Possible Contempt Charges in Grand Jury Probe

A Harris County Grand Jury has proceeded without the Harris County District Attorney’s Office in an investigation centered on issues surrounding the breath alcohol-testing vehicles – known as BAT vans – and possibly the DA’s office’s involvement.

The BAT vans are used in DWI prosecutions. In recent months defense attorneys contested evidence being used from the vans after reports of possible technical problems with the breath test results as a consequence of the temperature in the vans.

Typically the District Attorney’s Office presents cases to the grand jury, but in this instance according to the Houston Chronicle, the grand jury ejected the prosecutors and threatened to have the bailiff arrest them if they did not leave.

Harris County District Court Judge Susan Brown of the 185th District Court appointed two former veteran assistant district attorneys to assist the grand jury.

Two current Harris County prosecutors are facing contempt charges after Judge Brown learned members of the DA’s office were given information that may contain official transcripts from secret proceedings of the grand jury that is investigating the district attorney’s office.

The Texas Code of  Criminal Procedure is clear in stating that the proceedings of the grand jury shall be kept secret. The prosecutors and two court reporters must appear before the judge and must show why they should not be held in contempt and sanctioned by the court.

The role of a grand jury in Texas is to inquire into all offenses liable to indictment of which any member may have knowledge, or of which they shall be informed the attorney representing the State, or any other credible person. The grand jury has the authority to conduct their own investigations, to subpeona evidence and witnesses and to indict or not. They determine for themselves whether their are facts to justify an indictment.

We often hear the term indictment or he was indicted. In Texas an indictment is the written statement of a grand jury accusing a person of an offense.

Grand juries generally inquire into alleged felony offenses. If you or someone you know is in need of a Houston Criminal Defense Attorney call Texas Board Certified Attorney Mario Madrid at 713-877-9400.