Thursday, February 26, 2009

Back to Basics: New Use of Old Tools

It's tough to write in an area where someone like Scott Henson is doing his work. Not only do I pay attention to same of the same subjects, but jail diversion was a primary reason for me continuing this blog (although it's been fun taking swipes at the odd DA from time to time), and that's one of his primary subjects.

And he's fairly prolific, like a dog peeing on every car, light pole, and fire hydrant in the neighborhood. It's like you can't find a story in the field that he hasn't somehow peed on.

So, I'll just point out that Austin is finally making use of the cite and summons authority given to them a couple of years ago, and refer you in that direction.

Next up: Bexar County? Yeah, I won't be holding my breath either.

Ironic Names II: Electric Boogaloo

If you believe in God, you have to admit he's got a good sense of humor.

A Klansman named Black? It writes itself. All we need now is a black white supremacist.

But, on a related note, with all the fear-mongering of the last few years and the ignorance still being perpetuated by anti-Muslim groups and now the fear of "that black mooslem" president we now have, is it really any surprise that hate groups are on the rise?

I bet these guys want the Bible to be taught in schools, too.

Wait. A White Mayor Brown?

I was going to call this one "Silly Names II: Electric Boogaloo" but for some reason didn't. You're welcome.

But this is starting to get a little silly. It's kind of like having nothing but Presidents named Bush and/or Clinton for a couple of decades. A black Mayor Brown, followed by a white Mayor White, and now maybe a white Mayor Brown?

Why is this news, you ask? Well, from what I can tell the guy is a complete douchebag. He thinks that the noblest human achievements are cities and their architecture? Really? Goddamn buildings are the best thing we can do? I can see art, as an expression of the human condition. But architecture? I like architecture, but come on. Noblest?

What about feeding the hungry, or building homes for the poor, or saving puppies?

I guess that's about what I'd expect from someone who's an adjunct professor at Texas Southern. Are they even accredited? And he's not even a full professor? The guy's like 90, and he has yet to make full professor at the worst college outside of Kenya?

This pontificating POS's greatest achievement on the city council (besides continually running despite getting booted off) is in turning on the lights of a fountain.

Maybe he can run for DA instead. I hear they could use some enlightenment.

Death Knell for the Drug War II: Electric Boogaloo

You know how you can tell when the drug war violence in Mexico is near an end? Because they're running out of people to kill.

Over 1,000 so far this year and February isn't even over? This isn't even a real month. It only has 28 days, for chrissakes. Over 6,000 last year? That's 65 people a day in the last 14 months.

I'd like to see a serious study on what's going on. One of my favorite theories is that a combination of better interdiction, crackdowns on corruption (in Mexico, we're not doing enough here...), and fewer routes into the US (due in part to the wall in urban areas), means there's more fighting to control the fewer good routes into the US.

Sure, much of the traffic comes through at legal checkpoints--so let's start doing more there, not less everywhere else. Drug education and interdiction is a comprehensive thing. Nothing says that you have to stop building a wall to also reform immigration or increase security at legal checkpoints (I'm looking at you, Grits).

Nor can you just "legalize it" and expect things to be peachy. As close as we (at the state level, not that that matters) get to legalizing pot, or more realistically de-criminalizing it, we'll never legalize the harder stuff. So while the "pot is less harmful than alcohol" crowd has a good point (I'm one of the crowd, after all), illegal drugs will always be a problem and you can't legalize cocaine, meth, or other drugs. You just cannot. To think that you could legalize cocaine and that the tax revenue would offset the public safety concerns is flat-out stupid. A (reasonable) tax on pot would, however, work to help empty our jails and hopefully lessen the human trafficking and abuse that goes along with Central and South American gangs importing pot.

And don't even get me started on those dangerous Canadians.

But hey, I guess if we can have a forward defense in Iraq, we can have a forward eradication of drug traffickers in Mexico. So maybe it ain't so bad. Now we just need to find someone to help shoot more Canadians. Gotta secure both borders, after all.

