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Indictment of Rick Perry uniting unlikely allies against prosecutorial abuse

Indictment of Rick Perry uniting unlikely allies against prosecutorial abuse

This contrived indictment may be the best political thing that’s ever happened to Rick Perry.

The prosecutors in Austin, Texas thought they had one over on Texas Governor Rick Perry when they convinced a grand jury to issue an indictment accusing Perry of abusing his veto power.  A copy of the indictment is here.

That alleged criminal abuse of power related to Perry’s threat to issue a budget veto regarding a unit of the prosecutor’s office if Travis County District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg did not resign after a DWI conviction.

Not just any conviction, Lehmberg was videotaped attempting to pull rank over the booking officers by mentioning they needed to make sure the Sheriff was aware of her predicament. It’s not hard to see what she was doing — hoping the Sheriff would intervene on her behalf.

Her field sobriety test is here, and she again kept mentioning her political career.  She was abusive and violent in the police station:

Yet she got away with a mere 45-day sentence, of which she served about half.

For all that, Perry sought to protect the public from this prosecutor by demanding she step down, or risk a veto of part of her budget. Perry followed through on the threat and issued the veto.

Law Professor Jonathan Turley has a legal analysis of the indictment. Short version, it’s hard to understand how there is a crime here, unless one considers the “threat” of a veto to be the crime, since exercising the veto clearly was lawful. Turley writes:

From what I can see, these provisions are rarely used and prosecutors have waited for the strongest possible grounds for such charges. Indeed, such laws are written broadly in reliance on prosecutorial discretion. In this case, the special prosecutor seemed to pound hard to get these square facts into these round holes. A bit too hard for such a case.

Indeed, Governors in Texas have a long history of issuing vetoes, so it’s hard to see how telling people in advance you will issue the veto is a crime.

The concept that threatening a veto is a crime is novel.  The law is vague on the issue, perhaps because no one ever thought that threatening to do something you lawfully could do would be a crime.

It’s also important that the criminal inquiry was initiated following a complaint from a liberal group, Texans for Public Justice, in what clearly was a political move.

The prosecutors, having the Grand Jury all to themselves without the benefit of a counterveiling argument, secured the indictment.

As Professor Glenn Reynolds has pointed out, the ease with which prosecutors can obtain indictments of just about anyone on just about anything, requires the cautious exercise of prosecutorial discretion.

In a politicized case involving a political battle, that discretion must be exercised even more cautiously.

Yet the interview given by the special prosecutor demonstrated that this was a reach, and how the indictment merely means there was “probable cause to believe [Perry] committed two felony crimes.” Very low bar. The prosecutor acts as if he’s a mere bystander to the indictment, insisting that since “the Grand Jury has spoken” he will follow up. But the only reason the “Grand Jury has spoken” is that the prosecutor, in complete control of the process, convinced the Grand Jury to so speak.

Texas Democrats immediately started fundraising off the indictment, as Amy pointed out in Rick Perry indictment looks, walks and quacks like political power play:

bgtx-perry-indictment

In this obvious political drama, some unlikely voices are defending Perry from the get-go.

David Axelrod, close advisor to President Obama and other Democrats, immediately voiced skepticism via this tweet:

https://twitter.com/davidaxelrod/statuses/500634429367533568

There’s good reason for Axelrod not wanting the threat of a veto to be a criminal offense, considering how often Obama issues such threats to coerce Congress to act one way or another:

Obama Threatens Veto Video Search Result

Liberal law professor Alan Dershowitz also spoke out:

Harvard Law Professor Alan Dershowitz calls himself a “liberal Democrat who would never vote for Rick Perry,” but he’s still “outraged” over the Texas governor’s indictment Friday on charges of abuse of power and coercion.

The charges are politically motivated and an example of a “dangerous” trend of courts being used to affect the ballot box and politics, he told Newsmax on Saturday. 

“Everybody, liberal or conservative, should stand against this indictment,” Dershowitz said. “If you don’t like how Rick Perry uses his office, don’t vote for him.”

Liberal writer Jonathan Chait of New York Magazine proclaimed the indictment to be “unbelievably ridiculous“:

Rick Perry Indictment Unbelievably Ridiculous New York Mag Chait

Even Think Progress, that bastion of Republican bashing, is skeptical.

California prosecutor Patrick Frey has more analysis and a round-up of skeptical opinion (h/t Instapundit):

Words truly fail to describe what an outrageous and unsupportable abuse of prosecutorial power this is. The special prosecutor, Michael McCrum, has no business being given prosecutorial authority — and the fact that Obama considered him for a U.S. Attorney position should deeply frighten anyone who cares about the integrity of the criminal justice system.

