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Monday, November 28, 2011

Born-Again Officer-of-the-Court Finds Truth and Justice Matters

Editorial: Prosecutor John Bradley’s ‘lightning bolt’
The Dallas Morning News  -  EDITORIAL  -  November 25, 2011

Williamson County District Attorney John Bradley has been, for many people, the face of Texas justice with a hard edge. The image has been of an ultratough, uncompromising prosecutor. So when Bradley sets out to soften that image with a more reflective message and openness to the possibility of error, it’s a wake-up call. It should get the attention of those prone to marginalize reformers who sound the alarm about the nation-leading spate of DNA exonerations in Texas. In a recent interview with the online Texas Tribune, Bradley divulged that he developed a new perspective through his involvement in the recent exoneration of Michael Morton, who spent nearly 25 years in prison for a murder he didn’t commit. Now, as Bradley is quoted, the bywords for his office ought to be: “We are more than tough on crime.” In a follow-up interview with this newspaper, Bradley emphasized a prosecutor’s obligation to be open about the possibility of error and be respectful — not antagonistic — to defense lawyers who unearth exculpatory evidence years after a jury voted a guilty verdict. Instead of badmouthing, for example, the Innocence Project, Bradley told us, “Applaud their work and point out that if we work harder on disclosing information and being open-minded … then we will find that people’s opinion of our profession will change.” His reference to the Innocence Project was telling. He and the project’s torch-bearer, renowned New York attorney Barry Scheck, have tangled spectacularly the past few years. Now, Bradley said, he considers Scheck a friend. Last month, the Innocence Project succeeded in gaining Morton’s release. That case was prosecuted by Bradley’s predecessor, Ken Anderson, now a judge, whom defense lawyers accuse of hiding key evidence in violation of Morton’s rights. Still, Bradley spent years doggedly fighting DNA tests on physical evidence.  DNA tests were ultimately court-ordered, and the results came back this fall and hit Bradley, as he says, like a “lightning bolt.” The tests confirmed Morton’s innocence. Worse, DNA pointed to another man — one who went on to kill again. That means the state not only robbed a man of a quarter century, it may have blood on its hands. The tight focus on Morton, despite evidence that argued against it, let a dangerous man roam free. We’re relieved that Bradley testifies to a conversion moment, and we’re encouraged by his pledge to spread the word.  Still, veteran Bradley watchers are skeptical about his professed turn-about, and who can blame them? He is running for re-election. He was consistently acerbic and intransigent toward those critical of his chairmanship the past couple of years at the Texas Forensic Science Commission. Bradley’s critics will be watching whether his deeds in the future match the promise of his words. It’s the right approach. Bradley is always a man worth watching.

In his own words -  Excerpts from John Bradley’s remarks to The Dallas Morning News:

• “A prosecutor has this amazing responsibility to leave open the possibility that there are other avenues that need to be checked, that there are added tests that ought to be pursued for the sake of having even more confidence in the verdict.”
• “We need to leave the window open a little bit more.”
• “I finally decided that it was more important that I overcome my concerns about people’s opinions about my shifting of my personal opinions, because I saw that it has public value in helping other prosecutors, I hope, adjust their point of view.”
• “Disclosure is almost always the correct answer.”

----- RELATED STORY, Ethics Still Matter......

Ethics 'worse' in Albany, says watchdog David Grandeau
The New York Daily News by Joe Mahoney  -  September 9, 2007

ALBANY, NY - As New York's chief lobbying watchdog for 13 years, David Grandeau tangled with governors, legislative leaders, influence peddlers and Donald Trump.  He even tackled Joe Namath when the Jets legend bestowed on Joe Bruno, the state Senate majority leader, an autographed football that Grandeau reasoned violated a ban on gifts worth more than $75.  Now the state Temporary Commission on Lobbying is going out of business Sept. 21, with its remnants merged into a new Public Integrity Commission. Though good government advocates have often called him the only cop on the beat in Albany, Grandeau won't be at the helm. He didn't even make the team.  A beefy man who enjoys playing on a local curling team, Grandeau, 48, says he leaves state government keenly aware he has no friends in high places.  "I did my job, and I did it for 13 years without fear or favor, and I did it without pity or consideration to the political parties or the connections of the people we investigated," Grandeau said.  Assessing the current ethical climate in Albany - where news this summer was dominated by a scheme by Spitzer aides to damage Bruno and the senator's use of state aircraft - Grandeau said: "It's getting worse."  And having an integrity commission controlled by the governor, he reasoned, won't shake the public perception that misdeeds are papered over. "You're going to see that integrity [commission] investigations have serious partisan political overtones."  Amid the battles among state leaders, he wryly noted, "One of the few things they have been able to agree on is it's a good idea to get rid of me."  Over the years, Grandeau has embarrassed Democratic Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver for getting a discount rate on a deluxe Las Vegas hotel room from a casino company looking to expand to New York. He also socked Trump with a $250,000 fine for secretly bankrolling ads attacking an Indian tribe looking to open a Catskills casino.  In his final weeks, he has taken on Bruno associate Jared Abbruzzese, who was involved in a group eying the state racing franchise while treating the senator to rides on his private plane.  Critics accuse Grandeau of being a headline-hunter who has carried out personal vendettas.  "He's unique and dramatic, and if someone could make ethics sing and dance, it's David Grandeau," said James Featherstonhaugh, a lobbyist for four decades. "But I don't think he wisely used his prosecutorial discretion. He didn't seem to distinguish between important wrongs and honest mistakes."  Grandeau plans to become a consultant to companies on how to comply with the state's complicated lobbying laws and ethics rules. "There is a competitive advantage to doing things the right way," he said. "Ethics matters."


Anonymous said...

It's pretty frightening that a prosecutor takes so long to come to the point where he believes in transparency and truthfulness. Wow.

Anonymous said...

If it wasn't obvious enough how dangerous it is in NY to attempt to root out corruption, just look at the NYPD officer who helped expose ticket fixing by the PD in the Bronx.

He's now in hiding. Is it no wonder that none of the other DAs have attempted to put an end to this?

Just imagine what else is going on that the DAs won't stop if this is what happens for a parking ticket.

Anyone scared yet?

Anonymous said...

Even the federal government is afraid to do anything against the mob controlled forces in New York. God help us all.

Retired Judge said...

The Judge in Texas has blood on his hands!

Anonymous said...

In Texas: Why did he oppose DNA? Because he feared the truth. Now he's running for reelection and he has found honesty and which god?
In NY: The word Cuomo in any sentence with honesty or ethics only fouls the sentence.

Anonymous said...

START SHOOTING !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Blog Archive

See Video of Senator John L. Sampson's 1st Hearing on Court 'Ethics' Corruption

The first hearing, held in Albany on June 8, 2009 hearing is on two videos:

               Video of 1st Hearing on Court 'Ethics' Corruption
               The June 8, 2009 hearing is on two videos:
               CLICK HERE TO SEE Part 1
               CLICK HERE TO SEE Part 2