Texas Attorney General Releases Statement Supporting Justice of the Peace in Dispute with the Freedom From Religion Foundation.
March 23, 2017) Montgomery County, Texas includes many of the suburbs north of the City of Houston in the Southeast part of the state. A Justice of the Peace there, Wayne Mack has a guest chaplain program. These volunteers offer support and counsel at the scene of death investigations. These volunteers are also called upon to lead a brief prayer at the beginning of Judge Mack’s court proceedings.
Last year Texas Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick asked the Attorney General for a legal opinion on Judge Mack’s practices. It is worth noting that Lt. Governor Patrick has always enjoyed a large amount of support from Texas’ Pro Family/Christian Conservative movement. So it is likely that he requested the opinion to grant Judge Mack a degree of legal cover, not to stop the practices. In August of last year AG Paxton released opinion KP-0109. In this six page opinion AG Paxton held that Judge Mack’s actions were in line with the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Town of Greece V. Galloway, and other precedents, and therefore were not in violation of the state of federal constitutions.
On this past Tuesday March 21st. The Freedom From Religion Foundation filed suit against Judge Mack seeking to end his use of chaplains. Paxton responded the following day with an official statement saying
“Judge Mack is fully complying with the Constitution by adhering to the model for opening prayers the Supreme Court endorsed just a few years ago,” Attorney General Paxton said. “The Freedom from Religion Foundation’s quest to expunge any vestige of religion from public life flies in the face of the Supreme Court’s holdings. I am confident our courts will follow years of precedents and not indulge a litigious group’s plea to rewrite the Constitution.”
HOUSTON, April 14, 2016 /Christian Newswire/ — Today, Texas attorneys for undercover journalist David Daleiden filed a “motion to quash,” that is, to dismiss the pair of indictments that Houston county prosecutors secured last January from a Harris County, Texas, grand jury, charging Daleiden with crimes – both a felony and a misdemeanor – for his actions he took in Texas in connection with the Planned Parenthood baby parts trafficking exposé. Thomas More Society president and chief counsel, Tom Brejcha, together with special counsel Peter Breen, have also appeared in Daleiden’s criminal case in Houston, and will be joining Texas counsel in defense of Daleiden’s due process rights in the Harris County, Texas, 338th District Criminal Court.
These criminal charges against Daleiden in Houston dominated national headlines last January because the grand jury that returned the indictments against Daleiden and his associate, Sandra Merritt, had been convened at the urging of Texas Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick to investigate potential criminal wrongdoing by Planned Parenthood, and not the pro-life investigators. But the grand jurors “jumped the track.” Rather than indict America’s largest abortion provider for illegal acts (e.g., selling aborted baby parts for profit and altering abortion methods to yield more profitable “specimens” for tissue procurement firms, etc.) that most observers deemed “gruesome and barbaric,” the grand jury cast a blind eye at Planned Parenthood, reportedly “clearing” it of wrongdoing, while instead leveling criminal charges against Daleiden and Merritt.
The grand jury that was convened in September 2015 for the specific purpose of hearing the evidence against the abortion provider had taken no action by December, when its term lapsed. It was “held over” to conduct further proceedings into 2016, but without any specific guidance or directions.
On January 14, 2016, Daleiden had testified before this “held over” grand jury, with the presumption that they were, as directed, investigating and targeting Planned Parenthood. Eleven days later, following his testimony, the District Attorney’s office announced the return of the indictments against Daleiden via press release, and made these charges immediately available on the internet for public consumption.
According to the motion to quash, which was filed in Harris County criminal court this morning, this holdover transaction, compounded other irregularities relating to acquisition of evidence and improper disclosure of secret grand jury matters. These issues have compromised Daleiden’s legal rights and the motion calls for suppression of the grand jury’s charges.
“The irregularities in the case were manifold,” said Peter Breen. “The abuses occurring during and after the grand jury’s proceedings were in gross violation of Mr. Daleiden’s right to due process under the Texas Constitution as well as his statutory rights,” Breen explained. Breen added that in addition to the grand jury taking actions for which they did not have proper authority, prosecutors violated the law by systematically leaking information to unauthorized persons.
About the Thomas More Society
The Thomas More Society is a national not-for-profit law firm dedicated to restoring respect in law for life, family, and religious liberty. Headquartered in Chicago, the Thomas More Society fosters support for these causes by providing high quality pro bono legal services from local trial courts all the way up to the United States Supreme Court. For more information, visit www.thomasmoresociety.org.