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Monday, August 29, 2011


The Texas Code of Criminal Procedure Title 1, Chapter 2, Article 2.01 states:
It shall be the primary duty of all prosecuting attorneys, including any special prosecutors, not to convict, but to see that justice is done.

Someone should probably have notified the DA’s office back in 2001. “Hey guys, bad news; it looks like it’s not actually your job to convict every poor bastard whose name crosses your desk…You’re supposed to be going after the people that committed the crime.”

Prosecutor: “Fuuuuuuuuuuck…that sounds like a lot of work.”

And I’m sure it is, but do you know what takes even more work? Getting a hearing for a retrial. You don’t get a new trial just because you have evidence that your first one was a miscarriage of justice. No, you have to schedule a hearing to present your arguments to the judge, but before you get THAT, you have to dodge all the objections and procedural complications the prosecutors are going throw at you.

See, for people who are duty-bound to promote justice, they sure hate it when people expect to get it. Take the case of Lawrence Napper. He was out on parole (for raping 2 woman in the 80's) when he was convicted and sentenced to life in 2001 for kidnapping and raping a little boy. After it became known that the HPD scientist gave false testimony about the DNA identifying Napper as the rapist, the DA’s office fought for years to keep him from getting a hearing for a retrial. They fought because they did not want the question to even be considered, but eventually he did get his hearing. Not a new trial, just a hearing to see if he should get a new trial. His lawyer presented evidence that Joseph Chu, an HPD scientist who now has a bunch of tests that were proven wrong, had lied or just been seriously incompetent by testifying that the DNA positively identified Napper as the rapist.

The prosecutor, Jack Roady, admitted that although the lab work may have been sloppy Napper didn’t deserve a new trial because…get ready for this…The fuck-up wasn’t done on purpose.
Yeah, who cares if the evidence that got you a life sentence was screwed up and misrepresented? We didn’t do it to be mean! This is a prime example of the breathtaking, mind-boggling arrogance of the TDCJ.

At the 2009 hearing, the judge decided that Napper should receive a new trial. I guess that recommendation got sent to the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, because in 2010 they issued an opinion that basically said “Just because the state of Texas lied to get you convicted does not mean that you can have a new trial.”  And that’s it. Back to prison he goes.

Why not just break out all the evidence they had the first time and take another crack at it? If they truly removed all reasonable doubt of his guilt the first time, it would be a goddamn pleasure to do it again. If it was a righteous conviction, why do all this work to avoid proving it?

Prosecutors (as far as I know) don't get paid extra for winning cases, but it would be foolish to deny that getting a conviction is a positive thing for them. It justifies their existence, proves that they were right, and is probably a career builder. At some point, you'd have to be able to make yourself believe that even when you are hiding evidence or allowing testimony that's not exactly true, you're still doing the 'right' thing. I am sure that even the most crooked prosecutors think they're the good guys...All the best villains do.

When SPM gets a new trial (and I do believe it’s ‘when’, not ‘if’) we must not allow TDCJ to screw around like this. Although I have great faith in the new administration's good intentions, there are holdovers from previous times whose careers and reputations are built on these shoddy, bullshit convictions. They will use every trick in the book to keep Carlos Coy silent; I believe they fear public exposure more than anything else. We need to let them know now that we are watching, and we demand a fair hearing.

Keep your eyes open.

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