Denying jobs for minor offenses
DPS is denying job licenses to applicants for quite-minor offenses, reported Eric Dexheimer (July 3) at the Austin Statesman. He provides several anecdotes suggesting that that "state regulators can zealously apply a law in apparent defiance of common sense."
Prosecutor misconduct alleged in capital case
This headline to a July 4 Houston Chronicle story effectively summed up some remarkable allegations which surfaced this week in Houston: "Prosecutors accused of hiding evidence, inventing testimony in death penalty case: Witnesses say prosecutors coerced them."
Late police officer's chase negligence partly to blame for her death
In an intoxication manslaughter case out of Montgomery County - in which a Patton Village police officer died while chasing a DWI suspect, in an accident that also killed an 11-year old child - DPS investigators determined that the late officer was partly at fault because he "disregarded the red light" and "failed to slow" as he entered an intersection. It's worth mentioning that, last year, we learned high-speed chases are much deadlier than was previously thought. Grits wishes these deaths were tracked as meticulously as the government tracks deaths in custody, and now police shootings.
Arsenic and hot prisons
The combination of heat litigation and the need for arsenic remediation make the Wallace Pack unit 2016's poster child for the ongoing fight over excessive heat in un-airconditioned prisons. See also recent story by Brandi Grissom. As Mother Jones pointed out recently, it's incredibly hard to sue prisons. So the fact the Pack unit litigation has gotten this far means they've overcome some major procedural and evidentiary hurdles. That implies the problems have reached fairly extreme proportions.
Plea bargains sans trials?
On my short-term to-read list: A new law review article by Penn law prof Stephanos Bibas titled, "Designing Plea Bargaining from the Ground Up: Accuracy and Fairness Without Trials as Backstops." The premise: American law has largely abandoned "the assumption that grand juries and petit jury trials were the ultimate safeguards of fair procedures and accurate outcomes." So, the plea bargaining system must be designed to stand on its own and re-institute some of the protections lost by eliminating trials for most defendants. From the abstract:
Part I explores the causes of factual, moral, and legal inaccuracies in guilty pleas. To prevent and remedy these inaccuracies, it proposes a combination of quasi-inquisitorial safeguards, more vigorous criminal defense, and better normative evaluation of charges, pleas, and sentences. Part II then diagnoses unfair repercussions caused by defendants’ lack of information and understanding, laymen’s lack of voice, and the public’s lack of information and participation. To prevent and fix these sources of unfairness, it proposes ways to better inform pleas and to make plea procedures more procedurally just."