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PDittie Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-21-06 04:35 AM
Original message
US Judge, TX AG argue and threaten over seized records lost
Corpus Christi Caller-Times. Emphasis mine:

U.S. District Judge Janis Graham Jack is incensed at Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott for seizing X-rays, some of which are now missing, that are key to federal and state investigations into potentially fraudulent diagnoses of the lung disease silicosis.

Jack made national headlines last year when she issued an opinion that the majority of more than 10,000 silicosis lawsuits before her were about litigation rather than medical care and that the "diagnoses were driven neither by health nor justice: they were manufactured for money."

...

Four armed agents from Abbott's office visited the storage facility where thousands of X-rays related to the case were being housed on behalf of the federal court with a subpoena June 23, threatening to arrest the storage supervisor if he did not turn them over.

When Jack learned July 5 that the state attorney general's office had removed the X-rays, she ordered the office to return them by noon the following day, according to court records. Forty boxes of X-rays came back, but an inventory by records custodian Gary Cosgrove showed that 152 X-rays are missing.

"Let me tell you that real, real clearly. It may be a criminal matter, and we're going to have to turn this over to the appropriate people," Jack said during an Aug. 11 telephone hearing that included representatives from Abbott's office. "The arrogance of taking those documents from a federal court supervised depository is astounding. You all took documents that did not belong to you, under - with armed guards."


(FYI: DUer David Van Os, labor lawyer and co-founder of the Texas Progressive Populist Caucus, is Greg Abbott's November opponent.)

=================================

That's the post I placed in LBN, above. I've got something snarly to say about it at my place. The early and clear-eyed assessment is that this is an extraordinary action by Abbott, and is a story that will likely intensify in the days and weeks to come. To defy a federal court with four armed marshals and then -- in a matter of less than two weeks -- "lose" some of the confiscated records has an air of incredulity about it. The silicosis cases were controversial to begin with, and this flap adds a new twist.

Help me advance the story by copying, pasting, posting, e-mailing, and commenting on it.
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derby378 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-21-06 08:30 AM
Response to Original message
1. David, where are you? Greg has just handed you his job...
Nail him to the wall in November for all of us!

:toast:
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Lithos Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-21-06 08:54 AM
Response to Reply #1
2. Give him a chance to study this
Edited on Mon Aug-21-06 08:54 AM by Lithos
One great thing I like about David is he considers first about what's really going on and doesn't react like the current AG with a purely political/lobbyist driven response. Yes, Abbott screwed up, but considering the tricky nature of the Federal case and how Abbott does things for lobbyists, it's good to choose ones words carefully here.

Now that said, I'm very much looking forward to his response.

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derby378 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-21-06 08:56 AM
Response to Reply #2
3. Me, too
Something really smells fishy about those missing X-rays...
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PDittie Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Aug-22-06 06:27 AM
Response to Reply #2
13. He's in trial (yesterday and today)
He sent me the article late Sunday evening, and I started posting about here and elsewhere. The news is still breaking, so look for DVO's response later in the week.
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PDittie Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-21-06 10:05 AM
Response to Reply #1
6. Go look in LBN, on the Greatest page
or either of these two places (same posting as here in DU, just spreading it around):

http://brainsandeggs.blogspot.com/2006/08/more-arroganc...

http://comeandtakeit.blogspot.com/2006/08/more-arroganc...


This Republican blog (mostly mild, business and law-oriented, not too freaky) has a link to a New York Sun article with lots of backstory:

http://blog.kir.com/archives/003386.asp
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derby378 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-21-06 10:07 AM
Response to Reply #6
7. Thanks, Dittie
Man, this is serious...
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Czolgosz Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-21-06 08:58 AM
Response to Original message
4. Abbott's armed agents took evidence from the court and then lost it?
Didn't it used to be illegal to tamper with evidence?

I say "used to be illegal" because it appears that Greg Abbott can tamper with evidence and get off scott free.
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sonias Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-21-06 09:47 AM
Response to Reply #4
5. Oh yeah it's illegal to tamper with evidence
We need a higher court to nail his ass. Put the current corporate Texas AG in jail.

