Judge Carl Ginsberg presides over the 193rd Judicial District Court of Dallas County, Texas, and has been a Texas trial court judge since January 2007, so he’s not new to the ball game, and when he issued his opinion regarding the Melvin Williams criminal case earlier this month, Judge Ginsberg must have been well aware of the ramifications of his ruling. Interestingly, there’s not that much media coverage of what Judge Ginsberg has done, just one story in the Dallas Morning News.
Good for the Dallas News, of course, but it’s something that Texas citizens (particularly those in the Dallas – Fort Worth Metroplex) should hear about, so we’re sharing Judge Ginsberg’s ruling here today.
What Has Texas Judge Ginsberg Done?
The case came before the 193rd District Court as a civil forfeiture case, where the State of Texas was seeking to keep cash that had been taken during a criminal arrest. After hearing the case, including evidence presented as exhibits and as testimony from witnesses, Judge Ginsberg has ruled from the bench that two law enforcement officers of the Dallas Police Department lied – and not just once – under oath in testimony they gave concerning a December 2011 arrest of criminal defendant Melvin Williams. Judge Ginsberg calls their testimony “largely perjurious.”
Largely perjurious? Perjury is a crime for giving false testimony under oath. If perjury is “aggravated,” then it’s a 3rd degree felony charge. Texas law (Texas Penal Code 37.03) defines “aggravated perjury” as: (1) made during or in connection with an official proceeding; and (2) is material.
What Did the Two Dallas Police Officers Do?
It’s too soon to report whether or not the two police officers are facing felony charges because the case is still in the investigatory stages; however, Judge Ginsberg has been pretty clear about his perception of things. He’s heard evidence and issued his opinion.
Judge Ginsberg found that Dallas Police Officers Jon Llewellyn and Randolph Dillon (1) first had no probable cause to detain the defendant Mr. Williams; (2) the two police officers lied about where they found some of the drugs made the basis of charges against Mr. Williams; and (3) they lied about where they found money used as the basis of charges against Mr. Williams. The Court ruled that this resulted in violation of Mr. Williams’ constitutional rights.
What Happens Now?
Surprising to no one, the ruling of Judge Ginsberg has gone up on appeal. What happens next to the Dallas Police Officers will be dealt with in the investigation of their statements and in cases brought based upon that investigation. It will not be immediate arrest of the two officers based upon Judge Ginsberg’s ruling. Also, since the Ginsberg opinion resulted from a civil matter, it does not impede or halt the criminal proceedings against Melvin Williams – but one can assume that Mr. Williams’ defense will take note of this civil judge’s review with its constitutional implications.
The full impact of Judge Ginsberg’s opinion has yet to be seen.