Pubdate: Sun, 02 May 2004
Source: Dallas Morning News (TX)
Copyright: 2004 The Dallas Morning News
Author: Robert Tharp, The Dallas Morning News


Attorney Has Worked With Team Leader on Previous Cases

The special prosecutor investigating a series of bogus drug arrests in
2001 has brought in a longtime friend and trial partner to help
prepare and conduct criminal trials that result from the ongoing

David Lewis is the second deputy special prosecutor to join attorney
Dan Hagood's special investigation. The 52-year-old former state and
federal prosecutor, who is now in private practice, was sworn in by
District Judge John Nelms shortly after the indictments of two Dallas
police officers last month.

Mr. Lewis said Friday that he agreed to join the team because of the
seriousness of the allegations, which already have been the subject of
a two-year federal investigation.

"I think the case is important for Dallas to get a resolution to this
fiasco," he said.

Mr. Hagood, who was appointed by District Attorney Bill Hill in
December, and Mr. Lewis worked together as assistant district
attorneys in the early 1980s and teamed up as defense attorneys in
some high-profile Dallas County trials in the 1990s.

The two men represented an East Dallas homeowner who fatally shot a
vagrant man going through trash at the curb of the homeowner's house.
The homeowner was acquitted of murder in June 2000.

They teamed up again that same year, successfully defending a former
Woodrow Wilson High School band director accused of molesting a
17-year-old male student.

"Dan and I have ridden shotgun with each other many, many times," Mr.
Lewis said.

In February, Houston defense attorney Jack Zimmerman was appointed to
help investigate whether any laws were broken by attorneys,
prosecutors or judges related to the bogus cases.

Some questions remain about how soon prosecutors learned that the
seized substances were not real drugs and whether anyone continued to
prosecute cases after learning about the problems.

Mr. Hagood said at the time that it was important to bring in an
attorney without Dallas County ties to avoid any appearance of a
conflict of interest.

2001 busts

The investigation stems from a series of large drug busts in 2001 in
which confidential informants working with Dallas narcotics officers
planted fake drugs on innocent people.

Those arrested - primarily poor Mexican immigrants - spent months in
jail, and some pleaded guilty to offenses they didn't commit so they
could be released.

Three confidential informants have pleaded guilty to federal civil
rights charges and have admitted planting fake drugs on innocent
people. The informants were paid nearly $300,000 from the police for
their help, although the men dispute receiving all of the money and
their attorneys question whether the Police Department's documents are

In November, former Dallas Officer Mark Delapaz was acquitted on
federal civil rights charges alleging that he lied in police reports
about witnessing drug transactions that never occurred.

New indictments

Mr. Delapaz and former Officer Jeff Haywood were indicted April 15 on
multiple state charges of tampering with physical evidence. The
indictments charge that Mr. Delapaz lied in police reports and that
Mr. Haywood lied about conducting field tests of the seized substances.

If convicted, the men face up to 10 years in prison and a $10,000 fine
for the third-degree felony charges.

The grand jury hearing testimony about the scandal continues to meet,
and more indictments are possible.

On Thursday, the panel heard testimony from Layne Jackson, a
drug-court prosecutor, and defense attorney Cynthia Barbare, who
represented several people who were charged with possessing illegal
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