Sonia
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Vincardog Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-21-06 01:03 PM
Response to Original message
8. PDittie you beat me. I was just about to post this here. Does anybody want
Edited on Mon Aug-21-06 01:09 PM by Vincardog
body want to Post this on the Activist page? IT sure seems like something that we should get behind and let the whole country know what a POS the current TX AG is.

My favorite part is:


Lance Kutnick, an attorney for the state, said during the same hearing that while he signed the subpoena for the X-rays, he did not know who initiated the order.

Kutnick also said the attorney general's office does not have the X-rays.

"Well, I imagine they don't," Judge Jack replied. "But in the meantime, because of what you've done, they're gone. And these are people's personal X-rays that are absolutely vital to investigations of this case, vital to the people involved in the case. And because of the Attorney General of the State of Texas' malfeasance they're gone."

Contact Jaime Powell at 886-3716 or powellj@ caller.com

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Melissa G Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-21-06 02:10 PM
Response to Original message
9. How nice might it be to have a People's lawyer who actually stood
Edited on Mon Aug-21-06 02:15 PM by Melissa G
up for the people of the great state of Texas as opposed to standing up for those who oppressed them?
We Need David Van Os and Greg is making it even easier for us to give Abbott the Boot!
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sonias Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-21-06 04:27 PM
Response to Original message
10. Texas AG' s' malfeasance
US district judge says:
"And because of the Attorney General of the State of Texas' malfeasance they're gone."

Pretty serious charge I'd say. Someone should look into the money trail. Who is Abbot trying to protect by tampering with that evidence?

Sonia
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Czolgosz Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-21-06 05:10 PM
Response to Original message
11. Please send a letter to the editor of your local newspaper. Sample letter:

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott sent armed men to take critical evidence from a federal court's secure evidence locker. Now Abbott has lost 152 important pieces of evidence which will ruin the chance to prosecute criminal activity and which will ruin some people's right to seek justice in civil courts.

When Abbott was injured by a falling tree branch, Abbott sued for millions of dollars. Since getting his own millions, Abbott has fought against Texans who want the same access to the civil justice system that made Abbott a millionaire. Now, Abbott has lost critical evidence that will spoil civil cases and criminal prosecutions. How would Abbott have felt if some arrogant public official lost the evidence Abbott needed to prove his multi-million dollar lawsuit against a homeowner who had untrimmed tree branches on his property?

Please tell Abbott that he must stop the political grandstanding which has resulted in this evidence tampering and which has caused Texas citizens to pay for lawyers to defend the illegal Tom DeLay ballot scandal. Instead, Abbott should spend his time representing us against the predatory oil and gas pricing, protecting us against insurance monopolies, and investigating complaints against Texas Residential Construction Commission.
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sonias Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-21-06 08:45 PM
Response to Reply #11
12. Right on the money, Czolgosz
Excellent idea and very good letter too!

When Abbott was injured by a falling tree branch, Abbott sued for millions of dollars. Since getting his own millions, Abbott has fought against Texans who want the same access to the civil justice system that made Abbott a millionaire.

This part is so like their "I got mine, you get yours attitude"

Sonia
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Lithos Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Aug-22-06 01:43 PM
Response to Reply #11
14. Good points
Short and sweet. Points out the illegality and hypocrisy.

L-
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PDittie Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Aug-23-06 06:00 AM
Response to Original message
15. "A shocking level of arrogance and disrespect"
The attorney general of the state of Texas has exhibited a total disregard for the rule of law.

U.S. District Judge Janis Graham Jack

Im not surprised. Greg Abbott is part of the silk-stocking social clique that runs Texas government as if it were their private club.

David Van Os

According to a widely reported story, Texas Attorney General Greg Abbotts office forcibly removed x-ray records that were part of pending federal court cases from the federal courts storage facility without the permission of the judge, and 152 of the x-rays have now gone missing.

Abbott sent armed agents to the facility where the records are being stored by the federal court. The agents brought a subpoena and threatened the storage supervisor with arrest if he didnt cooperate. Greg Abbott is a lawyer and an officer of the courts; seizing court records from the courts storage facility without consulting the presiding judge demonstrated a shocking level of arrogance and disrespect, said David Van Os, Democratic candidate for Attorney General and Abbotts challenger in this years general elections.

