Sunday, March 29, 2009

When Guns Are Outlawed...

One of the worst things you can do is make a law in response to a single incident. Whether it be the Patriot Act in response to 9/11, making dog-napping illegal because one mayor in the Valley had his dog stolen, or banning guns on college campuses because of the Virginia Tech massacre, ad hoc laws are almost universally bad.

I'm not your usual Democrat. I'm pro-death penalty (if done right), I want to drastically step up efforts to eliminate illegal immigration at the border and by going after employers, and I would be more than happy to damn near close the borders altogether in order to stem our third world growth rate (of course, even the Republian Party is is pro-illegal immigration), I'm pro-life (as far as my personal beliefs, anyway, I could care less about other people), and I will be God-damned before I give up my guns. Sure, I think the 2nd Amendment can be reasonably regulated like any other amendment. Hell, the exceptions to the 4th, 5th, and 6th Amendments pretty much swallow the rules so the 2nd is most likely no different.

But how and when should it be regulated? I'm not talking about nukes, grenades, or fully automatic weapons, I'm talking about guns that people use to protect themselves. The action you take to regulate guns has to be related to the result you intend, and we all know from the recent DC case that a complete gun ban in DC has made it no safer, and in fact DC is less safe than almost anywhere. And the guy at VT who shot all of those people was already breaking the law. Did a law stop him? Not a bit. We have laws that say "no guns on campus" and "don't shoot other people" and "murder is illegal". It's even a sin, forchrissakes. So if the Ten Commandments and state and federal laws didn't stop the shooter at VT, what would have?

Someone else with a gun.

I am sympathetic with this guy's stance in a way, because I am sure that being there and having friends and a girlfriend killed was horrible beyond words. I imagine that being defenseless in that situation would be awful. The way to fix that is to make it where people can defend themselves, ot to make it harder. Had people been allowed to carry they could have stood at the doors and defended other students, or affirmatively gone to look for the shooter. Same thing happened at the Killeen Luby's a while back, a woman who normally caried a gun left it in her car that day for some reason. Her dad was shot down right next to her. Had she had it, maybe he wouldn't have been.

I don't personally put any stock in the argument that every time a CCW law is passed crime in that state immediately drops. I do, however, think that if someone is shooting up a crowd of people and someone can shoot back, at least the death toll will be lower. No law will stop someone who will already break a law in order to carry out his or her crime. But my 1911 will.

So I'm sorry for this guy's loss, but I hope he minds his own business and realizes that his personal experience should not dictate that other people should fall victim to a campus shooter because noone can shoot back. The first line in this article shows that this guy sits in class and wonders what would happen of someone came in shoting. If all he can do is sit there, what will happen is that he'll die. If he and others can shoot back, maybe more will live. We already know what happens when an armed attacker shoots a bunch of unarmed students. Let's see if the result changed with armed students.

Full Of It

You might think by the title that this would be about Lykos, and normally you may have been right. Instead, I've decided to take a closer look at a person who is quick to take cheap shots even at his friends, ban people from commenting on his blog just because they disagree with him and call him on his mistakes, and whose off the cuff statements are logically and often legally incorrect. It's a good thing Mark Bennett claims not to blog for profit, because if his clients saw the inaccuracies in his posts they would surely jump ship faster than ADA's in Harris County over the next couple of months.

My first run-in with Bennett was when I said a defendant should probably have had his bail revoked. His response was to claim that the Texas Constitution does not allow a defendant to be held without bail. Ever. He even went so far as to tell me htat it was clear that I'm not a criminal lawyer.

So I figured, man, I must have really put my foot in my mouth. I better research stuff a little better, and I'll start with this because although Mark Bennett is president of one of the largest criminal defense lawyer organizations in the country and he won the prestigious ABA Blog Poll Award (by a whopping 20 or so points with a total nationwide of about 200, but still...), something didn't seem right to me. So, as a non-criminal lawyer it only took me 30 seconds to find out that you can, in fact, be held without bond in Texas. For several reasons, even. Did any of them apply in this case? Who knows, because we didn't have all the facts. But his statement wasn't that it couldn't be done in that particular case, it was that it could never, ever, be done. Wow. It was like learning that there was no Santa Claus. Mark Bennett, MR. Blog, president of the HCCDA (or whatever), was wrong about something? I was crushed.

