Patterico's Pontifications

8/17/2014

Issuin’ a Veto? That’s a Jailin’

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 3:49 pm

Threatenin’ to issue a veto? Oooh, you better believe that’s a jailin’.

UPDATE: I think Ken White invented this phrase.

Three Things You Might Not Know About Perry Persecutor Michael McCrum: Allegations of Misconduct, His Donation to the Judge Who Appointed Him, and His Politics

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 3:00 pm

There are three things you might not know about Michael McCrum, the special prosecutor who obtained an absurd indictment against Rick Perry:

  • McCrum is a party to a pending appeal regarding whether he might be held in contempt of court for allegedly “encouraging a witness to refrain from appearing in court and avoiding subpoena by the State” (according to the Bexar County District Attorney).
  • Although McCrum is being portrayed as a “Republican” by some hack Democrat shills, he has been described by one supporter as a “Democrat” — and his only contribution to a candidate for political office was to a Congressional Democrat.
  • McCrum gave a $500 donation to the judge who appointed him as special prosecutor, before the appointment.

ALLEGATIONS THAT McCRUM ENCOURAGED A WITNESS TO AVOID TESTIMONY IN COURT

Let’s start with the allegation that McCrum, while a defense attorney, encouraged a witness to avoid testimony against his client. In January, mysanantonio.com reported on the controversy:

Much of the matter revolves around whether Melanie Little, who worked at Starlite Recovery Center in Boerne, was under subpoena and whether Alcala had dismissed her completely from the October intoxication manslaughter trial of Taylor Rae Rosenbusch. Little testified for the defense during the punishment phase.

Prosecutors allege McCrum told Little afterward not to come back to court and to turn off her phone because she was not under subpoena.

He also suggested she leave the area, because “the DA was out for blood” and “wanted Taylor to be put away for a long time,” the contempt motion alleges.

McCrum’s lawyers argue the trial record shows Alcala dismissed Little and didn’t tell her she could be recalled.

“Mr. McCrum did not misrepresent anything to the court, nor did he say anything to the witness that would cause her to ignore an instruction from the court,” Stevens said during last week.

The article said that McCrum was appealing, and that the appellate court had stayed the contempt proceedings. In late February, the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals issued a ruling in McCrum’s favor based on a technicality: lack of jurisdiction. The opinion does not indicate that McCrum denied the allegations that he told the witness to go home, only that he contended the court had lost jurisdiction over the case before starting the contempt proceedings.

The Bexar County District Attorney said in a press release on March 5, 2014:

In January of this year, the trial court directed the State to file a Motion for Contempt against McCrum based on allegations that McCrum engaged in improper conduct allegedly encouraging a witness to refrain from appearing in court and avoiding subpoena by the State. The contempt proceedings had already begun when McCrum filed a Writ of Mandamus with the Fourth Court asserting that the trial court lacked jurisdiction. Last week, the Fourth Court ruled in McCrum’s favor and the State is seeking review of that decision by the Court of Criminal Appeals.

On that same day, March 5, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals entered an order (.pdf) staying the decision of the 4th District Court of Appeals and inviting further briefing on the matter. The docket for the appeal to the Texas Criminal Court of Appeals shows that the writ proceeding appears to be pending at this time.

I’ll be keeping an eye on this. What McCrum is alleged to have done is subverting justice. Like the Perry indictment, it’s about twisting or hiding facts rather than seeking the truth.

McCRUM: A DEMOCRAT WHO HAS DONATED TO A CONGRESSIONAL DEMOCRAT

Today, Byron York linked an amusing video of a hack Democrat trying to portray McCrum as a Republican. The head of “Texans for Public Justice” responds to the allegation that this is a “partisan witch hunt” by saying “nothing could be closer to the truth.” (Yes, he said “closer.” Paging Dr. Freud!)

Hilarious. But on a more serious note, this partisan shill also claims that McCrum is a “Republican.” That does not seem to square with what I have read.

I have not found any news articles that specifically say whether McCrum is a Republican or a Democrat. A profile in the San Antonio Express portrays McCrum as a “thorough, dogged attorney” without a political axe to grind. A similarly flattering profile in the Dallas Morning News paints McCrum as a serious attorney who lacks partisanship. These warm portrayals of McCrum certainly seem undermined by the indictment, which is a hack piece of work that has been universally derided by Democrats and Republicans alike as wholly lacking in merit and an obvious political hit job.

