Grand juror talking to press
October 05, 2005, 10:48Shannon Edmonds
Grand juror talking to press
Seriously, someone needs to tell this guy to stop ... where are we, California?
Grand juror says TAB mailers looked political
Foreman whose Travis County jury indicted business group disputes its argument that mailings weren't campaign ads
By Laylan Copelin
Wednesday, October 5, 2005
The foreman of the Travis County grand jury that indicted the state's largest business organization said Tuesday that the mailers by the Texas Association of Business looked like political ads to him.
"I think the average person could tell those were political ads," William Gibson said. "You could tell who they were for and against."
Last month, Gibson's grand jury returned 128 felony counts against TAB, accusing it of illegally raising and spending corporate money in connection with a campaign when it sent 4 million pieces of mail to voters in two dozen legislative districts during the 2002 election.
The business organization has defended its First Amendment right to give voters the records of political candidates without urging voters to support or oppose any candidate.
Gibson dismissed the idea that by avoiding words like "vote for" or "vote against," the mailers didn't urge voters to act.
"It was telling people how to vote," Gibson said.
Austin lawyer Roy Minton, who represents TAB, called Gibson a "good-hearted soul" who wasn't given a fair understanding of free speech by prosecutors.
Minton said TAB officials never suggested that they spent $1.7 million of corporate money on direct mail not to have an effect on voters. He said TAB was simply giving voters information about the candidates, knowing liberals and conservatives might react differently to it.
TAB and Texans for a Republican Majority, the political committee created by U.S. Rep. Tom DeLay, shared information and worked together on the ads. In some instances, the political committee spent corporate money to identify Republican-leaning voters in the legislative districts targeted by TAB.
The mailers touted Republican candidates and criticized Democrats.
Minton said Gibson might have come to a different conclusion if defense lawyers were allowed into a grand jury room with their clients.
"I would like to have had a little time with old Bill," Minton said.
October 05, 2005, 12:23Tim Cole
Is it just me and Shannon or is there anyone else out there who thinks this is a big problem? Attorney Minton's quote in response to THE FOREMAN OF THE GRAND JURY FOR GOD'S SAKE, demonstrates part of the problem that is created in this situation. Nobody wants to publicly attack a juror, even a grand juror. So even Minton soft pedals his criticism of him.
October 05, 2005, 13:09P.D. Ray
Whether or not this Grand Juror has committed some sort of official misconduct, it seems clear that the Prosecuting Attorney for the area is going to benefit from the Grand Juror bolstering their 'point of view' in the press.
What is right and wrong, and certainly what an OATH is, seem all to have been lost in the presses.
October 05, 2005, 14:55John Stride
The First Amendment while generally benefitting society also encourages reporting by the gutter-press. Simply, in our fast-paced modern world, the profit motive prevails over scruples. Under the Constitution, if the press will not regulate itself, how can a better balance between the right of the public to know and the protection of those exercising discretion in the criminal charging process be guaranteed?
October 05, 2005, 23:12SWC
Given the high-profile nature of this investigation, I think the public is entitled to know their background to judge the credibility of their work.
[This message was edited by Steven Conder on 10-06-05 at .]
[This message was edited by Steven Conder on 10-06-05 at .]
October 06, 2005, 08:22P.D. Ray
Why? I didn't exactly need to know whether or not the grand jurors enjoyed watersports to convict Alton Thomas. This case should have the same procedural requirements as a simple drug dealer on drug dealer shooting in Gainesville, TX.
The background and the members of the Grand Jury aren't relevant to the procedure at this point. They don't need their fifteen minutes. They should be DENIED emphatically any mouthpiece as it is incredibly unethical and improper for them to speak to the content of the criminal case.
The indictment is signed and filed. Now it's in the hands of the process and ultimately in the hands of the finder(s) of fact. The Grand Jury foreman has no business whatsoever speaking on the issue. The Press has no business whatsoever enticing a juror to break their oath.
Of course, no one gives a flying hmmhmm on the back of a salty camel about vows, honor, oaths, and a person's word anymore. I don't know why we even bother swearing a witness in anymore, much less keep inviolate the proceedings of the grand jury.
October 06, 2005, 09:12SWC
The difference is that the DeLay indictment has political implications not present in regular cases.
It is also significant that this case was taken to three grand juries - one grand jury who indicted on a seemingly non-existent offense, one grand jury who no billed, and, finally, one grnad jury that produced the current indictment.
