HOUSTON A politically charged grand jury investigation into the Harris County District Attorney s Office came to an end Tuesday not with an indictment, but with a blistering letter slamming the DA s office.
An angry district attorney quickly shot back with a news conference declaring the grand jury a politically motivated outrage orchestrated by allies of a judge running against her in the Republican primary.
The panel issued a one-page statement claiming the district attorney assigned an investigator to probe the backgrounds of grand jurors. Among the accusations, the grand jurors claimed someone, in what looked like a government issued vehicle, photographed some of them on a lunch break.
We discovered through our investigator that the (district attorney s office) initiated investigations into members of the grand jury, the attorneys pro tem and past and present members of the Harris County judiciary, the statement said.
The spectacle surrounding the grand jury investigation highlights an increasingly bitter courthouse feud between opponents and supporters of District Attorney Pat Lykos. Many of her critics were prosecutors allied with what Lykos described as the Old Regime, an apparent reference to the former district attorney whom she replaced. One of her most strident critics, State District Judge Mike Anderson, plans to run against her in the GOP primary.
This politically motivated investigation, I would submit to you, is an outrage, Lykos said. It is an abuse of power and corruption of the criminal justice system. For months, our office has been hounded and there has been a torrent of grand jury leaks to the news media and blogs.
Her primary opponent quickly pounced on the grand jury s statements.
What it s about is a lack of leadership, Anderson said. If the district attorney s office had gotten on the front end of this investigation, it would ve been over in about two days.
The grand jury statement also criticized a supervising prosecutor, Rachel Palmer, who refused to testify before the grand jury probing what the district attorney s office knew about possible problems with results from Houston s blood alcohol testing vans. Palmer s refusal caused a sideshow court hearing in which prosecutors publicly claimed grand jurors had links to Anderson.
The stain upon the (district attorney s office) will remain regardless of any media statements issued or press conferences performed by anyone, the grand jurors wrote.
Lykos, meanwhile, angrily depicted the entire grand jury probe as an election year stunt.
I will not let the honor and reputation of this office, and of me personally, be slandered and libeled, she said.