Harris County D.A. calls contact with Rusty Hardin over Deshaun Watson “totally normal”

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The article from Jenny Vrentas of the New York Times regarding the grand-jury process that culminated in no indictments for Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson detailed extensive communications between lawyer Rusty Hardin and assistant district attorney Johna Staliings.

Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg, who runs the prosecutor’s office in Houston, recently was interviewed by Mike Melster regarding, among other things, the reported extent of the contact between Hardin and Stallings.

Totally normal,” Ogg said. “We contact defense lawyers. They contact us. A communication is far different than collaborating or working together to achieve an outcome. That just didn’t happen. It’s not ethical. And it’s not what we do. And it’s not what happened in this case.”

Ogg also delicately chided Vrentas for her characterization of the communications between Hardin and Stallings.

“So I think there was a lot of artistic liberty taken by the writer in that case, who made a presumption — which we’re not allowed to do — that anytime someone shares a text of a phone call, that they’re colluding,” Ogg said. “We don’t work with the plaintiffs’ lawyers, for the reason I said. We don’t want the cross-contamination, if you will, of a bias or motive being alleged against us in terms of trying to put our fingers on the scale in our system to help the other side. So it’s different when you’re dealing with a criminal defense lawyer, they’re representing a person we can’t talk to without them, who we need to notify about where to be or what to do.”

That’s a little confusing, frankly. If Watson isn’t going to be testifying before the grand jury, why does the prosecutor need to tell Watson’s lawyer “about where to be or what to do.” There are no administrative communications to be had until the suspect is formally charged.

Ogg also addressed the fact that Hardin was allowed to provide a “packet” for presentation to the grand jury.

“When they have a packet as was talked about in this case, it’s funny, that’s just a local custom, allowing defense lawyers to put together a packet,” Ogg said. “You won’t find any support for it in the law, you won’t find any protocol for it because it’s something that’s just been crafted through literally practice between our criminal defense bar and our prosecutors. And what we do is they put together what they want the grand jury to see or hear, and we’ll present it. And we present it because we want to know, too. What’s their side? What are they presenting? And remember, we cannot compel their client, or target, to testify.”

That’s also confusing. The prosecutor lets the defense lawyer put together whatever they want to put together, and then they submit it to the grand jury without even knowing what it is? No matter what it is? What if it contains an incorrect representation of the facts? What if, in this case, it was a video of Rusty Hardin on horseback declaring, as he has done publicly, that all of the women who have accused Watson of misconduct were lying? What if it was a video of Leah Graham proclaiming, as she has done publicly, that Tony Buzbee is a pied piper who has harvested a group of women with meritless claims for the purposes of advancing his social-media following and getting on TV?

Does Ogg really expect anyone to believe it’s normal practice for a defense lawyer to engage in the cake-and-eat-it exercise of not presenting the suspect for grand jury testimony, but also tendering a one-sided, self-serving presentation of the suspect’s viewpoint?

Ogg also took issue with the notion, from the Times article, that packets are used only by high-profile defendants who can finance such activities, calling it a “sensationalized” account of a common practice.

“Numbers wise, because many people are caught at the scene in the middle of the crime, defense lawyers strategically — or simply because they don’t do the work — will not submit packets in violent crimes or instant crimes,” Ogg said. “High profile has nothing to do with it. Packets are common. Although in terms of numbers, because many people are arrested for what I’m calling instant crime or something that happens where action’s taken immediately, many times they are not submitted. In cases like this, or cases where a crime is reported later, lawyers do it a lot.”

So packets are common, except when they aren’t. And profile of case doesn’t matter, except when it does. And some lawyers “don’t do the work” to put a packer together. Obviously, many of those lawyers don’t have clients who can pay the hourly rate for the creation of the packet and/or fund at hundreds of dollars per hour the constant pestering of the prosecutor, which as we’ve opined in this case was aimed at giving Stallings a glimpse of what her professional life would have become like if Watson had been indicted.

