Thursday, September 8, 2016

Stepping in it

Oh what a mess Harris County DA Devon Anderson has found herself in. As has been reported in local media outlets, over the last nine years some 21,000 pieces of evidence were destroyed in Harris County Precinct 4. All of the evidence was supposedly destroyed by one deputy - Christopher Hess - who has since been fired.

But somehow none of it came to light until local defense attorneys Emily DeToto and Paul Morgan found out when one of their clients was being offered a 25 year sentence on a dope case last month.

Strangely enough, Ms. Anderson announced at a press conference that her office had been aware of the destroyed evidence since February but chose not to say a word about it - all the while offering lengthy prison sentences in a cases in which there was no evidence.

Of course Constable Mark Herman claims that the entire problem has been resolved and that everything in Precinct 4 is now hunky-dory (which would be a first). If the story needs any more spicing up, the former constable, Ron Hickman, was appointed Sheriff following the resignation of Adrian Garcia.

But aside from the stinking mess that is (and has been) Precinct 4, why didn't Ms. Anderson's office inform defense attorneys about the problem when she found out about it? The requirements of Brady would seem to scream out that her office should have notified any defense attorney representing a client who was arrested in Precinct 4, that there was a problem with evidence storage. Her underlings damn sure shouldn't have been offering plea deals to defendants when they knew there was no evidence to back up the case.

Apparently we can require prosecutors to attend all the ethics classes we want and it won't change the culture of the office. Ms. Anderson wants us all to believe that all is well with the world and that her office is seeing that justice is done. Really?

There is no justification for Ms. Anderson's actions (or lack thereof). There is no excuse for sitting on this matter for six months. If Ms. DeToto and Mr. Morgan hadn't found out when they did, when would we have found out? And what other nasty little scandals are lurking in the nooks and crannies of the 6th Floor of the Harris County Criminal (In)Justice Center?

If Ms. Anderson can't be trusted to notify the defense bar of the wholesale destruction of evidence, how can we trust her office to investigate the matter? If we really want to find out what happened, who did it and how long it went on, then we need to have an outside agency do the investigating.

Ms. Anderson and her minions have shown they cannot be trusted.

1 comment:

Lee said...

And the State Bar is ok with this?