It’s good to see the jury act with such alacrity to find Anne Mitchell not guilty and send a strong message to the hapless Dr. Rolando Arafiles and his errand boy Sheriff Robert L. Roberts, who spent more effort tracking down a nurse doing her duty than I bet he spends tracking down thieves and murderers, as well as the equally clueless County Attorney Scott Tidwell. It’s good to see that justice was finally done in the end, but it’s absolutely horrifying that it took so many months for it to happen. This is a prosecution that never should have happened, clearly the result of incestuous relationships among some good ol’ boys in business together coupled with the utter lack of oversight and spinelessness of the administration of Winkler County Hospital.
I’m guessing that it was pretty clear that Mitchell would be acquitted after this:
On Wednesday, Anne’s attorneys began her defense and called several witnesses to testify. The first was a nurse practitioner who had worked at the Winkler County Rural Health Clinic and left because of her concerns that issues relating to the care provided by Dr. Arafiles had not been addressed. She had also filed a complaint against Dr. Arafiles with the TMB at the same time as Anne and Vicki (all worked together). The NP testified that she has subsequently filed a second complaint. She testified that Anne was motivated only by her concern for patients. The second witness was an LVN, who testified about her concerns regarding Dr. Arafiles’ work at the clinic. She also left because of those concerns and the stress they were causing her. The Defense called the Winkler County judge (not the trial judge) testified that she knew Anne and Anne had discussed her concerns about Dr. Arafiles. The judge said Anne’s motive was patient concern. Lolly Lockhart, RN, testified as an expert witness on a nurse’s duty. Dr. Pham, Chief of Staff at Winkler County Memorial Hospital, testified about concerns about Dr. Arafiles’ care. He also testified that Anne was concerned about patient care and that Anne is a good nurse.
Thursday morning, the defense called a medical expert, who testified that he had reviewed the five cases cited in the complaint to TMB and found substandard care. The Defense has rested. Next, the charge will be read to the jury, the Prosecution and Defense will give their closing arguments, and the jury will begin deliberation.
As I said, this was an open-and-shut case that should never have made it to a jury, and the rapidity with which the jury ruled only serves to emphasize that point. I can only hope that the civil lawsuit brought against Winkler County Hospital, Sheriff Roberts, Dr. Arafiles, and County Attorney Tidwell goes forward and teaches these good ol’ boys a lesson about abuse of public trust, failure to discipline bad doctors, and trying to punish a nurse for doing her duty in reporting questionable care delivered by the doctors that oversee her. Anne Mitchell and Vickilyn Galle lost their jobs, their livelihood, a whole lot of money, and Mitchell lived for months in fear of going to jail for up to ten years because of Tidwell’s malicious, unethical, and possibly illegal prosecution. The hospital and the public officials who so egregiously abused their public trust need to pay.