The criminal case against former Gov. Rick Perry was officially dismissed on Wednesday, weeks after Texas’ highest criminal court ordered that it be dropped.
Judge Bert Richardson, who presided over the case in Travis County and now serves on the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, signed an order dismissing the abuse of power indictment related to a 2013 veto threat.
Michael McCrum, the special prosecutor in the case, said he still believed that Perry committed a crime — and had drafted and printed copies of a motion for an amended indictment. But on Tuesday afternoon, he decided to halt the effort, saying the high court’s ruling had “muddied” the criminal statute at issue.
“It was our position, and our feeling that the law had been so muddied that it was not the just thing to do with any citizen,” he said.
Perry’s lead lawyer, Anthony Buzbee, suggested he might take action to hold the appointed prosecutor, Michael McCrum, accountable for what he called an improper pursuit of the case. As he told the Express-News previously, Buzbee said Wednesday he would seek a transcript of grand jury proceedings.
“We feel like Mr. McCrum must have said some things that are probably actionable to that grand jury based on the people that we know testified and the facts as we know them and we’re going to explore that,” Buzbee told reporters after the hearing where Judge Bert Richardson signed the dismissal order.
Buzbee didn’t say exactly what action he’d seek but mentioned there are professional responsibility rules for lawyers.
McCrum said that the law doesn’t allow the release of grand jury transcripts because it’s important to protect the integrity of the process and ensure evidence is fairly reviewed. In the process, he took aim at Buzbee, a prominent Houston trial lawyer with a history of handing high-profile injury cases yielding big awards to clients.
“The law guards the confidentiality of those proceedings very, very much for good reason,” McCrum said.”Mr. Buzbee should know that. I don’t know – he handles snake bite and car wreck cases.”
McCrum said he didn’t decide against trying to resurrect the case until late Tuesday because he believes Perry committed a crime.
“We believe that he did. Strongly believe that,” McCrum said.
But the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals ordered the case dismissed in February and in doing so, McCrum said, “so muddied the law” that he didn’t think it would be the right thing to do.
Perry’s legal team defended his actions and Buzbee said took issue with “the stuff that came out of his (McCrum’s) mouth.”
“If the law doesn’t support a crime was committed, then you don’t prosecute, period. That’s how it works,” Buzbee sad. “This has all been a colossal waste of time.
The presiding judge in the case, Richardson, said the case “has not been a pleasant experience for me either.” He said he felt like a “punching bag.”
“I didn’t ask for this job and I didn’t want it,” he said, pointing out that he was running for the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals while presiding over the case.
I feel for Judge Richardson, who I thought did a fine job with this mess. I still think what Perry did was wrong and that he was handed a gift by the CCA, one that would not be available to other mortal defendants, but it is what it is at this point. I don’t really believe that Buzbee will pursue a complaint against McCrum, but at this point nothing would surprise me. Go ahead and start cashing in on that sweet wingnut gravy train, Rick Perry. It is your due.