The matter has been litigated for a month. Criminal defense lawyers and others would gather and watch the motion for new trial filed in the case of Kathleen Pierce. She was convicted of embezzlement last January. But, her lawyer challenged the District Attorney’s unheard of warrant served during the trial. The DA believed that Ms. Pierce’s lawyer, Tony Reyes, was using documents which were "stolen" from Ms. Pierce’s employer. The Assistant DA prosecuting the case asked to see the documents. Mr. Reyes said she would see them as the case progressed, because he would use some of them as evidence. The DA became convinced the documents were stolen from Ms. Pierce’s employer. Ms. Pierce was on trial for embezzling from her employer.
The Assistant DA procured a search warrant and served it on Mr. Reyes while the jury was out of the court room. The search warrant accused Mr. Reyes of participating in some crime. The DA physically siezed the papers from Mr. Reyes’ briefcase. Ms. Pierce was convicted. Mr. Reyes filed a motion asking for a new trial, saying the incident upset him so much that he could not effectively represent Ms. Pierce after the siezure. The judge finally agreed after a month of testimony. Judge Ray Angelini overturned the conviction. See San Antonio Express News report.
It is very unusual for a DA to search a defense attorney’s personal possessions during a trial. The incident has galvanized the local criminal defense bar. The several days of testimony filled the court room with defense lawyers and others watching the proceedings.
And, the legal issue is were the documents actually stolen from her employer? Mere possession of an employer’s documents do not make them stolen. Many employers have policies against taking work records home. But, many employers do not observe that policy. Often, such policies are ignored. If so, then work records may be taken home.
The DA says hey were stolen. But, were they really stolen? What an employer say about its policies is important. More important is what the employer actually does.