In all truth, however, I was amused. Who in the Holy Hell is this guy? He's been practicing criminal law for how many years and he thought the state couldn't hold one of his clients without bail? And then he tells me it shows that I'm not a criminal lawyer? Are you kidding me? How can he have been a criminal lawyer for a single day and held that misunderstanding of the law? How could he have gotten out of law school and not known? I quickly realized that he was our local defense attorney version of Sharon Keller. They were both elected to whatever position they hold, and they both blow hard when challenged, but when it comes down to it they both seem to be hacks who don't understand the fundamentals of even their own profession.

Another example was my favorite run in with him, and this is the one that got me banned from his blog and for which he even attempted to have me listed as a spammer for all Wordpress blogs. After threatening to hold prosecutors and even judges accountable for their misconduct by reporting them to the bar and/or Commission on Judicial Conduct our friend was then confronted with exactly the sort of scenario he threatened them about. The funniest part is that it had to do with a motion to hold his client without bail, which he had just recently told me was a legal impossibility in Texas. It seems that an ADA had filed a motion to withhold bail on one of Mark's clients, represented to the court that Mark had been made aware of it, when in fact Mark had never even seen or heard about the motion (and I guess was still under the mistaken impression that no such motion could even be filed in Texas). On top of that, the ADA ex-parte'd the judge and got him to sign the motion. Now, that's one of the most egregious filings I've ever heard about and because Bennett had so recently railed against prosecutors and judges doing such improper things, I felt sure he would make the appropriate authorities aware of it.


When I questioned him on it, he banned me from his blog (which is fine, since I think most readers will agree that I shouldn't be posting on my own blogs, much less others). Just for pointing out that he says one thing should be done by defense lawyers, but when it has to do with him putting his balls on the line, he doesn't do a thing.

And by now you may be thinking that these mistakes must be isolated events, right? Well, as it turns out, Houston's top defender didn't even know that if a judge sustains a Batson challenge the CCP says that a new jury has to be empanelled. So, he doesn't know that a defendant can be held without bail, and now doesn't know the cure for race-based strikes by a DA? Is this guy really a criminal defense lawyer AT ALL? Bail is one of the first steps in a criminal prosecution, and jury selection is the first step in a trial (not counting pre-trial), and he doesn't know the ins and outs of either? Now, I'll grant you that I didn't know that the judge has the discretion to excuse the entire panel either, but the statute that mandates it is is in the Code of CRIMINAL Procedure. You know, the code that criminal lawyers operate within as a part of their job. Something the HNIC should be aware of, right? I'll remember it from now on, but I'm a civil lawyer. Why doesn't a criminal lawyer know the proper way to fix Batson violations?

So I gotta' tell ya that if Mark Benett says you're not a ciminal lawyer, or that you fail miserably at thinking like a defense lawyer (that was, in my opinion, the biggest chicken-shit pot shot he's taken at anyone), I wouldn't be offended. And this was only a couple of posts that I could easily recall as being miserably incorrect. I'm guessing that if you looked harder, you could find more.

Maybe he should stick to posts about Zen. That way, when he argues with someone and tells them they completely misunderstand what he's saying, at least there will be room for interpretation. And as a side note to Mr. Bennett, if people don't understand what you're saying, and it happens often, maybe the message, and not the reader, is the problem. That certainly seems to be the problem with the very few criminal law posts you've actually made.

Wrongful Convictions in MY Courthouse? It's More Likely Than You Think.

I've often said that Harris County gets to run roughshod over defendants (I even deleted a post yesterday on Leitner's recent morale/training efforts, and why they aren't necessary because of how easy it is to get a conviction here), so it was no surprise to see this case get overturned. Well, it was a surprise to see it overturned, since I'm sure it wouldn't have had the CCA been the last word on it, but the underlying facts are no surprise. That it involves another Kelly Siegler case makes yet another of my points--that she as often as anyone had to rely on bad evidence or other tricks to get the convictions. She goes so far as to say that she "tried" to use the statements of a co-conspirator with his cooperation, but I guess when he refused she used them anyway. Now let's see, if you "try" to use them appropriately, but can't and decide to use them anyway, isn't that what we call "inappropriate"? And in criminal trials, inappropriate usually means unconstitutional.

You don't think presenting a case to a grand jury three times is a dirty trick? You'e probably a prosecutor. Or someone similarly happy to sign over their rights because the government is "always right." How about that the third time you presented the case to the grand jury just so happened to coincide with a similar and nationally pulicized case in California, allowing you to finally get that indictment that you couldn't get twice before? Harris County may be the only place in America where it's harder to indict a ham sandwich than convict one. As long as Siegler could get the case past that pesky grand jury, she knew she could get the guy convicted (with the help of excluding a few Canadians...).

In this particular case the dirty tricks include using an illegally obtained confession and prventing the defendant from being able to confront his accuser. Doesn't sound like a dirty trick to you? Then you don't know your Bill of Rights. And you're probably still a prosecutor.

I say we bring Siegler back to see if she can get a conviction without violating at least two Constitutional rights.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Stimulate Me. Please.

I have to admit, I have a thing for Lisa Falkenberg. Her nerdy goodness is the gift that keeps on giving every time I see her picture in the paper. Of course, I hope she's not doing what lawyers do and that she hasn't submitted a 20 year old picture for her bio so that in real life she'd be unrecognizeable. But it's not like I'm going to meet her, so I'll just keep up the illusion, which I hope is the truth.

And of course, since the last article that I read of hers was about Texas prosecuting dildo lovers (say hi to your mom for me, Seaton), it's kind of funny to me that this story is about the stimulus plan.

Not just because of the word 'stimulus,' but also because Perry's sticking it in the kiester of every unemployed Texan out there.

Falkenberg's analysis of what Texas would have to do to accept the stimulus is the first real one I've seen, and she makes some fantastic points. I mean, God forbid that Texas unemployment practices come into the computer age. Or that we help part-time workers who have been laid off. That would be just awful.

Falkenberg's suggestion that any changes be repealed in the future was the first thing I thought of when Perry started bitching about the future costs. Change what they require, then scrap what you don't like at a later date. Hell, write the statute to automatically expire at a certain date. Duh.

And all this business about "raising taxes on businesses" is hilarious to me. Perry pushed for the single largest tax increase on Texas businesses in our history, even taxing partnerships that should be exempt from state taxes based on the flow-through nature of their income based on IRS regs.

I never thought I'd say this, but bring on Kay Bailey. At least she'd look for ways to take over half a billion dollars that Texans could really use, as opposed to trying to act like he gives a damn about taxing business, which he's done more than any other governor, ever.

Talk about dildos.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Hasn't The Matrix Made It To Telemundo?

Why investigate stupid?

You don't see people following Seaton around, why are they wasting time and money investigating what this guy did?

HPD, here's the answer:

a. Everybody falls on the first jump.
b. He thought he could jump farther than he was able to.
c. All of the above.

I'll bill you later.

Witnesses? We Don't Need No Steenking Witnesses

Too bad this case didn't go to trial in Harris County, where we didn't even have a policy to test all the evidence in a case until this year.

11 witnesses would be more than enough for the needle in Houston. Hell, we don't need any here. Even when you ask for DNA? "There isn't any in the file." Sorry.

But we'll be convicting your client on no evidence anyway. kthxbye.

The Goat

Nobody likes to be the bad guy. And nobody I know would ever argue that when defense lawyers screw up, they shouldn't be disciplined, or even disbarred. But for Keller to point the finger at a lawyer who was following known practices when she violated the CCA's rules is absurd. Doesn't matter where you point your crooked finger Judge Keller, you're still the goat in your own personal scandal.

On a side note, I see that several DA apologists around the blogs are taking advantage of the rash of late filings that impacted various defendants.

How exactly does that excuse DA's from knowingly withholding evidence? I have no idea, but it seems to make sense in their little pea-brains. I have yet to see anyone take the defense lawyers' sides, either. But no mention of that.

I guess there's goats all around on this topic, but the only ones defending their goats are the DA's. Incidently, their knowing conduct of a DA who withholds evidence is more eggregious than any defense lawyer's negligence, but I guess they can't see that issue either. They're too busy banging their goats.

Equal Justice?

Where is the "cops who commit crimes are treated like everyone else" crowd when you need them?

And of course I ask this knowing that if and when they come flailing in here they won't have anything constructive to say, just that I'm a dumbass non-criminal lawyer, but it's always fun to rub their noses in stuff like this.

So, a cop makes bail, but is ordered to counseling. When's the last time a non-cop even made bail in a bank robbery, much less had a judge express concern over their mental health? Aren't the pro-cop folks usually the ones saying we don't need health care, much less psychological care, in jail?

Do As I Say...

So America is expected to keep drugs out and guns in, but Mexico isn't supposed to keep drugs in and guns out?

I don't get it. I hear it from the Mexican apologists and the "legalize it" crowd all the time, and although I'm for decriminalization of pot I just can't get on their bandwagon. Sure, we're the market for it. And one argument is that if there was no market, there would be no drugs. But maybe if they did better at not producting them, we'd buy less and there would be less of a drug problem in Mexico? Just a thought.

I can't wait for the day that Mexico assumes the amount of responsibility that they demand from us.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Well That's Odd...

I was once told that there were no circumstances, ever, under which the Texas Constitution would permit a defendant to be held without bail.

I think it was even some internet-famous president of some criminal law organization that said it.

Doesn't speak well of the leadership of Houston's criminal defense lawyers.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Now if the Republicans Will Stop the Voter Suppression...

...we'll have complete voting reform.

Good job, legislature. We've needed this for a while.

I guess a broken clock really is right twice a day...

It's Never Free, But... I the only one eagerly awaiting the public disclosure of THE LIST?

I didn't see "judges" on the list, but man wouldn't that be a hoot? Come on now, my DA brothers and sisters, all that "you guys suck" stuff was just me goofin' around. Hook me up with the list! I know you guys are all going down there looking to see who's on it.

SHHHHH! This is a Moment of No Learning!

We're supposed to believe that this is to promote religious freedom? Come on now.

As if the all-white all-Christian folks promoting the addition of the word "prayer" into the Moment of Silence Law (and the original promoters of the law in he first place), are tolerant folks.

It's bad enough that schools are eliminating physical fitness, art and music classes as it is, they're content to just sit still instead of learning. Not to mention the amount of money we must have spent defending this POS law in the first place.

Teachers are bad enough at teaching math and science, do we really want them making further inroads into teaching religion? If this goes further and the "Bible as history" classes are next up, do you want some schmuck with little more than a basic understanding of the subject that they went to school for teaching your kids about God?

And I won't hold my breath for the "Koran as History" classes from these tolerant folks.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

But she has an irresistable urge to grow up to be a Prosecutor...

Couldn't resist this story of a toddler living through a three story fall.

In other news, I'm bored today.

For Sale: Justice

I'll be interested to hear how our pro-business Republican types justify this. You know, the ones that say eye-for-an-eye, or "some people just need killin'" every time a death penalty case comes down the pipe.

British Petroleum "resolves" criminal charges by paying $50 million.

So our scenarious are thus:

BP executives know that explosions are common, nay, likely, without a very simple and inexpensive device that ignites fumes in order to keep them from pooling and exploding with an accidental ignition source. They refuse to equip a plant with a terrible safety record with the inexpensive device, despite recommendations to do so that cite the explosion hazard and the ease with which it can be remedied. Then they run the plant 24/7 at the highest possible capacity. Several people die in the very type of explosion they were warned about.

