The latest jab in what I like to call, “Indictment Fest 2010” is the indictment of Collin County’s District Attorney First Assistant Gregory Davis. All of the back and forth is a bit too much for one article, so I’ll work on the background for another article.
In addition to Gregory Davis’ eight years at the Collin County DA, he was also a former prosecutor in Dallas. Mr. Davis obtained twelve death sentences in Dallas County, including the only two such sentences against women in that county’s history. He was involved with the Darlie Routier death penalty case, one that garnered a significant amount of controversy.
So what is the First Assistant and what do they do? In Collin County, the First Assistant could be compared to the president of operations for a company, along with the chief litigator.
In most larger counties, the elected District Attorney does not handle courtroom trials. This was true for the last 8 years in Collin County. Major trials are usually handled by the First Assistant (death penalty cases, higher profile cases). The First Assistant in Collin County also dealt with many of the day to day operations of the office, and also supervised the highest level attorneys at the office (the felony chiefs and chief of misdemeanor courts). These were the duties of First Assistant Gregory Davis.
Mr. Davis has been indicted for Tampering With A Government Record, which is a State Jail Felony. A State Jail Felony is punishable up to 2 years in a State Jail Facility, and up to a $10,000 fine.
A person commits TGR if they makes, presents, or uses a governmental record with knowledge of its falsity. This is the “version” of TGR he has been charged with. Two other items must be included in the charge:
1. What was false; and
2. Who was defrauded.
The allegations in this case say that the false government document was the State’s Disclosure of Evidence Favorable to the Defense. They also say it was “The State of Texas” that was defrauded. This State’s Disclosure filing came 8 days after my article regarding the similarities between the DA’s “High Five Program and the District Clerks accused behavior.
The indictment is odd for several reasons. Firstly, it is (ironic/strange/unheard of — pick your own adjective here) that a prosecutor gets indicted for seemingly turning over evidence favorable to the Defense. One would think the indictments would fly for destroying evidence and not turning evidence over.
Additionally and arguably, Mr. Davis was admitting his office committed the same “crime” that he charged the District Clerks with. He stated, “[a]t least two timekeepers in the CCDA altered employees’ time records to reflect that employees were at work when they were actually on ‘High Five’ leave.” One would think that this “crime” would be prosecuted (probably not against him, but rather other officials in the DA’s office), not the filing of the paperwork admitting to it.
Note: Other outlets have reported that he was indicted for falsifying time records — those reports are incorrect.
Secondly, choosing the State of Texas as the party defrauded sounds odd as well. Since the Disclosure was meant to give the defense notice, it would seem that they would be the ones defrauded. Although I guess the argument could be held that when filing that paper, it is also a filing with the court, or the State of Texas.
So this leads us to the question, what is false, and what did Mr. Davis know was false in this filing? It would have to be a statement made within this document. Here are my best guesses at the possibilities:
1. [Employees were given paid time off]… “The undersigned found no evidence that any paid leave time was awarded for electioneering or political activity.”
This could be the statement because it is such a clear statement, with no prefacing. (i.e. “I dont recall finding any information…”). It also could be the false statement because it is one that could easily be proved false through testimony of someone who told Mr. Davis otherwise, or an email showing he knew. However I doubt this is the false statement mainly because I suspect the statement is true. I don’t think anyone was out campaigning during their days off.
2. An undetermined number of scheduling requests for investigators in the Collin County District Attorney’s Office were destroyed without the knowledge of the Criminal District Attorney or the undersigned.
This is another “provable” statement. Either through testimony or an email. Someone saying Mr. Davis knew these records were destroyed would be a direct conflict with this statement.
Other statements are often prefaced with “at least.” This leads me to believe they are not the false statements he is being charged with.
I don’t know what statement is false, and neither does Mr. Davis’ attorney. So what’s a defense attorney to do? Mr. Davis’ attorney has filed a “Motion to Quash” the indictment.
A Motion to Quash in this case (I haven’t seen it, but was reported by the Dallas Morning News), is because the indictment didn’t “allege which specific part or portion of that … is false.”
Generally speaking the indictment serves to put the defendant on notice of what the charges are against him. If it is too broad, it is subject to being quashed.
The ironic thing is that the Collin County District Attorney’s Office has been famous for putting as little as possible in the indictments and being stingy with discovery. This often led to meetings where the DA would simply say, “she knows what she did” and she should resign to avoid them taking her “law license, her family, her home, her liberty, and her reputation” as alleged by Judge Wooten’s attorney in regards to her indictment).
If the motion to quash is successful, the accused can simply be re-indicted and the charging document (indictment), can be changed to properly conform with the law. Usually quashing the indictment just delays the whole case. The same Grand Jury can re-indict, or it can be presented to another Grand Jury. But not necessarily in this case.
The accusation is that this particular Grand Jury had an ax to grind, and no other Grand Jury would indict on the same evidence. That means that if the motion is granted, this case could very well be over.
Hunter Biederman is
a DWI / Criminal Defense Attorney in Collin County. He publishes his blog (www.friscodwilawyer.com) which focuses on the Collin County and Texas legal system. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (888) DWI-FRISCO.