JANUARY 22, 2008
Arson-related charges against a Texas Supreme Court Justice will be dropped, even though a grand jury indicted him, because the prosecutor handling the case is a friend and political ally of the indicted judge.
Outraged members of the grand jury say politics have clearly trumped justice. The day after the panel indicted the politically connected judge, David Medina, the county prosecutor in charge of the case dismissed it claiming there was insufficient evidence despite the grand jury’s findings after three months of analyzing information.
It turns out that Harris County District Attorney Chuck Rosenthal is Medina’s friend and close political comrade. The grand jury foreman and assistant foreman say the district attorney tried to prevent the panel from indicting Judge Medina and wanted the case to be swept “under the rug.” Rosenthal did everything to dissuade the jury from even hearing evidence or reaching any conclusions in the case, the jurors said.
Appointed to the state’s high court by Governor Rick Perry in 2004, Medina was once a Harris County District judge. The charges stem from a fire that his wife was accused of setting last summer. It destroyed the couple’s suburban Houston house and damaged a neighbor’s residence. Medina was charged with evidence tampering in the blaze, which caused about $1 million in damages.
Fire marshal’s found that the fire was intentionally set and a dog detected an accelerant at the scene. Investigators then discovered that the judge and his wife had serious financial problems, including a mortgage company’s move to foreclose on the burned home. A few years earlier, the county put a lien on the house because the Medinas failed to pay nearly $10,000 in county and school district taxes.
Now that the judge has been cleared of the charges, he will keep his $150,000-a-year job and avoid removal or further investigation by the State Commission on Judicial Conduct. As for District Attorney Rosenthal, he was forced off of the ballot for re-election for an unrelated matter. Last month he got busted for using his official county email account to send pornography, campaign-related files and love notes to his secretary.
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