Seized without a crime committed
A very disturbing case is evolving out of Maypearl in which the owner of Leading Edge Wireless, a wireless internet company, alleged to Maypearl Police Chief Lester Taylor that a "network intrusion" had occurred in November. The allegation is that someone, or something, "hacked" into Leading Edge Wireless’ computer network.
Taylor, himself the central part of a controversial scuffle at Maypearl City Hall late last year involving a bizarre fight which almost left him dead (that case, by the way, heads to trial in March), secured an evidentiary search warrant from 40th District Court Judge Gene Knize, R-Ennis, and contacted the Waxahachie Special Weapons And Tactics team to follow this alleged network "intruder."
The company Leading Edge Wireless accuses of the intrusion and subsequent theft of property is Webnetized Technologies on Sudith Lane in the outskirts of Midlothian.
According to testimony provided by Webnetized’s lawyer, Midlothian’s Dan Altman, the two companies were at one point partners.
Leading Edge, according to assistant county/district prosecutor Patrick M. Wilson, alleges Webnetized of stealing property, which was seized, along with 38 other computer items in the search warrant that Waxahachie’s SWAT team executed.
According to open records requests filed by this paper in December, Midlothian’s police knew about the raid in which SWAT members - armed with machine guns and military-style equipment - busted through a door and broke out some windows.
Of course, this has nothing to do with Midlothian PD other than it confirmed what this paper had been told: that a company, or owner of a company alleged of hacking, yet with no charges filed against him, had his place of business raided, equipment of his and customers seized and a strong willingness by prosecutors to keep from that property returning to its owners.
It sounds like common sense to us, really.
If there is no charges filed, why keep the evidence?
Wilson, who works for Ellis County/District Attorney Joe Grubbs, repeatedly told Judge Knize a grand jury would see the evidence the prosecutors were working on gathering.
In America, you’re usually charged with a crime before evidence can be taken, but in Ellis County, that’s a different mode of operation.
However, we must give credit where credit is due: Judge Knize, who is up for re-election next year and who faced off with Altman in 2006’s Republican primary, made the right decision in forcing Maypearl PD to return the seized property.
In Ellis County, Texas, we have prosecutors who willingly allow for the seizure of evidence - evidentiary warrants are specific, not broad, but the SWAT team took virtually everything related to a computer - without charging anyone with a crime.
Knize hasn’t been the godsend of Constitutional law, but this decision recently was the right one.