Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Stupid Is As Roger Does

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.

19 comments:

Anonymous said...

We need to know what did Roger know and when did he know it before we condemn him out of hand.
If he knew the friend was on a jury, that's bad. If he didn't and thought it was a fishing expedition for general knowledge, that's different.
Once when I was a reporter in the old courthouse, I was talking to a HPD homicide detective with my back to a hallway. I ran down the facts of a case getting ready for trial. When I looked over my shoulder, I saw the jury panel for that case. I busted the panel and I felt bad about it.
I don't think I did anything wrong but I learned to look around before sounding off in the courthouse.
Tom

Anonymous said...

Smile everybody! One year ago today, Mike Anderson defeated Pat Lykos.

Anonymous said...

They've updated that story this morning and it looks like no mistrial was declared:

"Because the jury had not been formally sworn in, Jackson did not have to declare a mistrial, and there were no double jeopardy issues."

Anonymous said...

Sounds like trouble over Bridgwater

Anonymous said...

OH...that makes it so much better. NOT

Anonymous said...

Just something I would expect from that crew. This should not surprise any regular readers of this blog.

Anonymous said...

Harsh post. Kind of like a hit piece only the election is over. I don't think we know enough about what Roger did or didn't do to pass judgment. It sounds like the juror took what could have been some very generic advice or observations from Roger and acted on his own initiative. I seriously doubt Roger told him to do any of that stuff. Your animus is showing, Murray. Tuck it in.

A Harris County Lawyer said...

My animus is showing?

You mean my closely guarded secret that I think that Roger Bridgwater is an angry, misogynistic, arrogant putz was inadvertently revealed?

Well, crap.

Anonymous said...

Great comeback Murray.......

Anonymous said...

Why would any lawyer talk to a juror? Because they are either stupid or a narcissist. The juror must have lied his butt off about being able to be fair if he was afraid of retaliation before any evidence was presented. Both seem like idiots.

Anonymous said...

Justice Delayed etc:

Lets look at a BIGGER picture of this case / tragedy - and it has little or nothing to do with any one person screwing up lately.

Lets see historically what took LESS than the 5 years so far (2008 - 2013) for this case to ALMOST go to trial and then ask yourself: WTF has taken so damn long?

Less than 5 years:

A. WWI;

B. US involvement in WWII

C) Construction of:

1) Hoover Dam;

2) The WORLD TRADE CENTER

3) Empire State Building

MORE THAN 5 years:

A Capital Murder Trial in the 339th

What's wrong with this picture?

Anonymous said...

BTW the case has now been reset until January of 2014

Mark W. Stephens said...

To Anonymous May 29, 2013 at 3:49 PM

Not that Murray needs me or anyone else to defend him, but I find it oddly curious that you criticize him for "passing judgement" without knowing enough about what Roger did or didn't do, and THEN go on to state you "seriously doubt Roger told him to do any of that stuff."

Did you not just pass your own judgement...based on the same knowledge or lack of knowledge that Murray based his opinion on?

Why is ok to voice YOUR opinion that Roger did not do anything wrong, but its NOT ok for Murray to voice an opposing opinion?

Just curious.

Anonymous said...

Re: Reset - AGAIN! - (2008 - 2014)

339th = Bleak House

Jarndyce v Jarndyce





Anonymous said...

Not that Roger should be absolved of his fubar, but the real problem here is the Judge of the Courtnthis case is (permanently) pending in. She can't run her court efficiently or she would have immediately picked a new jury. It might also help if she would properly admonish potential jurors about discussing or researching issues related to their service.

Ron in Houston said...

Damn Murray, at least your secret is out.

Hell, I'm going to start selling popcorn outside the CJC. I bet I'll make enough money to stop practicing law.

Anonymous said...

Anon 10:38, yeah the 339th's docket is bad, but not the worst. Nope that dubious distinction goes to the 209th and Judge McSpadden. He had 300 more cases than the 339th. He never comes to work and when he does he never goes to trial. No doubt he will be re-elected again.

Anonymous said...

Maybe he'll retire?!?

Anonymous said...

6:27

Pretty obvious, he already did...