Saturday, August 21, 2010

'Mineola Swingers Club': Emotion guides decisions when probative evidence excluded from jurors

At Texas Monthly, Michael Hall is continuing his excellent coverage of the so-called Mineola Swingers Club cases with a description of the most recent trial and conviction of another of the adults alleged to have sexually molested kids. The Fourteenth Court of Appeals in Houston recently threw out the two earlier convictions , reports Hall:
On June 17 the Fourteenth Court of Appeals, in Houston, overturned the convictions of Kelly and Jamie Pittman. Kelly, the judges said, deserved a new trial because he hadn’t been allowed to present a defense and because Judge Skeen had “adopted ad hoc evidentiary rules that operated to assist the state in proving its case, while impeding appellant’s ability to defend himself.” (Jamie Pittman’s conviction was overturned on different grounds; Mayo’s was upheld, likely because her appellate lawyer cited none of the evidentiary issues that Kelly’s lawyers had raised.)

The ruling was no surprise to local defense lawyers. Skeen is a legend in Smith County. He was the law-and-order DA there for 21 years, then was appointed judge in 2003; he’s been reelected twice. He also has a reputation for helping the state and hindering the defense. “He never stopped being the DA,” Kelly’s attorney, Thad Davidson, told me the day after the appellate decision was announced. “He just put on a robe.”
Hall reports that Skeen made essentially the same types of rulings in this case for which he was recently benchslapped by the appellate court, continuing to exclude obviously probative evidence:
Skeen struck another huge blow to the defense when he allowed Margie—the foster mother of three of the children, the interviewer of four of them, the person whose passion had driven the cases for more than five years—to invoke her right to refuse to testify on the grounds that she might incriminate herself, even though she had already testified in the first two trials. Cassel was able to question her but only after the jury had left the courtroom. The lawyer asked Margie more than 130 questions in thirty minutes. He asked her about the California decertification, about her habit of suggesting answers to the children, about her former career as an acting coach (“And you know how to teach [children] to remember lines?”). To each question, Margie answered, “I decline to answer based on my constitutional rights.” She slumped in her chair, staring down or into the middle distance, occasionally rolling her eyes and sighing loudly.

Skeen had forced Cassel to jettison much of the case he had planned to put before the jury. When Margie was finished, the defense rested.
That's straight-up sleazy, biased judging. The courtroom should be a place to doggedly seek the truth and Skeen's doing his best to distort and skew it from the bench.

Hall described how, even though much of the defense was excluded by the judge, major logical and factual holes were still poked in the case by the defense. His story closes:
After four decisive guilty verdicts, it’s likely that the next trial will have the same result, largely because it will be overseen by the same judge. “Due process demands that the defense gets to put on a case,” longtime Tyler defense attorney Bobby Mims told me. “Cassel was prevented by Skeen from doing that. Don’t get me wrong. Jack Skeen is a great guy. I love him. He’s one of my best friends. But he’s been a terrible judge on these cases.”

Mims went into his own soliloquy on the jury system. “Cassel proved that what these children say happened could not have happened. They were never in that swingers club. The problem is that juries don’t always make decisions based on logic. In this type of case they make them on their hearts or on fear. That’s a hazard of the jury system. Still, they should have all the evidence. If they then decide the defendant’s guilty, that’s fine.”

He paused. “But in these cases I don’t think they would have. I believe these people are innocent.”
I'd like to believe, as Mims said, that the jury would have concluded differently if the judge had allowed them to hear all the evidence, but you have to wonder. Attorney Paul Kennedy recently wrote about how "going for the gut" when addressing jurors often serves attorneys better than facts or logic. He mentions the work of "Dr. Jonathan Haidt, a psychologist at the University of Virginia, [who] proposes that what we pass off as moral judgments are really the result of "moral emotions" such as disgust, anger and compassion," which he argues stem from evolutionary reactions based on diet more than a well-thought out belief system. Kennedy considers the stunning (if somewhat humorous) implications of the hypothesis: "What if the development of that moral code had more to do with the evolution of our digestive tract?" (Mark Bennett followed up with a post fleshing out the implications of this line of thought.)

