04 August 2017

Live in Obedient Fear, Citizen!


In February, San Antonio District Attorney Nico LaHood allegedly did just that. LaHood was prosecuting Miguel Martinez, who stood accused of shooting a graduate student named Laura Carter in the head during a drug deal gone bad. Martinez’s trial derailed soon after it began. On the second day, the government disclosed that its star witness, who was also a possible suspect in the killing, had once had a sexual encounter with a prosecutor in the DA’s office. The defense argued that the relationship gave the witness a motive to help the government and gave the government a reason not to investigate or charge the witness. The defense accused prosecutors of violating their constitutional duty by failing to disclose that information before trial. The defense lawyers asked for a mistrial and indicated they may ask the judge to bar further prosecution.

According to defense pleadings, LaHood threatened to shut down the opposing counsels’ practice during a meeting in the judge’s chambers. He allegedly said he would “go to the media and do whatever it took” and that he did “not care what happened to him.” Their client would also be at risk, LaHood allegedly said, because he would be “better prepared for trial the next time” and he would “pick a better jury.” The defense lawyers, Christian Henricksen and Joe Gonzalez, asked for a mistrial. Trial Judge Lori Valenzuela granted their motion.

In March, the defense moved to bar future prosecution. At a hearing the following month, LaHood denied under oath that he’d threatened the lawyers’ livelihoods. He claimed the defense’s allegations were false and accused the defense attorneys of acting in bad faith when they alleged prosecutorial misconduct.

Valenzuela, who had observed the incident, then took the stand. (Valenzuela did not preside over this April hearing, as she was a witness to the events at issue.) She described how, without provocation, LaHood had threatened to make sure the defense lawyers never got appointed on another case, becoming so enraged that she feared “somebody would get hurt physically.” She explained that LaHood may have committed misdemeanor official oppression, a crime that occurs when an official uses his power to “mistreat” others or impede them in the exercise of their rights.
Might have committed official oppression? Might have?


He did it in front of a judge who testified against him.

He needs to be jailed and disbarred.


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