October 07, 2005, 22:49<Dennis Foster>
I agree that this case is different than your usual run-of-the-mill drug dealer or car thief case. Whenever politics are involved it is too easy for inappropriate things to be done on both sides of the fence.
While I am a Republican, I do not have a clue as to what the issues are in the DeLay case other than DeLay's bent that he is getting picked on, which was seconded by the governor and others.
As far as keeping Grand Juror identities a secret, I have a real problem with that for all the reasons stated above by others. And as far as some kind of law that would shield their addresses and personal information - why bother? There is nothing that anyone could do to keep this kind of stuff a secret. I or someone could personally hang around the courthouse and watch as these people get into their cars and I could follow them home. From there I could find out who owns the home or who lives there. And I could then post the information up on my own personal web site for all the world to see. I could even post pictures of them and display maps to their houses.
This is the same kind of stuff the "stalkerazzi" do with the movie stars. So I do not see what any kind of law here in Texas could do to stop it - especially when you consider that someone could post this kind of information on a web site in someother state or country.
My biggest beef is with the violation of the oath of secrecy by the lead grand juror. That is the biggest threat to the system, at least as I see it. And in this case is clearly shows (at least to me) that politics most certainly has played a role in this indictment.
October 13, 2005, 09:00Shannon Edmonds
That's the backwards logic of the press ...
How did grand jury end up indicting Tom DeLay?
AUSTIN AMERICAN-STATESMAN EDITORIAL BOARD
Thursday, October 13, 2005
The legal food fight in the Tom DeLay criminal case brings into sharp relief how much we don't know about how grand juries really work. Dick DeGuerin, a member of the controversial congressman's legal team, is seeking to pry the lid off the grand jury proceedings that led to indictments on charges of money laundering and conspiracy to violate Texas campaign law.
In a letter delivered to Travis County District Attorney Ronnie Earle on Tuesday, DeGuerin says he wants answers to 12 questions (one for each grand juror, ironically enough) the DeLay defense team has about the circumstances surrounding the indictments.
You might recall that Earle went grand jury shopping. The grand jury that returned the conspiracy indictment had been dismissed when questions were raised about the sufficiency of the indictment. To protect the state's case, Earle went to another grand jury, but couldn't persuade it to indict. That was on Friday, Sept. 30. The following Monday, Earle tried again with another grand jury, which returned a true bill.
Meanwhile, grand jurors were talking about the case in press interviews. As lawyers would say, the genie was out of the bottle. DeGuerin is pushing Earle to answer the questions that include whether he or other prosecutors encouraged grand jury foreman William Gibson to talk to the press about the case.
When asked for reaction to DeGuerin's move, Earle declined, citing grand jury secrecy. How convenient. Earle is not the only prosecutor in history to hide behind the grand jury's veil of secrecy when it suits him, but he's the most recent and most high profile one.
Gibson has talked, raising questions about what happened in the grand jury room. The thought behind grand jury secrecy is to protect the rights of potential defendants from being smeared by unproven allegations.
But grand juries have become political weapons that have the opposite effect. Disclosure that a public figure is the object of a grand jury's interest is enough to slow � if not derail completely � a public career. DeLay stepped down as House majority leader after the conspiracy indictment was returned Sept. 28.
Full, reasonable disclosure should help in answering questions about how thorough and fair the process was in returning the indictments against DeLay. If nothing else, the disclosure might shed some light on how a grand jury really works.
George Dix, a University of Texas law school professor and criminal law expert, characterized the law surrounding grand jury secrecy and when it can be pierced as "undeveloped." The DeLay case might help us develop a better understanding of it.
Find this article at: http://www.statesman.com/opinion/content/editorial/stories/10/13secrecy_edit.html
October 13, 2005, 10:40Tim Cole
Yeah, let's pierce the shield of grand jury secrecy ... and destroy it's purpose completely. What is happening in this case is exactly what I feared would happen when I started this thread. Once that jury foreman violated his oath of secrecy and began talking, the grand jury proceedings are now fair game. It's a little difficult now for either side to talk about grand jury secrecy since it appears to me that neither side of this case has taken it too seriously. How about this, why don't we do away completely with the mandatory grand jury and let every prosecutor file cases by complaint and information. Use the grand jury for testimonial and subpoena purposes only. Would the press like that better? Wonder how quickly they would begin to scream about prosecutorial over-reaching, etc.?
