Mimesis Law
27 June 2019

Prosecutor Plays Pokemon Go With Rape Victim “Jenny”

July 21, 2016 (Fault Lines) — Subpoenas are wonderful things. “The law is entitled to every man’s evidence,” the saying goes, and the way to enforce that entitlement is through the subpoena power. From the Latin phrase, “sub poena,” or “under penalty,” it’s the penalty part of it that gives the subpoena its teeth. Basically, if you get a subpoena and don’t show up for court when you’re supposed to, the judge can issue an order called “writ of body attachment,” which basically allows the police to arrest you until the court is done with you. That’s the theory, anyways.

In practice, requesting a body attachment when a witness doesn’t appear is a pretty big gun to pull out, for a couple of different reasons. First, obviously, it slows things down, as typically the police have to locate the witness, arrest them, and bring them to court to testify. Second of all, witnesses who get arrested are typically not well disposed to give helpful testimony to the lawyer who asked for his arrest.

So, in low level cases (like misdemeanor domestic violence cases where the parties have reconciled), the case simply proceeds without the missing witness (if that’s possible) or the case is dismissed (if it isn’t). It’s a judgment call for the lawyer involved on the best way to play it. Even so, there is no anticipatory writ of body attachment: a lawyer can’t order your arrest because he thinks you might not show up.

Except, apparently, in Texas. In Houston, Keith Hendricks was on trial for the rape of “Jenny.”

Jenny, who suffers from bipolar disorder, couldn’t continue her testimony on Dec. 8, 2015.

Court transcripts show she was incoherent, broke down and ran from court saying she’d never return.

Which is understandable. Having to relive that experience would be tough on anyone, let alone someone already suffering from mental health issues. The trial was adjourned until January, but the prosecutor, Nicholas Socias, wanted to make sure that Jenny would be available to testify. He asked for a body attachment, which the judge granted. Initially, she went to the local mental hospital, where eventually her condition improved. As soon as her mental health stabilized, she went home to her family for the holidays she was locked up in the Harris County Jail, where she remained until January 14, when the trial was over.

In case your faith in humanity hasn’t been destroyed already, here’s what Jenny, the rape victim, went through:

Dec. 8: Breaks down on stand, committed to mental hospital. To be fair, it appears that this was with her family’s consent, as they were concerned for her health or safety.

Dec. 18: Released from the mental hospital, when Harris County D.A. personnel take her directly to jail without passing go or collecting $200. The jail makes a mistake on her booking paperwork, putting her down as a perpetrator of Aggravated Sexual Assault, not as a witness. Whoops!

Dec. 23: Jenny visits the prison doctor because of a fight with another inmate, which left a “nickel sized hematoma” on her forehead. What are the odds that bipolar rape victim, mistaken for a rapist, is going to have difficulties in jail?

(While all this is going on, Jenny alleges that the psych staff at the jail found her to “disoriented” with respect to reality, because of her belief that she was the victim and not the perpetrator. Paging Kamilah Brock.)

Jan. 8: Jenny has a breakdown and supposedly hits a guard, who hits her back. Jenny is charged with assault, which is later dismissed. What a deal!

Jan. 11: Jenny testifies when the trial continues.

Jan. 14: Jenny is released when the trial ends.

Compared to Harris County, Kafka was a fucking amateur.

The sick thing about this is that it was so unnecessary. When in the middle of a stress-induced breakdown, often people will say things they don’t mean, or will change their about after they calm down. This goes double for mental health patients. If she yelled in the middle of trial, “I’m never coming back here, NEVER, NEVER, NEVER!” the thing to do is to let her come to her senses and talk to her about the importance of testifying. And if she really didn’t show up, then, and only then, ask for a body attachment.

Instead, fearing that it would blow the case, the prosecutor decided to “help” her get treatment in the mental hospital, and when that was done, have her incarcerated. After all, there was Christmas and the New Year to think about, and it would be reeeeealllly inconvenient to have to spend time and resources making sure that Jenny actually had the support and understanding of what the Harris County District Attorney’s Office laughably calls their Victim/Witness division. The DA basically treated Jenny not like the victim of a horrific crime, or even with the common decency due any human being. Rather Jenny was treated like a Pokemon Go gamepiece: to be locked in a cage until needed. The only thing more disgraceful in this episode than the prosecutor’s behavior is that the judge signed off on it.

Basically, Jenny spent a month in the same jail as her rapist because it was more convenient for the prosecutor to stash her there over the holidays. Say what you will about Judge Aaron Persky, but at least he threw the rapist, not the rape victim, in jail.

10 Comments on this post.

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  • Chris
    21 July 2016 at 10:51 am - Reply

    Well obviously there were some systemic failures (like the inability of the jail to put someone who is a witness into protective custody instead of just throwing them in with the general pop) here.

    So yeah maybe looking back it could have been handled a bit better in some ways, but if prosecutors are not using every tool they have to do their jobs in cases of rape and domestic abuse, when more often than not victim cooperation is an issue, for whatever reason, they are not doing their job on some of the more important cases. It’s easier to say “meh” and use victim difficulties as an excuse to have one less trial to deal with, but I’m not sure that is the right call.