Multiple Stabbings II: Electric Boogaloo

Sweet. For all you folks who, like me, have been anxiously awaiting the chance to watch Kelly Siegler straddle another man, here's your chance.

Except, of course, for the fact that she's currently walking the street, so to speak, selling her wares, if you know what I mean, to other Johns, nudge nudge, undyingly dedicated to prosecuting other Defendants no matter how many times she has to parade their case in front of a grand jury.

Will Wright's battered wife defense work? I don't know, 192 stab wounds is an awful lot. Although I believe the defense is valid at times (easy prosecutors, not all times, and probably not this time), I think it's a stretch to believe that she'll get less than 25 years the second go-round. If you ask me, she should get 25 years just for dripping wax on her husband's balls. Hell, after that stabbing the guy was probably the nicest thing that could happen.

Although--here's to the defense lawyer that got to file an ineffective defense appeal against one of DeGuerin's associates.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Learn When To Say When

While, admittedly, C.O. Bradford can do less harm as a city councilman than he did as police chief, or would have done as district attorney, this is one fiasco that just won't go away.

Reminds me of the roaring 90's when the same Democrats kept running for office after office. I like John Sharp, but damn man, quit running for stuff. Chris Bell? Well, just stop. For God's sakes you give Democrats an even harder time at overcoming that liberal stereotype with your metrosexual suits and lispy speeches. Your career peaked when you filed against DeLay, now learn to retire before your career goes completely downhill. Oops, too late for you.

Bradford, on the other hand, has no opportunity to retire at his peak because his peak was in overseeing a crime lab that manufactured evidence and was complicit in one of the largest scale injustices to hit Houston courts that I can think of. The largest, in terms of overall impact, if you ask me. Add to that the fact that Harris County's District Attorney has a culture of corruption and you have a recipe for disaster.

All I can say is that it's a good thing it's an at large seat, so us white folks can vote against him.

Monday, February 23, 2009

In all criminal prosecutions...

I guess I'm the only one I know who remembers my Bill of Rights. You can bet that the US Supreme Court doesn't.

In a decision (or lack thereof) that would make Sharon Keller proud, the supremes declined to hear a case where a defendant was not allowed to examine the classified evidence against him. In just exactly what way is that a public trial, or how can he be informed of the nature of the accusations against him? How could he have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor when he doesn't know the evidence against him? How can he have the effective assistance of counsel if he can't see the evidence?

This case demonstrates the worst elements of trials where defendants are convicted of acts of terrorism. We eliminate the Bill of Rights and over 200 years of jurisprudence for procedures that have none of the guarantees this country was founded upon where criminal trials are concerned. Hell, even the Brits found the need for a hearsay rule to make sure evidence was verifiable--over 400 years ago.

Something about trading liberty for security...

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Another Way to Reduce Pre-Trial Incarceration Rates

Bexar County is fairly well-known for its alarmingly high incarceration rate, as well as its' elected officials not only refusing to implement diversion techniques but actually wanting to prosecute people for engaging in lawful activity.

So it comes as absolutely no surprise that they are ram-rodding thousands of old cases through their system.

Personally, I can't stand Bexar County's presiding court system, where cases are called to trial in whatever court happens to be free that day regardless of which court has dealt with all of the pre-trial evidentiary (or other) issues. It's disjointed at best, and could serve to cause one judge to countermand the decisions of another in the exact same case. But that's a distant second to the current attempt at extorting plea bargains--an extortion scheme that actually benefits defendants more than anyone. The state has a smaller pool of prosecutors that will now have to prepare a larger pool of cases for trial. Defense lawyers will smell blood in the water and will be able to either force lower please or have an unprepared DA go to trial--when he'll have dozens of others to prepare for as well.

