Protest too Much?
Harris County prosecutor Vic Wisner writes in public explanation of his dismissal of the grand jury’s indictment against Texas Supreme Court Justice David Medina:
My decision to dismiss the indictments Without violating my ethical restrictions on commenting on pending investigations, I would like to explain the following to the public: Regardless of my personal belief in the merits of a case, I cannot ethically proceed forward if I believe the prosecution will not survive an instructed verdict of not guilty and be an exercise in futility. I do not, nor should any prosecutor, conduct show trials. I am addressing the following issues hypothetically: If a prosecutor believed that a suspect was likely guilty but the guilt could not be proven, the prosecutor would be foolhardy to proceed to trial. This would be especially true at a very early stage of an investigative proceeding with a decade remaining to file charges. Additionally, a suspect may engage in dishonest or immoral conduct that falls short of committing a crime. A grand jury indictment means the grand jury believes that they believe that there is probable cause, it does not mean that there is legally admissible, competent, or persuasive evidence to prove a crime in open court. I have never been involved in a situation like this before, likewise our office has never been under the scrutiny it is now. I know that similar situations occurred when Mr. Holmes was the district attorney. I also know that Mr. Ryan was the foreman of a previous grand jury which returned several indictments of public officials against the wishes of the prosecutor. They were of course also immediately dismissed. It is sad that actions that were once seen as ethical and demonstrative of prosecutorial independence are now viewed by some as dishonest and cronyism. Unfortunately that is the world I now work in.
For the record, if I’m ever murdered my vengeful ghost will want Vic to prosecute my murderer. He might not get the max, but I don’t think that one of Vic’s faults has ever been that he was too soft on people he believed to be wrongdoers. It’s a shame that the DA’s office is so far off the rails that a career prosecutor with no political ambition outside the office has to explain to the public the exercise of his discretion, but the DA’s office hasn’t merited the confidence the public has in it in years; the public is only realizing it now. It’s time for big changes over there — the kind of changes that will only happen with new leadership brought in from the outside.
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