    If someone is pretty much not going to show up, you can’t really put a trial on hold, after a jury has been sworn and impaneled, and send the police out to go and find them.

    • Alex
      21 July 2016 at 6:28 pm - Reply

      In most jails, protective custody means solitary confinement. I’m not sure that would have been better.

  • Non-Sequiturs: 07.21.16 – Kath Dearing
    21 July 2016 at 7:06 pm - Reply

    […] * The Kafka-esque treatment of a mentally ill rape victim, who was locked up over the Christmas holiday to make sure she’d testify, will infuriate you. [Mimesis Law] […]

  • Non-Sequiturs: 07.21.16 | Gladys Barton's Blog
    21 July 2016 at 7:16 pm - Reply

    […] * The Kafka-esque treatment of a mentally ill rape victim, who was locked up over the Christmas holiday to make sure she’d testify, will infuriate you. [Mimesis Law] […]

  • TheHawk296
    21 July 2016 at 8:52 pm - Reply

    The prosecutor,Nicholas Socias who thought that incarcerating this witness was a good idea needs to be fired and disbarred. That Devon Anderson would even consider backing a Socias on this type of conduct means that she is incompetent to be an elected DA or a licensed attorney. Anderson is also up for re-election in November and let’s hope that the upcoming election cures that problem.

    Anderson went on a videotaped tirade against the local Houston TV station and the reporters that exposed this story. One of reporter actually had the audacity to ask her a question about this case while Anderson was walking to her car after a town hall meeting that Anderson participated in. Imagine that – A news reporter actually asking an elected public official IN TEXAS – and a DA at that – a question about her actions – WHAT NERVE !!!!!

    Anderson and her handlers should have previewed her video before releasing it. (Once you’ve see this video, you won’t a call them “campaign advisors”) On that video she looks and acts like she had just flown her broom 10,000 miles in the summer heat of Houston before she’d arrived at the TV studio. The video was done so hastily that they forgot to even put the HCDA’s office logo up on the blue screen on the background. Of special note – This video appeared only on Anderson’s personal Facebook and Twitter sites, NOT the HCDA’s website. If she runs her office like this, may God have mercy on the good citizens of Harris County TX.

    In one report, Anderson states “Witness bonds are a common tool used by prosecutors and defense attorneys.”, then goes on to state in her video “We rarely do this, but when a case calls for it to be done we are willing to make that hard decision” – So which is it Mrs. Anderson?

    Now – Just exactly what was judge Stacey W. Bond thinking when she signed off on the incarceration order? I’m willing to be bet that the judge was a protégé of the Harris County DA’s office, as are many of the criminal court judges in Harris County. (and many other Texas counties as well). Bond has probably never worked as a defense attorney. She needs to be off the bench and disbarred over this mess as well.

    One other question to ask – Where is the Houston DoJ on this? They really need to walk over to the Harris County DA’s office and take a look around. In downtown Houston, the DoJ and DA’s office are blocks away from each other.

    Let hope that “Jenny” wins BIG BIG and REALLY BIG. The problem here is that no matter how much “Jenny” wins, Harris County will appeal to the US Fifth Circuit, who has never met a cop or prosecutor that they didn’t like.

    Welcome to “The Great State of Texas” and the “justice system” contained therein.

    IMHO – , “Justice” would be served by having Socias, Anderson, and Judge Bond spend at least the same amount of time in the Harris County Jail as “Jenny”. Now that would be true “Texas Justice” (and I use the term loosely)

  • Harris County’s Devon Anderson Strips Naked | Simple Justice
    23 July 2016 at 11:35 am - Reply

    […] What the Houston district attorney’s office did to a rape victim known as “Jenny” was nothing short of atrocious. […]

  • Tom H
    23 July 2016 at 2:30 pm - Reply

    This has my vote for next weeks Friday Fail.

    In November I think I will write in Recep Tayyip Erdogan on my presidential ballot.

  • Poor, Poor Jenny; What To Do, What To Do?
    25 July 2016 at 9:07 am - Reply

    […] confinement of rape victim “Jenny” after her breakdown on the stand was the subject of a post here and one by Admiral Greenfield at Simple Justice. The Harris County District Attorney, Devon […]

  • Warrior Prosecutors, A Big Deal Because There Are So Few
    26 July 2016 at 10:06 am - Reply

    […] This brings us to two prosecutors in the news recently, Marilyn Mosby and Devon Anderson. Mosby aggressively prosecuted the cops involved in the death of Freddie Grey, and Anderson, well, Noel Erinjeri puts it like this: […]

  • Prosecutorial Misconduct & Brady: Is it Just a Texas Thing?
    3 November 2016 at 9:27 am - Reply

    […] the finding of “no bond” for a prosecutorial witness. Yes, Harris County in particular likes to jail its victims and witnesses, but that’s not exactly how it works and I digress. Broussard was held at no bond. […]