As opposed to, say, this:

A man walks into a bar. He's got a duck in one hand, and a bomb in the other. He knows the bomb will detonate if he sets the timer. He sets the bomb and leaves, and kills several people.

Question: In which of these two instances should the person making the decision to create the hazardous condition be able to buy his way out of jail time?

Answer: Neither.

But if you're a BP executive, you're lucky, because you get a free ride.

Lady Justice, I hope they at least gave you some lube first.

Her foes have become her masters...

...her enemies are at ease.
The LORD has brought her grief
because of her many sins.
Her children have gone into exile,
captive before the foe.

Oh, the lamentations that must be occurring at the Harris County DA's office right now. The wringing of hands, the gnashing of teeth. The pointing of fingers.

Lykos is on the way to enacting what I see to be one of the single largest steps toward justice that Harris County has seen in a long time: actually testing and relying on forensic evidence.

Why wasn't this a policy already? Why would Rosenthal rather destroy a bank full of DNA evidence in a race against the clock to prevent exonerations? Why would current (and past) ADA's rather have Rosenthal-Siegler, who might never have progressed toward actually trying to ensure the integrity of their convictions, as opposed to Lykos, who, love her or hate her, is at least letting the sun shine on practices at the HCDAO?

Accountability. That's why. Rosenthal wanted to make sure his convictions would never be questioned, going so far as to delay the investigation into cases where a question arose as to the defendant's actual innocence, and interfered with attempts to investigate the Houston Crime Lab while knowingly relying on convictions from the lab that was producing false evidentiary reports. Rosenthal and his followers have for years hid behind the coward's defense of "He's guilty, a jury said so." Sure they did. Because in many cases evidence was withheld, sometimes intentionally and in others unintentionally, or the crime lab faked it, or any number of other reasons.

Lykos promised to clean house, and while I have no idea if the prosecutors who have left to date are actually guilty of some of the above-listed (crimes, in some cases) failures, the fact is that the office in general needed to adopt more safeguards. But that would mean scrutiny, and more work, to which they are loathe to subject themselves.

Now, the question of a prosecutor, cop, or crime lab intentionally destroying, hiding, or falsifying evidence can never be 100% prevented if they want to do it. But this is an important (first) step in making sure that convictions in Harris County are based on actual evidence, not the whim or faulty work of a cop, investigator, or prosecutor.

As for the passage at the top of this story, it will be interpreted differently by those on different sides of this issue (although we should all be on the same side of this one). As for me, let's just say that daylight is the enemy of darkness, and leave it at that.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

An Open Letter to Mayor White

Dear Mayor White:

I sincerely hope that you will be our next Senator. I would rather have had you as a governor, but I understand not wanting to butt heads with Kay Bailey's money. She has become increasingly moderate over the years anyway, and let's face it--anyone that Rick Perry launches an all-out offensive against has got to have something going for her. Just don't go anywhere near her when she's got a phone book in her hands.

However. I am, for lack of a better word, offended by your statements that the federal government isn't doing enough to rid our country of illegals who commit crimes.

In your run-up to your campaign, you're stoking fears that immigrants are out there and committing crimes left and right. That you do it in a story related to the shooting of a police officer is brilliant, I'll give you that. It panders to the police officer unions, who traditionally go Republican, and to tough on crime Republicans, some of who may vote for you because many are centrists and unlike Obama you're a white man so the racial divide in Texas won't be as great for you as it was for him. Hell, your name is White, so you stand to make out pretty well. So, good job pandering to the right.