Let’s look beyond the glowing lefty media portrayals and focus on the facts.

This October 2010 op-ed by Bill Mateja, a Republican supporter of McCrum’s bid to be U.S. Attorney, paints McCrum as a Democrat, albeit one who is non-partisan:

Mike McCrum’s recent announcement that he was withdrawing his name from consideration for the San Antonio U.S. attorney’s post underscores the fact that whatever the cause of the political logjam, it simply has to end.

McCrum — a first-rate, prosecutor-first-Democrat-second lawyer — withdrew his name even though he seemed to be the pick of Democrats and Republicans. He had been on hold too long without the ability to take on new cases, which was anathema to his legal practice and bringing home the bacon.

Consistent with Mateja’s description of McCrum as a Democrat, a search on OpenSecrets.org reveals one and only political donation by McCrum: a $500 donation made in May 2007 to Charlie A. Gonzalez, a Congressional Democrat from San Antonio who served from 1999 to 2013.

But that does not tell the whole story, because McCrum has donated to two Republicans as well. However, those donations arguably reveal nothing about his politics — because the Republicans were not politicians, but judges. The Dallas Morning News piece linked above gives more details:

According to campaign finance records, McCrum has made only a handful of contributions to state and federal candidates.

He gave $300 in 2007 to Steve Hilbig, a Republican judge on the state appeals court based in San Antonio.

Also that year, McCrum donated $500 to U.S. Rep. Charlie Gonzalez, a San Antonio Democrat.

In the next paragraph, the paper details one other contribution to a Republican judge. But that contribution deserves more than passing mention, so hold tight while I insert another section heading:

McCRUM DONATED TO THE VERY JUDGE WHO APPOINTED HIM AS A SPECIAL PROSECUTOR

Here’s the next paragraph of that Dallas Morning News profile:

The next year [2008], he [McCrum] contributed $500 to Republican Robert “Bert” Richardson, a Bexar County district court judge. Richardson assigned McCrum as the special prosecutor after a watchdog group filed its abuse-of-office complaint against Perry.

So, the judge who appointed McCrum as the special prosecutor had taken money from McCrum in the past.

Now, let’s be clear: there’s nothing inherently unethical about this. Judges hear matters by attorneys who have donated to them all the time. Depending on the amount of the donation and the length of time between the donation and the proceeding, the judge may or may not choose to disclose the donation. Judges typically don’t recuse themselves due to such donations. My guess is that McCrum’s donation and Judge Richardson’s appointment each reflect an admiration that one holds for the other. I question the judgment of anyone who could admire a prosecutor who has brought such a patently abusive indictment. But I don’t mean to insinuate that this is any kind of conflict of interest or violation of ethics.

I do find it interesting, however — and worth passing along to you, the reader . . . for what it’s worth.

None of this really changes my mind about McCrum. I am still disgusted by his actions in indicting Perry, and it doesn’t really matter to me whether he’s a Republican or a Democrat. It matters to me a little bit whether he is a conscientious lawyer or a scumbag who tries to monkey with the judicial process by telling unfavorable witnesses to scram.

But the bottom line is: this indictment is a joke. If McCrum is as smart as they say, he must know it’s a joke. Yet he pursued it anyway. It’s a shameful act and he deserves unrelenting and withering criticism for it.

Jesse Jackson Fails To Successfully Exploit Michael Brown’s Death

Filed under: General — Dana @ 1:45 pm

[guest post by Dana]

Jesse Jackson rolled into Ferguson, Mo., yesterday to show solidarity with protestors and to ask for donations. Apparently the community was not receptive to his request for money:

–Dana

8/16/2014

My Email to Michael McCrum

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 5:12 pm

I just sent this to Michael McCrum via his online form:

Mr. McCrum,

You should be deeply ashamed of yourself. This prosecution is a joke. It is perhaps one of the most outrageous abuses of power by a prosecutor I have heard of in years. I’m a prosecutor myself — writing you on my own and not speaking for my office — and I just want you to know that your actions tar good prosecutors everywhere. Thank God you never became U.S. Attorney. I hope you lose quickly and are drummed out of public life in disgrace.

