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Bryan Preston

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August 19, 2014 - 6:56 pm

By Texas law, grand jurors are not supposed to talk to the media about their cases.

That did not stop several of the Gov. Perry grand jurors from breaking the law, specifically, talking to the Houston Chronicle.

The jury, which met weekly for four months, “really tried to keep an open mind and come to a fair decision given all the testimony that we heard,” said Janna Bessin, one of the 12 Travis County residents appointed to serve on the grand jury.

“It’s too bad,” Bessin said, calling the criticism unfair. “But I guess that his side’s job – to really spin it.”

The grand juror here evidently doesn’t understand that they have only seen the prosecutor’s side of the story. The prosecutor didn’t even have Perry testify to the grand jury. That’s not all that unusual, but the fact remains, they only saw the prosecution’s case, not the defense.

One, who asked not to be named, said he expects the public perception to change once the full scope of the prosecutor’s case becomes public.

“I think if and when the facts come out, that’ll change,” the juror said.

All six jury members reached by the Chronicle said they were told it would be illegal for them to discuss the grand jury proceedings. The willingness of some to discuss their thoughts in general terms may indicate frustration with Perry’s defense.

Rho Chalmers, who name matches that of a grand juror but would only confirm her service on a jury that ended last week, said grand juries involve careful consideration of facts.

“For me, it’s not a political decision,” Chalmers said. “That’s what a grand jury is about – take the emotion out of it and look at the facts and make your best decision based on your life experience.”

How many “Rho Chalmers” are there out there?

Now, as to Texas law. Here’s what it says.

Art. 19.34. [365] [416] [404] OATH OF GRAND JURORS

When the grand jury is completed, the court shall appoint one of the number 
foreman; and the following oath shall be administered by the court, 
or under its direction, to the jurors: “You solemnly swear that you 
will diligently inquire into, and true presentment make, of all 
such matters and things as shall be given you in charge; the 
State’s counsel, your fellows and your own, you shall keep secret, 
unless required to disclose the same in the course of a judicial 
proceeding in which the truth or falsity of evidence given in the 
grand jury room, in a criminal case, shall be under investigation.
You shall present no person from envy, hatred or malice; neither 
shall you leave any person unpresented for love, fear, favor, 
affection or hope of reward; but you shall present things truly as 
they come to your knowledge, according to the best of your 
understanding, so help you God”.

Bold added. For the grand jury misconduct.

The grand jurors in the story know the law, yet they broke it. I’m not sure if that means anything to the forward motion of the case or not. I suspect that it doesn’t, because the grand jury aren’t part of the case going forward. Having indicted their ham sandwich, they’re free to go.

But it does say something about the mindset of Travis County’s jury pool.

Frankly, said mindset sucks. Gov. Perry cannot get a fair trial there.

 

Bryan Preston has been a leading conservative blogger and opinionator since founding his first blog in 2001. Bryan is a military veteran, worked for NASA, was a founding blogger and producer at Hot Air, was producer of the Laura Ingraham Show and, most recently before joining PJM, was Communications Director of the Republican Party of Texas.

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Top Rated Comments   
What is the difference between a ham sandwhich and felony indictment of a Republican by a Travis County DA?

A ham sandwhich has meat in it.
14 weeks ago
14 weeks ago Link To Comment
Since some members of the Grand Jury are admitted criminals, there should be an investigation (say, by the Texas Rangers) to confirm that they have not violated any other laws - say by getting bribes to indict. After all, once their integrity is lost, its lost.

