Embezzling $140 thousand, fake subpoenas, Garrett Rolfe, GBI, Georgia AG, Nina Hickson, Noah Pines, nonexistent grand juries, Paul Howard Jr., probable cause, Rayshard Brooks, social justice hero, woke
I’ve previously noted the unusual, inexcusable and arguably stupid actions by District Attorney Paul Howard Jr. I’ve noted he is behaving like a Black prosecutor, not a prosecutor who happens to be Black (the SMM Rayshard Brooks archive is here). I say that because Howard has acted like a BLM activist rather than an independent, honorable prosecutor whose highest calling is to seek justice. Now, there is even more reason to believe Howard’s motivations are entirely political, and they are fundamentally dishonorable. Ed Morrissey at Hot Air explains:
Did Paul Howard fraudulently issue grand jury subpoenas against the two officers in the Rayshard Brooks case — and touch off weeks of violence and ‘blue flu’? The local Fox News affiliate reported a few days ago that Georgia attorney general has asked the state’s Bureau of Investigation to find out how Howard managed to issue the subpoenas when the grand jury was not in session. The GBI had already opened a probe into Howard for an alleged kickback scheme with former mayor Kasim Reed, and it also adds to the tension between the Fulton County DA and the GBI:
‘But, the I-Team has learned there was more to Howard’s investigation. We obtained a copy of a Grand Jury subpoena, sent from Howard’s office to the Atlanta Police department instructing them to turn over its ‘open investigation regarding Garrett Rolfe and the use of force incident.’
The subpoena required that the documents be turned over for the ‘Grand Jury, June/July term on the of 14th day of July.’ Other grand jury subpoenas were issued for phone and surveillance camera videos.
I noted in Update 4 Howard had his own investigator issue charging affidavits that provided no probable cause for any charge. During my police days, no police supervisor would have allowed such deficient documents to leave the police station. Had that check and balance failed, no prosecutor would have forwarded them to a judge. Failing that, no honest, intelligent judge would have issued warrants. Everyone reviewing those documents would and should have demanded: “where’s the PC?” In Howard’s case, he obviously entirely skipped the police step, and surely approached a judge he knew would give him what he wanted regardless of annoying and non-social justice requirements like probable cause and due process. The GBI, who Howard also blindsided, was not amused and is still conducting its investigation.
Issuing a subpoena on/for/by a grand jury that does not exist is not merely a minor paperwork error. It is, at the least, unethical fraud and a denial of a defendant’s due process rights. At worst, it’s criminal. It is certainly not consistent with an unbiased prosecutor seeking justice rather than appeasing a violent, racist mob.
The Fox affiliate first reported the new probe on Friday. By last night, Howard was on his third explanation of the subpoenas, all of which contradict each other:
Explanation Number one: Pines points out that Howard told the Fulton County Daily report the subpoenas were sent out for a potential ‘future grand jury.’
In other words, a grand jury that doesn’t exist and that may never exist.
Explanation Number two: Howard later told FOX 5 an employee thought a ‘past grand jury’ was still in session.
The DA, and no one in his office, was aware the grand jury was disbanded on March 13 due to the Covid-19 panic? Right. Who’s the employee? That should be easy enough to check. Let’s hear from them.
Explanation Number three: Friday Howard issued a third statement saying wait – it was neither – there was actually a second grand jury all along that hadn’t been dismissed and was still available.
That second grand jury’s legal term had already ended when the subpoenas were issued.
Nobody in the DA’s office knew that?! Howard couldn’t check on that simple fact prior to making a third excuse?
‘It absolutely looks like the District Attorney’s Office is attempting to sort of cover up their mistakes with band aids that aren’t really staying on very well,’ said [Georgia State U law professor] Jessica Gable Cino.
She says all three of Paul Howard’s explanations for sending out grand jury subpoenas with no grand jury seemingly in place conflict with each other, and none of them make legal sense.
‘For all intents of purposes right now it looks like there’s an abuse of process which could completely derail this case, and nobody wants that outcome,’ said Cino.
Actually, people seeking actual rather than social justice, people color blind and hoping the facts and evidence might prevail want exactly that outcome. Other local prosecutors aren’t exactly supportive of Howard, as Law.com reports:
Atlanta city attorney Nina Hickson declined to comment on the status of the subpoena.
But Rolfe defense counsel Noah Pines said issuing a grand jury subpoena when no grand jury is impaneled violates a state bar rule prohibiting records subpoenas ‘when there was no hearing, trial or deposition pending that would have supported the issuance of the subpoena.’ The maximum penalty for violating the rule is disbarment.
‘The Georgia Supreme Court’s rules and the law governing lawyers is clear,’ Pines said. ‘Lawyers cannot act like Paul Howard has acted in this case.’
The prosecutors in the Trayvon Martin case and the Freddie Gray cases acted just this way. They became stereotypically corrupt defense lawyers, trying to win cases on emotion and “the way it ought to be” rather than the law and the evidence.
But why would a supposedly experienced prosecutor behave this way? Why would he rush—in five days—to a grossly faulty judgment, and violate legal ethics and the law in the process? The local Atlanta Fox station reports:
The FOX 5 I-Team has learned that the ongoing GBI criminal investigation of Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard has widened.