If one's "moral judgment" is really an emotionally based decision rooted in "disgust," then accusations of child molestation are situations where it's easy for prosecutors to invoke that reaction in jurors. So if it's really the case that emotion trumps facts among jurors - especially when the most probative facts are excluded, as in Judge Skeen's court - it's not surprising, if a little depressing, that emotion ruled the day.

29 comments:

Pam said...

This reminds me somewhat of the McMartin Preschool case. I think that child molestation cases are the witch hunts of our time:

1. People act on emotions instead of facts.
2. They act out of their own sense guilt.
3. Accusations are usually made against people who are outsiders or considered antisocial or harmful to society.
4. The accused are considered guilty despite evidence to the contrary and are expected to confess.
5. The "victims" are lead when they give evidence.

Pam said...

I should qualify that last statement. I know that there are children that are actually molested. But some of these cases are definitely trumped up.

As you mentioned it appeared to be unlikely that the children had ever been in the club. Also the judge is obviously biased, which is also a symptom of a witch trial.

Mark Bennett said...

I also was immediately reminded of the McMartin Preschool case; to Pam's list, I would add:

6. The allegations are outlandish.

Devil worship? Alligators? A "sex kindergarten"? People believe only because they want to believe.

dmink said...

OT, but an article you'll be interested in reading.

Red light cameras in Redwood City have not resulted in a significant drop in accidents

http://www.mercurynews.com/breaking-news/ci_15844991?nclick_check=1

Anonymous said...

I just don't understand some of these Tyler defense attorneys. Bobby Mims called Skeen "a great guy". This guy has been nothing but a sleaze ball for 30+ years. As a DA his office was notorious for withholding evidence, lying, sponsoring perjured testimony and doing whatever was necessary to win. As a judge he is completely biased, has not concept of contsitutional rights or the rules of evidence. He willfully and deliberately violates the law and the constitution in most cases he oversees, not just this one. He set ridiculous bonds when the DAs office wants to keep someone in jail to pressure them to plead.

This "great guy" is an evil sociopath. I'd be ashamed to say he was my friend.

Hook Em Horns said...

Skeen is a legend in Smith County. He was the law-and-order DA there for 21 years, then was appointed judge in 2003; he’s been reelected twice. He also has a reputation for helping the state and hindering the defense. “He never stopped being the DA,” Kelly’s attorney, Thad Davidson, told me the day after the appellate decision was announced. “He just put on a robe.”
-----------------------------------

Until Texas and Texans do something about this, exonerations will continue at a rate that will seem alarming. The justice system in this state is in need of a major overhaul...now!

Hook Em Horns said...

On another thought, why should judges do the right thing? Sharon Keller has no respect for the Texas justice system. Judges have no fear of a system that is rooted in the good ole boy and gal system.

I was told by a defense attorney in Harris County that judges routinely act with impunity knowing that the chances of being overturned on appeal are slim because of how the system is set up and operates.

Anonymous said...

Maybe its time to consider doing away with absolute judicial immunity? Should anybody really be above the law?

Anonymous said...

The comment by Mims about scheme is fascinating. Its also a little disappointing. I thought Mims was one of the few attorneys that would stand up to the Smith County machine but if he thinks Skeen is a "great guy", that definitely calls his judgment into question. There was another interesting event during this trial. Buck Files and Brett Harrison walked in and announced they were representing the Cantrells. You know that was arranged by the Das office. Files and Harrison are allies with the DA's office. They won't stand up to them or cross them. They use the system to get sweetheart deals for their wealthy clients at the expense of other clients. They also use their influence with the DA's office and Skeen to get high profile appointments. A while back there was another Smith County attorney commenting on here in defense of the DA's aggressive prosecution. In the Smith County legal community "aggressive" is code for dishonest and unethical. He was a former assistant DA and I think he represented the one defendant in this case that wasn't able to get her conviction overturned.