I wonder how they will like the investigation/
14 weeks ago
14 weeks ago Link To Comment
Six vegetables indicted a ham sandwich.
14 weeks ago
14 weeks ago Link To Comment
All Comments   (40)
All Comments   (40)
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Well gee. The "special prosecutor" is the same one who called 8 different grand juries hear charges against Tom Delay. He is 12 million dollars poorer to defend against those charges but was found innocent. In most states, you have to be convicted to vacate your congressional seat. In Texas you only have to be indicted.
One of the Grand Jurors on Perry's case is an active Democrat delegate to the Texas Democratic Party convention during grand jury proceedings. She is unbiased of course. And there are six Grand Jurors who broke the law (and an oath) to not talk to the press about the proceedings, but they did anyway.
Unless Perry is an idiot, he will make a lot of hay from this stupidity. Arrested for drunk driving but Perry is indicted for acting like it matters. Could these be the same people who think throwing human waste and used feminine products at legislators in the state captiol during the HR2 debacle is OK? And people should want to be Democrats? Geez.
14 weeks ago
14 weeks ago Link To Comment
Liar. McCrum had no connection to the DeLay case. And 8 grand juries?! Where on earth did you get that information?

In most states, you have to be convicted to vacate your congressional seat. In Texas you only have to be indicted.

Wrong on both counts. In no state do you have to resign from Congress, whether indicted or convicted. The rules for Congress are in the federal constitution, and don't vary by state.
14 weeks ago
14 weeks ago Link To Comment
Milhouse you are correct it was Not 8, it was 3. The first flimsy indictment, which didn’t even allege any specific actual crime had taken place, has fallen apart and that grand jury has dissolved. Grand jury #2 declined to indict. Grand jury #3 indicted,but based on evidence manufactured in Earle’s office. Without that evidence, it’s unlikely grand jury #3 would have indicted DeLay at all.

Turned out the evidence used to indict he was made up by the Democratic party. That's now a matter of public record. Remember the DA there told the GJ that they had a smoking gun, a list they got from someone involved that listed the money swap scheme.....only it turns out that AFTER they got the GJ to indict they admitted they never had a list, but they had a list that they THINK looked like the list they claimed to have. Ya good DA there.

As for losing your seat he might have been confused about his house leadership position which he lost under house rules due to the indictment. Remember he was convicted but that was overturned because the courts found the evidence wasn't even close to being enough to hold him overnight let alone send him to jail and he was formally acquitted.

I did notice in your attack on pjsintx you ignored his other claims, so I decided to look into it more. He is correct Rho Chalmers was in fact a member just the GJ, in fact chalmers attended, photographed, and commented on an event with Democratic state Sen. Kirk Watson while grand jury proceedings were ongoing. Watson was one of the democratic witnesses called in front of the Grand Jury. Raises a few questions does it not?

Also you do know that the case against Perry so so weak and bad that even Media Matters says it's a load of crap. He was indicted for vetoing a bill and for misuse of government property...the property being the money in the bill he vetoed. It's a silly case, will get dismissed and I hope someone beings disbarment against the DA.
14 weeks ago
14 weeks ago Link To Comment
The Travis County DA probably knows this won't go to trial, but the point was to disrupt Rick Perry's presidential campaign long enough to make it unfeasible for him ever to get nominated. If karma stills works, this will backfire on the Dems.
Since Barack Obama became POTUS, the ethical bar just keeps getting lower and lower...
14 weeks ago
14 weeks ago Link To Comment
Bingo! Stupid people eat this stuff up.
14 weeks ago
14 weeks ago Link To Comment
We now live in a society where to threaten to impeach a Democrat president for actual abuses of power (Test: what if George Bush did it?) is political suicide, but to criminally indict a Republican governor on bogus charges is a spectator sport and all in good fun. We are doomed.
14 weeks ago
14 weeks ago Link To Comment
Bipartisan Support for Rick Perry is Exploding
Democrat analyst Doug Schoen is one of those Democrats, calling the indictment “outrageous,” and warning his party that “one of the worst things that the Democrats could do” would be to “go after a partisan Republican with a partisan criminal indictment.”
Schoen said that Perry’s actions that led to the indictment, far from being criminal, seemed “right, reasonable and responsible,” according to the report. He called the indictment “very depressing, sad, and just plain wrong,” and accused his own party of misusing the criminal justice system.
Douglas E. Schoen has been one of the most influential Democratic campaign consultants for over thirty years. A founding partner and principle strategist for Penn, Schoen & Berland, he is widely recognized as one of the co-inventors of overnight polling. http://douglasschoen.com/#sthash.fboo92QK.dpuf


