Wednesday, February 05, 2014

'So what if your star witness is a hallucinating liar?', and other stories

Here are a few items that haven't made their way into individual posts but deserve Grits readers' attention:

CCA: Lies about mental health by 'star witness' jailhouse snitch don't violate due process
The Court of Criminal Appeals ruled that false testimony by a jailhouse snitch, described by then-prosecutor Murray Newman as his "star witness," did not constitute a due process violation in a Harris County murder conviction. The informant lied about having hallucinations and delusions and the trial judge told Newman that, without the witness, he had no case. However, the CCA ruled that the snitch's testimony wasn't "material" because the defense had "ample evidence" to argue that the state's star was a "thoroughly discredited and dishonest witness who should not be believed on any topic" and the jury bought her testimony, anyway. The fact that she was delusional, subject to hallucinations, and lied about it, the court reasoned, wouldn't have changed the jury's verdict, despite the trial court's judgment to the contrary. Via TDCAA.

Big-government conservatism and border security
Presumptive GOP gubernatorial nominee Greg Abbott this week advocated spending an extra $300 million on borders security, including hiring 500 new state troopers, but a) has ruled out new taxes to pay for it and b) will offer no suggestions for offsetting spending cuts.

Holding prosecutors accountable
See Texas Lawyer's recent item on new, revised rules from the Texas Supreme Court implementing Sen. John Whitmire's SB 825, which extended the statute of limitations for state bar complaints related to Brady violations. RELATED: Check out an Austin Chronicle item on Anthony Graves' new state bar complaint against former prosecutor Charles Sebesta for withholding evidence in his capital murder case.

Homeless in the jail, but not on the dock
Dallas police are rounding up homeless people and taking them to jail for sleeping downtown, but the city doesn't prosecute the cases for fear the ordinance will be declared unconstitutional, reported Unfair Park.

SA officer indicted for alleged rape
Reported AP, "A San Antonio police officer was fired on the same day a grand jury indicted him for allegedly raping a woman in his patrol car."

'The Air Up There'
The Texas Association of Counties discusses drones and county government. Some counties are opposing the use of their airspace for drone testing. See also this item from the Texas A&M website on the new FAA drone testing facility in South Texas, and this story about a UT-Arlington drone testing program. The FAA is slated to come up with rules governing commercial drones sometime in 2015. In the meantime, you'll have to wait to have a case of beer delivered by drone, a usage squelched by the FAA last month. Grits must admit to a certain level of drone envy; I may have to succumb to the temptation to buy one after beefing up my Arduino chops.

Chemical crime causes?
Via Sentencing Law and Policy, check out this new article from Chemical and Engineering News on the relationship between childhood lead exposure and crime.

'DEA teaches agents to recreate evidence chains to hide methods'
Via MuckRock.


"Red" Merriweather Coast said...

Interesting logic that the jury shouldn't have believed the witness anyway, so the fact that they did means that the verdict should not be overturned.

Anonymous said...

The witness is a liar? Big shock. Not.

Anonymous said...

I often wonder how sociopaths like Newman and others are able to live with themselves knowing the lives of so many were destroyed by their actions.