Tag Archives: DA

When Local Fiscal Troubles Turn Into a Miscarriage of Justice

A sad and sordid NPR story caught my ear.

As Thanksgiving approached three years ago, the Richardson family of Clarksville, Texas, had gathered to celebrate. Around 10:30 PM, their celebrations were abruptly interrupted when police charged through the door and arrested brothers Vergil and Mark Richardson and their half-brother, Kevin Calloway.

It turns out that unbeknownst to Vergil (the owner of the home), Kevin had been dealing drugs out of a shed in the back of the property.

There were a number of problems with the case, however. For one thing, the bust was executed before a search warrant had been signed. Moreover, there was no evidence that either Vergil or Mark Richardson knew anything about Kevin Calloway’s extralegal activities. (Calloway had confessed and said he was the only one responsible for his actions.)

Eventually, these facts came to light and Vergil and Mark Richardson sued the DA, the sheriff and the Clarksville police department in a $2 million civil rights lawsuit.

Given the mishandling of the case, the state’s attorney general office elected to drop the charges (“in the interest of justice”). Then things got really weird: the judge refused to let them do so.

State Judge John Miller refused to accept the attorney general’s decision to drop the case. The ruling was so unusual that it lifted legal heads around the state.

But the judge was just getting started. He told defense lawyers that he intended to replace the attorney general’s office and appoint a new special prosecutor, someone who would agree to prosecute all of the members of the Richardson family, not just their half-brother Calloway.

What was behind the judge’s unusual decision? One explanation may be race. The brothers are black while the judge is white. But one reporter has another theory:

Bill Hankins, a reporter for The Paris News in nearby Paris, Texas, who has been covering the story closely, thinks this case is about more than just race.

“You know, [Red River County] is a poor county … and I think … [Miller is] concerned about the lawsuit eating up funds that they don’t have,” he says.

Read the whole story.