Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Indictments dismissed

I had figured this would be the ultimate outcome of all of this.

Move along, nothing to see here anymore.

Indictments of Cheney, others tossed
By Lynn Brezosky - Express-News

RAYMONDVILLE — Indictments alleging a chain of corruption stretching from Willacy County to the White House were summarily dismissed Monday after a judge found the grand jury hadn't properly convened.

Presiding Judge Manuel Bañales said District Attorney Juan Angel Guerra “failed to comply with the law” in obtaining the eight indictments handed up Nov. 17.

Specifically, there were alternates deliberating as grand jurors without a court order for them to stand in.

“Motions to quash and dismiss must be granted,” Bañales said.
The dismissals made mute a flurry of other motions to dismiss the cases on a variety of grounds.
The indicted included Vice President Dick Cheney, former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, two state judges, two special prosecutors, a prison company and a district clerk.

In several cases, the victim in the indictments was Guerra himself, as target of a conspiracy to protect profits of prison companies that do business with the government.

Bañales earlier in the day threw out the indictment against state Sen. Eddie Lucio, D-Brownsville, finding it failed to specify Lucio's alleged offense.

That dismissal in particular riled Guerra, who has said the senator abused his senate seat during his sideline as consultant on contracts for private prison contracts.
“If the jury finds that this company is hiring him because of his position and not because of the service he's providing, then that's kickbacks and that's it,” Guerra said.

Defense attorneys, fearing Guerra would seek new indictments when the grand jury reconvenes Dec. 12, beseeched Bañales to keep an attorney pro tem on duty as prosecutor while Guerra finishes the last month of his term.
Bañales complied, forbidding Guerra from presenting any cases naming himself as the victim and urging him to refer other cases to his successor.
“Come January 1 you will not be the district attorney. You will not be prosecuting cases before a jury,” Bañales said.

He was the second judge Monday to scold Guerra for acting as both prosecutor and victim.
San Antonio-based Judge Michael Peden, who denied Guerra's request to recuse Bañales, told Guerra he'd never heard of such a case.
“The rules say you can't do it,” he said.
Guerra called the rulings “expected.”
“I hope the media doesn't put any weight on that and continues looking at what's going on behind the walls of the state prison system,” he said.