David Axelrod, the political hack of Democratic political hacks, tweeted that Perry’s “indictment seems pretty sketchy.” From anyone else, this might be a rare sign of bipartisan objectivity; from Axelrod, it’s more likely an attempt to put Democrats on notice not to associate themselves too closely with what looks to be losing issue for the left.

Even certain high-profile liberals such as Jonathan Chait, (New York Magazine writer and Former Editor of “The New Republic”) have expressed their incredulity at this bizarre indictment. “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.”

New York Times
The Opinion Pages | Editorial

Is Gov. Rick Perry’s Bad Judgment Really a Crime?
By THE EDITORIAL BOARD
AUG. 18, 2014
Gov. Rick Perry of Texas is one of the least thoughtful and most damaging state leaders in America, having done great harm to immigrants, abortion clinics and people without health insurance during his 14 years in office. But bad political judgment is not necessarily a felony, and the indictment handed up against him on Friday — given the facts so far — appears to be the product of an overzealous prosecution.

The left-leaning Salon published an editorial suggesting that the indictment against him is so “shoddy” and Lehmberg is such an “awful martyr” that the entire prosecution could easily harm the Democrats more than Perry or the GOP.

ThinkProgress, which naturally will vilify any GOP presidential candidate, questioned the soundness of the indictment in the softest language it could conjure:
“Though the state legislature probably could limit this veto power in extreme cases — if a state governor literally sold his veto to wealthy interest groups, for example, the legislature could almost certainly make that a crime — a law that cuts too deep into the governor’s veto power raises serious separation of powers concerns. Imagine that the legislature passed a law prohibiting Democratic governors from vetoing restrictions on abortion, or prohibiting Republican governors from vetoing funding for Planned Parenthood. Such laws would rework the balance of power between the executive and the legislature established by the state constitution, and they would almost certainly be unconstitutional.”
POLITICO’s Ben White tweeted a similar opinion — that it “seems quite perverse to indict a governor for exercising his clearly delineated constitutional authority.”
Even liberal celebrity Mia Farrow tweeted (and then deleted) her disgust, telling the world on Aug. 16 that “I’m no Rick Perry fan but the indictment doesn’t identify a law he violated. Looks like politics not felony” — before taking her posting down.
14 weeks ago
14 weeks ago Link To Comment
Criminalizing politics hits a new low

Democrats are not only cowardly, but are getting extremely desperate! Remember, this is what they did to Tom Delay, Ted Stevens, Kay Bailey Hutchison, Scott Walker and Sarah Palin. All of these cases were found to be fraudulent and the individuals were found innocent or the charges were thrown out of court.

Rick Perry has been the only one willing to stand up for our country's Immigration laws, stand up to Obama, and stand up for the protection of our children and grand children.

Democrats who are defending the indictment claim that political revenge isn't a motive because the charges were brought by a grand jury. But the tactic of using a special prosecutor to disguise political motives is common. All of the above cases were designed by political motives in this manner, to put a cosmetic touch of respectability on false political charges.

When Democrats cannot defend their failed programs or personal behavior failings, this is what they do. False charges which cause political opponents to endure enormous personal expense, degraded reputations and hours upon hours of defending themselves, and with no small amount of anxiety that they could have gone to jail on false charges.
That is who Democrats are and they never change or will they ever stand up for truth.
Retaining Power, regardless of the damage they do to the public is all that matters.
Whatever happened to honest Democrats such as John F. Kennedy? JFK is turning over in his grave as he watches today’s despicable behavior of Liberal Democrats.
14 weeks ago
14 weeks ago Link To Comment
A grand jury is NOT a trial jury. The only purpose of the grand jury is to affirm whether or not the DA has enough of a case to procede with an indictment. Period. The presentation is always by the DA, and is therefore always one-sided. That's why DAs can indict ham sandwiches - and not just in Texas.