The indictment clearly was intended and timed to damage Rick Perry’s presidential hopes, and maybe as a back-handed help to Wendy Davis and other Texas Democrats.

But it may backfire, as unlikely allies come together to oppose this abuse of prosecutorial power.

Democrats know full well that what goes around, comes around.

The criminalization of routine politics threatens everyone.

This contrived indictment may be the best political thing that’s ever happened to Rick Perry.

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Comments

Hey, Ms. Lehmberg: A true pity that you’re NOT black, Demo-DWI-Resist-Arrest Girl!! See, cuz then Attorney Gen’l Holder,’Yo, would be using his imagined power(with some Martha’s Vineyard encouragement)to get to the bottom of this obvious injustice done on you,’Yo. But,’Yo, you not even on the radar cuz you as white as this ol’ neocon,’Yo.

It just ain’t right,’Yo. BHWAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA….!! (‘Yo.)

TrooperJohnSmith | August 17, 2014 at 12:29 pm

“What’s the word?”

Lehmberg!

“Got the jive?”

.239!

“How’s she drive?”

DWI!

    I can’t fathom how anyone could still be alive after measuring 0.239. That’s practically unheard of. I assume this was measured by a blood reading, and not a breathalyzer.

    Case reminds me of the OH Supreme Court judge who was pulled over for DWI a few years ago … another elitist who told the cop who she was [after stopped and pulled over] and tried to drive away. She was a dem as well.

      genes in reply to walls. | August 17, 2014 at 7:08 pm

      Most sources agree that .40 or higher is fatal.
      That said she took a breathalyzer several hours after she was booked. It’s very likely that her BAC was .30 or higher when stopped.

        TrooperJohnSmith in reply to genes. | August 17, 2014 at 9:58 pm

        Rosemary Had a Case of Wine,
        And Quite a Lot of Gin,
        And Everywhere Rosemary Went,
        She Didn’t Know She Had Been!

    Lehmerg .239. It works every time…

At least she didn’t go back to the party and then to the hotel to sleep while her passenger waited in the cold, dark and underwater car for help that never came.

    Ragspierre in reply to genes. | August 17, 2014 at 12:45 pm

    That’s harsh, brother…

    True. But harsh.

    walls in reply to genes. | August 17, 2014 at 6:21 pm

    BTW you do know that Mary Jo was alive in an air pocket for 2 to 2-1/2 hours submerged per expert reports. She clawed her fingernails raw trying to get out. Meanwhile, the ‘Lion’ was back at the hotel and made 30+ calls from the lobby pay phone in the wee hours of the morning. On Sunday, the MASS RMV [same as DMV in other states] opened up an office to make a drivers license for the ‘Lion’ as his license was 6-months expired, and he needed to surrender it on Monday morning.

    You just won’t believe what the ‘Lion’ did and the corruption of the system. Well, you might, after all it’s Massachusetts.

    Read ‘Senatorial Privilege’ by Leo Damore … what a great read.

Yeah. The Texas Deemocrats have fully “hugged it out” with the Tar-Baby on this one.

There are some high spirited meetings and phone conversations going on as we speak, wanting to know whose bright idea this was and how-the-fluck are we going to extricate ourselves from this mess.

So. HEH! And also, HEH!

There are just no good facets of this for Deemocrats. Perry stood up for the public, and for public integrity, and some idiot from Travis County wants to make that a crime.

It jus’ don’t git any better…!!!

    NeoConScum in reply to Ragspierre. | August 17, 2014 at 1:08 pm

    Brutha Rags…You are so stern,’Yo.

      Ragspierre in reply to NeoConScum. | August 17, 2014 at 2:42 pm

      I know. I am a humorless drudge who takes not joy in life.

      Call me Ichabod…

      (sniffle…)

      inspectorudy in reply to NeoConScum. | August 17, 2014 at 6:08 pm

      Being a fan of “Uncle Remus” and the wonderful tale of the “Songs of South” I think you had better drop the hugged the “Tarbaby” line asap. That is one of those terrible words that white people are no longer allowed to use in polite company. Otherwise I am an admirer of yours.-:)

        Ragspierre in reply to inspectorudy. | August 17, 2014 at 7:53 pm

        Those stories are part of my cultural heritage as an American, just like John Henry and Paul Bunyan (whose ox was colored, don’t forget).

        Nobody is taking them from me. As I say, SCREW that…

        So, let your Uncle Remus stories ring throughout the land. Tell them to your children and grandchildren, because they are beautiful, funny, wise stories about people, and that is no bad thing.

This will also resonate with a lot of voters who feel abused by the government including many who would not normally by interested in a GOP candidate.

I hope that the Governor takes advantage of his superb retail political skills to go to non-traditional venues. He can legitimately claim to understand what it is like to be charged for little reason.

