C'mon, now. What we've got here is an apparent real life episode of "Cops" involving the police Special Investigations Unit, the Dallas mayor pro tem, his state representative wife and two fellows named Archie and Arthur, and the city attorney is asking the Texas attorney general to string up the yellow crime scene tape and send everybody home. That ain't right.
Someone in the Dallas city attorney's office has asked the attorney general to allow the office to withhold information about an investigation into a disturbance Jan. 2 at the home of Dwaine and Barbara Mallory Caraway, according to a delightfully rich story in the Dallas Morning News.
We presume with a straight face, having never seen judges Joe, Judy, Alex, Mabeline, Hatchett and Wapner and without prior knowledge of reality TV, the city attorney's office based their request on the grounds that the documents might be highly intimate and embarrassing and - we're not kidding about this - of no interest to the public. We might inquire, rhetorically, of course, if the city attorney has ever paged through the police blotter?
The Morning News did, the day after the Dallas Cowboys beat the Philadelphia Eagles 14-13 in the season's final game. There they found the usual one-page summary saying police responded to a marital disturbance after the game at the Caraway home.
Actually, it wasn't just police. Sensing the magnitude of the situation that night, Mayor Pro Tem Dwaine Caraway, chairman of the City Council's police department oversight committee, called Police Chief David Brown directly. The next thing you know, the Special Investigations Unit arrived, finding no evidence of violence or criminal offense.
When asked by reporters, Caraway at first denied there had been a marital argument. It was, he said, an argument over the football game between his friends Archie and Arthur, whose last names were lost in the fracas. Pressed during a City Council meeting about the police report, Caraway acknowledged a marital disagreement but didn't elaborate.
Because of the discrepancy in the stories, the Morning News asked the city for all of the documents relating to the official visit to the Caraways. The city attorney is asking the attorney general to rule that an accounting of an emergency call by an elected official to the home of two elected officials involving a police chief and an elite police squad whose salaries are paid with public funds is none of the public's business.
Joel White, a First Amendment attorney on the board of the Freedom of Information Foundation of Texas, told the Morning News the city and Caraway are wrong to contend this is not of public importance. “Either this is a public matter, or it’s an entirely personal matter, and he’s trying to make it both,” White said. “No. 1, you lied about it. That clearly reflects on his qualifications to hold public office. And second, if he didn’t think that, then why is he making it an issue at a City Council meeting?”
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Photo of police tape by flickr user freefotouk, used via a Creative Commons license.