Patrick Frey
Los Angeles

Too nice?

UPDATE: Thanks to Scott Johnson at PowerLine for the link.

UPDATE x2: Add one more voice to the mix. From the comments, Jeff Greeson, a prosecutor in Northern California, says he sent McCrum this:

I am a prosecutor in Northern California, but I write today as a citizen, and am not expressing the opinion of my employer or the elected district attorney.

Your abuse of the judicial process is a crime against democracy itself. I hope whatever tawdry political favor you are going to get from the Harris County democrat party machine was worth your personal honor. While I am not familiar with the Texas Bar’s ethics code, I cannot conceive of an ethical system that would permit a cheap political prank disguised as a solemn legal duty. You have brought great shame on yourself and our profession.

Nicely said.

Rick Perry: Indictment Is a “Farce” and “Abuse of Power”

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 4:29 pm

Damn straight. Great statement, and well said:

Democrats really screwed up here.

UPDATE: Sometimes you want to listen to someone who’s really angry. This is one of those times:

UPDATE: Thanks to Moe Lane at RedState for the link.

Jonathan Chait Is Correct: “This Indictment Of Rick Perry Is Unbelievably Ridiculous” (With Bonus Detailed Legal Analysis!)

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 3:09 pm

Jonathan Chait — lefty leftist Jonathan Chait, I say! — admits today that the indictment of Rick Perry is absurd. Don’t believe me? In a post titled This Indictment Of Rick Perry Is Unbelievably Ridiculous (yes, that is really the title), Chait says:

They say a prosecutor could get a grand jury to indict a ham sandwich, and this always seemed like hyperbole, until Friday night a Texas grand jury announced an indictment of governor Rick Perry. The “crime” for which Perry faces a sentence of 5 to 99 years in prison is vetoing funding for a state agency. The conventions of reporting — which treat the fact of an indictment as the primary news, and its merit as a secondary analytic question — make it difficult for people reading the news to grasp just how farfetched this indictment is.

. . . .

The theory behind the indictment is flexible enough that almost any kind of political conflict could be defined as a “misuse” of power or “coercion” of one’s opponents. To describe the indictment as “frivolous” gives it far more credence than it deserves. Perry may not be much smarter than a ham sandwich, but he is exactly as guilty as one.

I often find Chait irritating, but I appreciate his honesty and spot-on analysis here — and, as you can discern from his last sentence, his conclusion does not flow from any love for Rick Perry. Likewise, I guarantee you that I would be equally critical of such an absurd indictment whether it were brought by a Republican or a Democrat, against a Republican or a Democrat.

There seems to be a lot of confusion out there about what is actually alleged and why it’s so silly, so I have done some work to try to make it clear to you, the interested and educated non-lawyer (and to the lawyers too!). I’ll bury the legal analysis under the fold, but trust me: it’s interesting and I try to make it easy to understand. Click on the “more” button if you’re interested.

(more…)

8/15/2014

L.A. Times: Rick Perry Indicted for . . . Abusing His Power and Shutting Down Ethics Investigations??

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 10:23 pm

Wait, what?

Yeah, not quite. More like he’s being indicted for withholding money from an belligerent, drunken, power-abusing District Attorney. Not that you would know this from reading the L.A. Times. Just listen to how they portray this story:

Texas Gov. Rick Perry was indicted by a grand jury Friday, accused of two felony counts of abusing his power by eliminating funds for the state’s ethics watchdog.

The byzantine case involves the drunk-driving conviction of a Democratic prosecutor, deep-seated partisan tensions and a test of Perry’s powers as the longest-serving chief executive in Texas history. It comes as Perry attempts to resurrect his image and renew his presidential ambitions after a disastrous 2012 run.

With the governor already planning to step down at the end of his term in January, the impact is likely to be greatest outside his home state, where Perry is probably still best known for the pratfalls of his unsuccessful White House bid.

“It’s a red light,” said Matt Mackowiak, a GOP strategist in Austin, Texas, who believes Perry had done much to repair his reputation among Republicans, especially with his recent tough stance on immigration issues. “It stops a lot of the momentum.”