Fortunately, there are a few attorneys in Tyler who will fight for their clients. Unfortunately, the others are just "Stepford Attorneys" that seem to have been programmed by the DA's office and Jack Skeen.

Anonymous said...

Or maybe the voters in Smith County just like a conservative judge and a strong prosecutor's office. At the end of the day, it was jury comprised of 12 Smith County citizens that returned the guilty verdict. On thing is for certain, if you don't like the criminal justice system in Texas in general, and Smith County in particular, don't commit crimes, associate with criminals, or otherwise lead a lifestyle that increases your odds of being accused of misconduct. Problem solved!

Anonymous said...

Keep living in your fantasy world 2:51.

Anonymous said...

"Or maybe the voters in Smith County just like a conservative judge and a strong prosecutor's office."

So, 2:51, are you trying to say that Smith County citizens want a proescutors office that lies, withholds evidence, and does whatever is necessary, no matter how sleazy to win. Are you saying they want a judge who routinely ignores the law and the constitution. Wait, I though conservatives believed in the constitution.

Your statement completely ignores the facts. There is a difference between a conservative judge and dishonest and unethical judge. THere is a difference between a strong prosecutor and a dishonest and unethical prosecutor.

So, 2:51, I assume by your defense of Skeen and Bingham, you don't believe in the constitution. YOu apparentlly don't believe in concepts such as justice, fairness, due process. I guess you're entitlted to your opinion. But, if you don't believe in those things, don't holler when someone violates your rights. You just go right ahead and be content living in the People's Repulik of Smith County with you judge adn prosecutor who are above the law and can do whatever they like. YOu'll be fine until they come after you.

Anonymous said...

"if you don't like the criminal justice system in Texas in general, and Smith County in particular, don't commit crimes, associate with criminals, or otherwise lead a lifestyle that increases your odds of being accused of misconduct. Problem solved!"

If only that were true. How naive you are. When you have police that will lie, prosectors that will lie, judges that are biased, you don't have to do anything wront to be convicted of a crime, especially in Smith County. I have personal knowledge of a situation where an investigator in the DA's office committed perjury. Bingham knew about it and probably put him up to it. Bingham later lied to the press about it. That kind of stuff goes on all the time there. Go back to the Kerry Max Cook case. Along with much other misconduct in that case, Skeen and Dobbs withheld evidence in that case. That is a proven fact.

Bingham and Skeen are sociopaths who will lie, cheat or steal to stay in power. They have been making fools of the voters of Smith County for years (that includes you 2:51).

Unfortunately, people are often decieved by evil. Evil often appears as good. Read your Bible (most people in Smith County have those) and you will see that is true. Skeen's speech at the end of the Pittman trial about the system is the height of hypocrisy. He makes a mockery of the system every day. But, many in Smith County will continue to be deceived.

Anonymous said...

Because of Judges like Jack Skeen, people suffer, the justice system is perverted and destroyed and our whole system is seriously weakened. God help the people of Smith County who live under such a corrupt man.

Anonymous said...

You know, people, there is counseling and medication available for your paranoia! So exactly how many reversals has Skeen had? Or the DA's office in general? Isn't there an FBI office in Tyler? Seems to me if there was even a scintilla of merit to your delusional ramblings, we'd have heard about it by now. Incidentally, Kerry Max Cook pled guilty. Next example?

Anonymous said...

You know, people, there is counseling and medication available for your paranoia! So exactly how many reversals has Skeen had? Or the DA's office in general? Isn't there an FBI office in Tyler? Seems to me if there was even a scintilla of merit to your delusional ramblings, we'd have heard about it by now. Incidentally, Kerry Max Cook pled guilty. Next example?

