In commemoration, I want to say "thank you" to everybody who reads and links to this weblog. I appreciate you a lot. I'm writing this stuff for me, for sure, or God knows there wouldn't be so much of it. But I'm awfully grateful when folks tell me they're enjoying Grits and finding it useful.
With that formality taken care of, here are a few items I've run across recently that merit presentation in a roundup format:
- Odessa task force may not close: First, an update: Grits mentioned earlier that the Ector County Sheriff and District Attorney both wanted to pull out of the Odessa-based West Texas Narcotics Task Force. Now it looks like the county commissioners court will stay in the task force over law enforcement's objections. All over the state, more far-sighted agencies are using the same grant money for other things.
- Biased jury selection: The Dallas News put up an excellent page devoted to its series on the role of race in Dallas county jury selection. Dallas prosecutors exclude black jurors at twice the rate they exclude whites.
- Teach 'em a skill: The SA Express News tells how the Bexar County Jail has teamed up with a local construction-trades training program to give inmates skills and reduce recidivism.
- Judges say long sentences don't promote justice: The prolific Doc Berman points here and here to cases where Federal Eighth Circuit Court Judge Donald Lay, the most outspoken advocate for drug courts within the federal judiciary, used opinions written in everyday drug cases to advocate for increased use of drug courts and fairer federal sentencing practices. Berman also tells of another federal judge who felt the sentence for a bank robbery getaway driver was too long compared to more culpable accomplices. (BTW, I'm frequently reminded that a lot of Grits readers in Texas aren't necessarily otherwise acquainted with the blogosphere, but if you care about criminal sentencing at all, especially at the federal level, Doc's Sentencing Law and Policy is consistently a damn good blog. Read it often.)
- No means no! (to vehicle searches): Scott Morgan has a good example of how to say no to a police officer's request for a so-called "consent search" of your vehicle at a traffic stop.
- Medical marijuana poster child: Lots of folks have already discussed this, but how can anyone justify sentencing a defendant to eight years in prison for helping their friend with multiple sclerosis buy 2 ounces of pot? If nothing else it's just bad PR.
- Say it ain't so, Thurgood: I sure didn't know this: Thurgood Marshall was probably an FBI snitch against a more radical, less-well-known rival in the civil rights movement. I sent around the clip to some friends to confirm the shocking allegation, and a knowledgable African American ally in the civil rights movement responded thusly: "I've known this for years," he said, "and, sad to say, it seems to be true." Another liberal attorney I checked with, though, didn't want to know: "I need to believe in Thurgood Marshall," she replied.