Voters deserve to know what became of police report 9063028
The disappearance from the public record of a police report alleging family violence filed by the wife of mayoral candidate Greg Brockhouse may go down in history as one of Bexar County’s unsolved mysteries.
The report, dated five minutes before Christmas Eve in 2009, was taken by officer D. Gomez, badge number 1487, and given the case number 9063028. The Express-News has a copy but attempts to get an official copy from the San Antonio Police Department in recent weeks has proven fruitless. The report has vanished.
How it came to be missing has been fodder for multiple conspiracy theories as the San Antonio mayoral race has heated up. For weeks, Brockhouse has refused to even acknowledge the existence of the report and has gone as far as threatening to walk off stage at a public debate if the issue of family violence was even brought up.
Hardly what one would expect from someone seeking to lead the 7th largest city in the country, especially one that had 28 domestic violence-related murders in the last year. San Antonio voters deserve to know what became of police report number 9063028.
If it went through legal expunction as many have theorized, Brockhouse needs to own up to it. At a public debate last week he denied he or anyone he knows requested the report be expunged and said, “The situation did not happen.”
A Texas Young Lawyer Association handbook on expunction reads, “Once a person’s record is expunged, all information is removed from the criminal record and that person can deny the incident ever occurred.” Is Brockhouse using that as his playbook?
Expunctions are secretive matters and talking about them can bring criminal penalties so no one is going to readily admit there was an expunction. In this case for instance, the family violence allegations in Annalisa Brockhouse’s report would have likely resulted in a Class C misdemeanor charge if there had been prosecution. However, talking about an expunction can result in a Class B misdemeanor charge for any of the parties associated with that expunction.
I get that if Brockhouse were to discuss the expunction of any record connected to him, it could result in his waiving any privilege he gained in seeking the court order. But leaving questions on such an important issue unanswered is going to shadow him the rest of his public life and will only prompt further speculation.
A popular conspiracy theory is that the connections he gained as a City Hall insider might have resulted in someone removing the police report from public access as a political favor. If that happened, a criminal investigation is warranted. But the sad reality is we will likely never know what happened. Texas law clearly favors those seeking expunctions and offers no checks and balances if questions should arise.
But even if the Brockhouse police report was expunged, the circumstances were unusual. Generally expunctions are sought in cases where there has been an arrest or a citation issued and the charges were later dropped. In this case there is no evidence either of those things happened but there still could have been an expunction issued.
Louis D. Martinez, a San Antonio criminal defense lawyer who has done more than 100 expunctions, said granting an expunction without an arrest is done in Bexar County if all the parties sign off on it.
“Sometimes expunctions are granted in cases without an arrest. That is not the intent of the law but sometimes it’s done,” Martinez said.
A judge said a broad interpretation of the term “non custodial arrest,” which generally refers to a citation, can be applied to just a police report and while unconventional, it is legal.
Expunction laws serve a valid purpose. They allow the removal of blemishes that might show up in a criminal background check and cause problems when applying for employment, housing or credit. Their use in a calculated attempt to hide information from voters is troubling. Voters don’t like to be played.
Former District Attorney Nico LaHood and 150th District Court Judge Monique Diaz each met with considerable negative publicity with their unsuccessful expunction attempts prior to their elections.
As much as politicians tout transparency on the campaign trail, they often fail to follow through. Actions speak louder than words.
Greg Brockhouse needs to level with the voters about this. If there was no expunction and a police report went missing that means someone has been messing with public records. And tampering with government records is a criminal offense.