8/21/2010 06:13:00 PM

I love it when people make statements that show their absolute ignorance. It happens frequently on the Kerry Max Cook case. If you knoew the facts you'd know that Cook did not pleag guilty. You should really rely on a source outside of the Smith County DA's office for your info. In the only case I'm aware of its kind, Cook was offered the opportunity to plead "No Contest" to capital murder. Do you know of any other case where that has happened? Do you know why that happened. DNA evidence had been discovered and sent to be tested. Skeen and Dobbs knew the results would prove that Mayfield was the killer. Cook took the deal because it allowed him to get out of prison for time served. Do you think if Skeen really believed Cook had committed a brutal murder and rape he would have offered that deal? If you believe that then you need medication. You really should try getting yoru information from another source besides the DA's office. Skeen and Dobbs knew they were prosecuting an innocent man. This case was labled the worst case of prosecutorial misconduct in the country. Even if her were guilty, was their misconduct okay? The fact is, if you will do some actual research you will see that Cook was innocent.

These people have been fooling people like you for a long, long time. People are sheep that are easily led by crooks like Skeen and Bingham. If you will make an attempt to think for yourself you will discover that. Just look at what you might learn about the COok case if you did your own research. Just hte fact that Skeen keeps telling people that he plead guilty, when not only did he not plead guilty but Skeen knows he's innocent, tells you that Skeen is a liar. There was more than enough information in Skeen's file to convict Mayfield. Only an idiot could look at the case and conclude it was Cook and not Mayfield that committed the crime. Are you an idiot or have you just not looked at the facts of the case....I'm giving you the benefit of the doubt and assuming the latter. Finally, the DNA evidence proves Cook was innocent. You don't hear Skeen telling anyone that, do you? Do you think he cares a scintilla about justice?

If you haven't heard about this stuff by now, you just haven't been listening. THere is plenty of documentation out there starting with the Houston Chronicle articles from 2000 and the Court case where the Texas Supreme COurt found the allegations in that article to be credible. There is plenty of support out there for what I'm saying. But, there is none so blind as he who will not see. The most recent is the appellate court opinion in the Kelly case. Have you read that? Only an idiot could read that and believe Skeen should be a judge. So again, I'll assume you have'nt read it. You should really do some research, becuase without doing so, your comments just show your ignorance of the subject.

Stop being a sheep and learn to think for yourself!

Anonymous said...

You know, people, there is counseling and medication available for your paranoia! So exactly how many reversals has Skeen had? Or the DA's office in general? Isn't there an FBI office in Tyler? Seems to me if there was even a scintilla of merit to your delusional ramblings, we'd have heard about it by now. Incidentally, Kerry Max Cook pled guilty. Next example?

8/21/2010 06:13:00 PM

I love it when people make statements that show their absolute ignorance. It happens frequently on the Kerry Max Cook case. If you knoew the facts you'd know that Cook did not pleag guilty. You should really rely on a source outside of the Smith County DA's office for your info. In the only case I'm aware of its kind, Cook was offered the opportunity to plead "No Contest" to capital murder. Do you know of any other case where that has happened? Do you know why that happened. DNA evidence had been discovered and sent to be tested. Skeen and Dobbs knew the results would prove that Mayfield was the killer. Cook took the deal because it allowed him to get out of prison for time served. Do you think if Skeen really believed Cook had committed a brutal murder and rape he would have offered that deal? If you believe that then you need medication. You really should try getting yoru information from another source besides the DA's office. Skeen and Dobbs knew they were prosecuting an innocent man. This case was labled the worst case of prosecutorial misconduct in the country. Even if her were guilty, was their misconduct okay? The fact is, if you will do some actual research you will see that Cook was innocent.

These people have been fooling people like you for a long, long time. People are sheep that are easily led by crooks like Skeen and Bingham. If you will make an attempt to think for yourself you will discover that. Just look at what you might learn about the COok case if you did your own research. Just hte fact that Skeen keeps telling people that he plead guilty, when not only did he not plead guilty but Skeen knows he's innocent, tells you that Skeen is a liar. There was more than enough information in Skeen's file to convict Mayfield. Only an idiot could look at the case and conclude it was Cook and not Mayfield that committed the crime. Are you an idiot or have you just not looked at the facts of the case....I'm giving you the benefit of the doubt and assuming the latter. Finally, the DNA evidence proves Cook was innocent. You don't hear Skeen telling anyone that, do you? Do you think he cares a scintilla about justice?