October 13, 2005, 11:02<Dennis Foster>
You talk about how BOTH sides are violating the secrecy rules, yet it seems to me that it was only ONE side that was doing so - the prosecution! The defense had no access to what went on inside the grand jury room. It was only after that one juror started talking to the press that the defense got interested in what took place behind the closed doors.
I think a grand jury is an important part of our judicial process and I do not like that fact that its supposedly secret proceedings are being violated.
Either you play by the rules or you don't. And if the DA here didn't, then he should suffer the consequences (whatever they may be).
Just my two cents.
September 26, 2007, 12:07JB
Sept. 26, 2007, 10:59AM
Court lets DeLay indictment dismissal stand
By JANET ELLIOTT
Copyright 2007 Houston Chronicle
AUSTIN � The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals on today rejected the state's motion for rehearing on its June dismissal of a criminal conspiracy indictment against former U.S. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay.
The decision clears the way for Travis County District Attorney Ronnie Earle to move toward trial for DeLay and two associates on other pending charges of money laundering and conspiracy to launder money.
Earle had sought a rehearing, saying the court's earlier decision had far-reaching ramifications for other criminal cases. The court held that the indictment was invalid because conspiracy to violate the election code, which it charged, wasn't made a crime until 2003.
Earle has been prosecuting DeLay and political consultants Jim Ellis and John Colyandro over donations made to Republican legislative candidates in 2002, when the GOP captured its first majority of the House in modern times. The defendants are accused of plotting to funnel illegal corporate campaign contributions to the candidates.
Houston attorney Dick DeGuerin, who represents DeLay, has filed motions to move the trial from Travis County and alleging that Earle engaged in prosecutorial misconduct in securing the indictments after presenting the matter to a series of grand juries.
September 29, 2007, 15:46JSH
The names of our grand jurors are published in the newspaper as a matter of course every time they are impaneled. The local paper also publishes the names of our petit jurors each and every time we try a case. In a small town, they report on every single trial and plea bargain.
September 30, 2007, 23:04Doran Williams
"Forget the grand juror -- can we go after the media members that aid, abet, solicit, encourage, and facilitate the lawbreaking?"
If Mr. Edmonds is correct in his characterizations of what members of the media have done, then in my opinion, Mr. Edmonds and Mr. Cole, by publicizing on this site the proceedings of this particular grand jury by posting the comments of the foreman, are doing exactly what Mr. Edmonds has criticized the media for having done---facilitated the lawbreaking.
Obviously, neither the media nor Mr. Edmonds and Mr. Cole have done so. Just as obviously, someone left the hyperbole generator set on HIGH.
October 01, 2007, 09:40GG
Did you know that noted prosecutor Ken Starr is a native of Wilbarger County, Texas? SA-LUTE!
October 01, 2007, 09:42JB
For more info, click here.
October 01, 2007, 10:20Doran Williams
Greg, the way it looks to me is that when K. Starr left Wilbarger County and went to DC, he -- in that one move -- raised the intellectual and ethics levels in the former and lowered them in the latter.
October 01, 2007, 13:23Terry Breen
When Ken Starr took Pres. Clinton's deposition, before he started questioning him, he warned Clinton that he had proof that a semen stain on Monica Lewinski's dress came from him.
I think that shows he was an inept prosecutor, but it hardly shows he was unethical.
In fact, everything I've heard about the man, indicates that he is not only an otherwise gifted attorney, but that he is a man of high principle.
October 01, 2007, 14:06GG
Ken is a man of high ethics and principals. Doran must keep logging onto the wrong website to rant about him.
October 02, 2007, 07:55Doran Williams
His expenses as special prosecutor through September 1, 2001, were $59,463,703.00. And no conviction of the President to show for it. That is a huge bill for what was essentially a hunting expedition. Can you imagine spending that much on a hunting trip to Africa, and coming back with nothing more than the skin of a flying squirrel?
Compare to the expenses of Patrick Fitzgerald thru 31 March 2007: $2,396,283.00. He managed to acquire a conviction of an assistant to the VP for perjury and obstructing justice. Now that was money well spent. Except for the commutation by the President, which I am sure infuriated all tough-as-nails, lawn order, lock'em up and throw away the key prosecutors.
Here is a suggestion, Greg: Who would you rather see as Attorney General in the next administration: Ken Starr or Patrick Fitzgerald?
You can find links to the official records for these expenses at http://noquarterusa.net/blog/