If court watchers didn't already have enough reasons to disdain the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, which Texas Monthly famously called "Texas' Worst Court," now they've ruled that it's okay for police officers to distribute drugs to informants in order to convince them to become snitches.
Really? It's come to this? Cops can distribute illegal dope so they can recruit informants to catch people distributing illegal dope? What, exactly, is the point of that?
In what I hope she will make a regular feature, Anjuli Verma lists a bad Texas court decision among "This Week's Top Snitch Scandals" on the new national ACLU's blog about informant abuses:
The San Antonio Express News reported that Texas' highest criminal appeals court issued a decision that, in effect, allows police officers to give illegal drugs — even when the drugs are evidence in a case — to informants for their personal use! In this case, a police officer caught the potential informant with drugs, but before booking the evidence in her case he gave some of the drugs back to her so she could get high. The officer's defense to the tampering-with-evidence charge? "I was trying to create a snitch."I'd written about this case on Grits when it was at the appellate court level, and I cannot believe the CCA overruled the Fourth Court of Appeals (by a narrow 5-4 margin) to declare that "creating a snitch" is a defense to police evidence tampering. The officer actually thought giving drugs to a snitch was okay, he said, because he'd seen it done on television cop shows. (No, really!)
Here's the problem: Not one Democrat has signed up to run for any of the three Court of Criminal Appeals seats up in 2008, and none of the potential candidates I've heard of panned out. This ignominious court, it appears, will remain entirely uncontested, so the same nine judges will be there after the next election, even if predicted Democratic presidential coattails secure other statewide seats. That would be an enormous waste of an opportunity.
Somebody needs to step up. Three somebodies, actually, with "J.D." after their names. Or this disgraceful bunch will just run the Texas criminal justice system without interruption with the same crappy outcomes for years to come.
In other CCA-disgrace-related news, the public complaint against Presiding Judge Sharon Keller was ultimately signed by more than 1,600 Texans, and was distributed Friday afternoon to the court and filed with the Judicial Conduct Commission. See: