Latest exoneree's false conviction based on prosecutor misconduct, mendacious jailhouse snitches
Kenneth Boyd, Jr., of Center, who was falsely convicted of two homicides in 1999, will be released today on a personal recognizance bond awaiting his formal exoneration by the Court of Criminal Appeals, reported the Longview News-Journal. The false conviction stemmed from a combination of alleged prosecutorial misconduct and unreliable jailhouse snitches: "In June, Shelby County 273rd District Court Judge Charles Mitchell found that former Shelby County District Attorney Karren Price had suppressed evidence." Congratulations to Mr. Boyd and his legal team on this hard-fought victory.
Doomsday deal on Waco jail coming home to roost
In Waco, McLennan County commissioners cite cost overruns at the jail "as a major cause of the 2-cent property tax increase in this year’s budget." Grits has long been critical of the "doomsday deal" that put Mclennan County in such a bind, this summer calling it a "slow motion train wreck."
John Bradley among medical parole decisionmakers
The Houston Chronicle has an article providing perspectives on whether and/or how medical parole might be expanded in Texas. Among the tidbits Grits learned that jumped out at me, "Williamson County District Attorney John Bradley, who serves on a panel that makes recommendations on medical releases to the parole board, would like to require inmates to waive their medical privacy rights 'to make the process more transparent.'" Grits had no idea JB was somehow involved in that decisionmaking process. Talk about a finger in every pie!
Long-time Tyler Sheriff looks back, says 'adios'
The Tyler Morning Telegraph has a retrospective on outgoing Smith County Sheriff J.B. Smith, who's nearing retirement, gathering his recollections on living in the courthouse next to the jail with his family at the beginning of his career in the '70s. Nothing in the story on the more controversial aspects of Smith's career, but an interesting retrospective from a retiring East Texas lawman.
County jail privatization: Healthcare edition
Hays County may privatize healthcare at the county jail, although contrary to trends elsewhere in the state, "The jail's medical expenses have decreased about 5 percent in recent years, from $875,200 in the 2010 fiscal year to $830,600 in 2011 and $828,500 in the 2012 budget year ending in September."
About that deer ...
In Tyler, "A former Texas Department of Public Safety trooper, who told his coworkers he wrecked his patrol car earlier this month while trying to avoid a deer, has been arrested for driving while intoxicated and resigned his position as a result of the investigation into the accident."
The Fourth Amendment and drug testing welfare moms
Following up on a subject Grits opined upon here, a column in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram examines the question of drug testing welfare recipients and the Fourth Amendment banning unreasonable searches and seizures. SCOTUS has banned requiring drug tests of politicians, but allowed it for students as a bar to participating in extra-curricular activities. In Michigan, SCOTUS threw out a law requiring drug testing of welfare recipients in 2003, and a federal court has prevented a similar Florida law passed in 2011 from taking effect until the issue can be litigated. Excellent background on what's shaping up to be one of the more contentions issues of the session.
Debating format of judicial elections
The Fort Worth Star-Telegram editorialized against state Sen. Dan Patrick's suggestion for eliminating straight ticket voting in judicial elections, an idea I tend to support. Their reasoning was that they'd prefer an appointment system with voting down the line for retention. In theory, I would too. But eliminating straight ticket voting is a step in the right direction. Making those races non-partisan IMHO would be even better.
DPS stands alone on helicopter sniper policy
It turns out, "Texas is the only border state that allows and trains its officers to fire on suspects from airborne helicopters." a policy that recently didn't turn out so well.
Poor conditions cited at TX immigration detention centers
The Texas Tribune reported on alleged inhumane conditions at two privately operated immigration detention facilities - one in Houston and Polk County.
Studies backing bail bond methods flawed
According to The Crime Report, "Six studies that are often cited in support of the for-profit bail bonding industry have methodological flaws that make them unreliable, according to a paper published by the non-profit Pretrial Justice Institute" See the analysis itself here (pdf).
'Aggregation and urban misdemeanors'
In her latest paper, legal academic Alexandra Natapoff, one of Grits' favorite legal thinkers, considers the extent to which high-volume court systems create "pressure to aggregate" misdemeanor cases in ways that may weaken "and sometimes eliminates individuated scrutiny of defendants and the evidence in their cases; people are largely evaluated, convicted, and punished by category and based on institutional habit."
Graffiti here, there and yon
With the UT-A&M football rivalry off and the Aggies thriving in the SEC (albeit with the bitter taste of last year's sendoff in the UT game perhaps still smarting just a tad), I was almost pleased to see that at least some Aggie students care enough about the rivalry to come to Austin to tag the UT campus in lieu of an on-the-field confrontation. UTPD released a photo searching for suspects. Several other graff-related items recently caught Grits' eye: President Obama was greeted with graffiti in Myanmar. In Virginia, someone tagged a statue of Robert E. Lee with the phrase "beefcake." A woman in Florida who was angry at the judge in her divorce case went on a graffiti spree at the county courthouse. Finally, Boing Boing has a picture of this awesome Mickey Mouse/skull graffiti from San Francisco, with which we'll close out the post:
|Via Boing Boing, art by Goser.|