Articles Posted in Prosecutors

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scalesIt was a sad day in Collin County. Yet another innocent person was convicted of a crime based on circumstantial evidence and the testimony of an admitted felon and child molester. On Friday, Judge Suzanne Wooten was convicted of 9 counts of bribery, money laundering.  Judge Wooten allegedly took money in return for a promise to give favorable rulings.

I guess I shouldn’t be surprised. In a county and era notorious for overzealous prosecution, observers might already be hardened to the notion of innocent people being convicted of crimes. 

– Nationally there have been 280 DNA exonerations.

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bray1I was very sad to hear about the passing of Jeff Bray (Kenneth Jefferson Bray).  I knew Jeff from our days at the Collin County District Attorney’s office.

Jeff and I were hired in 2003 on the same day along with one other prosecutor.  But it was not until I moved up to prosecuting felonies that I got to know him.  Jeff had already worked at other District Attorney’s Office and was starting as more of a lateral hire to begin work prosecuting felonies and white collar crimes.

I got to know Jeff when we were assigned to the same Trial Team.  We were assigned to the 296th, 416th, and 199th District Courts.  We weren’t in the Taj Mahal Court Building that now exists, but rather the courthouse at 210 S. McDonald.

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One of the biggest problems with prosecutors I have seen in the various counties & cities I practice in is what I dub the difference in "doing what is right," and "doing what the law allows." I detailed a prime example in my past article "A Prosecutors Job Should Be To Seek Justice."no-justice-480

Some liken this to the prosecutors duty which is supposed to be about seeking justice, not convictions.  In the appellate world, I believe that this often gets lost. Most larger District Attorney’s office have separate prosecutors that handle appeals of cases as opposed to the original trials.  Often it seems that these departments are more focused on what the law says, instead of seeking justice.

The Collin County Observer just published an article entitled Is Innocence Innocence?.  In the article, it details a man that was charged with aggravated child sexual assault.  He presumably was arrested, posted bond, and humiliated throughout the process.  He went to trial, and the jury voted — 10 Not Guilty, 2 Guilty.  Because they could not all agree, a mistrial was declared. 

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Thanks to Robert Guest for pointing out this to me.  Apparently I was given the "honor" of being mentioned on the Texas District & County Attorneys Association user forums as one of the toughest DWI Lawyers in the Metroplex.  The post asks about:

[t]hose folks that make you gulp ever so slightly (or who you would recomend to a family member arrested for DWI – God forbid!)  From what I’ve seen, these are the five toughest or most successful, in DFW, when it comes to DWI defense:

4. Hunter Biederman

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From the McKinney Courier Gazette:

Special prosecutor called to investigate Collin County DA
By Danny Gallagher

A Collin County grand jury has asked an "attorney pro tem," also known as a special prosecutor, to investigate the Collin County District Attorney’s Office.
Collin County District Attorney John Roach issued a statement Thursday afternoon regarding the grand jury’s appointment by a grand jury in the 380th District Court by Judge Suzanne Wooten.

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The Collin County Observer first broke the story of the looooong investigation of one of the sitting judges in Collin County.  (The other judge investigation was already dismissed).Collin-County-New_Logo_Trans

For most news stories, the story would be about the wrongdoing of the judges being investigated.  But once again, for Collin County, the focus seems to be on the accusers — the Collin County District Attorney’s office. 

You see, the CCO and I have chronicled the empty prosecutions and misguided policies of the DA’s office in the past:

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Transcript1smallerYesterday, our firm found ourselves in an odd position.  A case of ours was set for trial, and we were ready to go. (That’s not the odd part).  The odd part is that although we were willing to waive the jury and allow the judge to make the determination of guilt, the state wouldn’t allow it.

In general, the only reason the state would oppose this is because  they think they would have a better chance of a guilty verdict with a jury rather than the judge.  Conversely, a defense attorney would do this if they think they have a better (or equal) chance with the judge.  In this case, we knew the facts of the case, and were very confident of a not guilty no matter who was looking at it.

So we attempted to save our citizens some time, and let the judge decide.  But as has recently been pointed out by the front page article in the Dallas Morning News (just one day earlier), the State has a right to a jury trial.

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Always nice to see the Dallas Morning News reporting on Collin County justice issues.  (Even nicer when they quote me). 

This case was first reported by the CCO, and then a lengthy response and explanation of the law was made by me

Basically, the guy wanted to plea guilty and let the judge punish him.  The DA refused to allow that, which left him but one option.  Plea Not Guilty, and elect the judge to sentence him. At that point, there is a sham trial, which involves about 60 citizens (in this case, possibly 240 citizens, because there were 4 charges), a judge, bailiff, prosecutor, and defense attorney who could all be doing better things with their time.  After the sham trial, the judge sentences the defendant, just like he was asking for in the first place!

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Recently, several candidates for the Republican primary came to the Allen Area Patriots club to discuss the race for Collin County District Attorney.  Videos of the candidates were uploaded to youtube, and I have added them here to the blog.  A big thank you to "mopenshaw" whoever you are.You can read bios of the candidates on my previous post HERE.

JEFF BRAY

GREG WILLIS