Rick Perry refuses to help wrongfully accused Texans. That alone should be troubling enough, but what is even more bothersome is the hugely misguided logic Perry used to carry out the injustice.
The Texas Legislature attempted to remedy an incorrect decision made by the Texas Supreme Court in the case of Beam v. State. The Defendant in Beam was charged with a misdemeanor offense punishable by county jail time. Obviously the case had very little merit, because Beam took a deferred adjudication on a Class C disorderly Conduct, which resulted in a dismissal. This means the State could not prove what it had charged Beam. Beam filed for an expunction. The Supreme Court held that Beam had to wait until the Statue of Limitations expired (2 years) before Beam could clear her record.
Although exp-unctions deal with criminal subject matter, exp-unctions are filed in civil district court. This means the Supreme Court of Texas, a civil law court, heard the case instead of the Court of Criminal Appeals, the Supreme Court’s Criminal counterpart. The Supreme Court goofed because jeopardy had attached. The DA could not refile the case because it was barred by double jeopardy.
I applaud the Texas Legislature for noticing the injustice and trying to do the right thing. HB 3481 was passed by the Texas House after it was amended by the Senate by a vote of 137-0. Perry, we have all learned that you struggle with simple concepts like riding a bike, but that means that EVERYONE thought it was the right thing to do.
HB 3481 would give Texans the right to exp-unction of criminal records, including law enforcement case files, 180 days after an arrest if no formal misdemeanor or felony charges have been filed and/or if the charges were dismissed.
Perry vetoed the bill on June 19, 2009. Perry displayed how completely ignorant and confused he and whatever staff person who authored the veto are, by stating ridiculous logic to justify his injustice.
Perry states, “Expunction statutes should not be used as a means of discovery or as a means to force a prosecutor to rush to file formal charges prematurely. Allowing a person to know the identities of witnesses or the nature of their evidence.”
NOTICE TO GOVERNOR PERRY: Criminal lawyers in the State of Texas already have a means of discovery after arrest. These discovery means are found in the United States and Texas Constitutions and in the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure. I am not naive enough to believe Perry would ever read or have the ability to understand such literature, but I will break it down for him.
When an American/Texan is arrested, the Prosecutor does have an obligation to file charges quickly, Right to a Speedy Trial. Perry’s logic is so out of bounds because we are talking about a person who is already arrested. Perry is worried the Expunction process will force Prosecutors to file charges prematurely. Prosecutors, Police, or other Government Agencies should not arrest citizens if they are not ready to file charges.
Allowing an arrested person to know the identities of the witnesses and nature of the evidence is something Rick Perry is not comfortable with. That means he is not comfortable with the 6th Amendment. How Un-American is that? As a criminal lawyer, I have no idea how to confront and cross-examine witnesses without knowing who they are. The arrested person’s right to know the “nature of the evidence” is found in Art. 39.14 of the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure. Thank heavens Perry was not around to screw that Statute up.
Here is the real tragedy of Perry’s folly: This veto prevents the wrongfully accused and prosecuted Texans whose cases are DISMISSED because there is not sufficient evidence to immediately clear their records. Let’s face it, potential employers and apartment c0mplexes who issue a lease are just as concerned about an arrest as they are about a conviction. So Perry’s actions will punish wrongfully accused Texans from obtaining gainful employment and providing for their families.
Perry, next time the ENTIRE legislature, bipartisanly and unanimously puts legislation in front of you, don’t veto it because you hate America, your vicodin has you really trippin’ out, or because you are angry everyone is talking about something you just don’t understand. Instead, just take a bike ride, close your eyes, pedal hard, pedal fast, and PLEASE do not wear a helmet on top of your perfect hair.