Charles Sebesta as Inspector Javert
Defrocked prosecutor Charles Sebesta is waging a legal battle to overturn the state bar's decision to disbar him, reported Brandi Grissom at the Dallas News. He was already retired so this legal campaign, which must be costing the guy a small fortune, is all about ego. It's like watching Inspector Javert drown himself in the Seine.
State invests $400K in defense support on DNA mixtures
The Houston Chronicle ran a feature on the review of DNA mixture cases going statewide through the Forensic Science Commission, which Grits has discussed at some length. That report included this notable news:
Signs posted in Texas prison libraries in December tell inmates in English and Spanish about the issue and provide a Harris County post office box to which inmates may write if they believe their cases included this kind of DNA evidence.
Bob Wicoff, head of the appellate division for the Harris County Public Defender's Office, said about five to seven letters arrive each day, but he anticipates the box eventually could receive hundreds.
Backed by a $400,000 grant from the Texas Indigent Defense Commission, Wicoff will spend the next several years steering the statewide effort for the defense bar, aided by volunteer lawyers and law students. He will train lawyers to understand the science and vet cases to see whether they meet the criteria.Dueling use-of-force reform suggestions
Grits earlier mentioned that Campaign Zero, a project of the national Black Lives Matter movement, had begun targeting use of force policies as an avenue for reform. Now the Police Executive Research Forum has come out with its own set of more moderate reform proposals on the topic. As I wrote in an email to two of Grits' contributing writers, between those two sets of suggestions - plus the legion of law enforcement interests who will just say "no" to any reform proposals - new terms of debate over use of force policies are beginning to emerge. For the first time in my life, people don't just ask Sam Walker what to do and then stop the debate!
More conservatives push for asset forfeiture reform
The Institute for Policy Innovation, a conservative think tank which to my knowledge has never done much on criminal justice before, is hosting an event on asset forfeiture next week in Dallas in collaboration with the Right on Crime campaign. See a column in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram from their president on the topic.
Incarcerating poor pregnant women pretrial in Tarrant County
In the Star-Telegram, see a story about women taking prenatal classes in the Tarrant County Jail. Particularly disturbing, some of the 20 pregnant inmates in the Tarrant County Jail are "waiting to make bail," meaning a judge deemed they were eligible to be released but they didn't have enough money to pay a bail bondsman. So poor women stay incarcerated and county taxpayers pick up the tab for their prenatal education classes and healthcare instead of Medicaid. Does that make any sense?
Cornyn pushing federal sentencing reform
Grits doesn't track federal stuff much but can't help but notice that Sen. John Cornyn continues to expend political capital on criminal justice reform even as Texas' junior senator and active presidential candidate Ted Cruz opposes it. Bully for Cornyn, and good luck to him.