PUBLISHER'S NOTE: The destruction of thousands of pieces of evidence by police officers at the moment it is said to be impossible to say how many because of shoddy record keeping - is an enormous violation of the public trust. Yes, a finger must be appointed at the District Attorney who bears responsibility for laying of charges and the preparation of evidence for use in court, but it is the police who have the actual responsibility of protecting and preserving the exhibits. While an inquiry into the District Attorney's knowledge of the destruction of evidence by police and her subsequent actions is warranted, it is far more urgent to get to the heart of the policing failure to protect evidence for future use - and to determine whether the state should have the Precinct's constabulary taken over by experience and trusted police officials who can ensure the public is properly protected. Such takeovers are not uncommon in many jurisdictions when school or hospital jobs fail to do their job, and is particularly important in the area of policing where public safety is involved. It is also for the press to exercise its watchdog function. All of my instincts tell me that this is a huge story involving the public interest (and public safety) - and what we have seen is merely the tip of the iceberg. We mustn't let it slip away.
Harold Levy: Publisher; The Charles Smith Blog.
"Kim Ogg, the Democratic candidate for Harris County district attorney, on Tuesday called for a court of inquiry to investigate sitting DA Devon Anderson for possible civil rights violations arising out of an evidence scandal at the Precinct Four Constable's Office. The demand echoes calls Ogg made last week in asking for closer scrutiny of how the largest DA's office in Texas handled information about missing evidence in scores of cases, mostly connected to drug arrests. Last week, Ogg said it was prosecutorial misconduct. On Tuesday, she raised the specter that the district attorney's office under the GOP incumbent committed the crime of official oppression. "Devon Anderson's own admission that she knew about destroyed and missing evidence in Harris County Precinct Four in February 2016, yet failed to notify her own trial prosecutors until after the news story broke on Aug. 19, is probable cause that official oppression occurred," Ogg said in a written release.........Prosecutors in Anderson's office dismissed 90 pending misdemeanor and felony drug cases in August after revelations surfaced that a deputy improperly destroyed evidence at the Precinct 4 Constable's Office. The public integrity unit of the DA's office has been investigating the discrepancy at the evidence room since February. The dozens of prosecutors who handle cases at the trial level were apparently not notified to stop work on Precinct 4 cases until Aug. 19, after defense attorney Paul Morgan raised questions about missing evidence in his client's case. "The result of the latest evidence scandal in Precinct Four is that dozens, maybe hundreds of individuals have been wrongfully convicted, and the responsibility sits with the DA herself.," Ogg said. "Devon Anderson's poor management and bad judgment will be the subject of many future lawsuits for civil rights violations and could cost Harris County taxpayers millions of dollars."