Never let it be said that it is easy to keep Former Gang-Who-Couldn't-Shoot-Straight Team Leader Roger Bridgwater down.
Despite having his tenure as Bureau Chief cut short by the un-electing of Pat Lykos last year and being passed over for an appointment to a judicial bench this year, Mr. Bridgwater has still found a way to interfere with the smooth administration of justice.
Brian Rogers is reporting in this article tonight that a Capital Murder jury trial pending in the 339th District Court will have to start over from scratch due to advice given to a juror by Roger. In his article, Brian reports that a selected juror was concerned about serving on such a serious case as a Capital Murder. That juror decided to seek some wisdom from his friend -- former prosecutor and former judge Roger Bridgwater.
This isn't an unusual phenomenon, actually. Our friends outside the legal world routinely give criminal law practitioners a call whenever our worlds collide. Family members always mention it when they have jury duty. It's kind of like when you meet somebody from out of state and you have to mention to them people that you know from their state.
Most lawyers know that other than saying "obey your jury summons," there isn't anything else that we should add to the advice we give a prospective juror. That applies even more so if a person who has actually been elected to serve as a juror calls us.
So when Bridgwater's juror friend called him up to express his concerns about serving, what Roger should have said (to paraphrase Mike Birbiglia) . . . was nothing.
Instead, Roger apparently gave him some very detailed advice that resulted in the juror drafting a letter to the judge and then alarming his fellow jurors to the degree that they all signed the letter as well. As a result, a mistrial had to be declared and the trial has to start over completely.
Good job, Roger.
At first glance, this would seemingly be something to just shrug off as poor decision-making on Bridgwater's part. But let's look at it a little further. Bridgwater is a former District Court judge. Even though he only served briefly after being appointed by Governor Perry, he still knew the rules of evidence and the Code of Criminal Procedure. One can only imagine what his reaction would have been if he had been the presiding judge over a Capital trial where some uninvolved lawyer tampered with one of his jurors.
Bridgwater isn't exactly known for his cool, judicial temperament and I feel pretty comfortable in guessing that there would have been hell to pay.
Furthermore, up until the end of 2012, Bridgwater was actually a party to this case as a representative of the Harris County District Attorney's Office. His upper-administration role would have granted him knowledge of all pending Capital murder cases. His giving instructions to a selected juror on the case should be regarded no differently than if an active prosecutor were to have given the advice.
Obviously, I don't have much respect for Roger Bridgwater, but his actions surprise even me. Viewed under the most favorable of circumstances, he made a very stupid mistake that caused a Capital Murder case to have to be started over again from scratch.
In a less charitable view, he knowingly undermined the Criminal Justice process.