The following is a press release from the Aransas County District Attorney’s office provided by Aransas County District Attorney Kristen Barnebey.

The Pilot is working on a story for its weekend edition pertaining to this situation

“On July 28 the Aransas County District Attorney’s (ACDA) office made the decision to stop accepting all cases with Rockport Police Department (RPD) patrolman Chad Books listed as a witness, responding officer or arresting officer.

“The ACDA can no longer support Brook’s testimony becasue of his deliberate decision to withhold evidence from our office.

“Additionally, Brooks has continued to engage in the unethical behavior of profiling defendants with whom he has had previous contact and he has secretly recorded a trial preparation meeting with our office.

“When confronted with Brooks’ misconduct, the chief of police (Tim Jayroe) expressed that he, too, would not turn over the secretly recorded video. Unfortunately, this statement demonstrates a clear lack of understanding by the RPD about the Texas discovery laws and the duty to disclose information provided by those laws.

“Each prosecutor swears an oath under Texas Code of Criminal Procedure, Art. 2.01, ‘not to convict, but to see that justice is done.’ What you rarely hear quoted is the next sentence: ‘They shall not suppress evidence or secrete witnesses capable of establishing the innocence of the accused.’

“When law enforcement will not uphold the law, prosecutors must step forward and ensure the law is being followed and unethical officers are not being put before the judge and jury as credible witnesses.

“Chad Brooks has shown a pattern of untrustworthy behavior, including circumventing the rules of court and not representing the facts accurately in his reports, and we have exhausted all our remedies in correcting these issues with him internally. Further, Brooks has engaged in activity, which cannot be disclosed due to ongoing investigations.

“Three weeks ago we informed Brooks’ superiors of his secret recording and reminded them of our previous communications of issues with RPD officers. Again, we provided the laws and stated that all evidence had to be turned over pursuant to the Morton Act. The chief of the RPD then stated that he, too, would not have followed Texas laws and only complied with the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure now that he has been exposed by members of his own department.

“After hearing (by his own admission) that the chief had also deliberately withheld evidence, the ACDA reported this situation to the Rockport mayor (C.J. Wax) and city manager (Kevin Carruth). Still, nothing was done to correct the behaviors and disregard for the law described above. This lack of appropriate action is a disservice to defendants, victims, the criminal justice system and, ultimately, our entire community.

“In a letter that was provided today (Tuesday, Aug. 15) and signed by Brooks yesterday, we were told that he was disciplined for engaging in the unethical recording. That letter, however, does not describe any disciplinary action, nor ensure that the RPD is in compliance with the discovery laws, nor address the potential education of Brooks as a officer or witness; so, unfortunately, it appears the RPD continues to attempt to cover up the situation instead of correcting either the patrolman’s - or the chief of police’s – knowledge and behavior.

“The RPD needs to make significant changes in the education and training of its officers and our office cannot stand by status quo, prosecuting cases that may or may not be good cases.

“We believe in the law and we are sworn to uphold it. Sadly, this flagrant disregard for the law and lack of willingness to correct the action of patrolman Brooks and the RPD leaves the ACDA’s office with no other choice.

“As of today, August 15, 2017, the ACDA’s office will not accept any cases submitted by the RPD until an improvement plan is in place and we have their complete assurance that we will receive accurate case reports and ALL evidence in a timely and professional manner every single time.”

(2) comments

Nine Bears

District Attorney Barneby is 100% correct in what she is saying and doing as described in her press release. The obligation of police officers, police departments and District Attorneys and their assistants to turn over ALL evidence to criminal defense attorneys well before trial has been the law since 1963 when the U.S. Supreme Court decided Brady v. Maryland, 373 U.S. 83.

I've got no personal complaints at all about the Rockport Police Department but I do expect them to comply with criminal case discovery obligations under Federal and Texas law. The reason is an important one. I pay a whole lot of sales tax and real estate tax to the City of Rockport.

I do not want my tax money wasted on paying for plaintiff's attorneys fees and plaintiff's damage verdicts when the City and one or two of its cops are sued in Federal civil rights and police misconduct litigation in the U.S. District Court in Corpus Christi, where the jury panels are likely to NOT reflect the population composition of Rockport. It's a pro-plaintiff court without doubt and there's no way for the City of Rockport to move a Federal civil rights/police misconduct lawsuit against it to another more friendly venue.

If a plaintiff's lawyer can prove that violation of a criminal case defendant's right to prompt disclosure of Brady discovery materials occurred because of a management decision by someone in the Rockport Police Department, then the plaintiff's lawyer can plead a "Monell Claim" and the city itself becomes financially liable to pay the plaintiff's monetary damages and the plaintiff's attorneys fees.

Plaintiff's attorneys fees in Federal court litigation over police misconduct are generally very high. In one such case I saw 20 years ago, the plaintiff's attorney recovered $750,000 in attorneys fees because the city where I lived, and two of its cops, were found by a Federal jury to be guilty of police misconduct.

Again, that's my taxpayer money and your taxpayer money which will go out the door in payment of a not-theoretical money judgment against our city if two or more people employed our city's police department are so arrogant they don't think the Morton Act and Brady disclosure obligations applies to them.

In the last year I've read about a Federal judge in another state saying he was forced to set 2 drug cartel men free on the day they were to be tried, because a U.S. Attorney and his employees utterly failed to disclose exculpatory Brady evidence to their lawyers. I do not want that to happen in Rockport if a dangerous, violent person is arrested but is set free because our local police department will not follow Federal and Texas law.

The job of the Rockport Police Department and its sworn police officers is to
"protect" the people of Rockport. First and foremost is their obligation to protect Rockport taxpayers' pocketbooks from higher taxes to pay for attorneys fees and money damages arising out of Federal litigation due to police misconduct, especially misconduct arising out of failure to disclose to the District Attorney every shred of paper and electronic information conceivably related to a criminal case. It's the law whether the Rockport Police or any of us like it or not.

sail

Nine Bears make a rational logical economic argument as to merits of the Rockport Police Department (RPD) following , or not following, established investigative law. The potential financial punishment inflicted is significant and, ias always, a burden borne by taxpayers, i.e., visitors contributing significantly via sales and occupancy fees, and "locals" in coughing up a sizable chunk of change to reside in, and around, Rockport.

Notably the Rockport Police Department reaches a population well beyond the corporate limits of Rockport. An impacted population well beyond the confines of Aransas County. Texas citizens deserve protection and enforcement of established law, which makes it even more grievous that the Texas Attorney General's Office is not playing a more conspicuous role in this matter!

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.