Grand Jury Mystery

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quote-any-good-prosecutor-can-get-a-grand-jury-to-indict-a-ham-sandwich-sol-wachtler-311545

 

For my sins, no doubt, I have been an attorney now for more than a third of a century.  One of the many lessons that I have learned over this great span of time, is that grand juries are the tools of prosecutors, and that other than declining to indict an occasional prospective defendant, grand juries normally proceed along the paths that the directing prosecutors wish.  What then to make of this?

A Harris County grand jury has indicted the Center for Medical Progress — specifically, David Daleiden and Sandra Merritt – while declining to indict Planned Parenthood. This comes after the Center for Medical Progress released an investigation last year into the sales of aborted baby organs at Planned Parenthood:

Secret videographers David Daleiden and Sandra Merritt were both indicted on charges of tampering with a governmental record, a second-degree felony that carries a punishment of up to 20 years in prison. Daleiden received an additional misdemeanor indictment under the law prohibiting the purchase and sale of human organs.

Harris County District Attorney Devon Anderson announced the surprising indictments Monday after a two-month investigation.

“We were called upon to investigate allegations of criminal conduct by Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast,” said Anderson, a Republican. “As I stated at the outset of this investigation, we must go where the evidence leads us. All the evidence uncovered in the course of this investigation was presented to the grand jury. I respect their decision on this difficult case.”

A grand jury is formed of ordinary citizens that are presented  evidence and testimony from the prosecutor alone to form their theory of a case without any input from the defense.

From that information, the jury determines if there is enough probable cause to move the case forward in the judicial process.  The grand jury does not determine guilt or innocence. The indictment itself is a public document but it has not been made available online at the time of publication.

Absolutely no information has been released regarding what government records Daleiden and Merritt allegedly tampered with. The Center for Medical Progress responded, pointing out their free speech rights, as well as reminding all of us that Planned Parenthood was breaking the law by selling the body parts of aborted babies:

A Harris County grand jury has indicted the Center for Medical Progress — specifically, David Daleiden and Sandra Merritt – while declining to indict Planned Parenthood. This comes after the Center for Medical Progress released an investigation last year into the sales of aborted baby organs at Planned Parenthood:

Secret videographers David Daleiden and Sandra Merritt were both indicted on charges of tampering with a governmental record, a second-degree felony that carries a punishment of up to 20 years in prison. Daleiden received an additional misdemeanor indictment under the law prohibiting the purchase and sale of human organs.

Harris County District Attorney Devon Anderson announced the surprising indictments Monday after a two-month investigation.

“We were called upon to investigate allegations of criminal conduct by Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast,” said Anderson, a Republican. “As I stated at the outset of this investigation, we must go where the evidence leads us. All the evidence uncovered in the course of this investigation was presented to the grand jury. I respect their decision on this difficult case.”

A grand jury is formed of ordinary citizens that are presented  evidence and testimony from the prosecutor alone to form their theory of a case without any input from the defense.

From that information, the jury determines if there is enough probable cause to move the case forward in the judicial process.  The grand jury does not determine guilt or innocence. The indictment itself is a public document but it has not been made available online at the time of publication.

Absolutely no information has been released regarding what government records Daleiden and Merritt allegedly tampered with. The Center for Medical Progress responded, pointing out their free speech rights, as well as reminding all of us that Planned Parenthood was breaking the law by selling the body parts of aborted babies:

 

 

 

 

 

Go here to read the rest.  This stinks to high heaven.  Unless we have a run away grand jury here, something I have seen in fiction but never in real life, I assume someone on the prosecution team working with the grand jury decided to sabotage the investigation and produce this bizarre result.  Normally grand jury proceedings are kept secret, but I trust there will be leaks so that we can learn what produced this Alice through the looking glass result.  Go here for some facts that might help explain what happened.

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5 Comments

  1. DA’s CONFLICT OF INTEREST here.
    On the board of Planned Parenthood and part of the prosecution.
    I’m checking this out, but heard it on the radio just recently. If you have information on this hearsay please expound.
    I’m heading out in traffic.

  2. I’ve learned that commenting on cases that weren’t mine is seldom wise. From the outside, there’s just too much we don’t know. But you are spot on in all of your comments. Grand Juries are also sometimes used to “wash” a case. That means you have a suspect in a high profile case that may very well be guilty, but for whatever reason (usually political) the prosecutor does not want to be seen as failing to charge the suspect. So he takes it to a Grand Jury, and induces them to return a no bill and that’s the end of it. Then he can protest, “It wasn’t me, it was the Grand Jury!” It’s not uncommon among the more weaselly of prosecutors. So, it is possible that he sidestepped voter repercussions or whatever by washing Planned Parenthood. That much, I can understand, What is odd is that he has set the stage for whatever the defendants — with subpoena duces tecum power, by the way — want to present at trial that they can get from PP. As you point out, that was his decision. Is he planning on making them an offer they can’t refuse, i.e. very generous? I cannot imagine he would seriously want to put this case on in front of a jury! (And the press.) I doubt he will try the case if it goes to trial. He’ll probably bring in the Attorney General or somebody. I bet the defendants will be well-represented and well-funded. It seems spiteful, but even more D-U-M-B. And yes, it stinks to high heaven.

  3. Thanks Donald.
    Smells like skunk.
    If they attempt to prosecute they will regret it.
    It will blow up in their face.
    Respond to criminal charges is bunk.

  4. There’s no conflict arising from an assistant in the office being on the board of PP.

    Nonetheless, as a prosecutor who is counsel to an investigative grand jury, I can confirm it is certainly true that these charges would not have been returned without the very active involvement of the DA. No grand jury would have the legal knowledge (or imagination) to return these indictments without the strong guidance of the DA running the show. And, by the same token, it is very unlikely the grand jury would have declined to indict PP unless the DA had strongly signaled his view that the case was weak and should not be indicted. I wonder if the DA even presented actual indictments for the grand jury to deliberate over.

    In any event, indicting is one thing, convicting beyond a reasonable doubt is entirely another matter.

Comments are closed.