Now that a judge has unceremoniously tossed the perjury charge against Chief C.O. "BAMF" Bradford, the dogs are howling about the District Attorney's lack of judgment:
"I bet if you spent the rest of your days looking for a lawyer outside the district attorney's office who thought that was a good prosecution, I don't think you'll find one," said trial lawyer David Berg.
Six lawyers who followed the case were dumbfounded that those remarks were the basis of a perjury prosecution.
"It was extremely bad judgment to bring the case," said Ron Woods, former U.S. attorney in Houston and now a white-collar criminal defense lawyer. "The statement by the chief was vague enough that it never should have been brought before the grand jury." .
People are not convicted of perjury based on equivocal statements, several lawyers said.
"The answer has to be the total opposite of the truth," Berg said. "Here's a guy searching his memory. What made Chief Bradford's indictment incapable of being proven was the equivocation in his answers."
David Crump, who teaches criminal law at the University of Houston Law Center, said, "An equivocal answer that shows you are struggling and can't remember is not perjury."
Several lawyers said they were astonished a prosecutor convinced a grand jury to indict Bradford.
The indictment provides further proof of the system's inadequacies, said trial lawyer Joel Androphy, a longtime critic of the grand jury system.
"The grand jury system doesn't work and hasn't worked," he said. "They only get the evidence the prosecuting office shows them."
Once Bradford was indicted, Androphy said, District Attorney Chuck Rosenthal or a prosecutor should have made sure the case went no further.
Woods agreed: "The district attorney's office dismisses cases all the the time after an indictment."
Others said Bradford's case was so flimsy, prosecutors should never have taken it to a grand jury. "It should have been trash-canned the day it came in," said veteran trial lawyer Tom Alexander. "The reason it wasn't was politics at the Police Department."
"He was very Clintonesque in his responses," Smyth said. "I would prosecute this case again (if given a second chance) and might very well get a different result in a different court."
Smyth said he believed in the perjury case and that no one had pressured him to prosecute Bradford.
Once Bradford was indicted, he said, "We would have been condemned regardless of what we did. If we failed to prosecute the chief, people would have written letters to the editor and said we didn't prosecute because the chief is a highly placed person.
"And if we went forward, people would be saying we were after him because he was a highly-placed person. It was a no-win situation."