If these judges wanted lower docket numbers they should have been setting reasonable numbers of cases for trial at reasonable intervals. Everyone would have had time to gather evidence and put witnesses on notice, as opposed to the current rush, which will find cases called to trial where witnesses could not be found or the prosecutor will have be looking at the next twelve cases he has to try and decide that he has to plead some out for lower punishments than he otherwise would have just to get some breathing room for the next case. That doesn't serve justice for any side, and puts clearance rates ahead of guilt or innocence, and certainly above justice.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Is Doing 'Something' Better Than Doing 'The Right Thing?'

I think it's kind of sad when the Texas Legislature, an organization that Texans only let meet every other year to keep them from screwing things up twice as often, is prescient enough to at least try to fix the alarming rate of wrongful convictions in Texas.

But police agencies can't resist trying to push the limits. Seeing a DNA bill coming through, they want to start fishing for DNA for just about any crime, whether DNA is required to prove guilt or not. Ignoring the fact that their tactics in failing to use DNA have resulted in many wrongful convictions, they want the pendulum to swing completely the other direction to allow them to create a DNA registry. Great job guys, that's like taking advantage of 9/11 to get the Patriot Act, which was drafted years before, passed. It's no surprise that Austin PD, one of the most racist in the state (and that's saying something in a state that has towns like Vidor), is leading the charge for yet another police-state program.

Harris County's opinion is conspicuously absent, but expectedly so, since their policy is to destroy DNA evidence as fast as possible, even though they know that some of their convictions were faulty. Hell, after the first guy was exonerated by DNA during Rosenthal's tenure, he ordered all old DNA destroyed so it wouldn't happen again.

He ought to be taken out back and shot, if you ask me. And his supporters should be lined up right next to him.

So, good luck to Texans in getting DNA reform that makes sense, not DNA laws that would make George Orwell proud.

Republicans, if you want me to explain who Orwell was, just let me know.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Ricardo Rachell Update

Well go figure. The Houston Police Department can't for the life of them figure out why they never snapped to the fact that they arrested the wrong guy and ignored the fact that identical attacks on identical victims kept occurring in an identical way in the exact same area where they claimed Rachell was committing crimes.

Here's a possible reason: Because they didn't care. Those cases were closed, and re-opening them would not only mean more work (God forbid they have to do their jobs at all, much less do them correctly) but it would expose their mistake.

Now they're finding out that you can't find the answer to a question that was never asked. And they're covering up by playing dumb again. The answer is not why they wouldn't have gotten the right answer after a proper investigation, it's why they didn't hold a proper investigation in the first place.

This is a perfect example of the HPD putting the importance of a closed case over the importance of justice. Can't wait for more DNA evidence to be reviewed in Harris County cases, we'll be seeing this kind of thing more often.

Here are some of my favorite parts of the article:

Because of it, Hawthorne remained free and assaulted at least three other young boys.

Congratulations HPD, those assaults are on you.

According to Chronicle interviews, a total of three assistant district attorneys handled Rachell’s case in the seven months between his arrest and trial. Two of those lawyers, speaking publicly for the first time, said they don’t know why biological evidence that could have cleared his name was not tested before trial.

Jimmy Ortiz, who prosecuted Rachell at trial and is now a defense attorney, said he was stunned when DNA tests in November confirmed Rachell’s innocence. He said he inherited the case from another district attorney just five weeks before trial.

Well, maybe not completely, because it appears that the HCDAO has a little responsibility in this as well.

I especially love ADA Ortiz's "it's not my fault, I inherited that case..." quote. Coward. You prosecuted it, don't try to weasel out of the responsibility. Sure, in the next paragraph he says he accepts responsibility, but that kind of flies in the face of all of that finger pointing he's doing.

And this one is classic:

"As a prosecutor, if a case like this is going to trial, I would have wanted DNA test results,” Musick said. “But I know (from the file) I did not order DNA, and I don’t know why. I cannot say if it was because I either didn’t know about it or because it fell through the cracks."

