|« DMN - Plano's economic development board seeks restraining order against activist||City of Frisco offers Exide info web site »|
This is a very disturbing story.
It involves a DWI case that appears to have been "fixed" by a senior prosecutor in the Collin County District Attorney's office.
DA John Roach's response six months later?
- 'Reassign' the prosecutor accused of the 'fix' and her boss.
- Fire the original prosecutor who had the case taken away from him by his superior and then complained about it, in what sure looks like 'firing the whistle blower'.
- Complain about the laws that allow people found innocent to have their arrest records expunged.
- Order an investigation.
The DWI arrest in question was last November. The 'fix' was in June. How much time does Mr. Roach need to ask his own employees what happened?
Collin County and its District Attorney have a well justified reputation for being tough on law breakers. Unless he wants to be seen as just another good ol boy politician protecting his own, Roach needs to take swift, public and decisive action to bring anyone guilty of a breach of the public trust to justice. Roach says he has zero tolerance for drunk drivers. He needs to reassure the citizens that he has exactly that same amount of tolerance for those who abuses the public trust in the justice system.
DA Roach is retiring at the end of 2010. His actions and that of 2 of his prosecutors should provide grist for an interesting discussion between the candidates who want our votes to become the next district attorney.
DWI case disappears in Collin County courts
Friday, October 23, 2009
By BRETT SHIPP / WFAA-TV
PLANO — Two North Texas men who tried to get a drunk driver off the streets and into a courtroom are confused and upset.
The seemingly iron-clad DWI case against the driver somehow vanished in the Collin County court system until News 8 became involved.
Adam Bennett and Steven Tibbles were scheduled to tell their story to a jury this past summer, but never got the chance. So they are telling it to News 8.
Last November in Plano, Bennett and Tibbles say they witnessed an apparent drunk driver.
"He swerved over and almost hit us," Bennett said. "Another car passed him and he almost hit him as well. He almost hit several cars."
Tibbles said the driver “obviously was not suitable for driving."
Bennett and Tibbles called 911 and followed the driver to a convenience store, where he was intercepted by Plano police. The incident report spells out what happened next.
The investigating officer said he smelled the "odor of an intoxicating beverage on his breath."
Police said the driver failed the eye test, observing "a lack of smooth pursuit in both of his eyes," which were described as "watery."
On the field sobriety, walk-and-turn test, the officer said the driver "stepped off the line" several times and "raised his arms and swayed."
But the most incriminating evidence in any DWI case is the Intoxilyzer test. In this case, the driver "blew" a 0.14, nearly twice the legal limit.
Despite the evidence, the driver and his attorney insisted on a jury trial.
Bennett and Tibbles were subpoenaed by the Collin County District Attorney's office and were eager to testify. The Collin County prosecutor assigned to the case amassed seven witnesses, gathered all the evidence, and set the trial for June 22.
But ten days before trial, something happened.
The court's chief prosecutor, Kerrie Walker, took the case away from the original prosecutor. Walker dismissed all the witnesses and filed paperwork waiving the jury trial.
She reset the case for July 23, a day the regular judge would be gone. In his place was a visiting judge who had no previous knowledge of the case.
On the day of the hearing, Walker apparently presented no evidence or witnesses.
The driver, who allegedly posed such a threat to the public, was quickly found "not guilty."
No probation. No community service. No fines.
And — according to the witnesses to the crime — there was no justice.
"Where's our justice system?" asked Tibbles. "Why do we have laws if that kind of thing is just going to happen? If people are just going to be able to walk from an open-and-shut case?"
Bennett and Tibbles say they have several questions for Court Chief Kerrie Walker, who abruptly took over the case.
Walker declined to discuss the case with News 8 and referred us to her supervisor, Curtis Howard, who also has declined to comment. Howard was allegedly notified of the disappearing DWI case this summer.
Howard failed to pass along the concerns to District Attorney John Roach, who says he has a zero tolerance attitude toward drunk drivers.
"If we can prove that you committed a DWI, then we are going to prosecute that case," Roach said. "It's just that simple."
Now that the case of the disappearing DWI has come to his attention, Roach said he has concerns of his own. He said both Walker and Howard have been reassigned pending a full investigation.
"Nobody should be making any mistake about what my attitude is and what my policies are here, and people who deviate from those policies without some excuse or justification are going to be investigated," Roach said.
As for the identity of the alleged drunk driver in question, that information will never be made public because the case was legally expunged from the files — all records are purged as if it never happened.
District Attorney Roach said he is frustrated by the Texas expungement laws. He said he has been fighting to have them changed, but he still feels he knows enough about this case to hold his prosecutors accountable.
His own comments point out that he is either clueless or complicit about illegal and unethical actions being perpetrated by the DA's office. There needs to be a full investigation by the Commissioners, District Judges, and the Attorney General regarding the many improprieties Roach and his lieutenants have overseen during his tenure.
Another example of the "fine men and women" of the Collin County DA's office?
While some surely must be fine men and women, it is very clear that others are simply and longstandingly corrupt from the top down.
Roach's own people used the law to have the records expunged - yet Roach blames the laws - not his subordinates who follow his orders - for the problem.
