Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Foreshadowing

Last week, the Houston Chronicle ran this article about the Harris County District Attorney's Office dropping charges against Dr. Robert Yetman.  As noted in the article, Dr. Yetman had been granted a mistrial after trial Judge Stacey Bond found that prosecutors had intentionally caused a mistrial by making inflammatory remarks during closing arguments.



The District Attorney's Office under Devon Anderson had appealed Judge Bond's ruling, but the 14th Court of Appeals affirmed.  Last week, District Attorney Kim Ogg announced that the Office would not be appealing the case any further, and formally dismissed charges against Dr. Yetman.  The move was not surprising under the circumstances, and it was the right thing to do.

I did find the press release from Ogg to be noteworthy:
"We do not tolerate professional misconduct, lapses in discipline or excessive zeal to win a case," Ogg said in a press release.  "A prosecutor's special responsibility is to see that justice is done, not simply to win, and never do so illegally."
While the sentiment expressed by Ogg is admirable, it oversimplifies things a bit.  Not tolerating professional misconduct is a noble goal, and in this incident, both prosecutors involved in Yetman's trial were let go from the Office when Ogg took over.  Their termination was certainly an example of Ogg sending a clear message that there are ramifications for prosecutors who push the envelope too far.

However, Ogg could have just as easily stated something along the lines of respecting the ruling of the trial court and 14th Court of Appeals, and dismissed the case.  Her statement was far more broad than that.

My guess is that she made her statement because she is getting close to finally dismissing the case against David Temple, who is on the docket in the 178th District Court on Friday, May 5th.  Despite finding multiple excuses to recuse the District Attorney's Office on multiple other cases for much less significant reasons, Ogg has still steadfastly refused to recuse herself from Temple, despite having at least two people in her upper echelon who directly worked on the case.

I predict that Ogg is going to harken back to her press release on the Yetman case and place her reasoning for the dismissal on Kelly Siegler's doorstep.

The problem with doing this is that it punishes the victim and the victim's family for acts attributed to a prosecutor.  The scenario in Temple is completely different from the one in Yetman.  In Yetman, Judge Bond found that the prosecutors believed themselves to be losing the case, so they deliberately caused a mistrial by making an inappropriate argument.  In Temple, the Court of Appeals decided (in a split decision) that Temple deserved a new trial because Brady evidence was turned over in an untimely manner.

Temple was found guilty in trial and sentenced to Life in prison.  No argument can be made that the prosecution deliberately violated the law to cause a mistrial because they believed they were losing.  That would be the equivalent of arguing that James Harden should have been called for traveling in Monday's 122-76 blowout, and therefore, the Spurs were the actual winners of the game.

If Ogg is going to dismiss a case every time a prosecutor is found to have done something wrong in a reversal, she's going to be firing a lot of prosecutors and dismissing a lot of cases over the next four years.  I don't foresee that really happening, because Ogg is smart enough to know that cases sometimes get reversed as part of the evolution of case law.

But I do predict that Ogg is going to be regurgitating her statement on Yetman in the near future.  She wasn't talking about his case so much as she was providing foreshadowing of what she is about to do on Temple.

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

Ten Reasons why your assessment is incorrect, Murray:

1. The Trial Judge in David Temple supported the verdict.
2. The swing vote in Temple granted a new trial based on ineffective counsel by defense attorney Dick DeGuerin.
3. Kelly Siegler was not found to have intentionally withheld exculpatory evidence.
4. No one believes that the dope smoking 16 year old truant "alternate suspect" assassinated Temple's wife and daughter--law enforcement ruled the kid out, the kid actually testified in trial and the jury didn't think he was culpable and whether or not DeGuerin had more time to coach his witnesses in convincing the jury otherwise would have been in vain.
5. Dick DeGuerin got out lawyered by Kelly Siegler for the third out of three trials...........or is it four out of four?
6. DeGuerin never should have put Temple on the stand........ego should have taken a back seat to resting after the State put on their case.
7. DeGuerin didn't "coach" his witnesses adequately and juries don't like inconsistent liars as witnesses.
8. Justice was served when David Temple was sent to prison for the execution of his wife and unborn daughter.
9. The citizens of Harris County deserve JUSTICE for the victims of crime NOT political shenanigans.
10. Dick DeGuerin is really short

Anonymous said...

@ Anonymous 8:58

None of those facts matter to Ogg when Stan Schneider and Dick DeGuerin cut her some nice campaign donations.

Anonymous said...

What if Kim Ogg appointed Kelly Siegler as the Special Prosecutor..............talk about poetic justice.

BOOM!

Anonymous said...

Wow 858 you hit it on the nose!! One other thing you forgot to point out Kelly is way bigger person than Dick in Integrity!!

Anonymous said...

I wonder how someone like Devon Anderson can sleep at night knowing she is responsible for inflicting unimaginable misery on so many. She must be a psychopath. And the worst part of this is that the bar has no balls, as these two ADA's should be disbarred and never allowed to practice again. The fact that no one else here is outraged enough to post a similar comment leaves me to believe that the entire profession has now attracted nothing but psychopaths who have no empathy for an innocent man whose life has been all but destroyed.