Showing posts with label abuse of officical capacity. Show all posts
Showing posts with label abuse of officical capacity. Show all posts

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

I seldom agree with the New York Times, but when I do, I like to drink a Dos Esquis: Felony charges against Texas Governor Rick Perry

I seldom agree with the New York Times, but when I do, I like to drink a Dos Esquis.  Unfortunately, I couldn't find a Dos Esquis in my refrigerator, so I popped the cap on an Abita Amber instead.

Recently Texas Governor Rick Perry was charged with two felonies after he vetoed appropriations for the Public Integrity Unit, the state office charged with investigating corruption by Texas public officials.  Perry issued the veto in order to get rid of Rosemary Lehmberg, the Travis County District Attorney who was also in charge of the Public Integrity Unit.  Ms. Lehmberg had been arrested for drunk driving and verbally abusing the arresting officers.  Tests showed that her alcohol level was three times the legal limit.  Lehmberg pled guilty and was sentenced to 45 days in jail.

Obviously,Ms. Lehmberg is not fit to run a Public Integrity Unit or to be a district attorney, where she had been responsible for prosecuting criminal offenses, including drunk driving.  But Lehmberg is a Democrat, and another Democrat rustled up criminal charges against Governor Perry, accusing him of abusing his office and coercing a public servant.
I seldom agree with the New York Times,
but when I do,I drink a Dos Esquis.
This is so outrageous that even the New York Times is objecting. As the Times said on today's Editorial Page,  Perry's veto  does not appear to rise to the level of a criminal act.  "Governors and presidents threaten vetoes and engage in horse-trading all the time to get what they want," the Times pointed out,  "but for that kind of political activity to become criminal requires far more evidence than has been revealed in the Perry case so far."

Of course the New York Times despises Governor Perry, and it couldn't resist the opportunity to label him as one of "most damaging state leaders in America."  It even accused him of "doing great harm to immigrants,"  which is absolutely untrue.

Although the New York Times may not realize it, Texas has, by and large, treated its undocumented immigrants with respect.  Without complaint, Texas educators have enrolled hundreds of thousands of undocumented immigrant children in the public schools.  For the most part, the Texas police departments in Houston, Dallas, San Antonio, Austin, Fort Worth and El Paso do not hassle undocumented immigrants and do not seek to determine the immigration status of people who are detained in routine traffic stops.

Texans--including Governor Perry--recognize that the state's immigrants, both legal and undocumented, are hard-working people for the most part who make positive contributions to the state's economy and its culture.  As far as I know, Governor Perry has resisted pressure from nativists and racists to persecute the undocumented immigrants of Texas.  The New York Times needs to get its facts straight. 

Nevertheless, I was happy to see the Times to speak out in opposition to the filing of criminal charges against Governor Perry. When the Times comes to Governor Perry's defense, we can be sure the charges are unfounded and were trumped up for political purposes.

In closing, I will also say this:  As a law student I was taught that it is an ethical violation for an attorney to threaten criminal charges to settle or advance a civil matter.  And as a practicing attorney, I never forgot this clear rule.  My client might have had both a good civil case and a criminal case against someone, but I was absolutely prohibited from threatening criminal charges in order to leverage my client's civil case.

Almost nothing an attorney can do is more despicable than using the criminal process for political purposes, which is what appears to have happened when felony charges were filed against Governor Perry. The rule of law depends for its integrity on the enforcement of a few basic ethical rules. In my mind, filing criminal charges against Governor Perry was unethical.  When this case is laid to rest, I predict that Governor Perry will be exonerated and that the people who filed these baseless criminal charges will be in trouble with the Texas Bar Association.


Editorial. Is Gov. Perry's Bad Judgment Really a Crime? New York Times, August 19, 2014.