Thursday, May 16, 2013

Judge orders release of "dashcam" video in Grisham arrest

By Lou Ann Anderson
From “Watchdog Wire/Texas”

A visiting judge on Wednesday ordered the Bell County Attorney’s Office to release police dashcam video in the case of C.J. Grisham, the Texas soldier whose March 16 arrest by Temple police spawned a viral video.

While the law, specifically Brady v. Maryland, requires release of evidence which is often handled as a simple administrative matter, the delay in this case suggests prosecutors’ discontent with its widespread media attention and public scrutiny.
During the 12-minute hearing, prosecutor Mark Danford used a barely audible speaking voice in arguing to Judge Neel Richardson that although he was prepared to immediately deliver the video, the requested evidence is for the defendant and defense team’s use – not for dissemination to the press or the public.
Upon Grisham attorney Kurt Glass’ additional request, Danford agreed to promptly provide the 911 recording which initially brought Temple Police Department officers in contact with Grisham.
Richardson ordered release of two police videos and the 911 recording, but warned Glass against sharing the materials with the media or posting the content on social media or other internet sites.
Speaking after the hearing to a group of about 35 supporters, Grisham termed the ruling a “functional gag order” noting the irony that such action would be taken with a Class B Misdemeanor charge.
The judge ordered the videos not be shared with the media so in an overabundance of caution for my client, I’m not going to comment at this time,” Glass later said.
In a related matter, Glass also appeared Wednesday before County Court-at-Law #2 Judge John Mischtian requesting release of dashcam video in the Matthew Sibley case. Sibley was arrested by Temple police in December 2012 after several traffic violations prompted a pursuit by police as he was en route to Scott & White Memorial Hospital to visit his dying brother.
Danford, filling in for prosecutor Mark McCarthy, again represented Bell County. While asking for a timeframe in which the Sibley dashcam video and 911 tape would be produced, Glass spoke of the five-month delay in receiving this evidence – especially in light of the county having a seemingly simple web site portal designed for such requests. Glass also noted having to make a formal request violated his client’s Sixth Amendment right to counsel as it appeared representation by him (Glass) was subjecting Sibley to prejudice potentially arising from the Grisham case.
Ultimately, Danford agreed to providing all requested materials within two weeks, but said they realistically would be available much sooner.
Wednesday’s hearings generated expense not only on the defense side of the proceedings, but also for taxpayers as Bell County residents fund county officials’ pursuit of cases. When simple administrative tasks escalate into seemingly needless, cost-generating exercises, scrutiny of the “justice” theoretically being served seems well-placed.

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