It seems to be a fad lately for criminal prosecutors to help put innocent people in jail, then go on with their lives for years, and eventually get promoted, and then FINALLY come clean and admit that they suppressed exculpatory evidence against criminal defendants. At least, that is what happened with the recent Margo Freshwater case in Tennessee (murder conviction overturned after 42 years), and now also in this Hannah Overton case from Texas.
In the Hannah Overton case, apparently Texas convicted a woman of murder in 2007 because the government claimed that she forced her adopted son to eat salt until he died. Seriously. Even on its face, that conviction sounds at least slightly ridiculous. But now it actually turns out that the prosecutors had a medical report showing that the level of salt in the kid’s stomach was LOW, not high.
Now, the assistant prosecutor has come clean and at least tried to appear as if she is repenting of her wickedness:
“I am writing this letter because I do believe that an injustice has been done. I do not believe there was sufficient evidence to indicate that Hannah Overton intentionally killed Andrew Burd,” Jimenez wrote in February.
But why doesn’t she try saying things a bit more accurately: “I am writing this letter because I HAVE HELPED CAUSE an injustice.” These people never seem to experience much shame for their misdeeds. They just pass the buck. Then we find out later that even though this lady has herself been promoted to District Attorney — that is, the person who is the BOSS of the prosecutors’ office — she is still allowing one of her underlings to RESIST letting the defendant have a new trial! The woman is so ridiculously two-faced. Or in this case, maybe you should call it “three-faced” since she keeps flip-flopping all over the place.
“It is because I witnessed Sandra Eastwood’s behavior before, during and after trial that I fear she may have purposely withheld evidence that may have been favorable to Hannah Overton’s defense,” she added.
So she seemingly admits that she saw questionable acts years ago and did nothing.
Doug Norman, the assistant Nueces County district attorney handling Overton’s appellate matters for the state, said Tuesday he does not see anything that qualifies as “a smoking gun” in Orr’s latest pleading, including the low stomach salt contents.
It doesn’t have to be a “smoking gun” to equal an unconstitutional Brady violation. Idiot. Try actually studying some law before you open your mouth.
“I may harbor doubts, but a jury heard this case and made a decision, and everyone has to respect that decision,” he said in a Tuesday interview.
Yes, we should all respect jury decisions based on an incomplete/false picture presented by dishonest prosecutors suppressing evidence. I know that I personally can barely contain my “respect.”
“I’ll put it this way. My job requires me to be an advocate for the state. As long as I can make a nonfrivolous argument, I’ll make it, but nothing in my job prevents me from praying for a more just outcome,” he said.
See, this is the type of garbage we have today. For whatever reason, some people actually imagine that being an “advocate for the state” just means keeping the maximum number of people in jail. You think the government is your friend? Well according to this government worker, his job is not to do the right thing, but rather to put you in jail. And he will make every effort to put you in jail as long as he can make a non-”frivolous” argument. The standard isn’t supposed to be whether an argument is non-”frivolous” but whether the government can prove the argument by the requisite standard of proof. And yet this guy just admitted that he has made a career out of pursuing every single non-”frivolous” action he possibly can “on behalf of the State,” which is just code for ”on behalf of the jail.” If I were on the Texas Board of Professional Responsibility, I’d be tempted to suspend this guy’s law license for just making such a ridiculous and corrupt statement.
And he also essentially admits that in this particular case, he does not even have enough evidence to convince himself that the woman is guilty. And this is a guy who, practically speaking, is paid to be convinced of guilt.
And despite all this nonsense, people still call criminal defense lawyers slimy. A criminal defense lawyer is required by law to support a specific individual who is given by law a right to a trial. (That is, without a defense lawyer you CANNOT go forward.) And even if the client is guilty of something, the lawyer does not have much choice in the matter but must simply support the client. By contrast, these criminal prosecutors aren’t required by law to do ANYTHING, except to honestly pursue justice. And they apparently can’t even pull that off.
I think these prosecutors act the way they do – and then sometimes later come forward and act publicly like heroes for setting the record right — because they have almost absolute immunity. In my mind, intentionally suppressing this type of stuff is not much different from perjury. And granted, it’s usually hard to prove intent with this sort of thing.
And granted, even actual perjury by prosecution witnesses is almost never punished. But if you want my view on how we should start handling all this type of nonsense, here it is:
If a malicious witness takes the stand to accuse a man of a crime, the two men involved in the dispute must stand in the presence of the Lord before the priests and the judges who are in office at the time. The judges must make a thorough investigation, and if the witness proves to be a liar, giving false testimony against his brother, then do to him as he intended to do to his brother. You must purge the evil from among you. The rest of the people will hear of this and be afraid, and never again will such an evil thing be done among you. Show no pity: life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot.
We just don’t take the right things seriously enough today.