“As county chairman, I have two policies. One is that we will never encourage anyone to run against an incumbent judge. The other is that neither the party nor I as county chairman endorses (sic) anyone in a contested race.”
Former Dallas County Republican Chair.
To be sure, the quote above could have been said by any party chair. In Texas, we like to think we elect our judges but we really don’t. The party leaders of both parties make sure their incumbents remain in office. Whether or not a judge is honest or competent does not seem to matter. What matters is whether or not he or she supports the party in power.
So why do we have so many ineffective judges?
Anyone who has graduated from high school in the United States has been introduced to the scientific method. From the ancient Greeks, we learned that honest inquiry requires us to look at the evidence, then draw conclusions. It is part of the bedrock of Western Civilization and we know any other approach is invalid.
And yet, that is not how most prosecutors do it. Most prosecutors decide up front who they think the guilty party is, then look for, or interpret the evidence to support their position. Through sample bias, they often overlook evidence that would point them in a different direction. Unsurprisingly, they “find” evidence to support their position and another innocent party is convicted. This same approach even allows prosecutors to convict innocents for a crime that never happened for political reasons. Unfortunately, judges often don’t provide the oversight necessary to contain this approach.
Presumably, most prosecutors went to high school although we can see why some may not believe that.
Most people think it is. Fungibility is the ability to be easily swapped for other things. We can use money to hire people to save souls or slaughter sows; the money doesn’t care. Once it leaves our hands, there is no telling where it goes. We all know that (except some prosecutors).
Suppose you have a good friend named Aloysius, with whom you periodically exchange texts and phone calls. One day, he comes to you and asks to borrow a decent sum of money. He is a good friend and you wish to help but you ask him if you could pay him over time. He agrees and you continue to exchange texts and phones calls about birthday parties, spouses, politics, and sports.
Unknown to you, he uses the money to buy illegal drugs, makes a profit, and returns the money. Are you guilty? Any rational person would say you are not guilty and yet many people are found guilty based on just these circumstances. Somehow, in a court of law, people lose their rationality when the prosecutor tells them to. More and more, if authorities target someone, however innocent, and you can lead them to the conviction of the target, you can be targeted, also, until you give them the testimony they want. Joseph Stalin must be so proud!
Do you think wrongful imprisonment does not affect you? Are you a taxpayer? The June 26, 2017 Texas Tribune reported that Texas has paid almost $100 million in wrongful imprisonment compensation.
These payments are based on a law that did not exist until 2009 so we are talking about $100 million for recent events. Moreover, the law requires the court or prosecutor to declare the wrongfully imprisoned actually innocent instead of not guilty beyond a reasonable doubt before receiving payment. Our system is not designed for that. What this means is, if the judges and prosecutors are still in power when the wrongfully imprisoned are acquitted, compensation is not going to happen. This ensures that when dishonest prosecutors and their supportive judges engage in practices which lead to wrongful conviction, there will be no repercussions.
Clearly, having the prosecutor approve payments to the wrongfully convicted is placing the fox in charge of the henhouse.
There is an old saying that a district attorney could get a ham sandwich indicted if he wishes.
When an indictment is issued, it is theoretically subject to being quashed, or voided. The judge is supposed to quash indictments that have serious flaws such as not being clear what the alleged illegal action is or being based on faulty law. If the defense has no idea what the actual crime being charge is, there is no way to mount a defense. The attack could be anything! This is very important because if the judge allows the faulty indictments to go to trial, no such trial could be fair. Improper indictments are supposed to be quashed (squashed) like the cockroaches they are to protect the rule of law and our society. This is what judges are paid for and it is their duty. This should not be ethically challenging for them.
And yet, for many judges, it is. Many judges take a political approach. Instead of quashing an obviously defective indictment, they let it go through in an effort the please a powerful local district attorney or connected power brokers. Accordingly, they preside over unfair trials and innocent people are found guilty.
The public has a very poor understanding about how our courts and our criminal justice system work. Although the system constantly denies this, there really is no oversight of the system. When a member says something was so, the system takes his or her word for it. This is an excellent vehicle for corruption.
Of course, not even our courts provide for consequences when we discover such behavior. To shorten a long story a jailor assaulted George Alvarez in jail. The jailor then accused Alvarez of assaulting him. The system lied to cover the jailor’s crime up. As is typical, Mr. Alvarez was threatened with a very lengthy sentence unless he confessed to the crime in return for a much lighter sentence. Mr. Alvarez did what 97% of the defendants do; he pled guilty and went to prison.
Later, evidence came forward which proved Mr. Alvarez’ innocence and the jailor’s crime. The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals declared Mr. Alvarez actually innocent.
Mr. Alvarez sued in federal court and was awarded $2 million. That would have sent a powerful message to our criminal justice system to clean up its act.
