But that statute also specifically exempts “an official action taken by the member of the governing body.” The prosecutors claim that, while vetoing the bill may be an official action, threatening a veto is not. Of course the threat of the veto is an integral part of its function. The legislature can hardly negotiate with the governor if he won’t tell them in advance what he plans to veto. This is why, when you say the word “veto,” the next word that springs to mind is “threat.” That’s how vetoes work. The theory behind the indictment is flexible enough that almost any kind of political conflict could be defined as a “misuse” of power or “coercion” of one’s opponents. To describe the indictment as “frivolous” gives it far more credence than it deserves. Perry may not be much smarter than a ham sandwich, but he is exactly as guilty as one.This incident has made me look into the issue of state grand jury reform. Half of the states rarely use them any longer. They have been perverted from independent investigatory bodies into one sided rubber stamps that lack any due process. Only one side of the story is told. The accused may not even know they are investigated let alone see the evidence and challenge it. Evidence collected illegally is allowed. It takes in many states only a majority vote to charge and there is no minority report. Even worse is that the state is not obligated to present all of the evidence even if it may be exculpatory and show the defendant’s innocence. Over the the last three centuries, we lost what the grand jury system was supposed to be. Now it is tool of injustice. Prosecutors have a 98 to 99% success rate in getting indictments. One has to wonder what the 1% of cases must have looked like. We need to have a discussion about making the system fairer and more meaningful. I support 7 simple reforms. All evidence needs to presented. Defense counsel should see the evidence after the prosecution rested and be allowed to argue their theory and present exculpatory evidence much like a preliminary hearing. Witnesses should have a right to counsel unless they have immunity. Secrecy of grand jury deliberations, while they are going on, but with allowance of disclosures in their presentments, they should have access to the laws and case laws to understand what applies. There should be a super majority to get an incitement. They should be selected by a neutral party not the prosecutor or judge and selected at random from the general public, with perhaps some filtering to remove biased individuals and provide balanced representation, but without “stacking”. For those interested in how the system got so perverted, CATO has a great report.
They lost their minds in Austin. They indicted Governor Perry for exercising his legal and constitutional authority in an open and transparent fashion. They claimed he abused his power. Now that is not a criminal issue, that is a political issue taken care of by legislative overrides, court injunctions, elections, or in extreme cases impeachment. When you start to criminalize the political system, you become either third world or Italy. The people who did this need to be indicted for a misuse of the criminal justice system and false charges, better yet Perry should call a special session and the prosecutor should be put on impeachment charges. Perry had no personal benefit and was acting in what he believed was the public interest of not having a drunk who allegedly resisted arrest as head of a prosecutorial unit. I personally think arrest is not a conviction and people should have their day in court so I disagree with Perry’s action even though the incident was on video. That is a policy issue not a judicial issue. I love this quote from New York Magazine which is not a Rick Perry cheer section. The article is entitled “Rick Perry Indictment is Unbelievably Ridiculous”. The danger of this is in the money quote in the passage, “The theory of behind the indictment is flexible enough that almost any kind of political conflict could be defined as a ‘misuse’ of power or ‘coercion’ of one’s opponents”.