Annals of the star chamber – pick-a-pal grand jury system

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Ostentatious – Now comes We The People and would humbly show unto the House of Representatives that the system of Grand Jury selection in current practice under the authority of Art. 19.01 (a) of the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure is patently unfair in its present “pick-a-pal” method, both de facto and de jure.

House Bill 282 is up for fierce debate today, Sunday, May 24, before the full membership, and the burning question is this.

Should the bill, which would eliminate the discretionary power of a District Judge to appoint Grand Jury Commissioners to recommend the names of persons who would make good Grand Jurors and have the time to serve, be eliminated altogether, or be amended to allow the practice to continue in Judicial Districts with less than 500,000 population.

Local reform-minded citizens at the confluence of the Brazos and the Bosque are holding out for a number more realistic to Central Texas communities of less than half a million – 250,000 – in favor of a system of pre-selection of a venire of between 20 and 125, to be selected at random from the rolls of registered voters, the alternative method of selection as presently authorized in the Code, Art. 19.01 (b).

District Judges in jurisdictions more sparsely populated object strenuously to the complete elimination of the commissioner system of selection because of the scant number of qualified Grand Jury veniremen. When half the county is kin to one another, and one adds to the mix the current system of law enforcement tournament catch and release police work, one may quickly reach the point of absurdio ad reductum. 

Tweaking the bill thusly would preclude the present practice of persons with means and the right connections escaping prosecution through the Grand Jurors’ judgment that there is no real probable cause to compel the attention of a petit jury in open court.

Justice obtained in this fashion – after all, the accused have received a form of punishment hard to ignore, have often had their names dragged through the mud, their mugshots posing in county orange, and dashcam videos of their alleged misdeeds, taken thence and published to the world through the blogosphere – is at best lopsided and totally biased in favor of the high and mighty over the body politic and lumpen proletariat, who, out of bullets and barefoot, are thereby both efficiently and systematically coerced into pleading out to lesser, sometimes nonexistent offenses, against the peace and dignity of we the people of the State of Texas.

All hail the State of Texas!

After all, a plea bargain is no bargain at all when it involves an entry of the plea of guilty to a charge that represents an offense no one really committed because it did not, really and truly, ever take place.

A classic line, often repeated, regarding the proceedings of Grand Jury panels is that, “Were the people not ignorant of the powers of the Grand Jury, they would not allow it to be empaneled.” The practice was forced on a defeated and bankrupt weakling, King John, following the Battle of Runnymede in 1215, and was once aptly described by the Danish King, “Eithered the Unready,” in his charge to a Grand Jury “…that it should go about its duty by accusing no innocent person, and sheltering no guilty one…”

Here are a two recent cases in point in which Grand Jurors returned no bill of indictment:

The school Superintendent of Mart, Texas, swerved in a congested area of Bellmead on his way home from a downtown Six Shooter Junction bistro where and his wife had been imbibing and barely bruising the fenders of a State Trooper’s bear-mobile. When the Grand Jury got hold it of, he was no billed – pronto – following a disciplinary session with the board of trustees of the school district. Such a deal. The offense is only a misdemeanor, but District Attorneys are allowed to present petty crimes to Grand Juries at their discretion. The accused prevailed upon YouTube honchos to have the dashcam video suppressed in a national blog published at Arlington, Virginia, by a conservative watchdog group with strong ties to the Tea Party, Americans for Prosperity. 

The proprietor of a local water skiing and wake-boarding resort became enraged when guests at his establishment used a water slide he had declared off limits.

Though he admitted to McLennan County Sheriff’s deputies he had been drinking, he was no-billed after  “security” guards who work for him attacked his patrons with fists and flying feet in a beat-down that took place at a rented cabin where they were partying after he corrected them. The evidence items obtained by The Legendary Reporter R.S. Gates following the Grand Jurors’ return of no bill are gruesome to behold. It’s a sad comment in full color digital photography, what a heavily muscled bruiser’s techniques can do to the human face.

It’s even worse to hear an audio recording of a drunken business man threatening deputies, saying “I’m gonna get (Sheriff) Parnell (McNamara) and Steve (Capt. Smith) out here to straighten this thing out.” You couldn’t sell it as dialogue in the bungalow of a backlot producer of Hollywood B-grade melodramas.

Grand Jurors no-billed he and his staff for felony and misdemeanor assault charges following much publicity about the alcohol-scented, violent affair in the local daily.

We obviously are extremely excited to get this situation behind us,” said Parsons’ attorney, Jason Darling. “We appreciate the work of the district attorney’s office and the sheriff’s office in investigating this, and we respect the decision of the grand jury. Under the facts and under the law, we feel it is an appropriate decision by the grand jury.”

So mote it be. Verily.

– The Legendary

Assault victim, Parsons case

My head’s in the hurt locker, but I’m looking right straight at y’all

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