Friday, March 12, 2010

Liberty and Justice for Y'all: Kicking ass, taking names

The blog Liberty and Justice for Y'all has several notable posts which will interest Grits readers, particularly related to Fourth Amendment topics.

LJY points us to an article discussing the "burgeoning jurisprudence of placing a premium on citizens’ ignorance of their Fourth Amendment rights," and another on the question of whether copying computer data constitutes a seizure. A separate post describes how, when it comes to Texas courts interpretation of the Fourth Amendment, essentially all circumstances are "exigent."

LJY also describes a recent, contentious 5-4 Texas Court of Criminal Appeals ruling which threw out a confession because a police officer falsified a government document (faking fingerprint results from a crime lab) to show the suspect during an interrogation. And we learn of another positive CCA decision holding that out-of-court statements by a confidential informant violate the Confrontation Clause if presented at trial.

However, just in case these decisions make you think the Texas CCA has changed its stripes, LJY informs us of the court's ruling that police may seize items not described in a search warrant, overturning decisions by the trial judge and appellate court. (Deference to findings by the trial court, judging from the majority opinion, only apply when their rulings benefit the prosecution.)

Meanwhile, the US 5th Circuit Court of Appeals, LJY informs us, decided a judge in Texas needed a better reason to shackle a defendant at trial than "that's how we always do it." And there's another interesting post on how to attack enforcement of a judgment in criminal court employing the seldom seen Writ of Audita Querela - a tactic which seems potentially helpful in possible innocence cases where there's no DNA evidence.

Excellent stuff all the way around. Liberty and Justice for Y'all is rapidly rising up on my must-read list, no doubt.

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

It would be a fine day if writs of audita querela, coram nobis and the like were recognized in Texas courts. Unfortunately there's a vast amount of TX authority saying that habeas corpus is the only collateral proceeding by which to set aside a Texas felony conviction. Not that I would want to deter anyone from having a go at crafting some new argument that they should apply - I just wouldn't be getting my hopes up.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

I asked that question in the comments at LJY, and he later clarified that point exactly as you did, 8:19. I'd just never heard of that motion before. It's apparently only in federal criminal cases, and then very rare.

Anonymous said...

Ignorance of your rights isn't an anomaly in Texas, it seems it's a way of life that now even the Education Board has taken pains to promote.
Read:
http://www.dallasnews.com/sharedcontent/dws/news/texassouthwest/stories/DN-sboe_12met.ART.State.Edition2.4bcac76.html

We continually read here and other places about injustice in Texas, violations of the rights of it's citizens and wonder why nothing is done. Why the general public allows this to continue? Well I would say that given the actions of the Education Board and those that stand behind the proposed changes, we now know a part of why. A dentist is making educational decisions that will affect the lives of millions of students for the next decade along with a group of other conservatives who wish to influence what children will be taught and are attempting to gut the separation between Church and State. Not only will this and the other changes they wish to make to the textbooks affect what Texas students learn in the classroom, but it will in time effect how they respond as potential jurors, lawyers, judges and defendants in the courtroom.

I have found that the average person in Texas is woefully ignorant of not only international history, but American history as well and always thought perhaps it's just the people I'm meeting. I guess I was wrong as Texas seems to be intent on teaching their own version to the detriment of it's students. As one commenter said, the train has officially pulled into Crazy Town. You have to read the transcripts of the meeting to get all of the changes they wish to make and I encourage you to do so as some of the changes are completely unbelievable.

I think they need to change that “Texas- It's like a whole other country” to include “Where ignorance abounds and that's the way we like it”.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

"the average person in Texas is woefully ignorant of not only international history, but American history as well"

That's true of most Americans. I couldn't agree more that the SBOE is a catastrophe and an embarrassment, but did you notice that the theocrats mostly lost in the GOP primary this go-round? IMO most Texans don't support that agenda.

BTW, the weirdest thing to me about the SBOE is that one of the theocrats' leaders is Forensic Science Commisson Chairman John Bradley's brother David. JB, you may recall, was appointed by Perry to shut down the investigation of flawed arson science that resulted in a death sentence. So one brother wants to keep real science out of the schools, and the other wants to keep it from infecting the courtroom. That one family, however, hardly represents the whole state.

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