Friday, December 16, 2011

I'll have a fifth, please

On Thursday morning, Harris County Assistant District Attorney Rachel Palmer appeared before a grand jury looking into the troubled HPD mobile alcohol testing vans (BATmobiles). Ms. Palmer invoked her Fifth Amendment right to remain silent and refused to answer any questions.

The grand jury then filed a motion to compel with State District Judge Susan Brown. A hearing on that motion was held Thursday afternoon after which Judge Brown announced she would hear from both sides on Monday.

Now why would the ADA invoke her right to remain silent? Don't they like to tell us that an innocent person has nothing to hide? That our client had the opportunity to give his side of the story but chose not to?

And how might her answering questions incriminate her?

Did the Harris County DA's Office know about the problems with the BATmobiles? Did prosecutors provide that information to defense attorneys? Were prosecutors aware they were putting on perjured testimony regarding the reliability of the breath test machines in the vans? Did the DA's Office prosecute motorists knowing that the "evidence" upon which they relied was faulty?

However this shakes out, it's a black eye for Harris County DA Pat Lykos. It doesn't look good when a prosecutor refuses to answer questions from a grand jury investigating the conduct of both the police and the DA's Office.

I just wonder if the DA's Office is so hell bent on prosecuting DWI's that they will violate the law in so doing, what do they do on more serious cases?

See also:

"Your Fifth Amendment at work," Defending People (12/15/11)
"Motion to compel," Life at the Harris County Criminal Justice Center (12/15/11)

2 comments:

fsulaw2007 said...

In DUI cases it appears to be frequently forgotten that the police and prosecutors job is to advocate for justice not victory. In Florida FDLE has been on a MADD dash to conceal that 40% of the breath test machines were improperly measuring sample volume. Other states have decided to order the machines without the ability to obtain breath test sample volume. Agencies are moving away from videoing arrests. This is all based on the fact that if the jury could see the video or the inaccuracies (the truth) they might not convict. Daytona Beach DUI Attorney

Paul B. Kennedy said...

Kevin,

Thanks for the comment. Please don't spam your comment with links. I'm running it this time because you had something of substance to add to the discussion.