When Judge Jack learned of the removal of the records on July 5, she ordered Abbott to return the x-rays by the next day at noon. When the records custodian reviewed the records that Abbott returned, he found that 152 x-rays were missing.

Judge Jack was not amused by the Attorney Generals conduct, as quoted from transcripts of an August 11th hearing she conducted:

The arrogance of taking those documents from a federal court-supervised depository is astounding. The attorney general of the state of Texas has exhibited a total disregard for the rule of law by doing this. ...These are peoples personal x-raysand because of the Attorney General of the State of Texas malfeasance, theyre gone.


Van Os, who is taking his whistlestop tour to all 254 Texas counties and speaking in public at every county courthouse, said further:

"Im not surprised by this arrogant conduct. Greg Abbott is part of the silk-stocking social clique that runs Texas government as if it were their private club. This it the same Greg Abbott who lets the Texas Department of Transportation hide its contracts with foreign companies, who uses the taxpayers money to file legal briefs and maps on behalf of the Republican Party, who employs Tom Delays cronies, and who refuses to challenge the oil companies on behalf of the people of Texas. Seizing and then losing working peoples personal medical records from a court file is par for his course.


This kind of thing wont happen when Im Attorney General, Van Os continued. The Texas Attorney Generals office will belong to the public and serve the public as the framers of the Texas Constitution intended.
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Melissa G Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Aug-23-06 09:15 AM
Response to Reply #15
16. AMEN! n/t
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Vincardog Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Aug-23-06 02:34 PM
Response to Original message
17. Has anyone heard that criminal charges have been filed yet?
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David Van Os Donating Member (281 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Aug-23-06 10:49 PM
Response to Original message
18. Par for the course.........
Greg Abbott is a lawyer and an officer of the courts. Seizing federal court records from the court's storage facility without consulting the presiding judge demonstrated a shocking level of arrogance and disrespect.

But this high-handed conduct should not be a surprise. Greg Abbott is part of the silk-stocking Republican social clique that runs Texas government as if it were their private club. This it the same Greg Abbott who lets the Texas Department of Transportation hide its contracts with foreign companies, who uses the taxpayers' money to file legal briefs and maps on behalf of the Republican Party, who employs Tom Delay's cronies, and who refuses to challenge the oil companies on behalf of the people of Texas. Seizing and then losing working people's personal medical records from a court file is par for his course.

DVO

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redqueen Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Aug-24-06 09:39 AM
Response to Reply #18
19. Unlike those issues, this has the potential to stay visible in the news...
Edited on Thu Aug-24-06 09:40 AM by redqueen
time for some LTTE's, I think!

:kick:
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jobycom Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Aug-24-06 10:13 AM
Response to Original message
20. Can I make a suggestion concerning political use of this?
Just my thoughts--Texans (Southerners in general) tend to like politicians who act tough, especially against the federal government. Abbot could spin this as him standing up to the federal government or the liberal, activist courts, or some such emotional John Wayne nonsense, and could get some mileage from it, or at least neutralize DVO's attacks on it, as long as he's not under federal indictment. Heck, even if he wound up under federal indictment, he'd blame the liberal courts and still might make a decent fight of it.

But the side of the equation that Texans WILL react to is the missing photos side. If I were David Van Os (and I ain't even close!), I'd focus on that. Texans hate corrupt politicians and tend to distrust the system. DVO should focus on the missing x-rays, asking WHY they are missing, WHO Abbot is breaking the law to protect, WHO ordered him to do this? Is he corrupt on his own, or is the whole darned government around him corrupt, too? He coldn't phrase it that baldly, of course, but he could campaign on that issue in a way that makes voters ask themselves that question, without DVO having to frame it that way. If he and the rest of the Dem slate play this right, they could hurt the whole Repub ticket with it--play it up as part of the Republican arrogance of power across the nation.

I'm not saying ignore the "interfering with federal courts" angle by any means, just that the issue needs to be framed in terms of corruption, not ignoring federal courts. Texans hate the first of those, but some might view the second as heroic if Abbot frames it right.

Again, just my thoughts. Probably wrong, as always.
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