Anyone who didn’t think this was all about HPD internal politics wasn’t paying attention. At least it didn’t result in arresting hundreds of people the way other parts of the Aguirre-Bradford feud have done.
Today, Chron metro politics columnist John Williams speculates on that very topic and decides that there’s at least a little smoke, if not a raging fire as he compares Bradford’s treatment to that of Republican activist/kingmaker Steven Hotze, who was nobilled on a drunk driving charge awhile back:
On Oct. 26, 2000, Hotze failed a field sobriety test after his car was seen weaving and crowding several vehicles, including a police car that veered onto a curb to avoid a collision. He refused to take a breath test.
While humiliating for almost anyone, drunken driving charges could have been politically devastating for Hotze, who believes that biblical teachings should play a bigger role in government. He has said that laws against drunken driving are among the moral laws derived from religion.
The DWI case lay dormant in Rosenthal’s office until last summer because the officer who administered Hotze’s field sobriety test was accused, in an unrelated case, of tampering with a document. Prosecutors were concerned that the cloud could damage his credibility in cases requiring his testimony, such as Hotze’s.
After the officer was cleared, Rosenthal’s office took the unusual step of presenting Hotze’s misdemeanor DWI case to a grand jury because of the high-profile suspect.
Hotze’s attorney, Terry Yates, said at the time that Hotze was innocent and suggested he was the victim of selective prosecution. Last July, a grand jury threw out the DWI case, saying it lacked sufficient evidence for an indictment.
Since grand jury proceedings are secret, we don’t know exactly what evidence prosecutors presented or whether they made a recommendation. We do know that grand juries typically follow the lead of the district attorney, and nothing suggests the Hotze grand jury was an exception.
Similarly, nothing suggests there was a runaway grand jury in the Bradford case.
To the contrary, Rosenthal’s office has said it had enough evidence to justify an indictment and conviction against the chief, who was accused of lying under oath.
Note that Hotze’s attorney is Terry Yates, the same man who is representing Captain Mark Aguirre in his official oppression trial, which was a result of the K-Mart case. Recall that Yates has alleged that the charges against Aguirre were the result of personal animus between him and Bradford, and you might begin to see some possibilities.
Williams concludes that while there may have been different standards for Hotze and Bradford, the more likely result is that neither man should have been indicted. Maybe. I still think Hotze’s treatment was easier than Bradford’s was rough, but since grand jury proceedings are secret, we’ll never know. Only Rosenthal can say for sure, and either you trust his impartiality or you don’t. This certainly won’t make him look good in the eyes of those who believe that the appearance of impropriety is at least as important as actual impropriety.