Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Another Need for a Prosecutor for Hire?

KHOU.com is reporting that the entire Montgomery County District Attorney's Office is having to recuse itself from a murder case involving two year old Madisyn Farrington.

The article reports that District Attorney himself had interviewed Madisyn's eight-year-old sister, who was a fact witness on the case. According to the article, the sister had a "different story" from the one she originally told investigators, although it does not go into details. Whatever the details are, they must be substantial enough for the entire office to be forced to recuse itself from the case in it's entirety.

I find this to be completely bizarre.

I realize that Montgomery County's District Attorney's Office is substantially smaller than Harris County's, but it sounds like the proper procedures were followed by D.A. Mike McDougal in interviewing the child. The interview was not recorded, but in my experience, I never taped a meeting with a witness prior to trial.

Not once.

But I did normally have a witness to the interview (especially when dealing with a child witness). In fact, it is this exact type of scenarios that make the Harris County District Attorney's Office's Victim Witness Division such a God-send. They are the ones who typically will come sit with the child during the interview, and make the child feel at ease. If the child does something unexpected, they can become a witness.

I've even had a routine meeting with a child witness turn into an outcry of additional sexual abuse before, and thankfully, there was a person from Victim Witness there to be the official witness.

KHOU is making a big deal out of "the interview" not being recorded, but I don't see why the second prosecutor as a witness doesn't remedy that. Of course, if the changes in the story amount to Brady they must be disclosed, and the other prosecutor "witness" can't be sitting second chair with McDougal when the case goes to trial.

But what's causing the whole freaking recusal? Am I missing something?

Let's play out the scenario:

The child testifies. The defense attorney is well-informed of any inconsistent statements that she made. She either acknowledges the changes on the stand, or she doesn't. If she doesn't acknowledge them, then the defense attorney calls the "witness prosecutor". What's the big deal?

McDougal states that he doesn't want to be put in the position of cross-examining someone who works in his own Office? What the hell is that about? Is he going to attack his moral turpitude or something? If the child recanted or something along those lines, then so be it.

Investigators, victim witness personnel, and even prosecutors in Harris County take the stand all the time for various and sundry reasons. There's nothing tricky about it. Hell, it can actually be kind of fun sometimes.

I'm sure that there is more to the story than KHOU is reporting at the moment, so I'm not making any judgment calls, other than saying I don't understand it.

What is a tragedy is that it will delay the trial, apparently, which is causing a hardship for the victim's family.

Sounds like a job for Kelly Siegler, if you ask me.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

ACHL,

No need for a "DA for Hire". The voters in Montgomery County have already fixed the problem with the Montgomery County DA's Office.

The answer: Brett Ligon

A Harris County Lawyer said...

Good point. I don't know much about McDougal, but I know Brett Ligon. He's going to make a great D.A. It was good to see the voters in Montgomery County making such a good choice.

Anonymous said...

Any attorney looking for a career with Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE)?

See the following "attorney" announcement at USAJOBS:

http://jobsearch.usajobs.gov/getjob.asp?JobID=73016145&AVSDM=2008%2D06%2D19+07%3A02%3A04&Logo=0&pg=3&lid=18441&FedEmp=N&sort=rv&vw=d&brd=3876&ss=0&FedPub=Y