However, in doing so you betray not only your own history, but the facts. Sure, ICE is falling down on the job and is doing more to go after the big group arrests of immigrant workers and ignoring the criminals in the jails, but for God's sakes you're the mayor of one of the largest sanctuary cities in the country. The policies of this city are far more culpable for not attempting to identify illegals who commit crimes than ICE ever could be. And of course, let's not forget that despite your scare mongering illegal aliens actually commit fewer crimes than American Citizens do. While simpletons are quick to point out that "just being here is breaking the law" (hi Tenderfoot), the fact is that illegal immigrants don't commit the crimes that we worry the most about as often as we like to think they do. They're just low-hanging fruit for politicians because they can't defend themselves. It's like picking on the smallest kid in class, or debating with Arthur Seaton, or even asking Mark Bennet to grow some balls and do what he threatens to do until it actually happens to him. You know you're going to win, because they're ill equipped for whatever you're confronting them with.

So, you're either intentionally scare mongering or you're terribly uninformed (like the general public), but either way you're wrong. Add to that your cognitive dissonance and the city's culpability for being a city known for turning the other cheek on illegal immigration, and you have a problem in this upcoming election.

Yes, I understand that federal law prohibits cities from deporting illegal immigrants. But does it prevent you from identifying them and turning them over to the feds? Nope. You can't enforce federal immigration law, but you can identify those who break it and turn them over to those who can. What do you do instead? You declare Houston to be a sanctuary (i.e. "safe" for illegals) and implement day centers so they can all congregate in one place and find work. (Dear ICE: I know where you can find a bunch of illegal aliens, hint hint...)

When you do more to identify illegal aliens and coordinate their deportation than you do for helping them feel safe here, I'll feel better about your stance on this issue. Your time's running out though.

P.S.: Thanks for the call the other day. See you next week.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Where Is Your God Now?

Obviously, shooting just about anybody is wrong. But if you're going to shoot someone, and there's not a lawyer around to be shot, the next best thing is prbably a Baptist preacher. Even better that it was some mega-church.

Now rest easy folks, I happen to be a Believer and attend church regularly. But I have the utmost disdain for mega churches and the Catholic Church because they are generally backwards and wasteful. Backwards because when religion gets involved in too many aspects of life the reult is generally bad. Remember the Dark Ages? Thanks, Catholics.

And of course religion is a good thing. Hell, the lack of it can be good. But when bad people hide behind religion you get things like the Spanish Inquisition--at a time when you least expect it. Nowadays you get the Catholic Church telling people in Africa that condoms actually spread AIDS, to keep people from using them--preaching abstinince when even a dullard like Sarah Palin has come to discover that it doesn't work. We also get people being thrown in jail because they're selling vibrators in Texas, or people flying planes into buildings so they can go have 72 virgins in the afterlife. And that has to be the oddest religious interpretation of all, because virgins are horrible in the sack. Jerry Falwell gets to call for the death of all Muslims in the Name of the Lord, and Pat Robertson gets to call for the assassination of world leaders and blames 9/11 on America loving gays.

But on a more local and immediate leel, all of that money thrown into mega-churches, or that keeps the Pope in his hat and slippers amongst billions of dollars in real estate and art only so they can hide child molestors from justice, could have a much better use. I think Lakewood cost over a hundred million dollars to buy, reovate, and keep running. Can you imagine how many people that could clothe, feed, house, and educate? Sure makes for a spiffy TV sermon, though. Same goes for that new Cathedral on the south side of downtown Houston. Not only is it reminiscent of a prison, but it is built on the backs of the poor people who tithe because the pope tells them to, while he lives in luxury and they can't afford their rent.

It's awful ironic that the best use this clown probably ever got out of his Bible was in deflecting that first bullet.

Good riddance to one more mega-church pastor. Say hi to ol' Falwell down there.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Barbara Bush Has A Heart?

After saying that Katrina evacuees had it great living in cots on the Astrodome floor (which only occurred several days after her son utterly failed as a leader) who would have thought that she had a heart?

Ol' Bush Sr. wasn't that much of a president, but he's one of very few politicians that actually did heroic things in times of war (this list does not include McCain, who went straight to South America instead of Vietnam because he could get laid there despite being married, crashed plane after plane, and spilled his guts leaving his cellmates in Vietnam to continue to get tortured while they went easy on him, only to leave his wife as soon as he got back to the states for a millionaire's hose-bag daughter, whom he degrades every chance he gets...).

