Medina's attorney, Terry Yates, said grand jury foreman Robert Ryan and assistant foreman Jeffrey Dorrell acted illegally when they told reporters Thursday that Rosenthal's unwillingness to prosecute was politically motivated. Ryan said the two broke no laws and were careful not to mention anything discussed in secrecy.
"They've made a mockery of the entire process," Yates said. "This is crazy. This is mind-boggling, what this grand jury has done. This is more than a runaway grand jury. This is a grand jury speeding away in a Lamborghini."
Yates filed a motion asking state District Judge Jim Wallace to schedule a hearing to determine whether the two disclosed information about grand jury proceedings that by law should be considered secret. Wallace is expected to rule on whether to even have a hearing next week. If held in contempt, the two could face 30 days in jail and a $500 fine.
"They have violated the law, clearly," Yates said. "The law says proceedings that occur in a grand jury are secret. Period. And it doesn't just relate to testimony. It relates to any proceedings that occur."
Ryan said their comments were opinions and did not include the substance of anything discussed by or presented to the grand jury. He said they did not violate the secrecy oath.
"We have not talked about anything having to do with secrecy," Ryan said. "We talked about the district attorney."
Yates' action came shortly after Assistant District Attorney Vic Wisner dismissed the Medina indictments, both of which were connected to a suspicious fire that destroyed their home last summer.
Medina's wife, Francisca, was indicted on an arson charge. He was accused of tampering with or fabricating evidence pertaining to an investigation. Both are felonies.
"The only thing we've done this morning is decide to proceed with this case, on this date, with an investigation stage and not a prosecution stage," Wisner said. "Literally nothing more and nothing less. I think a little bit more has been read into this case than has actually occurred."
Wisner said there was not enough evidence to make a case that would hold up in court.
"I've never in my life had a case before where I had an indictment on one hand and even the investigator on the other hand saying, 'We can't go forward on this case -- we don't have enough,' " he said.
Wisner said the office would continue to investigate the couple in connection with the fire, which also damaged two adjacent homes and caused losses of almost $1 million.
"Nothing we've done this morning can be construed as clearing her, or saying in any way, shape or form that she will not be held criminally responsible for arson or a similar crime that she was indicted for," he said of Francisca Medina.
Whatever the case, there was some bad news for Justice Medina as well today, as the Chron also reports that the Texas Ethics Commission is looking at some questionable ways that he's spent campaign funds. John Coby has more on that.Posted by Charles Kuffner on January 19, 2008 to Crime and Punishment