Saturday, November 03, 2007

All Charges Against 7 Fort Bend County Roofers Dismissed

It was just short of a month ago that we saw a KHOU newscast about an ongoing miscarriage of justice being committed against a group of 7 men whose only crime appeared to be wanting to go into business for themselves. I wrote about it here.

Well now, nearly a month to the day after that news story was aired, KHOU reports that all 7 men have had all charges filed against them by Assistant District Attorney Mike Elliott dismissed for lack of evidence.

Lack of evidence? These 7 men were under a cloud of felony indictments for nearly 2 years and there was no evidence to support the charges? As a matter of fact, the only real evidence that the DA had was that the 7 defendants “weren't that cooperative initially”. I think if I thought I was being set up by my former boss and his Assistant District Attorney crony I would be a little uncooperative as well.

But wait, there’s more. District Attorney John Healey appears on camera (this time) to publicly reprimand ADA Elliott for his shoddy investigative practices. In Healey’s words:

“He was admonished strongly and told that he had to do a more thorough review of his cases.”
“Admonished” means a slap on the back of the hands. “Strongly admonished” I guess means that a ruler was involved in the slap.

This is county politics at its worst, and it mirrors politics in Washington these days. Why is that? One political party has had a hammerlock on Fort Bend County for 2 decades, just as the Republicans dominated congress since 1994 and the White House since 2001. When you put these people in power and keep them there year after year with no end in sight there seems to be a sense of indestructibility, a sense of self-assurance that one can do no wrong, or if one does wrong, no one is checking.

And to an extent this is still the case, because while Elliott has been “publicly reprimanded”, he still has his job. There is no report of an investigation being launched to find out whether Mike Elliott was acting properly, although if there was a report of an investigation, that in and of itself would compromise the investigation. But I am characteristically pessimistic about the existence of an investigation.

And the reason is this: there is no downside. We had at the very least an ADA on staff who conducts sloppy investigations, and at the very most an ADA who, as an alleged crony of a businessman, helped his friend by filing criminal charges against 7 innocent men. We had that, yet we had no Democratic candidate to run against District Attorney John Healey last year.

See? No downside.

No comments: