Texas Grand Jurors Suing to Disclose Evidence in Alleged Arson Case

February 15, 2008

Six members of a Houston grand jury that indicted a Texas Supreme Court justice and his wife over a house fire have filed a lawsuit so they can speak about evidence in the case.

By law, grand jury proceedings are secret.

But the grand jury members say they want to disclose details they heard to a new grand jury. They also want defend themselves from accusations alleging they were a “runaway grand jury,” said Jeffrey Dorrell, an attorney who served as the group’s assistant foreman.

“The other members of the grand jury felt that our grand jury had been abused and insulted by both the district attorney’s office and the defense attorneys in the case,” said Dorrell, who filed the suit.

The group is not seeking money or attorney fees.

They were part of a grand jury that last month indicted Texas Supreme Court Justice David Medina on a charge of tampering with a document and his wife Francisca Medina on an arson charge. The charges are related to a June 28 fire that destroyed the Medina’s house in the Houston suburb of Spring.

Hours after the indictment, Harris County District Attorney Chuck Rosenthal dismissed the charges, citing “insufficient evidence.”

Dorrell said he didn’t believe the district attorney’s office planned to properly investigate the case. Grand jurors had asked the prosecutor in the case to bring witnesses and evidence to them but that never happened, Dorrell said.

“If he wouldn’t do the investigation that we told him to do while we were authorized and empowered to issue those orders, I don’t know why he would do it now,” Dorrell said. “To be blunt, we don’t believe him.”

Assistant District Attorney Vic Wisner has said he continues to investigate the circumstances of the fire so he can have enough evidence to win a case.

“Thinking somebody did something is one thing. Proving somebody did something is another thing,” Wisner said.

Wisner said he didn’t think a judge would allow the grand jurors suing to disclose details of the evidence they heard behind closed doors.

David Medina’s attorney, Terry Yates, said the lawsuit was frivolous.

“There’s no basis for it in fact or law.” Yates said.

Information from: Houston Chronicle, www.houstonchronicle.com

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