So basically, we know that ADA Musick always orders DNA to be tested. Except when she doesn't. But she would have unless she didn't know about the DNA evidence (a.k.a., it's someone else's fault) or she just forgot to (a.k.a., she's incompetent). If I were one of her clients now that she's left the DA's office I'd be seriously looking for a new lawyer.

Great. So prosecutors do what they're supposed to do, except when they don't because someone else (in the DA's office) screwed up or because they themselves are incompetent, or they're the third in a line of DA's that inherited the case, none of which properly investigated it. Fantastic.

And they don't know why this is screwed up? I'd say they should be concerned with how many others are, if their policies at every level are this flawed.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Who said what again?

I can't remember who the jackass was who said that I was full of it when I said that child molesting ex-cops get preferential bail treatment, but they basically said I had no idea what I was talking about. Well, here you go.

Sure, Castleberry ran. So if that's the reason, why not deny bail altogether? They could have, hell they tracked this guy across the globe and know he's a threat. And of course he did more of what the former cop is accused of doing, but to what degree are we OK with putting accused pedophiles back on the street? In the case of the ex-cop, that's the same street his victim lives on, from what I remember.

While they didn't deny bail, this non-cop is (rightfully) unable to meet what bail has been set. I hope they put him in with everyone else to wait out his trial, and it looks like he's guilty as charged. So I'm glad he won't be out on bond. But I don't think an ex-cop should get easier treatment.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Tulia, Texas

If you haven't seen it yet, Tulia, Texas is everything Grits for Breakfast said it would be.

Except to someone like me, who sees these tactics as SOP for law enforcement, especially where they have a financial incentive, it's even more.

I'll be e-mailing this to everyone I know. Most will think I'm "at it again," but some will watch. I'm also going to get seriously pro-active on working to defeat Byrne Grants in a way that keeps them from being implemented even if they're left in the stimulus bill.

Tilting at windmills? Sure. But this windmill has it coming.

Imagine, if you will...

Submitted, for your approval. The story of a young girl. A girl whose life is the same as that of any other. Who does well in school. Who loves her family, and her friends. A girl whose only crime is being black, and living, in the Twilight Zone.

File this one as another one of my "Are you effing kidding me?" stories. Girl in her front yard, going to turn on a power breaker that had tripped. Unmarked van rolls up. Three MASKED MEN WITH NO UNIFORMS jump out and grab her. None announce that they are police, or show identification. And they try to shove her into the van, yelling obscenities at her and hitting her.

You know, I halfway empathize with Iraqis who shoot at Americans, because we invaded their country based on lies. Can you imagine a foreign army rolling through Texas? You know what I'd do? Wolverines, bitches! You bet your ass. I'd take to the hills and shoot at the invaders like nobody's business.

So imagine what a girl is going to do when four masked men roll up and abduct her. She's gonna' fight, and hopefully fight like Hell. I hope that my kids would do the exact same thing, and yell like crazy.

Upon my appearance in the front yard I would expect the officers to realize that the 12 year old child they were kidnapping, beating, and cursing was not a prostitute, but instead a 12 year old honors student. And oh yeah, being a 12 year old black girl, she's probably not one of the three white prostitutes they're looking for. Of course, if I showed up in the front yard after hearing my kids scream, I'd come out shooting, so it's a damn good thing these assholes didn't do this at my house. But instead of being grateful, what did they do?

Those bastards filed charges against her, and that son-of-a-bitch DA actually tried her for assault! Gee, I wonder of it had anything to do with the fact that the cops have been sued in a civil suit, and an effort to discredit their case and try to interfere with their ability to recover? To top it off, they waited a while and arrested her at school. What a bunch of pansy-ass bastards.

This is why I hate prosecutors, and many cops. They are some of the biggest cowards on the planet. I would love to see these donut eating bastards in a dark alley somewhere.