A list of Collin County grand jurors was mistakenly released by an employee with the Collin County District Clerk’s Office.
The release violates a June 25 order by District Judge Chris Oldner that deemed the names and personal information of grand jurors in the current term to be confidential.
Grand jury proceedings are secret, but the names of those serving in this term are of particular interest because they will be hearing evidence, possibly as early as this month, alleging securities law violations by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton.
Brian Wice, who was appointed along with Kent Schaffer as a special prosecutor in the Paxton case, said Thursday they were made aware of the release.
They issued a statement, saying: “While certainly unfortunate and inopportune, we trust that whatever harm the inadvertent disclosure of the grand jurors’ names and addresses might have caused was mitigated by Judge Oldner’s immediate and thoughtful response.
“Because both the state and Mr. Paxton are entitled to an investigation informed by fairness and confidentiality, we hope that whomever had access to the grand jurors’ personal information — especially members of the media — will respect their privacy during the pendency of their investigation.”
Messages left for Oldner and the District Clerk’s Office were not returned.
Radio station KRLD-AM reported Thursday that the grand juror names were mistakenly sent by an employee with the clerk’s office to 93 email recipients. A second, frantic email demanded all the unintended recipients “please immediately delete the previous email sent in error,” according to the news story.
Apparently, there was a mix-up with a previous grand jury. The Chron story fills in a few blanks.
In sealing the names, Judge Oldner cited previous instances were Collin County grand jurors were contacted with information regarding cases they were hearing. Oldner’s order states this information “was received outside the grand jury process and in violation of the laws of the state of Texas.”
The Houston Chronicle did receive the names of the grand jurors empaneled for the term that ended in June. After [Collin County DA Greg] Willis’ inaction, those members confirmed to the Chronicle that they had asked the Travis County District Attorney’s office for Paxton’s file to undertake their own probe.
“Collin County appears to be the venue where this evidence needs to be heard,” the grand jury vice foreman’s letter to Travis County read. “Therefore, we are requesting the documents be sent to us as soon as possible.
So in the end this is likely no big deal and no damage done. But man, does it ever seem like everything associated with Ken Paxton is cursed. Makes you wonder if one of his ancestors got in a feud with the Sianis family or something. What could possibly happen next?