Instead of doing what his son did in joining the Guard, or McCain did in getting his daddy the admiral to send him to a post where he could get laid and not have to fight, Bush Sr. actually chose to join the Navy and picked a plane that he would strap a bomb to and dive straight at the enemy before releasing it.

If you've never seen his story about getting shot down and setting the world's record for paddling a yellow dingy away from an island commanded by a Japanese colonel known for eating the livers of downed pilots, look it up. It's an interesting anecdote about an interesting man. So, if he chose Barbara she must have, at some point, been a decent human and I wish her well.

By the way--why can't we say Jap? You can say Brit. And I know there are more examples, but not Jap? I don't understand.

I also don't understand why we have to pay to support Israel because six million Jews were incinerated, which is certainly an awful thing, and Republicans line up to send money to God's "chosen people" (are they really chosen if they don't believe in the Son of God...) while Japan raped and killed millions more people than Germany ever did with the same sort of atrociousness, yet we're all buddies with them and they want us to apologize for dropping the bomb on them?

This August 6th, when Japan makes its yealy request for an apology for the A-bombs, I submit to President Obama a proposal for a formal response:

"Dear citizens of Japan. I have received your Parliament's request for an apology for the actions taken by the United States of America on 6 and 9 August, 1945. The events leading up to that event are complex, and many coniderations need to be taken into account before America can issue a formal response to your request. Please understand that I will give this matter very careful consideration. You have my pledge that I will do my utmost to ensure that you receive a proper response, which I will deliver to you on December 7th of this year."

Maybe that's too much for this admittedly Japanese disliking American to hope for, but STFU Japan. Don't start nothin', there won't be nothin'. And you started it.

You're welcome for rebuilding your country, by the way.

I need coffee.

Elizabeth Shelton's Odyssey

I've already reminded myself that if I ever get pulled over for drinking and driving, tell the cops I'm a judge. I noticed last week the County Judge of Montgomery County availed himself of that same defense.

But failing that, and since I'm unlikely to be traveling with a black robe and a gavel as props to help outwit the cops (who needs props for that, anyway?), I could probably convince them that I'm a judge's daughter.

That might get me out of an arrest, or, like Shelton, might let me get away with murder. And it might just get me a chance to sue the guy I hit while I was three times the legal limit and killed my boyfriend (I imagine you in that role, Seaton). And then again, I just might get to have to pay for only half of my legal defense, or better yet have my daddy pay the only half that we're charged, because the lawyer that represents me gets a bunch of juicy criminal appointments from daddy.

To be fair, I can somewhat understand this visiting judge's statements that community service for jail time working as a trusty is the norm in other counties. It's not in Harris County, probably because of our "tuff on crime" former DA, even though it somewhat makes sense to do it that way. Our probation department is amazingly underfunded and understaffed, so whatever it takes to get people out of supervision the fastest is probably a benefit to everyone involved.

And if not for all of the dirty laundry in the case already, the story probably wouldn't get much traction. But--there's plenty more dirty laundry in this case to go around because it appears that the visitig judge was ex parte'd. Was he a willing participant? Probably not--he did what was common in other counties that don't have policies written by prosecutors with short-penis syndrome. But who told him to do it? Was it really a member of the probation department, who would be allowed to discuss these things, or was it someone else? The fact that the judge doesn't know is a bit troubling, and of course you'd think that local probation folks would not have done this because they know it's not the norm in Harris County, which the judge claims to have been told was the case.

Sounds like ol' Judge Shelton or one of his close buddies may have gotten on the horn with the visiting judge and made a few false statements. The visiting judge should have investigated who was calling and the veracity of their claims, but because it's so normal everywhee else he has plenty of plausible deniability.

The real question here is what the ADA who is in charge of the case will do. Will he seek to undo the ruling of the visiting judge and make Shelton follow the terms of her probation? My bet is no way in Hell. But if he does, I'll be the first to congratulate him on holding those with conections as accountable as those without.

