Texas Two-Step

I luvs me some Texas Republicans! They perpetrate some pretty heinous shit, but their value as entertainers is damn near immeasurable.

Back in 1996, George W. Pencilcock — then the Republican Governor of Texas — appointed Republican litigation counsel for heavy equipment manufacturer Cooper Industries, Inc. and all-around tort “reform” whore David W. Medina to a judgeship on the Harris County District Court. Medina stayed with the court until 2000, when he returned to Cooper. The government paychecks, it seems, didn’t come within hollering distance of what he was accustomed to.

But money isn’t everything, so they say, and Medina couldn’t steer clear of the limelight. In 2004, Rick Perry — Pencilcock’s hand-picked Republican successor as Governor — appointed Medina his general counsel and later a Justice of the Texas Supreme Court.

On June 28 of last year, Medina’s house burned down. The fire started in a garage, spread to the house and also damaged two nearby homes. The losses totaled about $1 million.

Not long thereafter some nasty rumors began flying around. Investigators were convinced that the fire was set intentionally. Coupled with that, Medina and his wife had been defendants in a foreclosure proceeding filed the preceding year after they missed five months of mortgage payments. That case was eventually settled and dismissed, but the Medinas were also perpetually behind on their homeowners’ association dues. Before the foreclosure they’d failed to pay some $10,000 in county and school district taxes. The paltry $150,000 per annum you get for being a Texas Supreme Court was walkin’ around money for Medina when he was in private practice.

The implication, of course, was that the Medinas needed the insurance money and set the fire themselves.

Enter Republican Harris County District Attorney Chuck Rosenthal.  His office investigated the arson. The investigation included convening a grand jury in the Fall of 2007. Rosenthal, whose own tit is stuck firmly in a wringer over some rather unseemly material found on his office computer, assured Justice Medina that he and his wife were not and would not become suspects. The Medinas testified before the grand jury as witnesses, and everyone figured that was that.

Grand juries are convened by prosecutors, and prosecutors pretty much run the whole show. Trouble is, grand juries have a lot of independent power. If you have  a knowledgeable and independent-thinking group of grand jurors, they won’t always toe the prosecution party line.

So it was here. The time came for the grand jury to disband, but they kept right on investigating despite demands from the DA’s office that they shut ‘er down. Seems the jurors were troubled by some inconsistencies in the Medinas’ testimony.

Yesterday the grand jury indicted the Medinas, the good Justice for tampering with evidence and his lovely wife for setting the fire.  Soon thereafter, Rosenthal announced that the grand jury was full of shit and that he wouldn’t proceed with the case:

“We don’t feel like there’s sufficient evidence to proceed,” Mr. Rosenthal said. “We will be asking the court to dismiss those [indictments] so we can proceed with further investigations.”

Doesn’t matter what your investigation unearthed. We don’t care what evidence you have. The fact remains that there’s no evidence.

Rosenthal followed up this morning by having the indictments formally dismissed.

A couple of Republican grand jurors were sufficiently outraged over Rosenthal’s efforts to shut down the investigation that they sought out reporters and screamed bloody murder. Some delightful facts gleaned from the interviews are available here.

Now that the witch hunt is over, Justice Medina should be free to pursue his true calling: forcibly sodomizing the injured and comfortably fellating insurance industry executives.

Oh, yeah: and that insurance money the Medinas were after?  There wasn’t any. After the fire the Medinas discovered that they’d inadvertently allowed their homeowners’ coverage to lapse. They weren’t insured at the time of the loss. That may or may not have been a disguised blessing. On one hand, there’s nothing an insurance company’s fraud investigation unit will pursue more diligently than an allegation that a policyholder burned down his own house. Rosenthal might have had a much harder time shitcanning the indictment with an insurance company investigation backing it up. On the other hand, how hard would an insurance company have investigated one of its bestest buddies, a buddy who in his capacity as a state supreme court justice can save the company untold millions?

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  • Clutch  On January 22, 2008 at 5:01 pm

    We’d love to report this nationally to illustrate the depths of the rot in the Republican party’s strongest strongholds. Unfortunately, a starlet got drunk last week, and an actor died today. I’m afraid we anticipate that your news will be bumped to Section L, page sixty-infinity, for the indefinite future.


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