Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Roundup: Of drones, drugs, and DA elections

Here are several items that merit Grits readers attention but haven't made it into individual posts:

Craig Watkins' fumbling Dallas DA campaign
Grits mentioned earlier that the Dallas, Harris and Bexar County DA's races interested me as potentially close, competitive toss-up races, in Bexar because a single donor dropped $600K on the Democratic challenger. In Dallas, where I'd already thought the race would be close, Gromer Jeffers at the Dallas News reported that challenger Susan Hawk has out-fundraised Craig Watkins roughly 5-1 and is running TV ads, which are "a rarity for a countywide race, and will be following up with direct mail and other contacts to nudge voters to go to the polls. She’s actively trying to peel Democratic voters away from the incumbent." Meanwhile, Watkins team "lacks a professional campaign manager and field director, perhaps because there is no money to pay them." In 2010, Watkins raised $750K and won by about 5,000 votes. He appears more vulnerable now and I wouldn't be surprised to see Hawk upset the favored incumbent.

Corrupt cop escorted drug loads in Houston
A former Houston police officer, Marcos Carrion, pled guilty to escorting drug shipments through town on behalf of a drug cartel, the Houston Chronicle reported. See an FBI press release and the plea agreement.

Montgomery Sheriff will drone again
The Montgomery County Sheriff's Office will replace the quarter-million dollar drone they sank in Lake Conroe with insurance money. This was the second time they'd crashed the thing in as many years.

Listen to Texas Tribune crimjust panels
I'd neglected to link to the Texas Tribune's online postings of two criminal justice related panels at their recent festival on criminal justice reform and the death penalty (because we don't talk about that enough!). Go here to listen.

5th Circuit Judge: Innocents executed analogous to collateral damage from drone strikes
A complaint against 5th Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Edith Jones for alleged has been dismissed by her fellow 5th D.C. Circuit jurists, which doesn't seem like the most impartial group to evaluate the challenge to one of their peers. Reported the Houston Chronicle:
the dismissal order released this week says Jones herself admitted to describing mental disability as a "red herring" in death penalty appeals, though it is a defense approved by the U.S. Supreme Court.

She admitted she used an analogy to drone strikes in rebuttal to the argument "that the death penalty kills innocents."

She agreed she'd said something about how Mexican nationals might prefer American death row to prison in their own country, even though Mexico does not have capital punishment, and that she said both blacks and Hispanics sadly "seem to commit more heinous crimes."

But none of those comments were considered misconduct by the investigating judges.
Private foundations fund police surveillance tech
Police departments are looking to private foundations to pay for Stingray surveillance devices and other equipment they don't want to have to justify through the formal budgeting process, reported ProPublica


Soronel Haetir said...

According to Eugene Volokh ( the Jones disciplinary matter was transferred to the DC circuit precisely to avoid the conflict you bring up.

Joshua Cottle said...

According to the article linked, CJ Roberts ordered the case be reviewed by the DC panel, so ditto to Haetir.

Ostensibly, federal appellate judges are all co-workers so I wouldn't do judicial review on any judge ever as a policy.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

Fixed it, gentlemen, my error. Thanks for pointing it out. It's still pretty cozy, though. In Texas that's why we have the commission on judicial conduct so the judges aren't judging one another. It's not been a great solution either, but at least the structure acknowledges the conflict of the judiciary policing its own.

Chris H said...

Jones proves the maxim...war is the health of the state.

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Bas said...

Thats alot of money to throw into a lake :o Just because its free for them, they should feel more responsibility. Its all tax payers money!