Did Paul Howard fraudulently issue grand jury subpoenas against the two officers in the Rayshard Brooks case — and touch off weeks of violence and “blue flu”? The local Fox News affiliate reported a few days ago that Georgia attorney general has asked the state’s Bureau of Investigation to find out how Howard managed to issue the subpoenas when the grand jury was not in session. The GBI had already opened a probe into Howard for an alleged kickback scheme with former mayor Kasim Reed, and it also adds to the tension between the Fulton County DA and the GBI:
But, the I-Team has learned there was more to Howard’s investigation. We obtained a copy of a Grand Jury subpoena, sent from Howard’s office to the Atlanta Police department isntructing them to turn over its “open investigation regarding Garrett Rolfe and the use of force incident.”
The subpoena required that the documents be turned over for the “Grand Jury, June/July term on the of 14th day of July.” Other grand jury subpoenas were issued for phone and surveillance camera videos.
But there is a problem. How can the grand jury issue these subpoenas when there is no grand jury. It had been suspended on March 13 because of the COVID-19 pandemic. And, legal experts we’ve talked to say Howard’s grand jury subpoena with no grand jury in session could be an ethical or possibly criminal issue.
Don’t forget that Howard short-circuited the GBI in charging the two officers with homicide in the case. The GBI publicly objected to that move, announcing that their investigation into the Brooks shooting had not yet reached its conclusion. Howard’s decision to indict got widespread criticism as a rush to judgment for political purposes, and Atlanta police walked off the job in protest. There still is a lack of available officers, and crime has exploded in Atlanta in the meantime, with Gov. Brian Kemp calling up the National Guard to quell the violence.
The Fox affiliate first reported the new probe on Friday. By last night, Howard was on his third explanation of the subpoenas, all of which contradict each other:
Explanation Number one: Pines points out that Howard told the Fulton County Daily report the subpoenas were sent out for a potential “future grand jury.”
Explanation Number two: Howard later told FOX 5 an employee thought a “past grand jury” was still in session.
Explanation Number three: Friday Howard issued a third statement saying wait – it was neither – there was actually a second grand jury all along that hadn’t been dismissed and was still available.
That second grand jury’s legal term had already ended when the subpoenas were issued.
D’oh! Looks like Howard may have to work on Explanation Number Four. Perhaps this time, Howard might try checking on his alibis. If this is representative of the detective work done in Howard’s office, perhaps some outside media might start asking Fulton County voters how they managed to put Inspector Clouseau into that office.
This is more serious than funny, of course, and it points up just how political the indictment against the two officers was and is. Howard didn’t do a legitimate investigation; he didn’t even wait for the evidence or the actual legitimate investigation. Howard cooked the books to issue an indictment in his own personal political interest, not in the interest of justice. And that cooking is very likely to lead to the dismissal of the case no matter what its merits:
”It absolutely looks like the District Attorney’s Office is attempting to sort of cover up their mistakes with band aids that aren’t really staying on very well,” said Jessica Gable Cino.
Cino is a law professor at Georgia State University. She says all three of Paul Howard’s explanations for sending out grand jury subpoenas with no grand jury seemingly in place conflict with each other, and none of them make legal sense.
“For all intents of purposes right now it looks like there’s an abuse of process which could completely derail this case, and nobody wants that outcome,” said Cino.
An abuse of process? Certainly seems that way, but for what purpose? Well, it certainly allowed Howard to paint himself as a Black Lives Matter hero — which would be a convenient distraction for voters from the alleged kickback investigation by the same GBI Howard short-circuited. Now we have incompetence on top of alleged corruption, however, and Howard hasn’t yet learned the First Rule of Holes. Wouldn’t it be ironic if Garrett Rolfe went back to law enforcement, and Howard ended up facing twelve in the box?