She also pretty much showed that the entire hearing on the Motion to Recuse was silly. (NOTE: For more on that, read Lisa Falkenberg's excellent column here.) Stephen St. Martin and Jim Mount now have the option of offering Rachel Palmer immunity and compel her testimony that way.
But let's go back and talk about the hearing from yesterday and the things we learned from it.
The hearing was in front of 61st Civil District Court Judge Al Bennett. He was very impressive in hearing all sides of the argument, maintaining Courtroom and Grand Jury integrity, and giving the issue of a Motion to Recuse very serious consideration. Rachel Palmer's defense team called five witnesses -- including Palmer, her husband Don Hooper, Stephen St. Martin, and two of the Grand Jurors -- in their attempt to show that Judge Brown was biased against Palmer.
From the start, Palmer's attorney, Clay Rawlings, made it pretty apparent that the goal of the exercise was delay. Despite the fact that he had been the one who filed the Motion to Recuse, he started the proceedings by asking for a 10 day continuance. Now, for those of you keeping score at home, those 10 days would have been VERY significant. There is debate right now going on over whether or not the authority of all currently serving Grand Juries ends as of December 31st, 2011. Although I have heard counter-opinions, the majority seems to think that the 185th Grand Jury may run out of time on that day.
Should Rawlings' Motion for Continuance have been granted, the hearing would have commenced on Thursday, December 29th -- the last day the 185th Grand Jury meets this year. What became so very telling that the Motion was for purposes of delay was when Rawlings explained that he needed the Continuance for a witness who was 70 miles and would not appear without a subpoena.
That witness? Clint Greenwood.
For those of you who don't know, Clint Greenwood is a Division Chief of the Harris County District Attorney's Office in the Public Integrity Division. His office is one floor above Rachel Palmer's. One phone call would have had him there within the hour. It certainly would not have taken 10 freaking days.
When the Motion for Continuance was denied, they proceeded with testimony, calling one of the Grand Jurors first. The first Grand Juror testified that she had been one of the Grand Jurors who approached Judge Brown after Thursday's hearing and complained of Don Hooper taking photographs. The testimony then moved to a conversation that the Grand Juror had allegedly had with Clint Greenwood.
Per the actual Motion to Recuse and from Rawlings' opening statements, he believed that this particular Grand Juror had made the statement to Greenwood that "Roger [Bridgwater] and Jim [Leitner] had better not 'fall on the sword' for Pat Lykos." The Grand Juror, in her testimony, adamantly (and I believe, credibly) denied ever having made such a statement. She did point out, however, that she did, in fact, speak to Clint Greenwood on the day in question and Clint had told her, "If it was me, I would tell Leitner, Bridgwater and all the ADAs to plead the 5th."
That's a pretty sad statement coming from a Division Chief. Especially one in charge of Public Integrity. Having known Clint for a long time, I've always thought he had a tendency to, um, embellish stories. I can easily see him spouting off something to Rachel Palmer's attorneys and then not wanting to come back and say it under oath. Ultimately, Palmer's defense team rested without ever calling him.
Next up was Don Hooper, who came to deny ever having taken any photographs of Grand Jurors in the courtroom. The people he was taking photos of were myself and Luci Davidson. At this point, Don got to have the cathartic moment of setting the stage of a vast political conspiracy orchestrated by me, Machiavelli Newman. He gleefully pointed out that I had been fired by Pat Lykos and he wasn't sure if I had a job any more. (NOTE TO DON: Yes, I have always maintained steady employment since I graduated law school. How about you?) Hooper wasn't happy about seeing me and Luci entering the courtroom from the back hallway so was taking pictures.
Here's a tidbit for you, Don: all attorneys have access to those back hallways and stairwells. We come up through them quite frequently. Yes, the Judge's chambers are along those back hallways, but that isn't a direct door into the courtroom from chambers. All this effort at playing Geography Detective was kind of stupid and created a big hoopla for nothing.
