Excerpts from Dallas Morning News Editorial: How to curb rogue prosecutors
One thread running through many criminal exoneration cases in Texas involves prosecutors who failed their legal and moral duty to justice and fair play.
Too many of them appear to have been more interested in winning a conviction than airing the whole truth, even at the expense of someone’s liberties.
The vast majority of prosecutors are honorable public servants and should not have to look over their shoulders in fear of nuisance suits. That could drive them out of the profession.
But there are outliers in any occupation, and they should not be immune from accountability.
Recent cases with charges of prosecutorial misconduct
Dale Lincoln Duke, 60, was released in Dallas County on Nov. 4 after 14 years in prison, his conviction on child abuse charges declared “unjust” by a judge. The DA’s office said a prosecutor withheld evidence that the child’s grandmother thought the girl was lying.
Chelsea Richardson, 27, won an appeal Nov. 1 that got her off death row and will mean life in prison. She was convicted of masterminding the murder of her boyfriend’s parents in Mansfield, but notes withheld from the defense show a different defendant may have played the key role.
Michael Morton, 57, was freed in Williamson County on Oct. 4 after nearly 25 years in prison for the murder of his wife. DNA tests implicated another man, who was arrested last week. Defense lawyers charge that the DA withheld information that Morton’s son saw a “monster” do the killing. Now a judge, the district attorney is under investigation by the State Bar of Texas.
Anthony Graves collected $1.4 million in compensation July 1 for a bogus conviction in the murder of six people and 18 years in prison, including death row. Graves, 45, was freed in October 2010. Prosecutors proclaimed him innocent and said the former Burleson County DA manipulated witnesses to gain a conviction.
Improved training is another step the state should take. There now is no mandatory course or refresher that the state requires of prosecutors to ensure that everyone is clear on obligations to share evidence. Considering the authority that prosecutors wield, there is compelling public interest in making sure they understand their roles in ensuring constitutional rights.
Finally, though a prosecutor can be criminally charged for misusing his position, an individual who is railroaded by a crooked DA has no access to state courts to pursue civil claims.
John Bradley - Arrogant, Dishonest?
Speaking of nasty prosecutors, check out today's Wilco Watchdog's story about a child molester charged with possession of child porn that Bradley allowed to plead to a misdemeanor. Donald Leroy Morrison went on to get nailed by To Catch a Predator.
Profiles in Courage
Before two West Texas nurses brought him down, Dr. Rolando Arafiles peddled dangerous treatments in towns across Texas.
by Saul Elbein, Texas Observer
The case of Dr. Rolando Arafiles could well be the oddest in the history of Texas medicine. In 2008, Arafiles was hired as a doctor at Winkler Memorial Hospital in Kermit, a small West Texas town between Odessa and the New Mexico border. Within months of starting his job, Arafiles began selling supplements out of the clinic where he worked. He put patients on bizarre and potentially life- threatening treatments for conditions they didn't have. He performed botched surgeries in unsterile rooms. When two nurses—Anne Mitchell and Vickilyn Galle—complained anonymously to the Texas Medical Board about him, Arafiles went after the nurses. He allegedly brought Stan Wiley, hospital administrator; Robert Roberts, the county sheriff; and Scott Tidwell, the county attorney into a conspiracy to find, fire, arrest, and indict Mitchell and Galle.
Arafiles, Roberts, Tidwell, and Wiley had all been indicted on charges of retaliation and official oppression. Since then, Roberts and Tidwell have been tried and convicted on all counts. (The trials have been marked by a sort of dark comedy—the October 5 punishment phase of Tidwell's trial saw a number of prostitutes he had patronized—at $2,000 to $4,000 per visit—while his wife was in a coma, take the stand.)
And on Nov. 7, Arafiles himselfpled guilty to charges of retaliation and misuse of official information. He will spend two months in the Andrews County jail and five years on probation. He will have to pay a $5,000 fine and relinquish his medical license.
Arafiles had a long history of misconduct in other Texas towns, including Victoria and Crane. If anyone tried to stop him, he used the good old boy system to retaliate.
In his short time in Crane, Arafiles had become close with the county judge, Donny Henderson. The two played golf together. Officially, Henderson served as the tie-breaker on the hospital board; unofficially, he ran it, Barnes says. During a dispute with the previous administrator, Stan Wiley, Henderson fired half the board and restacked it with three friends—enough for him to fire Wiley. (In one of the strange coincidences that seems to be a hallmark of this story, Wiley ended up as hospital administrator in Kermit).
“Henderson took Arafiles' side in any dispute,” Barnes says. “They tried to fire me.”
Kudos to Nurses Anne Mitchell and Vickilyn Galle and Administrator Bill Barnes.
And shame on County Attorney Scott Tidwell and County Judge Donny Henderson.
Profiles in Cowardice
Who Covered for Penn State Pervert?
CBS reports that San Antonio Police are investigating possible child rapes by Penn State assistant coach Jerry Sandusky while he was in SA for the Alamo Bowl.
More on the subject of good ol' boys protecting their own - how did Penn State assistant coach Jerry Sandusky get away with raping little boys for over a decade? Here's a link to the grand jury report, that shows how officials at Penn State looked the other way knowing they had a serial child rapist using the reputation of Penn State football to lure 10 year old boys into his lair at the athletic center? I hope they all burn in hell after they rot in prison.
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