Prosecutor testifies 'fix is in' in grand jury case over BAT vans

December 19, 2011 4:57:42 PM PST
An assistant district attorney claims a judge and grand jury are out to get her. It's the latest chapter in an ongoing investigation into the conduct of the Harris County District Attorney's Office.

Just days after pleading the Fifth and refusing to testify, one of DA Pat Lykos' top staffers says she believes there's a conspiracy at work.

Monday was Day 2 of legal proceedings trying to get answers from a Harris County prosecutor who won't testify in front of a grand jury. She now claims -- in her words -- "the fix is in," and that she won't testify because a judge and grand jurors are part of a system stacked against her.

Rachel Palmer is a prosecutor. She's in charge of a team that handles hundreds of DWI cases which is likely why the grand jury investigating problems with the BAT vans wanted to hear from her. So far, she has refused.

On Thursday, she took the Fifth in front of the grand jury, refusing to answer their questions. When we asked her why she took the Fifth, Palmer only responded with, "That's not an appropriate question."

On Monday, she was back in court telling a judge this grand jury investigation is part of a "constant battle I've dealt with for two years," and adding, "I am sick of it."

The grand jury wants Judge Susan Brown to force Palmer to talk. Palmer said on Monday she wants Judge Brown off the case, saying the judge is biased against her.

"I am afraid of Judge Brown. I feel like I am set up completely in this situation," Palmer testified.

Later, Palmer said, "The fix is in. It's very clear to anyone who doesn't already possess bias."

KTRK Legal Analyst Joel Androphy told us, "They're all probably real to some degree, but that's our system of justice here."

Palmer's proof of the conspiracy though is a long list of political donations made by grand jurors to people Palmer once ran against or works for. Her fear of Judge Brown is apparently based on, in her words, "the way she (Judge Brown) treated me."

During lengthy testimony Monday afternoon, Palmer was unable to capsulize the mistreatment.

"Now lawyers could go behind the indictment, from what they're saying here, and investigate the grand jury, wanting to know if any of them have connections to the person charged with a crime," Androphy said.

All of this in the midst of a hearing alleging bias from a judge and grand jurors investigating potential crimes within the District Attorney's Office. Our legal analyst suggests it is likely best to let this play out -- Don't recuse the judge, but keep the system in place; otherwise it opens too many avenues to attack virtually every indictment in our system.

Eyewitness News asked the Lykos' office for comment about a DA refusing to testify and for two days in a row now, we haven't received an answer.

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