Robert Wilonsky should have qualified the statement of "the crowd" ["waiting to tear Mark Aguirre apart with their boos"] to "most of the crowd" or "the majority of the crowd." I was there the night my all-time favorite Maverick Mark Aguirre ["Rebound," August 20] came back to play in a Detroit uniform. We yelled out our support, and I am positive that I heard other fans clapping and calling out good wishes to Mark. As a fan from the first Mavericks game ever, I still have a great respect for Mark as well as Ro, Derek, James Donaldson, Sam Perkins, and all those players who gave their hearts and souls to the game and the fans in the early years. Thanks for sharing the good sides of Mark, a very generous man to people who are his friends and to the fans who adore him.
When I first picked up the August 13 issue of the Observer, the first thing I read was the extremely thorough report "Toxic justice." Later, I read Julie Lyons' editorial piece regarding the experience the Observer staff had with Fred Baron. It was her comment about "a decidedly low-energy grand jury investigation" that prompts me to write. As a member of the grand jury panel (that's why I sign this "Anonymous"), I am here to say it was a "no-energy" grand jury investigation.
Not that what I have to add means much. It just burns my "hinie" to see Fred Baron state that he and his firm were cleared by the "Dallas County grand jury." Better to say that he was cleared by the Dallas County District Attorney's Office.
The grand jury panel I served on was first introduced to this matter in mid-February of this year by Assistant District Attorney Mike Gillett, the same week that WFAA-Channel 8 reported [state District] Judge John Marshall's grand jury referral. Mike rather sheepishly mentioned the matter at the end of one of our sessions to see whether we had an interest in receiving the referral. I believe he or someone had already discussed it with the foreman of our jury panel and had a feeling that the referral was going to be received by us regardless. Following a brief explanation from Gillett, the panel, at the urging of our foreman, agreed to receive the referral. After that, all information came from our foreman, who demonstrated considerable interest and excitement about the "very serious matter" that had been dropped in our laps. Over the next several weeks, we would ask about the referral, and the foreman would respond by handing out more copies of various documents (I have a box in my study that must contain approximately 2,000 pages) that he had reviewed and had gotten copied by Cecil Emerson's reluctant staff. Our foreman asked us to read this "stuff" so that we could get up to speed on this "very serious matter." All along, our foreman would remind us of our oath of office and that we might be contacted by people outside of our panel who would be very anxious to know what we were doing. He cautioned us not even to discuss it with the grand jury support staff, including Cecil Emerson's legal staff.
As our term was approaching expiration, the subject came up about extending the term of our service to continue our consideration of this "very serious matter." By then, my premonition not to waste any time reading the copies of documents was bearing some fruit, as I felt there were political factors at work that would preclude a real grand jury investigation. Particularly obvious was the lack of commitment of resources by the DA's office. During our final few meetings in March, we asked our foreman, "What the hell is going on with Judge Marshall's referral? What the hell do you mean extend our term for another 90 days? When is the District Attorney going to assign someone of ability and authority to bring us witnesses and evidence, if this is such a serious matter?"
The last week of our regular term, we were introduced to Luke Madole, an assistant district attorney, who we were told was to lead the investigation. We were also told that our term would be extended for an additional 90 days. Luke was introduced as a bright young attorney who had recently joined John Vance's staff after a very successful career with a large law firm. Supposedly, money was not a problem: Luke just wanted the experience of working in a large district attorney's office. After a few opening remarks by Luke that consisted of his saying he knew absolutely nothing about the matter, the panel agreed to meet on April 15 for the first session, which was to be devoted solely to the Judge Marshall referral. To summarize, for a month and a half, the district attorney's office did nothing with the referral.
On April 15, the panel met with Luke Madole in what was essentially an unofficial meeting. No witnesses were presented, no evidence was presented or discussed, no record was made of the meeting. Luke talked about several theories he had about the matter and let it be known that he had received considerable contact from Baron & Budd representatives wanting to know what we were doing. He also said others from the legal profession had expressed their interest and offered assistance. He indicated the possibility that the U.S. Attorney's Office was looking into the same matter. The panel offered Luke considerable encouragement that it wanted to get on with the investigation. It was decided that the grand jury panel would meet on May 6, but that meeting was canceled by the district attorney's office. A later meeting scheduled for May 20 was canceled by Luke Madole the afternoon before. No other meetings were scheduled, and our grand jury term was allowed to expire without further explanation or contact on June 30.
