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Vicky Nolan

Justice is Still Considered Just in Texas... For Now

27 July 2000

In the latest round of the battle between Houston-based and the Texas Attorney General's office, the Court of Appeals for the First District of Texas yesterday issued a temporary stay of restraining orders against the AG.

Contempt of court charges against Attorney General John Cornyn, Sergeant Investigator Stephen Acker and assistant AGs Robert Maddox, Reed Lockhoof and David Puryear for failure to return items seized during a July raid on MonetizeMedia's offices, have also been put on hold. Immediately following the hearing, both sides presented oral arguments, which the judge will consider before deciding whether the civil court judge has jurisdiction over the matter.

The AG's office maintains that the current court battle is a jurisdictional matter that needs to be resolved so authorities can continue with what they see as a very serious and legitimate criminal investigation of MonetizeMedia's activities, explained spokesperson Heather Browne. Officials raided Monetize offices and its executives' homes as part of an investigation into whether the company was illegally involved in Internet gambling.

A criminal court judge approved the original search warrant, but Monetize officials accused the AG of violating their civil rights and went before a civil judge asking for return of their property. When government officials refused to comply with those orders, a civil judge hit them with contempt of court charges. The two sides have been battling since then over jurisdictional matters. No criminal charges have been filed, although the AG is reportedly considering taking the case before the grand jury.

AG solicitor general Gregory Coleman told the Houston Chronicle that officials had refused to comply with orders to return the seized items for fear of starting a dangerous precedent, explaining, "'Any search warrant would be subject to attack in civil court. If you can undercut an investigation by getting the evidence back and poisoning the evidence, that's a huge' blow to investigators."

Monetize officials, meanwhile, made no comment on yesterday's hearing and subsequent presentation of oral arguments.

Click here to view the stay.

Justice is Still Considered Just in Texas... For Now is republished from
Vicky Nolan
Vicky Nolan