Wednesday, May 07, 2014

Odds and ends: Successes, failures, and general weirdness

Here are a few items that caught my attention this week but haven't made it into individual posts:

Constitutional challenge to 'improper photography' statute
Reported KDFW TV in Dallas, "An appeals court in San Antonio ruled the improper photography statute unconstitutional because it is overly broad and that violates our First Amendment rights.  The case is now before the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals waiting for a final ruling." See prior Grits coverage.

Crappy, unaccountable judges a 'fact of life' in Texas
Reported the Houston Chronicle:
Court reformers say bad judges are a fact of life in Texas, one of only eight states that uses partisan elections to pick its arbiters of justice. They say it is a system that results in unqualified candidates getting swept into office with political cycles and in qualified judges getting booted out for no good reason ­- or not wanting to run in the first place. 
Lawyers also are critical of how rarely Texas judges are publicly disciplined or removed from office once they get there, while some legal scholars note how loosely courts are administered here.
There are some good ones, too, but it's hard to argue with that assessment.

Man with most to lose: Change nothing
A Travis County lawyer who averages 615 appointed indigent criminal cases per year - the most of any attorney and well above the American Bar Association's recommended caseloads - says he sees no need to overhaul the indigent defense system, naturally.

'Bernie' released into custody of movie director
Bernie Tiede, the East Texas murderer who was the subject of an eponymous, dark comedic feature film by Austin-based director Richard Linklater, has been released on bond on the condition that he live at Linklater's house. Surreal, huh?

Gambling, what gambling?
A pair of Johnson County Sheriff's deputies were providing security for a racetrack busted by DPS for illegal gambling. Initial news reports say they didn't know what was going on, but then that calls into question their law enforcement acumen, doesn't it?

No more proxy marriages in prison
A new law inadvertently ended the practice of "proxy" marriages by prisoners, some of which involve women they met as pen pals while serving time. I've known ex-prisoners who've enjoyed long, loving marriages with women married by proxy, while other situations don't work out as well, to put it mildly. It's a strange aspect of prison subculture that receives little attention, so I'm not surprised lawmakers never considered it when the Lege passed a statute last spring requiring both parties to be present during a marriage ceremony. "'We didn't realize we were going to open up a can of worms,' said Scott Riling, chief of staff for Rep. Trent Ashby, the Lufkin Republican who authored the bill to prohibit proxy marriages."

Focus on veterans
The Defense and Veterans Affairs and County Affairs committees next week will hold a hearing in San Antonio related to veterans courts and peer-to-peer veterans mental health counseling for justice-involved veterans with mental health issues, PTSD, and traumatic brain injury.

Bexar County jail population edging up, but down from last fall's peak
So says this TV news report.

Hearne cop shot 93-year old woman
Reported the Waco Tribune Herald, "Authorities are investigating the shooting of a 93-year-old woman by a Hearne police officer who was involved in the fatal shooting of a Hearne man in December 2012."

The CIA's Lone Star weapons cache
The CIA has allegedly used a secret weapons depot in Boerne, TX to ship weapons around the world in secret wars dating back to the Bay of Pigs.

Forensic Fails
Business Insider published a good overview of problems facing America's forensic experts and crime labs that illuminate many of the issues facing Texas on the topic.


ckikerintulia said...

Hearne cop? Hearne was the site of a Tulia-like drug bust in late 90s or early 2000s was it not? Were both of the victims of this cop African-American?

Gritsforbreakfast said...

Yes, Rev, both people the officer, Stephen Stern, shot were African American. And yes, Hearne is where the Tulia-style drug bust occurred in 2000.

Thomas R. Griffith said...

No, Rev. you & I both know that they were classified as humans at birth, the African-American label came later. The race card should not be in play here. We simply have another trigger happy cop that wasn't trained properly on how and when to utilize the death hole. Once you put your finger in it, you've decided to shoot it. It doesn't / shouldn't matter the shade of the color wheel in regards to a crime.

A darker skin toned person told a room full of convicts this decades ago (right after "Roots" aired and riots tore across the entire state) - When you separate yourself and others based on skin tone, or assumed country of origin, you assist the bad guys in the art of dividing and conquering. Get it? Bloods vs Crips, Black vs White, High Yellow vs Red, Republicans vs Democrats, Us vs Them, North vs South, Long Hair vs Short Hair...

I felt like you should hear this from a so-called 'white' (VOTS) victim-of-the-system that can prove he was framed by nothing but white people. Going rogue is a culture thang, Condoning it is a clique thang and when Grand Juries decide not to indict, it's a crying damn shame. And that's when we should demand that G.Js. be investigated. Thanks.

*A bunch of us humans are going to petition & protest in person that this un-isolated incident be investigated by an out-side agency with no brother-n-law ties to Texas. I'll let you know when we are headed to Hearne in mass. Some left yesterday. C-ya.

sunray's wench said...

On the proxy marriages - TDCJ needs to prepare for another day in court because they apparently have "no plans" to allow marriages inside TDCJ facilities. This means they are preventing the inmates' right to marry - and while there are many who will say that inmates forfeited their rights when they were found guilty of their crimes, the same cannot be said for the right of a free-world person to marry whom they choose. Plus, I'm told the constitution could be used to force the provision of a marriage ceremony inside the prisons (like other states manage just fine) if the proxy system is not available.

The Homeless Cowboy said...

Mr. Griffith, I agree with your statement that race should have no place in determining whether or not he is guilty of a shooting. Having said that, I think the point made by the Rev. is that the Officer? in Question may have a problem with Black people and therefore his behavior could be suspect. in that instance, if that is true, then race most assuredly can be a factor in the case. Just MHO.

Anonymous said...

Proxy marriages in prison.

There was a report out today showing that psychopaths have the edge in attracting women.

sunray's wench said...

Anon - yes and obviously every inmate who marries by proxy is a psychopath.


Anonymous said...

And that's how TCIC and NCIC get accessed by the crooks. Pay some off duty cop to work your illicit business and access is usually granted to that as well. Most agencies have no policy guiding the activity and the ones that do rarely enforce it. All of our personal data records by the government is no accessible to the crooks. For cash in hand there usually aren't any questions asked. It goes on all over the state.