Pubdate: Wed, 25 Sep 2002
Source: Dallas Morning News (TX)
Copyright: 2002 The Dallas Morning News
Author:  Clark Birdsall


Two years ago, I investigated and prosecuted corrupt police officers 
Quentis Roper and Daniel Maples for falsely arresting and stealing from 
Dallas citizens. I was recently asked by a reporter if I thought there were 
citizens still wrongly imprisoned by the actions of these two officers and 
had the audacity to say I thought so. Regrettably, and unbeknownst to me at 
the time, First Assistant Mike Carnes turned heads by voicing his own 
opinion that it wasn't the job of Dallas County District Attorney Bill 
Hill's office to worry about wrongly imprisoned citizens ("False drug 
convictions may linger," Sept. 8). Mr. Carnes and Mr. Hill, after receiving 
a frank exchange of views from Dallas citizenry, have now decided it is 
unquestionably the DA's duty to worry about just such issues.

And in fact, now that they're thinking about it, they remember delegating 
this duty to (eeney meeny miney mo) . . . Birdsall ("DA seeks justice," by 
Michael P. Carnes, Letters, Sept. 20). Yeah, it was Birdsall. This is a 
brilliant strategy on their part: by painting me as an incompetent or 
worse, they lessen the public impact of my concerns and their own poorly 
chosen words. The only problem with this is none of it's true. I was never 
asked to review any cases filed by these corrupt officers.

I probably need to hold a finger up to the political winds before I answer 
certain questions to certain reporters on certain topics in the future, but 
I will not be the scapegoat for these gentlemen.

Pending cases were evaluated and dismissed by drug section chief Gregg 
Long, not me. I'm unclear as to when Mr. Hill and Mr. Carnes thought I was 
doing all this reviewing since they had transferred me to the Civil 
Division four months before the Roper trial and brought me back for the 
trial only.

After Officer Roper's conviction, I realized that Gregg Long had missed a 
dismissal against one of my testifying witnesses, a Roper victim, since he 
had been convicted before Mr. Long had started his review. I figured out 
how to get the citizen released from prison and then I left, never to return.

Since I'm now mad . . . fast forward to the present day "fake drug" 
scandal. If Mr. Hill is as interested in justice as he now claims, what 
about Jaime Chavez? Jaime is no drug dealer, but had the bad luck to be 
with two people who were. When all three got arrested, the two real drug 
dealers had the money to bond out, did so and fled. And yet, irony of 
ironies, their cases were among those Mr. Hill reviewed and dismissed.

Meanwhile Jaime, who couldn't bond out, was dragged to trial, convicted and 
sentenced to 15 years in prison by a jury with no inkling as to the 
credibility problems of now-disgraced informant Enrique Alonzo. And where 
is Mr. Hill on this? Instead of getting Jaime out of prison, he tells his 
lawyer Juan Sanchez to appeal if he doesn't like it.

Clark Birdsall, former chief, Public Integrity Division, Dallas County 
District Attorney's Office, Dallas
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