Imagine going to a black church and talking about driving while GOP.

this was a spiteful move that won’t play out well. She’s regained her notoriety and youtube fame. Perry looks like the victim of a witch hunt (accurately) and Texas Dems look like bitchy losers

WOW,’Yo…Looks like a member of the Inclusion POlice be thumbs downin’ me,’Yo. Focus Midget Dude: I take it as High Praise,’Yo. ((-:

It is obvious that the police officers and everybody who works in the station house know that the cameras are on, and they have been trained. Imagine the repercussions if any of them had been seen giving in to her bullying. They did not dare let her get away with it.

Also, if somebody decides to ask a few questions, it is likely to come out that this woman is an alcoholic, and has been an embarrassment waiting to happen for a while, much like Mayor Bob Filner of San Diego.

    Anchovy in reply to Valerie. | August 17, 2014 at 5:51 pm

    Having worked in an environment like this, you can be sure the desk sergeant sure as hell notified the Sheriff that they had a high profile booking. It sounds like he had the sense to keep out of it and let the jail staff do what they do best. They have a lot of experience in how to control a rude and uncooperative prisoner. I can assure you that this woman wasn’t the first person ever booked into a jail that required some special attention and attitude adjustment and she will not be the last.

added the 64 minute video of arrest here
http://www.theconservativevoices.com/news/cat/political/perry-targeted-by-da-office
will be self hosting that vid JUST in case…

http://townhall.com/tipsheet/cortneyobrien/2014/08/17/holder-furthers-investigation-orders-second-autopsy-in-ferguson-shooting-n1879775

Ruh-rohw…

That’ll sure work to instill confidence in Missouri authorities.

Sorry, Gov. Nixon, you don’t just NOT ride in the front of the bus, you ride UNDER the bus.

NC Mountain Girl | August 17, 2014 at 4:44 pm

The prosecutor didn’t give those who might support the indictment much to work with on an emotional level. Yes, they loath Perry, but there is a strong neo-purtian element in much of today’s affluent political left that had to cringe when they saw how drunk Rosemary Lehmberg was when she was pulled over. I have seen lefties shun a colleague who lost control under highly sympathetic circumstances- way too much wine at the first social outing after the sudden death of his youngest child. That element had to be embarrassed by Lehmberg’s behavior.

Note too that the field sobriety test video doesn’t show the urban left’s idea of the dedicated professional woman victimized by a privileged male politician. Their ideal female victim is slim, well groomed, well dressed, well spoken and attractive. If you told people the women in that video lived in a trailer park and clerked at the local Wal-mart, they’d believe it.

    Interesting, yet irrelevant. The Left’s loathing for conservatives trumps any inconvenient imagery not supporting their narrative. If you have a D after your name all is forgiven or ignored as with Bill Clinton (aka The Horny Hillbilly) with his treatment of women either subservient to or weaker than he.

“…slim, well groomed, well dressed, well spoken…”

You forgot the pink tennis shoes.

If Travis County rings any bells, it was the domain of District Attorney Ronnie Earle for many years. It’s the Austin area, one of the most solidly Democratic counties in Texas, and the source of much corrupt partisan activity.

Earle went through several grand juries to get a spurious indictment against Tom DeLay for his fundraising because he was very successful at it and had national Democrats worried.

When the case was thrown out, Earle convened three more grand juries before finding one who would again indict DeLay, who had to resign from Congress and spend millions in legal fees to finally clear his name.

So while Earle lost the DeLay case eventually, he succeeded in hounding DeLay from office and derailing the GOP’s most successful fundraiser of the time. To Democrats, it was a huge win.

This without doubt informs today’s Travis County prosecutors.

    JackRussellTerrierist in reply to Estragon. | August 18, 2014 at 2:35 am

    Yep. Delay did indeed end up feeding the beast.

    But Delay could have outfoxed them…..and didn’t.

IANAL , but isn’t “probable cause” the standard that you need to meet to get a WARRANT?

It appears that the “Special” prosecutor has an appropriate name McCrum, “Isn’t that SPECIAL?”

I see a clear link between this and the events in Ferguson. The details of the shooting are not known, so no one can say with certainty if it was justified or not. But the one thing that probably everyone agrees on is even if, after the facts come out, it was clearly unjustified the “investigation” would still exonerate the officer involved.

People look at events like Ferguson and the Perry indictment and loose respect and confidence in the legal system, and once that’s been sufficiently depleted we are no better than any other two-bit banana republic where whoever has enough power makes up the rules as they go along.

“You know the score, Decker. You’re either cop or you’re little people.”

Finally: a stand-in for Nancy Pelosi.

Only difference, Nancy owns the winery/distillery!

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