Anonymous said...

If you haven't heard about this stuff by now, you just haven't been listening. THere is plenty of documentation out there starting with the Houston Chronicle articles from 2000 and the Court case where the Texas Supreme COurt found the allegations in that article to be credible. There is plenty of support out there for what I'm saying. But, there is none so blind as he who will not see. The most recent is the appellate court opinion in the Kelly case. Have you read that? Only an idiot could read that and believe Skeen should be a judge. So again, I'll assume you have'nt read it. You should really do some research, becuase without doing so, your comments just show your ignorance of the subject.

Stop being a sheep and learn to think for yourself!

Hook Em Horns said...

ANONYMOUS 02:51 SAID > "One thing is for certain, if you don't like the criminal justice system in Texas in general, and Smith County in particular, don't commit crimes, associate with criminals, or otherwise lead a lifestyle that increases your odds of being accused of misconduct. Problem solved!"
-----------------------------------

Spoken like someone from within the "good ole boy and gal system" or one of the sheep who have bought, hook, line and sinker, this "tough on crime" nonsense that is really at the root of our criminal justice problems. Let me lay this out for you...

1.) TEXAS leads the nation in both DNA exonerations AND inmates freed from prison (non-DNA) because of recanted testimony or judicial misconduct. The INNOCENCE PROJECT estimates that from 3,000 to 5,000 people are likely in prison in TEXAS for crimes they did not commit.

2.) TEXAS has built a massive prison system (112 prisons), more than any state or any country in the world -AND- the biggest prison/industrial complex in the free world. (That would be just short of the slave labor complex's that exist in China and North Korea)

3.) TEXAS politicians have put reviews of due process on the back-seat in favor of paying off those exonerated.

4.) The TEXAS legislature has created more felony class convictions than any state in the nation. (You may find yourself in front of a judge for something that in 49 other states is a misdemeanor, but here it's a felony.)

5.) 1 in 22 people in TEXAS are on parole, in prison or under court supervision.

I am a law student at UT Austin so this bodes well for me. I will be busy for years to come. What this says about us as a state is something else and while the cogs caught in the machine can always justify there existence, this truly concerns me and it should everyone who calls the Lone Star home.

Anonymous said...

I have seen many intellectually dishonest judges in Texas. Skeen is just trying to keep his job by being "tough on crime." He doesn't give two sh!ts about being reversed on appeal. Scary

escalante blogger said...

I like it Pam. But it really solve that certain case?

Anonymous said...

Decades ago, when my sister was in 1st grade, she came home from school with an intricately detailed story about riding in a blimp that day (school sponsored) while being entertained by clowns, monkeys, and horses.

She was so believable that my mother fell for it and was outraged that the school would allow such a thing without her permission. After contacting several classmates' mothers, she realized that it was all the result of my sister's imagination and had never happened.

Imagine if my sister had been subjected to innuendo and suggestion by someone with an agenda.

BTW, my sister grew out of this phase, although it took some time.

Anonymous said...

As Grits has point out before on this blog, "elections have consequences." Seems to me that if Skeen and Bingham would get voted out rather than be reelected. On the other hand, maybe the voters of Smith County feel like they're doing a good job! I'm sure it just galls the hell out of folks like Hookem and our anonymous, pro-criminal Smith County commentator, that right thinking Texans keep reelecting these conservative, law and order public servants! Kind of makes me proud to be a Texan!

Hook Em Horns said...

ANONYMOUS 02:20PM SAID >Kind of makes me proud to be a Texan!
-------------------------------------

Of course it does Jethro, until they come after you. When that happens, you wont be able to look up my number fast enough...

