I can’t wait to see how this turns out.
The Harris County District Attorney’s Office has begun a criminal investigation into allegations that the Metropolitan Transit Authority improperly destroyed public documents, a prosecutor confirmed Friday.
The statement by Terese Buess, the head of the district attorney’s public integrity division, came during a hearing that ended with a new civil court order against Metro not to destroy any further documents, and with the prospect of forensic examinations of the transit agency’s computers.
Mayor Annise Parker and David Wolff, Metro’s board chairman, had asked the district attorney last week to investigate allegations that the agency destroyed some of the documents sought by Houston attorney and former City Controller Lloyd Kelley in a January open records request.
State District Judge Al Bennett said the district attorney’s investigators would have the first opportunity to inspect Metro computer equipment to try to identify or recover any deleted data. Kelley’s lawyers may conduct a similar review afterward, Bennett said.
The criminal investigation, Bennett said, should take priority, and “I am not going to allow the civil litigation to get in the way of that.”
Houston Politics has a Metro employee training video on the subject of document retention. There’s a whole lot going on here. We still don’t know what exactly Lloyd Kelley is after. As the story says later, and as you’ll see in this space next week, Metro is putting the responsibility for the shredding on Pauline Higgins, their former general counsel; she in turn claims she was fired after blowing the whistle on Metro over the shredding. Mayor Parker’s transition team has not issued its report about Metro yet. Wolff is still the Chair until Parker names a replacement for him. We are in for some interesting times.