Thank you for letting me get this off my chest.
Editor's note: The Dallas Observer typically doesn't publish anonymous letters of this nature. But the letter contains so much detailed, apparently factual information that we showed a copy to Bill Alexander, foreman of the grand jury in question. Alexander says the letter was written by someone who clearly was a member of the panel, and adds, "I endorse everything he said." Alexander says he did not write the letter himself.
Alexander also says he was the one who provided the 2,000 pages of documents, which included transcripts of civil hearings on the Terrell memo in Ohio, Texas, and Kentucky, as well as appellate proceedings.
He won't comment further on the grand jury's actions, but says, "The bottom line is, the FBI is actively investigating this. Their investigation involves bankruptcy fraud in other states. The grand jury in Dallas didn't have the long-arm jurisdiction to handle this."
The Observer also provided a copy of this letter to Assistant District Attorney Mike Gillett. He sent the following written statement:
"My first impression was not to respond to a letter from an unnamed source critical of our office and Luke Madole. I believe the public understands the difference between efforts to generate news and reporting it. That is why we initially had decided not to respond. However, to set the record straight regarding the facts and Luke Madole, a response appears necessary.
"The facts are straightforward. The Baron & Budd memorandum was the subject of a requested grand jury investigation by Judge John Marshall. It was given to the grand jury after being left without explanation on a desk in our Intake Division. The grand jury initially decided to comply with the request, understanding that its jurisdiction was limited to offenses occurring in Dallas County. Judge Marshall had suspected that the memorandum might have been used in a civil case within our jurisdiction, because it had allegedly been used in a civil case in Corpus Christi, Texas.
"This was a grand jury investigation, not a district attorney investigation. Our legal responsibility was to advise the grand jury on the law and assist them in their efforts to examine witnesses appearing before them. The agreement by the grand jury to review this matter did not and does not change the traditional responsibility of the district attorney as a prosecutorial authority to that of a police agency investigative authority. I think it interesting that the anonymous grand juror, who now complains that we did not do his or her job for him or her, admits that he or she did not care enough to read the documents provided by their foreman.
"I will defend Luke Madole because he deserves it. I am personally aware of the large number of hours he devoted to preparing matters for the grand jury and complying with their requests. He initially addressed the grand jury in April when Mr. [Bill] Alexander was unable to do so, a fact the anonymous grand juror was unaware of. The two subsequent May sessions were canceled. The first because the grand jury, not the district attorney's office, through an oversight failed to subpoena certain witnesses. The second because not enough grand jurors as required by law could be present to proceed.
"The United States Attorney's criminal jurisdiction extends outside of Dallas County. The FBI, an investigative agency, has been conducting an investigation that will be reviewed by that prosecution authority. Both Bill Alexander and Luke Madole recognized the issues involved and had the wisdom to defer to the federal investigative resources and expanded jurisdiction. If the anonymous grand juror had read the documents provided to him or her, who knows, he or she might have come to the same conclusion.
"If an investigative agency such as the FBI presents a case occurring within our jurisdiction to our office for presentation to a grand jury, we will do just that. If an offense has occurred, we will prosecute it, which is what a prosecution authority is supposed to do."
As much as I enjoy hearing deserving music acts get ruthlessly lambasted in the Observer each week, I feel that the general bitterness of tone in all the music reviews is so hateful and uncalled-for that it destroys the credibility of those writing it. It really must suck to have to write about the myriad of pretentious, derivative, and attention-starved local and touring acts that are paraded through local venues. Sellout hacks like Deep Blue Something deserve what they get, but why write off every gigging band, record label, and club in town?
Too often in your pages, praise is heaped only on bands that have long since dissolved or haven't recorded anything yet. It's as if the Observer's critics can't commit to endorsing a band that has a few fans or, heaven forbid, a following. Particularly annoying is the standard practice of dismissing touring acts by describing their most annoying fan's behavior at the show.
Please don't ridicule talented acts simply because they didn't write their material with you in mind.