By: Jacquelyn Carpenter
That said, on Thursday of this week, Rachel Palmer, Deputy Misdemeanor Division Chief, was subpoenaed before the grand jury investigating what the Harris County District Attorney’s Office knew about problems with the BAT vans. And, do not get me wrong, I do not dislike Harris County District Attorney Patricia R. Lykos. Some people feel very strongly about her, I do not. I have never met her. BUT Rachel Palmer thinking she needs to invoke the Fifth Amendment wreaks of desperation to hide something, and it reflects poorly on Pat Lykos.
I was at the hearing on Thursday being every bit as nosy as I could. I saw Channel 13 reporter Ted Oberg as he ran into the hallway to question First Assistant Jim Leitner. I stood in the hallway and listened as Ted Oberg asked the ultimate question of Leitner: “Does it look bad?” Does it look bad that your prosecutor is invoking the Fifth Amendment? Does it look bad that Lykos believes she has done nothing wrong, but still chooses to hide from the grand jury investigation . . . hiding through a prosecutor of all things? Jim Leitner’s response? “All I can tell you is that someone took the Fifth, the law says they can.” No, Jim, an assistant district attorney took the Fifth. And, by the way, she is an assistant district attorney in a position to supervise other misdemeanor assistant district attorneys that are in the courtrooms actually trying dwi cases using BAT van evidence.
The very entity charged with prosecuting citizens who may have done something criminally wrong, now hides from investigation into their own actions. Yet, per Jim Leitner, “You want it to look bad, they want it to look bad.” I guess he was referring to the press when he said “You want it to look bad” and I have not a clue who he was referring to when he said “they want it to look bad.” However, arguably, it just does look bad. What citizen in Harris County is not watching this ongoing saga thinking, “What are they [Lykos and her Administration] hiding? What did they actually know about the BAT vans? And when did they know it?” My colleague Paul Kennedy said it well, “I just wonder if the DA’s Office is so hell bent on prosecuting DWIs that they will violate the law in so doing, what do they do on more serious cases?” The integrity of all prosecutions, and thus, convictions, are in question at this point.