Anonymous said...

Jack Skeen is a boil on the ass of judicial integrity. He has none. The man does not care about the law, does not follow the law, and has no ethics of any kind. He is a criminal in a black robe. The fact that the voters in Smith County, most people like 2:51, is hearbreaking and disappointing. It does go back to Alexander Hamilton's fear of the voters he expressed in Federalist No. 68. Maybe we in Texas should find a new system aside from electing judges?

As far as Bobby Mims goes, I think everyone needs to realize a few things. One, I know judges like this, that seem to be decent and friendly off the bench, but on the bench persist in being criminals themselves. I think that is part of what Mims was saying. Second, and more importantly, Mims still has a practice and clients to protect. Though I wish he could say how he feels about Skeen and his actions, if he does I have no doubt that every client of his from now on will pay for those thoughts. Like it or not, defense lawyers cannot be too outspoken in the media on certain things, like judges, or those judges will screw their clients even more than usual. Perhaps, as it stands, Bobby's relationship with Skeen is one of the few things adding some sense of balance to the Smith County justice system. An unfortunate reality, and Mims wouldn't be doing his job if he didn't try to capitalize on that some.

I don't doubt that Smith County likes a tough on crime judge any more than I doubt that Skeen is a crook. The appellate courts in Texas hate to overturn any criminal case (they are elected judges too, you know) and the Court of Criminal Appeals is blessed with the option of not being required to review the merits of every case and not having to really evaluate all Skeen does, not that it would matter given Sharon Keller's history. First, note that Skeen was slapped down in the Cook case, though he showed typical cowardice and laid that on the feet of the DA before him. He was slapped in two of these cases so far. He will likely be slapped again for his inablity to be fair. Maybe if they do it enough the voters and 2:51 will open their eyes.

There is a saying among defense attorneys in Texas-- "There are two types of error in a conviction: waived and harmless." Either way, the verdict stands. That doesn't mean the judge didn't screw up, that he wasn't a cheat, or that something didn't stink. This article also points to shortcomings of counsel on appeal in one case, which is yet another reason to say that just because the appeals court don't fix it doesn't mean it ain't broke.

Anonymous said...

Jack Skeen is a boil on the ass of judicial integrity. He has none. The man does not care about the law, does not follow the law, and has no ethics of any kind. He is a criminal in a black robe. The fact that the voters in Smith County, most people like 2:51, is hearbreaking and disappointing. It does go back to Alexander Hamilton's fear of the voters he expressed in Federalist No. 68. Maybe we in Texas should find a new system aside from electing judges?

As far as Bobby Mims goes, I think everyone needs to realize a few things. One, I know judges like this, that seem to be decent and friendly off the bench, but on the bench persist in being criminals themselves. I think that is part of what Mims was saying. Second, and more importantly, Mims still has a practice and clients to protect. Though I wish he could say how he feels about Skeen and his actions, if he does I have no doubt that every client of his from now on will pay for those thoughts. Like it or not, defense lawyers cannot be too outspoken in the media on certain things, like judges, or those judges will screw their clients even more than usual. Perhaps, as it stands, Bobby's relationship with Skeen is one of the few things adding some sense of balance to the Smith County justice system. An unfortunate reality, and Mims wouldn't be doing his job if he didn't try to capitalize on that some.

I don't doubt that Smith County likes a tough on crime judge any more than I doubt that Skeen is a crook. The appellate courts in Texas hate to overturn any criminal case (they are elected judges too, you know) and the Court of Criminal Appeals is blessed with the option of not being required to review the merits of every case and not having to really evaluate all Skeen does, not that it would matter given Sharon Keller's history. First, note that Skeen was slapped down in the Cook case, though he showed typical cowardice and laid that on the feet of the DA before him. He was slapped in two of these cases so far. He will likely be slapped again for his inablity to be fair. Maybe if they do it enough the voters and 2:51 will open their eyes.

