Smith County District Attorney Matt Bingham
The Tyler Morning Telegraph strikes again, this time excoriating District Attorney Matt Bingham
Sorry it took me so long to get to this. But I've been kind of busy lately and I had to mull this one over to figure out what might be going on:
Ah, Smith County, Texas--where you can get 35 years in prison for possession of marijuana, but under the right circumstances, attempt to murder your spouse with a gun, injure a child...and suffer no consequences! What this is about is that last year Constable Henry Jackson's wife Maraland tried to murder him by shooting him. Astonishingly, the bullet went right through old Henry, missing any vital organs, but struck and injured the couple's 5 year-old granddaughter. Am I making myself clear, here? A five year-old child was injured and could have been killed because of Mrs. Jackson's attempt to murder her husband! There was prima facie evidence that a potentially deadly assault occurred, witnesses confirmed that Mrs. Jackson was the assailant, and the woman herself freely admitted that she intended to kill her husband.
Oh, yeah--did I mention that a child was injured?
Yet District Attorney Matt Bingham and his minions didn't get an indictment from the grand jury. Notice I didn't say "couldn't." As the editorial points out, the grand jury system in Texas is a joke. It exists primarily to rubber-stamp felony prosecutions. As one seasoned prosecutor once pointed out, "a grand jury would indict a ham sandwich, if that's what you wanted." Murder attempt, child injured (Did I mention that already?) and a confession from the defendant. Slam dunk, right? There are only three plausible explanations as to why this happened: 1. The grand jury is choc-full-o-idiots. Maybe--this is Smith County, Texas; 2. The prosecutor who handled this case screwed the pooch, and 3. Matt Bingham and/or his underlings did not want an indictment! Bingham's excuse? That Constable Henry Jackson and other family members did not want Mrs. Jackson to be prosecuted. When the hell has that kind of thing ever stopped Bingham from prosecuting in the past? Of course Constable Jackson doesn't want to be dragged into court: Maraland's motive for trying to kill him was that she thought he had--or was having--an affair! (The importance of that little bit of information will become apparent later in this discussion!)
Allright, maybe the DA doesn't really want to want to prosecute this case. Fine. Why not just drop the charges? Here's why: If Maraland Jackson injures or kills anyone else in the future and the public cries bloody murder (literally) then they can say that they presented the case to the grand jury, which refused to indict her. But the unanswered question her is why not prosecute? After all, the newspaper and therefore many Smith County residents are up in arms about this. (I did mention that the defendant injured a child, right?) Why would Bingham want this case to just go away?
Okay, much of the rest of the stuff in this post is theory and conjecture, and is not being presented as factual. But, let's connect the theoretical dots. In 2008, Constable Henry Jackson was indicted for seven felony counts of tampering with government records and was also charged for three misdemeanor counts of official oppression related to allegations of sexual harassment. The "tampering with records" accusations stemmed from allegations that Jackson falsified employment records to conceal the fact that some of his deputies had been working for his private security firm while they were getting paid by the county. Yet Jackson got off with a deal in which he pled guilty to two misdemeanors, didn't get any jail time, but had his law enforcement license suspended for six months. Why did he get off so easy? Who the hell knows? But I think the sexual harassment allegations may be pertinent to how Mrs. Jackson's case was handled. You see, if Maraland's case went to trial, both the prosecution and the defense would be very interested in Mrs. Jackson's motive for trying to kill her husband, which was that she thought he had an affair. And now, because of certain bloggers and new management at the newspaper, more people are paying attention to what is going on in the courts and in county government. Inevitably, Henry's old case from 2008 would come up and people would start asking the same questions I'm asking here, putting Bingham is a less than favorable light.
Who'd want to cheat on such a lovely woman?
But why would Bingham care about his public image? He said way back in 2015 that he was not going to run for DA again. Retiring? Going into private practice? Maybe, but I doubt it, given that he is still kind of young to retire and the average income for attorneys in private practice is, well, pathetic. Ahh--here's where it gets interesting.
A horrifying theory emerges
Again what follows is theory, and I am not presenting any of this as factual. So let me adjust my tinfoil hat and I'll keep going.
Okay, in 2015, Bingham said he wasn't going to run again. Then his First Assistant, April Sikes, said she was going to run for DA in 2018. My initial thought was that 241'st District Judge Jack Skeen would retire during his current term, and the politically astute Matt Bingham would get the governor to appoint him to the bench. Sikes would in turn seek the governor's appointment to fill Bingham's vacated seat. Everybody moves up a notch without the inconvenience--and potential embarrassment--of an election and we're all happy, right?
But then something weird happened.
This March, Skeen announced that he was going to try to serve another term. In April, Sikes suddenly announced that she wasn't going to run. My little theoretical house of cards came tumbling down. Okay, but I thought maybe Bingham would change is mind and stay on as DA, and the whole time line would just get pushed forward by several years. But the fly in that ointment is that Bingham has not submitted any campaign filings and has not raised any money for an upcoming campaign. Good, I thought. We are stuck with Skeen for another 4 years but Bingham and his Stellvertreterin, April Sikes, ride off into the sunset or whatever. Furthermore, Skeen is morbidly obese and his face turns beet red when he is angry, so maybe nature will take care of him for us.
I was feeling okay about this situation, although I was wondering just what happened. Then a few days ago, a commenter presented a horrifying and plausible theory that might explain this: Donald Trump is what happened.
Don't let me lose you here. Follow the time line and it will probably dawn on you before you get to the end.
- January 2017: Donald Trump is inaugurated.
- February 2017: Trump's pick for U.S. Attorney General, Jeff Sessions, is confirmed. Soon thereafter he announces that he is going to be "tough on crime," vows to re-invigorate the "war on drugs," and orders all U.S. Attorneys to pursue the maximum sentences for federal crimes, including drug cases. He also tells all of the Obama-appointed U.S. Attorneys to take a hike, leaving God-knows how many of those offices vacant.
- March 2017: Skeen announces he wants to stay on the bench
- April 2017: April Sikes announces she will not run for DA.
Are you seeing it yet?
Is Matt Bingham gunning for a U.S. Attorney position? I laughed at first, but the more I thought about it, the more it made sense. He could give Sikes a Job. He would fit right in in Sessions' new draconian "lock-em all up and throw away the key" culture. Furthermore, think about the lure of all of those (unconstitutional) seizures of citizens' money and property via the "civil forfeiture" process! And, he'd have a steady, prestigious job for at least the next four years.
|Ah, the U.S. Constitution. I sure am going to miss it!|
Feel a chill going down your spine yet? Well then think about a few more things. Imagine what Matt Bingham might do once he is well-ensconced in the Department of Justice with its seemingly unlimited resources and unfettered power. Consider the fact that one of the districts up for grabs is the Eastern District of Texas. If Bingham took that spot, we could give up any hope that any local officials would ever be prosecuted in the federal system for things like corruption and civil rights violations.
Be afraid, sheeple of Smith County. Be VERY afraid.