Tuesday, November 03, 2015

Feds recalling military gear for cops, and other stories

Here are a few items which may interest Grits readers while my attentions are focused elsewhere:
  • Good news: According to a complaint in the press from Sheriff Gary Painter in Midland, "As part of President Obama’s executive order issued earlier this year, local law enforcement agencies with certain types of military-style gear obtained through the federal 1033 program - which granted surplus military gear to local agencies - are being required to return the equipment." Further, "The recall order issued from Washington pertains to equipment such as tracked armored vehicles, bayonets, grenade launchers, large caliber weapons and ammunition, according to the written order. Law enforcement agencies will be required to provide additional training and certification when applying for this specialized equipment in the future."
  • A federal judge has intervened to halt the state prosecution of an Austin police officer for shooting an unarmed black man. The judge ruled the officer had federal immunity from working with a federal task force. MORE: See related coverage from the Washington Post, which reported that "59 officers ... were charged over the past decade for fatally shooting someone while on duty. In criminal court, 11 of the officers were convicted and served time. But when 46 families of those shot and killed by police sought justice in the civil system, 32 received monetary awards,"
  • See a positive profile from Texas Lawyer of Forensic Science Commission general counsel Lynn Garcia, who really has made a huge impact this year. When an editor friend at the Dallas News asked what figures from the criminal-justice arena they should consider for Texan of the Year, Lynn was on my short list.
  • From AllGov.com, "Debtors prison charges leveled at Austin, Texas."
  • One in 14 American kids and one in nine black children have an incarcerated parent.
  • Grits thought this was an especially effective presentation of "How post-conviction procedure rules inhibit truth finding."


Anonymous said...

I recall a discussion on here some time ago where an officer was arguing that the whole issue of the militarization of police was exaggerated and he kept insisting that local law enforcement did not have grenade launchers and such. Apparently, they do.

Anonymous said...

Two points with regard to post-conviction proceedings, from a post-conviction practitioner:

(1) No rewriting of the rules can get one past the fact that many lawyers accused of ineffective assistance of counsel will lie/misrepresent/exaggerate/rewrite history/throw the client under the bus in order to avoid any taint to the attorney's representation. And judges are required by the case law to view the attorney's decision-making deferentially in any event. So ineffective assistance claims are an incredibly tough row to hoe. Sometimes one has to litigate simply to get a trial attorney to hand over the client's file, so resistant are trial counsel to helping, and so confident that they can get away with bad behavior because, after all, the client is a criminal, right?

(2) For true direct appeals, i.e. those that only involve matters recorded in the trial record, rather than any new evidentiary input, client input is usually absolutely useless. I always visit and communicate with my direct appeal clients as a personal courtesy/humane act, but the kinds of issues at play have never, in my experience, been ones on which the client had anything significant to offer. The facts that the appellate court can consider are all in the record already, and the client usually has zero, or limited, understanding of what the actual issues are. Habeas corpus proceedings, where new information can be considered, client input is of much more importance.

Anonymous said...

It really doesn't make any sense that a law enforcment agency would want equipment that they may have to spend a ton of money on to convert it over to civilian use, but, thats the nature of the beast, if it's free we'll take a couple dozen.

It's only a matter of time before some dingdong shoots off a rocket launcher through someone's house and the gov. gets sued for supplying the stuff. Or if the truth be known it's already happened but no one is saying anything.

Osama Bama didn't just decide this over night for no reason. Wink Wink Nod Nod say no more! ;0/

Anonymous said...

Once Lynn R. figures out basic Texas law surrounding her legal responsibilities as council to a government agency and once she and the other members follow their Legal Ethics and Professional Code Conduct as expected by the public, then we can all give the "warm tummy rubz" to those individuals for doing the jobs they are getting paid to do.

Instead, I would like to nominate John Bradley. He's done more for Texas Political Reform by leaving Texas than anyone else.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

@9:04, nobody I know who deals directly with the agency feels that way so we'll agree to disagree. And JB's contribution, while important, wasn't in 2015.

Anonymous said...

re: 9:09, Grits-

One could either look at the illegal actions of the TFSC (while Lynn Garcia was acting as legal council)...


Or, one could look at the illegal acts (and scientific misconduct) the TFSC was alerted to, but did nothing to address...


Granted, these are a couple of year back. But I don't think there's a statute of limitation on unethical conduct that goes unaccounted for.


Anonymous said...

The comment was made about Law Enforcement not having or needing 'grenade launchers".

What the heck do you believe the Police use to launch tear gas cartridges?

That's right. 40 mm Grenade Launchers.

Anonymous said...

Grits, how about those people that deal indirectly with the TFSC? There are a number of bench lab analysts that have a distaste for the TFSC.

From SCP's comment (and the links given), it appears as if the SWIFS Crime Lab supervisor can testify, during a trial , under oath, in front of a judge, that her lab analysts (not her, of course, but the 20 or so she supervised) were scientifically "negligent" for using expired chemicals (3 years beyond)...and yet the Texas Forensic Science Commission will do nothing.

One might think that the SWIFS crime lab Management/Director would have presented a Self-Disclosure form describing the "negligence" to the TFSC after this startling admission, under oath, in front of a judge. Nothing on the TFSC webpage suggests that this occurred either. [Why admit to negligence when no one is forcing you, right?]

If I recall, Jonathan Salvador was NOT testifying, during a trial, under oath, in front of a judge, when his shoddy work was reported to the TFSC. He was publicly crucified in the MSM, lost his job, and was threatened with prosecution.

A bit of selective persecution, huh Lynn?

So, Thanks Lynn! for teaching all Texas forensic analysts that it's completely acceptable to lie, cheat, steal, fake testing results, and falsify lab reports in the crime lab so long as they admit to it (or blame others) during a trial, under oath, in front of a judge.

Let this be a lesson, Jonathan Salvador!

Become management before becoming incompetent.