The Magazine

A Not So Grand Jury

Sep 1, 2014, Vol. 19, No. 47 • By TERRY EASTLAND
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The indictment of Rick Perry does not follow the usual template in public corruption cases. That is, it is not a “prejudicial” indictment that sets forth at length a story of criminality by some especially venal public servant. Rather, the indictment is short, just two pages, spare on facts, and treats the governor with respect.

No one knows what else the special prosecutor, Michael McCrum, might have found. He says he conducted more than 40 interviews before presenting his case, and it could be that he has other information that better fits the laws he’s working with. One grand juror (a prejudicial one, you think?) told the Houston Chronicle last week that the still-favorable impression of Perry across the state would change “if and when the facts come out.”

Based on what is actually known so far, however, Texas v. Perry is a troubling case from the standpoint of the separation of powers and of a politics in which freedom of speech is vigorously protected within government and the citizenry. It is a case that should have been declined by the prosecutor, just as it now should be tossed by the judge handling the case, if only because of the inapposite nature of the laws on which it rests.

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