Hooper also talked about how I had written horrible things about his wife on the blog and all of this was a big political conspiracy. Disappointingly, St. Martin did not cross-examine him and ask him about all of the identities he uses on the Chronicle website.
Next up I believe was St. Martin himself. He was questioned about giving money to Kelly Siegler when she ran for DA in 2008. He had no problem acknowledging that he had. Clay Rawlings then submitted St. Martin to a reading test by having him read the order appointing him as Attorney Pro Tem. Stephen passed the reading test once he got his glasses.
After that was another Grand Juror, who was grilled over her political affiliations. The questioning of her backfired when she stated on the stand that she had supported Jim Leitner for DA in 2008. When Jim lost, she supported Pat Lykos. That kind of took the wind out of the Conspiracy Sails.
And the last witness was none other than Rachel Palmer.
This was absolutely a sight to behold, as we glimpsed the framework of the vast Right-wing conspiracy designed to destroy her, according to Rachel. In very shrill, and often loud testimony, Rachel called out members of the audience (myself included) for being out to get her. The summary of the conspiracy according to Rachel is as follows:
In 2009, a dedicated and hard-working and highly admired young prosecutor named Rachel Palmer was asked to run for Judge of County Court # 13 in Harris County, Texas. The vile Murray Newman was outraged over this possibility because Rachel worked for Pat Lykos. He quickly recruited then-Assistant District Attorney Denise Bradley to run against poor Rachel. When Judge Mike Anderson decided not to run for the 262nd District Court Bench again so that he could focus on running for District Attorney and help initiate politically motivated Grand Juries, Denise Bradley ran for the 262nd.
A furious Murray Newman panicked that Rachel might now be running unopposed for the bench and quickly recruited Assistant District Attorney Don Smyth to run against Rachel. At Republican functions, Rachel would sometimes run into Judge Susan Brown and her husband, then ADA-Marc Brown. It was during these functions that our hero, Rachel, began to suspect that Judge Brown and her husband were possibly Sith Lords, since Judge Brown would say "Hi Rachel" in an offensive tone.
Once Don Smyth had defeated Rachel in the primary, she and her husband Don valiantly fought to ward off the possibility of Sith Lord Marc Brown taking the bench and campaigned heavily for his opponent -- family friend Danny Dexter. Some of Hooper's antics at polling locations infuriated Judge Susan Brown, who made a request for Rachel to come talk to her in court. Rachel, sensing a trap that could lead to her imminent death, declined Judge Brown's invitation to come speak with her.
Ultimately, Marc Brown defeated Danny Dexter in the runoff and became Judge of the 180th District Court. All the while, the 2010 election season had just been a diversion for the real plot that would come to light in 2011 . . .
Judge Mike Anderson, apparently using the Force, had foreseen that the Harris County District Attorney's Office would get themselves in trouble with the BAT Van scandal after he announced he wasn't going to run again. Furthermore, the Force had told him that there were people he and his wife, former Judge Devon Anderson, knew who would be serving on Grand Juries in 2011. Using the Dark Side of the Force, he willed it that the Grand Jury would begin investigating Pat Lykos, and subsequently Rachel Palmer.
Ultimately, it had been revealed that Judge Mike Anderson was actually Darth Sidious. Since this by implication made Judge Susan Brown out to be Darth Vader and clearly Judge Marc Brown as Darth Maul, there was no way on Earth that Rachel could get a fair hearing from Judge Brown.
Obviously, I'm joking with some of the analogies, but that was pretty much the gist of what Rachel outlined as the conspiracy out to get her.
This morning, St. Martin and Mount called Judge Marc Brown to testify that there was no personal animosity between him and the Palmer/Hooper clan, but Judge Bennett said it wasn't necessary to hear from him. He denied the Motion to Recuse.
We all came back over for the Motion to Compel, which, as noted above, Judge
I'm betting that things are going to be resolved by the end of the year.