Former Judge to AZ Sheriff: 'Shut Up Before You Do Any More Damage to the Prosecution's Case'

January 14th, 2011 9:16 AM

Rep. Louis Gohmert (R.-Texas), a former prosecutor and judge and a current member of the House Judiciary Committee, is offering some advice to Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik, who has gained national attention since Saturday for his suggestions that radio and television talk shows were somehow responsible for the shooting attack in Tucson that took the lives of 6 people and wounded 14 others, including Rep. Gabrielle Giffords.

Says Rep. Gohmert to the sheriff: “Shut up before you do any more damage to the prosecution’s case.”

At the Capitol on Wednesday, Gohmert told, “As far as advice for the sheriff, you know, he’s an elected official. He’s an American. He’s not prohibited by law from making the ridiculous statements that he has that do more to help the defendant than they do anyone else, including the victims. And so, I know as a former prosecutor, my advice to the sheriff would be to shut up before you do any more damage to the prosecution’s case.”

“Quit helping the defendant, sheriff,” Gohmert said.  “But if he wants to help the defendant, he’s elected by the local people, and he’s free to help the defendant with their defense, if that’s what he chooses to do. And then the people can decide in the next election if that’s the kind of sheriff they want.”

"My advice to him?" said Gohmert, "if I were his prosecutor" 'Stop destroying our case while we're still trying to investigate.' And, further, if you do some more investigation as much as you've been running off at the mouth, we're going to have an airtight case."

When speaking at a press conference on Jan. 8, the day of the shooting, Dupnik said that Arizona had become the “mecca for prejudice and bigotry” and that “the vitriolic rhetoric that we hear day in and day out from people in the radio business and some people in the TV business” should prompt America “to do a little soul-searching.”

Also, on Monday, Jan. 10, Dupnik told ABC News, "The kind of rhetoric that flows from people like Rush Limbaugh, in my judgment he is irresponsible, uses partial information, sometimes wrong information, attacks people, angers them against government, angers them against elected officials and that kind of behavior in my opinion is not without consequences. And I think he’s irresponsible.”

When asked by ABC’s Diane Sawyer if it was right to link that kind of rhetoric to the shooting, Dupnik said, “Of course.” asked Rep. Gohmert if he has seen any hard evidence linking accused shooter Jared Lee Loughner to talk radio hosts or to American politicians, as Sheriff Dupnik has suggested.

Gohmert said, “What I have read and seen more indications of were that apparently this guy hated the flag, loved Karl Marx and [Hitler’s]  Mein Kampf and had been an atheist.  So, obviously, if there'd  been talk show people who have enflamed him, it may be people the sheriff listens to, but it’s certainly not Sarah Palin or Rush Limbaugh or people that the sheriff kept trying to point to. And you know, during my days as a judge, you start noticing when people like that stand up and start accusing without any evidence other people. Normally you have to start on, okay, this guys got something to hide.”

Gohmert continued: “There’s something underneath here for a law enforcement official to immediately come out, without any evidence whatsoever and, in fact, evidence being to the contrary of what he’s saying, must have something to hide. We need to look into that, you know, ‘What did he know before this all happened?’ Was this lashing out coming from a guilty conscience? He knew things that he should have acted on that would have saved lives?”

Regarding the shooting in Tucson, Gohmert also said he is concerned that people are talking about restricting political discourse and free speech.

“What concerns is when people start talking about putting a lid on debate and disputes and discussions even when they’re a bit heated,” he said, “because one of the things that’s made America great is the differences of opinion. Unless one of us has a 100 percent lock 100 percent of the time on God’s truth, then we ought to listen to each other. Debate’s a good thing.”

Gohmert continued: “It’s what the Founders wanted when they created not one body but two bodies and that wasn’t enough to create the kind of gridlock they hoped for. They created a president that would be elected from another manner, not like a prime minister, and they created a judicial branch that could also veto them. They wanted some gridlock because they didn’t want it to too easy to make laws. They wanted disagreement.”

Before being elected to Congress in 2004, Gohmert served as a state district judge in Texas and then as a state appellate court judge.