To the point of tears for Justice Lost being wept ....
It is also interesting to wonder whether the Office of the District Attorney is using its powers of investigation to punish political opponents.
Does anyone know?
The reason this goes on is that Judges, DA's, ADA's, and public servants such as police officers are given IMMUNITY from prosecution.
Who gave them this immunity?
Do you remember ever voting for such laws? Nope.
Do you think it's fair or right?
The truth is, 99.9% of the people don't even know that these "public servants" can and do invoke their own immunity from both criminal and civil liability arising from their own lawlessness.
Don’t believe it?
Ask any reputable attorney, or here’s a thought: look up the laws on immunity yourselves and become educated.
Immunity of this type is a “we are above the law – because we ARE the law” anachronism that harkens back to the days of Dictators, Kings and Queens.
You know, the guys our Founding Fathers fought against.
Such laws are patently UN-American.
If you want this to stop, then demand changes in the laws that eliminate such immunities and hold OUR public servants (at the very least ! ) to the same standards to which we are held.
While you’re at it – look up “Jury Nullification”.
This is where the Jury has the ultimate power to decide, because of the specific circumstances involved, NOT to enforce a law because to do so in such circumstances would be adverse to the pursuit of Justice.
In Texas, juries are NOT instructed they have this power – and in fact it is prohibited that they be so informed in court.
We The People – as embodied by the JURY – not the judges, not the lawyers – have the power.
And you wonder why we're getting screwed to the wall?
I don't know who's the "establishment" candidate you're speaking of, but if you are talking about frontrunners, and if I am to assume that you are talking about Greg Willis, then you are sorely mistaken if you think he would tolerate this kind of behavior, if true. Greg's been on both sides of the aisle and is, in my opinion, the most qualified candidate for the job.
What Kerrie Walker is accused of doing with that DWI was what is called a "stand and rest" trial, where no evidence is presented. It is done routinely in Collin County and in a lot of places, especially those that espouse "tough of crime" attitudes. Instead of simply dismissing a crappy case that should have never been filed in the first place, the assistant DA in the court room will do a stand and rest. That way, the buck is passed to the judge, who has no choice but to acquit the defendant. If the DA chooses to present no evidence, there is nothing that the judge can do about it and he has to find the defendant not guilty. The reason assistant DA's do stand and rest trials is because the DA doesn't want to explain why he is dismissing cases, so he won't dismiss them. "Hey, the police arrested him, so why should I be dismissing the case?" The real answer is because a lot of cops are dopes who make a lot of mistakes, resulting in crappy cases. That doesn't play as well as "I'm tough on crime," though.
The irony, here, is that Roach really is tough on DWI, as is everybody in North Texas. He said something to the effect of "If we can prove it, we'll prosecute it." Nonesense. He prosecutes tons of DWI's that he can't prove, which is why juries acquit so many people of DWI in Collin County. Because the assistant DA's are graded on jury trial wins, they will frequently beg the defense attorney to agree to try it to the judge instead of the jury. On really bad DWI (meaning bad for the state, i.e., poor guy doesn't look drunk, act drunk, maybe he blew under the limit--yes, Roach prosecutes people that have blood tests or breath tests under .08)), the assistant DA will often agree to do a stand and rest to persuade the defense attorney to waive jury trial. The weird thing about this one is that it appears that this was a strong case for the state. It is certainly not the norm in Collin County for the DA's office to take a dive on a good DWI.
Please keep your comments civil. Intelligent debate suffers when the writer resorts to name calling.
In the future, I will delete comments that cross the line of simple courtesy.
Roger: You'd have to ask the John Roach why he was afraid to let his prosecutors try cases to Judge Willis. While you're at it, ask him why his prosecutors, the one's that actually know something about the cases, constantly feel the need to do stand and rest bench trials in order to avoid being embarrassed at trial. It's probably because he gives them no discretion to do what needs to be done and his absurd policies don't allow it either.
While your at it, ask Roach why he keeps Chris Milner around after Milner has made a fool of him by indicting every attorney and politician within a 50 mile radius of COllin County, only to see just about every case get thrown out, generally because what Milner was able to indict wasn't even a crime. Only someone with very bad judgment would keep someone like that around. Roach must think that Milner has been doing a good job, which, of course, says a lot about Roach.
By the way, word has it that Milner already has a job offer to go work in Rockwall County if that Jim Skinner gets elected there. The same word has it that Milner already has a residence there in anticipation. The same goes for Greg Davis. What's interesting is supposedly Roach is investigating the whole matter involving the firing of the whistle blower, but, assuming Milner and Davis are already in bed with Skinner, his top leadership sure seems to have a conflict of interest, seeing that Skinner is the one who got one of Roach's assistant's to do his client's bidding and punt on a solid DWI.
Roger, since you don't like Greg Willis, who do you support? Who do you think would be better? Angelino? Please. De La Garza? Maybe in another 100 years. Jeff Bray? Nice guy, but not too rounded in his experience. The good news is that it will definitely be someone different. Any of the guys running now would be better than Roach. I bet none of them would keep that Milner guy.
Comments are closed for this post.