Although Ogg said plenty, she never was forced to confront the real reason (in my opinion) as to why Stallings did not secure any indictments. Stallings did not believe she could parlay those indictments into proof-beyond-a-reasonable-doubt convictions. So she let Hardin make his case (without subjecting his client to questioning), and she hoped the grand jury would choose to defer to the civil justice system.

Yes, even though the entire grand-jury proceedings remain cloaked in medieval secrecy, it’s a safe bet that someone made the grand jury aware that these complainants had another path to potential justice, and that the grand jurors quite possibly decided simply to defer to the other main branch of the justice system. Making the outcome anything but an exoneration of Watson — no matter how much Hardin would like to treat it that way.

27 responses to “Harris County D.A. calls contact with Rusty Hardin over Deshaun Watson “totally normal”

  1. Something just doesn’t add up here. It sure appears that the prosecutors, for some unknown reason, did not present all of the evidence to the grand jury. I realize Deshaun Watson is not your ordinary “ham sandwich”, but still. . .

    Did the NFL bring pressure? the Texans?

    I assume that someone in the news media has already reviewed political donations to certain persons and PACs?

  2. I don’t know how normal it is, I have never had a D.A. contact me.

  3. I’m as far away as you can be in the know when it comes to this case and the sisterhood of massage therapists in the Houston area. But if Watson really assaulted 26 and hired 60+ with his time with the Texans wouldn’t the women be warning each other not to work for Watson?

  4. Sounds like the grand jurors and everyone in the prosecutor’s office settled for Deshaun Watson signed Texans jerseys.
    And some favors to be called in at a later date.

  5. What a SHAM. Dude is a predator and a pervert. C’mon Houston! You and the Texans Team let everybody down.

  6. I still think that the evidence that was presented to those grand juries was cherry picked,and that is how Watson avoided 2 indictments. Just my theory…

  7. Can we stop talking about white privilege, and start talking about rich privilege?

  8. So…. out of 24 cases (at the time) there wasn’t enough evidence? Sure….. this continues to show that if you have enough money, you have enough privileges. The DA is really hoping this one just goes away. People really need to keep this conversation going on how they dealt with this. If it was 99.9 percent of the population without the money, popularity, & who knows who, they’d already be in jail or at least trial.
    This DA comes across as smug & knows zero accountability is on them. The more Hardin talks, the more his client sounds guilty. Hell, his interviews alone should be enough for a grand jury to recommend a trial. Now we have 26 cases, & 66 being reported, with a possibility of more. What more do you need?

  9. Those “packets” are full of money, right?
    A time honored, Texas tradition.

  10. bradygirl12 says:
    June 18, 2022 at 9:02 pm
    I still think that the evidence that was presented to those grand juries was cherry picked,and that is how Watson avoided 2 indictments. Just my theory…

    112Rate This


    With Watson getting 230 mil guaranteed, it’s clear why he is getting away with it..

    Goodell authorized this deal. No court in America would ignore this many victims.

  11. Will be interesting to see if any higher level investigations are triggered by this stuff.

  12. You can call it fixed if it makes you feel better. Bottom line is there was no indictment because the DA didn’t want to prosecute the case because it is an extremely difficult case to win and would take a ton of time and resources to prosecute. It’s he said she said, and it’s not as if there is any consensus among the public that a crime was committed. It’s a political office, perception matters. They have more pressing issues to deal with and lots of cases that are much easier to win.

  13. By saying all of these things are “totally normal”, what it really sounds like is that “normal” for this D.A.’s office is pretty darn screwed up.

  14. ??? So , he would be in jail in a different state, that has different laws and rules? Like Ohio?

  15. Oh no doubt. I’m sure if anyone here had 26 accusations from masseuses of sexual harassment the DA would definitely have a cozy relationship with your lawyer.


  16. Ogg is one of those lovely DAs that is soft on crime. She’s one of the reasons Harris County has gone downhill.

  17. I live in Houston. Watson has the OJ treatment here. People don’t care if he’s guilty or not they don’t want him punished.

  18. Meeting up with 66 different women to ge a ” massage ” is totally normal. Got it.

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