Tuesday, March 21, 2006

From the blogs

Lots of juicy Texas criminal justice items around the blogosphere:

Investigating innocence an "attack on the judicial system." Via Sentencing Law and Policy blog I noticed this SA Express News article by Maro Robbins says it'll be difficult to get to the bottom of Ruben Cantu's allegedly wrongful conviction because the case hinges more on politics than evidence. Of Bexar County District Attorney Susan Reed, Robbins noted, "Whether true or false, to her [claims of Ruben Cantu's innocence] represented a partisan strategy. 'It's an attack on the judicial system,' she said in a December interview. 'It's an attack on the death penalty, referred on down here by those who are so adamantly opposed to the death penalty.'"

Free at last. Talk Left brings the news that Gregory Wallis has been released from a Texas prison after serving 18 years for an attempted rape and burglary he didn't commit. DNA evidence proved Wallis' innocence after an eyewitness falsely accused him. I've said before that requiring corroboration or other checks on eyewitness testimony is an area ripe for legislation.

Abuse alleged at juvie detention: As the Juvenile Justice Committee prepares to consider the topic on Wednesday, South Texas Chisme points to two articles discussing abuse at Texas Youth Commission facilities. Rep. Pena chimed in yesterday with a preliminary post describing his visit to the Evins TYC unit. See also Rio Grande Valley Politics' post, "Locked up in Juve" linking to full coverage of problems at the Evins Unit.

Unorthodox jail overcrowding solution.
South Texas Chisme also notes that the Nueces County Jail (Corpus Christi) accidentally released an inmate due to a "clerical error" for the third time in just over month - that's another way to combat jail overcrowding, I guess.

Mental retardation and the death penalty.
Via Stand Down Texas, Lyle Denniston at SCOTUS blog looks at the Penry case and its fourth trip to the US Supreme Court.

Written consent reduces unnecessary searches.
The Flex Your Rights blog praises Austin PD for its dramatic reduction in no-cause searches at traffic stops after implementing a policy requring motorists' consent to be obtained in writing. FYR cited an Austin Statesman story in which I was quoted declaring, "What (the statistics say) to me is that when people actually knew their rights, they didn't want to be searched."

Who called San Angelo "godforsaken"?
Oh yeah, I think that was me. Pink Dome contemplates opening a line of faith-based businesses to bid on government contracts modeled after a proposed "faith-based prison" being discussed in San Angelo.

Forget Clyde.
Texan Bonnie Parker (pictured above) was remembered with this interesting write up, mostly from FBI documents, as part of Women's History Month by Public Domain Clip Art.

Help me improve this blog. Finally,please take a minute to complete the first-ever Grits for Breakfast site survey
if you haven't taken it yet (and thanks to the 65 readers who have). The free version of the nifty survey tool I'm trying out, Survey Monkey, accepts 100 responses, at which time I'll pull the survey down and discuss the results.


Anonymous said...

I couldn't pass this one up.

"What (the statistics say) to me is that when people actually knew their rights, they didn't want to be searched."

And you base this statistical knowledge on what, Swami? You actually believe in this day and age the vast majority of people don't know that they have the right to refuse consent when ASKED? And those who "don't know" become educated by reading it on the side of the road?

Once again the hidden agenda of drug legalization is masked behind an alleged "civil rights abuse".

The bottom line: asking for consent to search a vehicle is a valuable tool for the police, especially for interdiction officers. If it were a non-issue (i.e. not effective) then the legalization crowd wouldn't care a flip. But it IS effective...very, very effective, when used the right way with the right training.

I don't care if you have a hidden agenda, but you're as bad as any special interest group when you attempt to legislate that which does not need it, solely for the benefit of your cause.

Shaine Mata said...

Before reading Grits, I didn't know I could refuse a search. Scott provides a public service.

Anonymous said...

You can't refuse a search. You can refuse a "request" to consent to a search.

The service provided is not very accurate...fair warning not to believe everything you read.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

"You can't refuse a search. You can refuse a 'request' to consent to a search."

That's correct. And since in Texas the officer can then arrest the motorist for the underlying traffic violaton and search their car upon impound, you've made a distinction without a difference. It's easier for officers to intimidate people into verbal consent. You SHOULD be able to refuse consent to search, but most drivers don't know they can without the written instrument.

I suppose, BTW, that the Supreme Courts of New Jersey and Minnesota, plus the Rhode Island Legislature and the California Highway Patrol are all pushing drug legalization, too, in your mind, right? Those jurisdictions all banned consent searches. Requiring written consent, like Austin PD does (as well as 29% of Texas departments in a recent survey by the Governor's CJAC), is a relatively modest reform by comparison.