It’s all about Perry trying to shut down a corruption investigation, according to the L.A. Times. It takes until the 14th paragraph to get the explanation of how the indictment relates to drunken, abusive Travis County D.A. Rosemary Lehmberg:

Against that backdrop, Travis County Dist. Atty. Rosemary Lehmberg was arrested last year on drunken-driving charges. She turned belligerent after police stopped her, and a videotape of her aggressive behavior in custody was widely circulated in the Texas media.

Rosemary Lehmberg’s drunken driving is bad enough. Her belligerence is worse. But the L.A. Times never mentions once the most important point of all: Lehmberg’s attempted abuse of power when arrested.

I discussed this when the investigation was first announced in April. Why did Perry threaten to withhold funding from a public integrity unit run by the D.A. of Travis County? Yes, part of it was because she had been arrested for DWI, with a .23 blood alcohol level:

And part of the problem were that she had been belligerent with police, to the point where she needed to be restrained:

But the real problem is much worse: she demanded repeatedly to talk to the sheriff, and refused to resign. Here she is being belligerent and repeatedly asking deputies if they have called “Greg” — Travis County Sheriff Greg Hamilton.

Watch that video. She is attempting to use her power and influence to get out of jail.

I see a lot of attacks on Rosemary Lehmberg for being a drunk tonight. Those are cute — but miss the more important point: her attempted abuse of power when arrested. Rick Perry was right to object to a government corruption prosecution unit being run by someone who tried to use her power to avoid jail. Now, he is being indicted and charged with a felony — for doing his job. Perry vetoed public funding for an organization whose leader showed she can’t be trusted. Apparently, to avoid prosecution, he needed to keep the money flowing.

A veto — a veto! — was a prosecutable offense.

This is America?

And the damned L.A. Times won’t even tell readers what the real problem is.

Videos Show Michael Brown Robbing Store

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 6:36 pm

Well, well. So much for another media narrative of the innocent young man being gunned down for no reason:

Some people on Twitter are claiming this doesn’t matter, at least not if the cop who shot Brown didn’t know he was a robbery suspect (although this is unclear). Others say ridiculous things like “he did not deserve to be killed for a robbery” as if that was the issue. Holy strawman nonsense, Batman!

A guy who just did a robbery is not going to behave like a gentleman when he is approached by police soon after the robbery. That’s the issue! What’s more, one of the witnesses to the shooting turns out to be the robbery accomplice. Now there’s a credible witness!

As so often happens, people have taken their preconceived notions of how things work based on racial stereotypes, and have applied them to a situation where the facts are not known.

Isn’t that what we used to call racism??

Judge Hits Back At IRS Perfidy

Filed under: General — JD @ 12:57 pm

[guest post by JD]

Apparently, this Judge has become tired of the IRS’s ongoing mendacity.

This should be interesting. Especially in comparison to prior testimony, under Oath.

—JD

Does Police Militarization Result in Most “Needless” Deaths at the Hands of Police?

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:32 am

Patrick from Popehat had the following comment this morning:

I have not followed events in Ferguson too closely, having been snowed under with work. I don’t agree with arresting journalists for sitting at a McDonald’s, or threatening to arrest them for going into an area of unrest to cover it. That said, I don’t agree with looting, attacking all cops because of the actions of one, or disobeying lawful orders of police. (Disobeying unlawful ones is legally distinct, but you don’t always know what they know, and disobeying any order is risky.) The following brief comment is not a full-blown defense of use of any military weaponry or tactics in any situation. I guarantee that I have just said will be roundly ignored, but that’s not my fault. I said it. See? It’s right there in this paragraph.

However: I submit that most “needless” deaths caused by police are caused by the simple semi-automatic handgun. And the most prominent feature of the military is firearms. So unless you’re planning to totally disarm police, there is going to be some resemblance between police and the military — and most “needless” deaths by police will result from firearms that cops simply need to carry to do their job. The answer to police misconduct is not always to take from competent and level-headed police the tools that were misused by incompetent or abusive police officers.

We have police for a reason. They carry guns for a reason. And looting is not permitted in this country, yet. (Give Obama two more years.) This is not to defend all actions of police in Ferguson; again, I know little about the facts there. But I caution people not to overreact.

Patterico: saying the things it’s unpopular to say!

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