I wasn't able to watch the full conference until I got back home from running errands. The gist of what was being reported was that Ogg was accusing prosecutors Justin Keiter, Nick Socias, and Gretchen Flader of contacting victims of crime in an attempt to create an atmosphere of distrust with the incoming administration. Noting that all three prosecutors were not invited back under her administration, Ogg stated that the actions were unprofessional, possibly criminal, and that she would be doing a full investigation when she took Office on January 1st.
So, when I got home I had a chance to watch the press conference, and I found some things to be somewhat strange.
The first instance that Ogg spoke of dealt with the victim in a case who was allegedly unsatisfied with how the case had been resolved. Ogg noted that the victim had complained to Keiter, who told her to contact Ogg with any complaints.
Well, um, okay. So, we've called a press conference to say that a victim of a crime wasn't happy with how a case turned out? Not to be insensitive, but that happens some times. So, that victim calls the prosecutor (who has eleven days left to work as a prosecutor) and he tells her that she will have to take it up with the incoming administration because he won't be there?
Even if you assume the worst of Keiter, and let's just say for the sake of the argument that he delivered this in an unprofessional manner, I fail to see something that would merit an investigation. Victims routinely get upset when they don't agree with how a case is disposed of -- I once dealt with an angry mother who wanted Attempted Murder charges filed against a man who threw a rock at her son's car when he was speeding through the man's neighborhood -- and they will be more than happy to complain and complain as long as someone is listening. If Keiter punted on listening to it and told the victim to take it up with the Ogg Administration, that would be understandable under the circumstances.
But Kim followed up her initial statement by saying that Keiter posted things on Facebook and on this blog about notifying families of murder victims that he wouldn't be their prosecutor anymore. That's just false information. Keiter isn't on Facebook and to my knowledge, he has never posted on this blog. He certainly hasn't since being terminated.
The second instance that Ogg described was a call from the mother of a crime victim who had gotten a robocall from VINE telling her that the Defendant on the case had left the Harris County Jail. Ogg wasn't specific about whether or not the release was due to the Defendant making bond or leaving custody for other reasons. Ogg stated that the prosecutor on that case was Nick Socias, and he had not called the victim to let her know about the Defendant leaving custody.
Um, okay, so Keiter says something to a victim and Ogg is angry and now Socias doesn't say something to a victim and Ogg is angry. I'm failing to see exactly what Ogg's gripe with Socias is here. She never even clarifies what is going on with the case.
The third instance is from the mother of a capital murder victim who said she had received an "anonymous phone call" from someone claiming to be a prosecutor who made "allegations that were political in nature and also gave her misinformation about the status of her case." Ogg states that she asked the woman who was handling the case and she said, "Gretchen Fladen [sic]." Ogg then goes on to point out that Socias and Flader are "domestic partners."
Still scratching my head on why we are having a press conference here.
So, the mother of the victim gets an anonymous call -- not alleged to have been from Flader -- from someone who made some political comments and gave some misinformation and we are now blasting Gretchen in a press conference? And you totally busted Gretchen and Nick to their parents if they didn't know those two were seeing each other!
In a Houston Press article written by Meagan Flynn, Flader described the interaction with the victim's mother:
You know what's wrong with that? Nothing.
Ogg stated that all of this was possibly illegal. I fail to see how. It doesn't sound like Ogg is particularly clear on what happened. She even wrote a letter to First Assistant Belinda Hill demanding that "all records [personal cell phone, personal and work email, etc.] from each person involved are immediately preserved so that a full investigation can be undertaken."
Okaaaaaaay, so you want Judge Hill to confiscate Justin, Gretchen, and Nick's cell phones and personal e-mails because they did . . . what, exactly?
In follow up questions, Kim backpedals and says "I'm not making a direct accusation . . . " and "I will not draw any conclusions about their participation or their guilt until I've had a chance to see the evidence."
What? You called a press conference and then didn't make an accusation? It sure as hell sounded like an accusation to me. Sounded like three of them, in fact. And then you followed it up with saying you haven't drawn any conclusions?!
You just held a freaking press conference. You might as well have wrapped up with, "I'm just kidding!"
Look, I understand that the transition from Devon Anderson to your Administration isn't going so smoothly. I agree with you that Devon shouldn't have stated that public safety was endangered by firing 38 prosecutors on Friday. Don't get me wrong, I don't agree with you firing all of those people, but I don't see a riot ensuing. I also agree with you that Devon should meet with you. I get that she's probably still mad about some stuff said on the campaign trail, but she should meet with you.
Kim, I really am sincere when I say that I want your Administration to succeed, but work with me, here. You can't fire that many people and expect them to love you for it. They are entitled to do a little grumbling, but you are now calling that grumbling "criminal" without anything at all to indicate that.
You can't go around threatening criminal charges every time somebody pisses you off.
You can do better. You should do better. You must do better.
And you owe Gretchen, Nick and Justin an apology for this press conference.