Monday, December 09, 2013

Roundup: Writs, rights, beatings, bonds, and the complexity of victimhood

If only to clear my browser tabs, here are a few stories that merit Grits readers' attention but likely won't make it into independent posts anytime soon:

Serving life for homicide when there was no homicide
The Houston Press has a brief story about the case of Neal Robbins, who was convicted of homicide in the death of an infant, though the medical examiner has retracted that claim, saying the cause of death is undetermined. The habeas writ, in which the district judge recommended relief, is based on Texas' new statute allowing convictions based on junk science to be overturned. Indeed, Robbins' was the poster-child case at the Legislature spurring passage of the new law. Even so, Grits expects the CCA vote to be close.

Lehmberg on the dock
Austin Statesman reporters are tweeting away from the civil trial seeking to remove Travis County DA Rosemary Lehmberg from office, for those who care. I don't particularly think a DWI merits her ouster, but appreciate the case for its entertainment value.

Prosecutors as propagandists educators
Harris County DA Devon Anderson has prosecutors "teaching what we do to high school students" via mock trials held in downtown civil courtrooms, according to a recent press release. She thinks "this is an amazing opportunity for the students to meet prosecutors in the DA’s Office and get an inside look at what we do." If they wanted to really give students a glimpse at "what we do," they'd take students into court some morning to watch the disgraceful plea mill that passes for justice in the majority of Harris County criminal cases.

Time to bail on the bail bond system?
Houston attorney Paul Kennedy and the Maryland Court of Appeals think so.

Whitmire: Make cops at private universities subject to open records
State Sen. John Whitmire wants to make police departments at private universities like Rice subject to the open records act, reported the Houston Chronicle and a local TV station after video emerged of Rice rent-a-cops beating an alleged bicycle thief with batons. (Via Charles Kuffner.) Grits would add that the exemption to the open records act for police disciplinary files in civil service cities should also be eliminated.

No movement to reform immigration detention
Even though "Back in 2009, the Obama administration promised reform of the massive, mostly for-profit U.S. immigrant detention system," reported Melissa del Bosque at the Texas Observer, "The number of deportees hasn’t diminished and private detention facilities continue to expand."

The Fourth Amendment and cell tower dumps
Former federal magistrate judge turned Texas Tech law prof Brian Owsley has a new paper on the topic.

Watch this
The FBI has technology that can secretly activate your computer's webcam without the indicator light coming on. “We have transitioned into a world where law enforcement is hacking into people’s computers, and we have never had public debate,” ACLU's Christopher Soghoian, told the Washington Post. “Judges are having to make up these powers as they go along.”

'The other side of the story'
There's a fascinating account at Texas Monthly from a recent UT graduate about a tryst with a 23-year old teacher when she was 14 that resulted in his prosecution, conviction, and placement on the sex-offender registry for life. The subhed reads: "When I was fourteen, I had a relationship with my eighth grade history teacher. People called me a victim. They called him a villain. But it's more complicated than that." Interesting read; thought provoking stuff.


Anonymous said...

"The FBI has technology that can secretly activate your computer's webcam without the indicator light coming on."

This (OK, and a couple of ex-girlfriends) is why mine stays taped when not in use.

Wouldn't want anyone watching me pick my nose or anything...


Anonymous said...

Former Obama Auto Czar: Progressive Dems 'Scare Me'

Anonymous said...

Jason, might as well just unplug 'em when you are not using them and while you are at it throw a sheet over your TV(s).

They can be switched on and in HD where buggers are your least thing to be concerned about.

Pick on bro. it's your right.

Anonymous said...

Grits, the title is a perfect fit for the brainwashing tactic being utilized by a D.A. *This isn't the first time they have done this btw.

Without any mean intentions, it should be noted that she is undeserving of the position that was bestowed upon her simply due to a death in the family. If she was a child bride and around 18 years old, do you think she'd be a D.A. by default?

If Lt. Dewhurst or Perry the Blunderring Politician want's to do something right for the right reasons one of them should propose the end of inheriting elected positions by default.

Something about cronyism and similar methods in which it's OK to allow family to pretend to fill shoes of the elected officials is wrong, wrong, wrong.

Thomas R. Griffith said...

Hey Grits, we take not only kids but regular ol folks to various courts around the state to witness the rigged system in action. While the majority appears to perform duties on the up & up, we hear replies in exit interviews ranging from - WTF just happened? to Wow! Can they do that? And, sadly the take away lesson results in replies ranging from - You not only just witnessed how they do it, it’s hoped that you will never forget that they get away with it every day. If you are 100% innocent (NOT GUILTY) and someone tries to convince you to Plea Bargain and you take the bait, you are and will forever be considered as 100% GUILTY. CHRs’ do not mention a Plea Bargain nor, do they imply you were innocent and tricked or, pled out of convenience. Employers don’t give a rat’s ass as they simply move to the next Application. If you are 100% Guilty, then, you have to make a choice that only you can live with.

Re: Harris County, Tx., we have no reply to offer for questions regarding the mass plea bargaining scandal. How do you address the issue of Attorney / Client privileged information in the singular when it’s openly performed in the plural? Confusion is mofo.

Despite the Chron. releasing a photo of male & female inmates' / defendants' participating in each other’s cases' side-by-side, would you believe that people thought it was photo-shopped. We had to start carrying a framed cut out of it for nay sayers’ to vett.

Good news, as you have linked to above, one person has embarked on a mission to rid the county of one of the improper plea bargain methods at the misdemeanor court level. Hopefully, this will lead to addressing the unwarranted plea Bullshit at the felony level and we will have the one & only Mr. Fickman to thank.

If you want to share in his vision to reform the rigged system on the taxpayers' behalf, please consider contacting the courts with your polite, passionate plea to adhere to his outlined proposal (a must read). Or, do nothing and be part of the problem. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

"...what we do to high school students." Well, I shudder to think what they'd do to high school students if said students are unfortunate enough to find themselves at the pointy end of one of the Widow Anderson's associates' scalping knives.