By the way--this is yet another instance of those being connected to the system being treated very favorably by it, despite Harris County ADA's posting in this very blog that they treat everyone equally. Someting tells me they just don't see it.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

David Letterman for Secretary of...

Sure, it was a joke, but when Letterman said that Obamna's best idea for the stimulus package was to make his cabinet picks to pay all of their taxes, maybe he was on to something.

I'm hoping Kirk will go down in the list of failed appointees, because I think he's just a slightly more north version of Mayor Brown, and the last thing we need for a trade representative is someone who can't even do his own damn taxes--or worse yet, could do them, but cheated.

And that's exactly what he appears to have done.

You Only Hurt the Ones You Love

Except in Texas it's more of a crime to hurt the ones you hate.

Which I've never understood, because you're only going to beat the tar out of someone if you already dislike them. Does it really matter why? Is it really worse to beat up a gay man, than say, a lawyer? Hell, they give out medals if you beat up lawyers.

Why does a gay man have more protection than a heterosexual one?

Why is it less of a crime for me to beat my wife than a total stranger, just because he likes to have sex with other men?

Sunday, March 1, 2009

All That is Necessary for Evil to Prevail...

Never let it be said that I'm not an equal opportunity offender. And apparently, I'm offending someone.

Of course, this particular dispute stems from a couple of posts wherein the righteously indignant (yet internet famous) Mark Bennett tells prosecutors (and even alludes that some judges could be included) to watch out and even gives them a "friendly" head's up, saying that next time they do something that violates the Rules of Conduct, they just might get "that certified letter from Austin."

In another post he even ponders the always-present "who's watching the watchers" issue when he states that he knows why it’s so hard to get a grievance sustained against a prosecutor: "even when they lie, cheat, hide evidence, and send unethical letters to people represented by counsel". According to him, it's because the perception of prosecutos is that they can do no wrong, and when even the Office of Chief Disciplinary Counsel loves prosecutors how can we expect them to take action against the unethical ones?

Here's an idea for you Mr. Bennett: make them aware of it in the first place.

So, I'm sure with all of your indignation you'll be reporting them for disciplinary action, like you threatened to do, so they never do it to one of your clients, right?

Of course not.

Even you ask, in the very title of your post, how this can possibly be OK. And instead of doing what you threaten to do not a few days before, you prevent any form of dissent from being discussed on your blog by denouncing it as bile, to be posted on my blog that nobody will read (which I pretty much said was the case in my first post, and your comment in the early posts was fairly complimentary...).

But, God forbid someone have to put up with their own words being thrown in their face. Way to talk a big game, yet do nothing but have "constructive conversations" when confronted with violations of the rules.

Edmund Burke was setting the absolute minimum standard for evil to prevail when he said that it would if good men do nothing. But you know what else will help it along? When defense attorneys don't have the courage to take action and are more concerned with their internet presece than they are with representing their clients or making sure that our profession is cleaned out of all of the scumbags--on any side of the bar--who break the rules.

Congratulations on your huge internet readership Mr. Bennett.

UPDATE: I can't tell you how much pleasure I just got out of telling my esteemed colleague Mr. Bennett that he referred to one of my recent posts on Life at the Harris County Criminal Justice Center as being correct. It was anonymous because when I posted I was sitting at the airport waiting for friends to come to town, and I hit post before filling anything with my name. My posts there are moderated but mostly approved when they're middle of the road, as that one was. So Bennett made the mistake of quoting me, which I couldn't help but tell him about.

His response? To list me as spam on all Wordpress blogs.

Man, that guy really doesn't like to be told he's wrong, but he likes it even less when he accidentally agrees with someone who's trying to hold him accountable for his ethics.

Oh well, I'm not too concerned about losing the confidence of a criminal lawyer who tried to tell me that there were no circumstances that would ever allow a judge in Texas to hold a defendant without bail, only to find within two minutes several reasons why it could be done. I'll just assume that the rest of his advice is equally as valuable.

(Note to Mark: I said "valuable," but I don't really mean it.)