Friday, February 3, 2012

Runaway grand jury: The aftermath

Not content to sit down while the grand jury investigated the doings-on in her office, Harris County District Attorney Pat Lykos decided to arrange her own investigation. Of the grand jury.

According to the Houston Chronicle, Ms. Lykos ordered investigations into the grand jurors, two judges (Marc and Susan Brown) and Mike Anderson, her opponent in the GOP primary. According to Ms. Lykos, it was a "cursory internet search."

Locked in her shell up on the sixth floor of the Criminal (In)justice Center, Ms. Lykos has apparently lost touch with all semblance of reality as she just can't understand what the problem is.

Just how would it go over if it turned out a defense attorney was conducting an investigation into the backgrounds of the grand jurors? Would Ms. Lykos and her minions have such a relaxed attitude if that were the case? I think not.
"The purpose of the Internet search was to simply try and determine what were the reasons for this grand jury's radical, erratic and what we believed to be unlawful action." -- Pat Lykos
Of course rule number one when you get caught in a bad situation is to minimize it. Rule number two is to shift the blame. The unspoken rule is to avoid any responsibility for your actions. And don't forget the corollary, when in doubt, throw someone else under the bus.

Lykos said she relied on assertions from Don McWilliams, her chief investigator, that there was no "investigation." 
However, according to three sources familiar with the situation, McWilliams was asked by the district attorney's first assistant, Jim Leitner, to "investigate" at least two grand jurors "for the boss." The sources did not want to be identified because they were not authorized to discuss the situation.

Poor Jim. He had the audacity to run against Ms. Lykos in the 2008 Republican primary and, after finishing third in a three horse race, swallowed his pride and went to work for Ms. Lykos. His reward for his loyalty to Ms. Paranoid are the tire marks on his back.

Now here's where it gets interesting. Jack Abercia, the former constable for Precinct One, got himself indicted because either he used, or allowed someone in his office to use, a website available only to law enforcement agencies to run background checks on people. Did Mr. McWilliams' "cursory internet investigation" involve the use of such a website or did he just google the names?

McWilliams went to his courthouse office and used two websites that collect personal information for use by law enforcement and others, according to the sources. He called Lykos with his results and left a voicemail. 
A week later, Leitner directed McWilliams to expand the investigation to state District Judge Susan Brown, her husband who also is a judge and Mike Anderson, a former judge who is running against Lykos in the Republican primary, according to the sources. 
On Thursday, Lykos said confidential law enforcement databases used by authorities to check criminal records were not used. It is illegal to use those websites for unauthorized investigations.

These revelations raise serious concerns about the ability of Pat Lykos to serve as Harris County District Attorney. While her actions may or may not have been legal, they certainly add to the stench emanating from  1201 Franklin. A grand jury is supposed (and I stress the word "supposed") to be an independent body determining whether or not there is probable cause to believe someone committed a criminal act. What message does it send to grand jurors when the sitting District Attorney is using her office to investigate members of a grand jury while it conducts an investigation?

And what was the purpose of the investigation - to intimidate or to blackmail? Ms. Lykos and her minions have some serious questions to answer. But don't hold your breath waiting to her them.

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