The Georgia Attorney General has now asked the GBI to investigate grand jury subpoenas issued by Howard’s office in the Rayshard Brooks murder case.
The investigation to which they refer is an ongoing probe of Howard for allegedly embezzling $140,000 dollars. I obviously don’t have all of the evidence in that matter, but from media accounts, it seems rather open and shut. He had about a quarter million dollars funneled to his office, and he ended up with $140,000 of that. He has also been accused of multiple instances of sexual improprieties with employees.
Here’s what an apparently honest former DA had to say about the issue:
[Bob] Wilson, DeKalb’s DA from 1981 to 1992, said he chaired and worked with child advocacy and rape crisis center nonprofits while he was in office.
If a nonprofit can help victims of crime, it’s appropriate for a district attorney to be involved, he said. At the same time, he added, “You would not undertake that with any idea of ever being paid.”
Wilson said he never asked for a raise while he was district attorney.
‘You know what the job is,’ he said. ‘You know what it pays, and if that’s not good enough for you and your family then seek other employment.’
Howard’s salary is around $175,000 a year, or about $14,580 per month. In our highest earning years, Mrs. Manor and I came nowhere near that level of reimbursement for our labors. I suspect most Americans can relate.
Let’s check in with former federal prosecutor Andrew McCarthy at National Review. He explains several more, compelling reasons why Howard is behaving as a BLM cracktivist:
It is highly unlikely that an objective, professional investigation of Brooks’s shooting would result in any criminal charges. It would not have been opportune, then, for Howard to await the results of the GBI investigation. And while grand juries are often belittled as willing to indict a ham sandwich if that’s what the prosecutor tells them to do, it is highly unlikely, even in the current climate of intimidation, that an Atlanta grand jury would indict a cop for capital murder on the facts of this case. In Atlanta, the police department is nearly 60 percent African American. While the rabble-rousers dominate the coverage, most citizens realize that many of the black lives that matter wear blue uniforms and put those lives on the line to protect the city.
Brooks was passed out drunk in the car he had been driving while at a Wendy’s drive-thru. This was a violation of his probation conditions. Yeah, he was on probation. As recounted by Britain’s Daily Mail (it is hard to get such information from American media sources) [yes; that very much rains on the social justice media narrative of evil white cops and a saintly, father-of-the-year, unarmed Black victim], Brooks had been convicted in 2014 for felonies committed against his family: multiple battery charges, false imprisonment, and cruelty to children. He was sentenced to seven years’ imprisonment. But, as often happens in the criminal-justice system you’re supposed to see as institutionally racist and just spoiling to let black men rot in cages, the seven-year sentence wasn’t really a seven-year sentence. He served just one year and was released on probation.
As frequently happens with probationers, Brooks repeatedly violated the terms of his release. You’re supposed to look the other way on that, too. We’re supposed to prefer alternatives to prison for violent criminals; then, when the criminals habitually flout the conditions under which they are spared incarceration, we’re supposed to ignore that, too, since … well, we’d otherwise have to admit that criminals belong in prison — and that’s such Cro-Magnon thinking.
We should also remember Howard is in a failing run for reelection. He has been the DA since 1997, and presumably, began to think himself invincible and unaccountable. It’s not unreasonable to believe Howard charged the officers and took all manner of shortcuts because he needed to be a white supremacist/ racist-busting social justice hero. Maybe the mob could keep him in power? And if Trump is defeated, might not such a hero of the people find himself Attorney General? But is it ever possible to be sufficiently woke?
Perhaps I’m being too harsh on Howard. After all, Black Lives Matter, and isn’t it permissible, isn’t it a higher justice and truth, to bend the rules a little in the interests of social justice and stamping out the institutional, insidious racism that infects every level of American society? And OK, Brooks was a violent felon who brutally abused even his own family, but he was just peacefully sleeping in his car and never threatened the officers in any way. We know that because DA Howard said so.
The power to arrest is a grave and potentially destructive power, but the power to charge and prosecute is even more destructive. As we’ve seen in Russiagate, prosecutors that lose track of their mandate to seek justice regardless of the political fallout, prosecutors that seek political ends and social justice rather that upholding the rule of law are terribly destructive to individual liberty and the constitutional order. They destroy lives and tear down public respect for the rule of law.
No social cause justifies the suspension of due process and the rule of law. When we take that step, where does it end? What cause will not be sufficient to allow the abrogation of our fundamental liberties? Even if the officers in the Brooks case could have done better, that doesn’t matter. That’s an issue for internal review and discipline. Officers aren’t required to be perfect, to do everything on every occasion as perfectly and flawlessly as it could possibly be done. They are lawfully and morally required to act reasonably, to do what a reasonable police officer would do in the same circumstances.
That’s why police departments don’t fire officers before investigations are complete. That’s why prosecutors don’t file charges before investigations are complete. That’s why prosecutors behave as professionals, not political, racial operatives.
This will not end well—for anyone—and Paul Howard will bear much of the blame.