That is an unfortunate aspect of the grand jury system. There have been any number of proposals to try to reign in an out-of-control DA, or to make the system more equitable. But doing so turns the grand jury into a trial jury - which is NOT a desired outcome. Yet, we don't want to dispense with the grand jury system because that would allow a DA to just issue indictments at his/her own whim.

It's a real dilemma, and one that has existed for centuries. How to restrain an out-of-control DA? We have ways of replacing DAs; we have ways of dealing with spurious indictments. But these are ouside of the grand jury system.

Still, it would be interesting to know how often a grand jury declines the DA request for indictment. But their records are sealed, so I don't know if that could even be determined without breach of law.
14 weeks ago
14 weeks ago Link To Comment
Well, we know that two grand juries no-billed DeLay, so apparently the ham sandwich standard isn't quite the rule in Travis County.
14 weeks ago
14 weeks ago Link To Comment
It does seem rather suspect, however, that it would takes three tries to get an indictment.

I am not a legal scholar, but since you seem to know so much how often do DAs have to use multiple tries to get an indictment?
14 weeks ago
14 weeks ago Link To Comment
I live in Travis County, but not Austin. Dave, in answer to your question, yes, according to the local "rag', jurors were queried until they had enough to do business. According to the paper, the DA, CA, Judge of Criminal Court all bailed on this. This went to a regional judge who appointed the trial judge from San Antonio. It will be extremely difficult to get impartial jurors in Travis County, and especially Austin. Now, I'm neither a Perry nor a Lehmberg fan, but I just gotta say Perry didn't break the law and Lehmberg did.
14 weeks ago
14 weeks ago Link To Comment
So you're saying they went shopping to find someone (Dem) who hated Perry's guts enough to crucify him? My oh my, where IS the office of Public Integrity when you need it?
14 weeks ago
14 weeks ago Link To Comment
Just what was the demographic makeup of that GJ? Did the DA do jury-shopping a la Ronnie Earle? How was the pool of potential jurors selected? Are the questions asked of potential jurors (the voir dire, part, I believe) part of the public record? Are the jurors' answers to those questions part of the record? Are the rejected jurors' answers also part of that public record?
14 weeks ago
14 weeks ago Link To Comment
/sigh/

Some days, a good old fashioned lynching looks mighty appealing....

But then reason returns. Lawlessness is not the answer to lawlessness.

14 weeks ago
14 weeks ago Link To Comment
If they broke the law, it should still matter in the ongoing case. Perry's attorneys could set a Texas precedent by having a mistrial declared because of grand jury misconduct. The jurors can't be "free to go" if they broke a law.
But then, I'm pissing in the wind in these lawless times, aren't I?
14 weeks ago
14 weeks ago Link To Comment
Mistrial? How? The grand jury's role is over. What they do now has nothing to do with the case.
14 weeks ago
14 weeks ago Link To Comment
Yes, but it seems to me that the indictment itself is tainted and should be vacated, or whatever the word is.
14 weeks ago
14 weeks ago Link To Comment
normally the defense count file a Motion to Dismiss an Indictment. However the rules for allowing that probably do not apply here. The grounds for that are normally only allowed in cases where less than 12 members were not qualified to sit on the GJ. Meaning either they lied about where they lived, age or criminal history. Just being a DNC member are hating Perry are not grounds. Now the trial judge could look at the facts and dismiss the case, but that's different.
14 weeks ago
14 weeks ago Link To Comment
I was thinking something similar. Evidence that Perry cannot get a fair and impartial trial in that venue etc etc?
14 weeks ago
14 weeks ago Link To Comment
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