There is a saying among defense attorneys in Texas-- "There are two types of error in a conviction: waived and harmless." Either way, the verdict stands. That doesn't mean the judge didn't screw up, that he wasn't a cheat, or that something didn't stink. This article also points to shortcomings of counsel on appeal in one case, which is yet another reason to say that just because the appeals court don't fix it doesn't mean it ain't broke.

Anonymous said...

Jack Skeen is a boil on the ass of judicial integrity. He has none. The man does not care about the law, does not follow the law, and has no ethics of any kind. He is a criminal in a black robe. The fact that the voters in Smith County, most people like 2:51, is hearbreaking and disappointing. It does go back to Alexander Hamilton's fear of the voters he expressed in Federalist No. 68. Maybe we in Texas should find a new system aside from electing judges?

As far as Bobby Mims goes, I think everyone needs to realize a few things. One, I know judges like this, that seem to be decent and friendly off the bench, but on the bench persist in being criminals themselves. I think that is part of what Mims was saying. Second, and more importantly, Mims still has a practice and clients to protect. Though I wish he could say how he feels about Skeen and his actions, if he does I have no doubt that every client of his from now on will pay for those thoughts. Like it or not, defense lawyers cannot be too outspoken in the media on certain things, like judges, or those judges will screw their clients even more than usual. Perhaps, as it stands, Bobby's relationship with Skeen is one of the few things adding some sense of balance to the Smith County justice system. An unfortunate reality, and Mims wouldn't be doing his job if he didn't try to capitalize on that some.

I don't doubt that Smith County likes a tough on crime judge any more than I doubt that Skeen is a crook. The appellate courts in Texas hate to overturn any criminal case (they are elected judges too, you know) and the Court of Criminal Appeals is blessed with the option of not being required to review the merits of every case and not having to really evaluate all Skeen does, not that it would matter given Sharon Keller's history. First, note that Skeen was slapped down in the Cook case, though he showed typical cowardice and laid that on the feet of the DA before him. He was slapped in two of these cases so far. He will likely be slapped again for his inablity to be fair. Maybe if they do it enough the voters and 2:51 will open their eyes.

There is a saying among defense attorneys in Texas-- "There are two types of error in a conviction: waived and harmless." Either way, the verdict stands. That doesn't mean the judge didn't screw up, that he wasn't a cheat, or that something didn't stink. This article also points to shortcomings of counsel on appeal in one case, which is yet another reason to say that just because the appeals court don't fix it doesn't mean it ain't broke.

Alex S said...

"..right thinking Texans keep reelecting these conservative, law and order public servants"
I have never met one "right-thinking" person who believed either that innocent people should do prison time for crimes they didn't commit or that it is okay for Judges to not follow the law!

Anonymous said...

"..if you don't like the criminal justice system in Texas in general, and Smith County in particular, don't commit crimes, associate with criminals, or otherwise lead a lifestyle that increases your odds of being accused of misconduct."

Ok Fair enough, but what happens if you're NOT doing these things and still get put in front of a judge and convicted. sort of throws your argument out the window doesn't it? American has this great crusade against sex and sexuality. which is really funny, because the people most adamant about it, as the very people who will run into a strip club, while gambling their parishioner's money away in Vegas.

IT is evident that America has a war with anything Sex related, from the draconican Sex Offender laws, to the slow creep into the bedroom relations of consenting adults (re: Prop 8). Why is it my or ANYONE'S business that Sally Likes Anna enough to spend the rest of her life with another female, or that George and Bob have relations that would not produce offspring? Is it that fantasy book which states go forth and prosper that generates this false god ideology mentality?

People seem to forget sometimes that The Greek gods were found to be false, as were the Roman gods, and were all other religious based philosophy, including THIS one. Nothing in Christianity can be proven, while many items in that stupid dime store novel has been found to be copies of long dead religious texts.

So to close, when we stop basing our judicial system on moralistic aspirations of a 2000 year old fictional work, we MIGHT actually be able to fix societal woes.