Arson Indictment Dismissed for Texas State Supreme Court Justice and Wife
Texas State Supreme Court Justice David Medina has become entangled in a legal mess of his own doing, one that affects his personal life primarily but one that has since bled over into his status as a Texas Supreme Court justice.
And now, that justice system is drawing criticism from those who would like to see Medina brought to justice in the same way that any other man in Texas would be, instead of what has been perceived of as favorable treatment by many involved in the case.
On June 28th of last year, David Medina and his wife allegedly burned down their home in suburban Houston, a blaze that also damaged a neighbor’s house in the process and caused more than $1 million in damages. It was Medina’s wife who was charged with the arson, while David Medina was charged with evidence tampering.
In trial, the Medinas’ criminal defense denied wrongdoing in the incident, though the suspicious cast over the fire was fairly compelling. County Fire Marshal officials have ruled out electrical or other accidental sources as the fire’s origin, since a dog detected an accelerant at the scene.
Further, a mortgage company sued the Medinas in June 2006 in order to start foreclosure on the home. Ironically, the financial problems that led to the threat of foreclosure also resulted in a lapse of the house’s insurance policy, meaning that losses from the fire were not covered by insurance. Insurance fraud is one of the most common motives behind arson, especially of one’s own property.
A grand jury in Harris County, where the Medinas reside, ruled to indict the Medinas on the counts presented. However, State District Judge Brian Rains dismissed the charges a day later, at the request of Harris County District Attorney Chuck Rosenthal, who stated that the evidence was not sufficient to support the charges brought against the couple.
Many involved in the case, including the grand jury foreman, Robert Ryan, see the dismissal as a grave violation of justice. Ryan suggested that “political pressure” is the obvious cause of the abrupt and illogical dismissal, with both Judge Rains and Justice Medina belonging to the Republican Party.
Whether or not Ryan’s assertions prove to be accurate or not, we’ll likely never know. But certainly Rosenthal’s scandal-plagued background gives rise to concern over his motives in requesting dismissal of the case. Earlier in the month, Rosenthal was forced off the GOP ballot for reelection after dozens of personal e-mails were published in an unrelated case. These e-mails included pornography, racist humor, “love notes” to a secretary, as well as campaign-related notes on a company computer, which would be a violation of election laws.
The Medinas are not completely off the hook, it seems, but prosecuting attorneys have their hands full after this latest battle that seems to reek of political favors, according to some.