Rachel or the admin gets it. So here it is:
    Why Rachel Palmer Should No Longer Be an ADA—A Primer

    I. Taking the 5th Amendment logically means one of two things, either of which is incompatible with being an ADA:
    a. You are taking the 5th to avoid incriminating yourself. Which means that you believe that if you answer those questions truthfully, you will incriminate yourself. Which means you have done something incriminating, i.e. you have committed a crime. You should not be an ADA.
    b. You don’t believe that you have committed a crime, but are trying to cover up for someone else. But by claiming the 5th, you are asserting that you may incriminate yourself. Since this is a lie in this scenario, and a very serious one at that, you should not be an ADA.

    II. Rachel Palmer hid and covered up knowledge of wrongdoing and exculpatory evidence from defense counsel, and even from other prosecutors, denying justice. Rachel knew months before this investigation that she was concealing wrongdoing. When prosecutors asked her for any email regarding the BAT vans that might be Brady material, Rachel would refuse to allow EVEN FELLOW PROSECUTORS to see the relevant emails. Time and time again, she took steps to show that she was trying to cover up who knew what, when.

    Signed,
    Angry ADA Seeking Justice
    December 20, 2011 at 10:38 PM

    Anonymous said…
    Part 3:

    Further Evidence that Lykos and Leitner don’t care about justice:
    There has been some recent discussion on this blog about grand jury terms possibly ending unexpectedly on December 31st. You would think that we would be given some guidance about this at the DA’s office. Instead, Leitner became very angry and agitated when asked about it at a meeting. He stated that he didn’t want to discuss it. He just doesn’t get it. It’s not about the two investigations focusing on this office, it’s about the literally 1000s of cases currently open that we are handling. Some division chiefs told their people earlier this week that there may be no grand juries up and running until January 30th. Yikes.

    For those outside the CJC, this is why this is a big deal: To proceed with felony charges, a grand jury must indict a case. If the defendant is in jail, the case must be indicted within 90 days, or the defendant is entitled to a bond he can make (basically, if the office fails to get an indictment within 90 days, the defendant will get out on bail). This includes murders, aggravated robberies, rape, etc. In Harris County, we handle such a huge case volume that grand juries typically meet every day, and prosecutors plan accordingly. To suddenly tell us that we might be 40, 45 days without a grand jury is alarming because some very dangerous defendants could be released from jail. You think that the administration would also be concerned and would give us some guidance on this. Why don’t we see a memo from general counsel’s office about what we can expect? Why are we left floundering?

    Signed,
    Angry ADA Seeking Justice
    December 20, 2011 at 10:40 PM

    Anonymous said…
    Angry ADA I read your post and you really speak the truth. That came from your heart and I get what a miserable situation this is. What Palmer has done is make a mockery of the office. A person like her tarnishes the good name of the men and women at that office who are fighting the good fight… Murrary I have never had the pleasure of meeting you but I praise you.. a forum like this where you can get the real story out is amazing.. But please for all of us news watchers get that Palmer woman to wipe that smirk off her face …she is not cute.. not funny …and she seem to think this is a joke.
    December 20, 2011 at 11:17 PM

    Did this person commit suicide when Mike Anderson welcomed Rachel back to his administration?

    Andrew, Inger, any of this familiar to you?

    Part of the up coming where are they now series starring Stephen St. Martin, Jim Mount, Ed Porter, Mike Anderson, Allen Blakemore, and Murray Newman.

    Susan Brown, Marc Brown, Patricia Pollard and Pat Downing have their own section, in case you were wondering.

  2. The problem is when you use a grand jury for an unlawful purpose you have committed a crime. The many who participated in this activity are known and some are frying in hell.

  3. So which prosecutors knew at least six months prior to Pat Lykos leaving office about Ryan Chandler not testifying in homicide cases, maybe Maria McAnulty knows, trial division chief.

    Remember no pleading the 5th, we have a great motion to compel by David Cunningham we can use.

    Devon,
    Rachel is whistling a tune, can you hear it.

    • Amanda, really, you have not learned your lesson yet? Now I am going to ask for sanctions and the rest of the legal fees. You are making very bad life choices. You are mad at Rachel when it was HPD that threw you under the bus. Don’t you find it ironic that the BAT vans are used to this day. The very instruments you said didn’t work continue to make cases. You completely made all this up because some defense lawyer convinced you that you could consult on DUI cases and make money. We will have all your money from those endeavors, not because we are mean and vindictive. We will have all your money because that is justice. Next time you and Chip want to pick a fight you may want to do it with someone who has far fewer resources. Amanda, all bullies get their ass kicked and just consider this your teachable moment. I know from your lawyers that you are not real smart and I expect nothing to change.

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