Unfortunately, the US Fifth Circuit District Court of Appeals reversed that award, stating that because Mr. Alvarez pled guilty, the criminal justice system did not have to tell the truth. This ignores that Mr. Alvarez had to plead guilty precisely because our government covered up the truth. In other words, because the government had gotten away with lying about this crime, there are no consequences.
And we wonder why we have so many wrongly convicted innocent people.
Last week, we discussed how inappropriate it is for a local district attorney all by himself to file criminal complaints, to investigate, seek an indictment, and to prosecute citizens because of the danger of abuse. To protect against such abuse, most counties require that the district attorney to act only on cases brought to him or her by law enforcement.
So how about if the district attorney also has his own armed SWAT team? This sounds like a combination Stalin would approve of.
Former district attorney Judge John Roach did just this. He spent $25,306 of the taxpayers’ money (he said it was his money) on four rifles, 10 helmets, two shields, two gun safes and up to 6,000 rounds of ammunition for training over the objections of the commissioners’ court. Just what we need: another amateur armed group running around among the citizenry.
Apparently, he felt he was more qualified to lead this SWAT team than the county sheriff, the multiple local police, the national guard, and the Army. As near as anyone could tell, his primary qualification to do this was that he wore freshly laundered suits to work. So, now there was a district attorney who initiated his own complaints, sought indictments, investigated the complaints, had his own private police force answerable to him, and prosecuted the cases. His police wore vests which said “District Attorney Police”. So what were the checks and balances?
Imagine if a person had the authority to single a person out, then spend unlimited tax payer dollars to prosecute that person with the full force of the State. It is obvious such a system would be susceptible to rampant political abuse. For this reason, honest district attorneys do not initiate investigation of a crime but instead, wait for an authority such as the police to bring a complaint before them.
Even then, district attorneys are supposed to use professional judgment to insure cases pursued actually have merit.
There have been district attorneys who have initiated complaints, investigated them, and then prosecuted them. Since they manage their budget, the results are not surprising. This is an excellent way to remove political opponents or reward supporters, assuming of course, one is not bothered by ethics.
When we see district attorneys initiating their own cases, we ought to be deeply suspicious. There is no reason for this and plenty of reasons to be concerned about this.
In Collin County, we have the case where a judge who lost his re-election teamed up with a parent who lost custody of her children for cause to get the local DA of Collin County to use his powers to overturn the fair election and reverse the custody case by means other than legal.
When the outgoing DA learned the incoming DA considered the case to be political and would not pursue it, the outgoing DA got his friend at the Texas Attorney General’s office to pursue the prosecution without the incoming local DA’s consent; something illegal by statute.
Innocent people’s lives were devastated and an innocent man was sent to prison but the case all unraveled on appeal after the taxpayers spent millions of dollars. All defendants were acquitted as there was never evidence of a crime. Obviously, the indictments were faulty.
Now we have the case of the missing prosecutors. No one seems to have prosecuted this case! The man on the right is Judge John Roach, the former DA, who claims he was not involved in spite of the voluminous evidence to the contrary. Judge John Roach retired to an upscale ski resort in New Mexico and is easily found.
Collin County claims no responsibility because the new DA did not consent to the prosecution. The AG’s office claims the lead AG prosecutor is no longer with the Office and therefore they are not responsible. The Office is still there and the lead AG prosecutor now works for the Tarrant County’s DA office, where he is easily found. His name is Harold E. White and he is the one in the photo to the left with the Alfred E. Neuman grin.
The cases at the Court of Criminal Appeals used to be styled “Defendant v.: The State of Texas”. They are now styled “Defendant v.: “. I suppose this means there was never a prosecutor. This is like watching a merger between the Keystone Kops and the Mafia. It would be laughable if it weren’t so deadly.
I am certain of this. Mr. Schruben was a teacher for most of his career in Katy, TX. He raised four boys with his wife and no complaint was ever reported. He was well-liked by his students.
His relationship with his wife was always difficult. They adopted an older girl with serious issues from China in their later years. After 48 years of marriage, Mr. Schruben filed for divorce and afterwards, his ex-wife filed a claim of child abuse for the first time. The child was under the care of the mother and in extreme physical pain. The mother coached the child to say certain things and withheld her medicine if she didn’t say these things. Mr. Schruben was sentenced to 20 years and the mother got full custody.
The prosecutor promised a slap on the wrist if Mr. Schruben admitted guilt which is often done when the prosecutor knows the defendant is innocent. Mr. Schruben refused. It is laughingly easy to convict a man of sexual abuse.
Let’s be blunt: When a man is 72, he just doesn’t have much of a sex drive anymore. 48 years of marriage and four boys with no complaints; suddenly he is a pedophile. This just doesn’t add up. Katy, TX lost the services of a good citizen. Instead of paying taxes into the system, the citizens of Texas are paying substantial amounts of money to keep him in prison and pay the medical bills of an older person.
His sons know this was all trumped up by their mother. They have created a blog at: