Monday, January 03, 2005

Houston Chron: Read your blogs

The Houston Chronicle reports today that the trial of Jamaican immigrant Tyrone Williams, a "coyote" who is blamed for the death of 19 illegal immigrants he smuggled into the country, will begin this week.

They'd know better if they were tuned into the blogosphere.

Howard Bashman at How Appealing reported Saturday that the Fifth Circuit issued a stay, delaying the trial until they decide whether the US Attorney can conceal the role of the defendant's race in their decision to seek the death penalty. Grits included the information in an update to this item yesterday. Bashman quoted straight from the order entered on the 5th Circuit's docket:
COURT Order filed granting the appellant's motion for stay of trial and all pretrial proceedings pending the timely filing and final disposition of the United States' petition for writ of mandamus. IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that the United States shall file its petition for mandamus no later than the close of business on 1/4/05, and defendant shall respond no later than the close of business on 1/11/05 [5040182-1]. (EHJ/RHB/ECP) Copies to all counsel. [04-21030] (mcs)
So there will be no trial this week; the defendant's brief isn't due until the close of business day on January 11, and the 5th Circuit will then need time to review. Bashman also filled us in on which judges issued the ruling: "The initials shown on the docket entry quoted above indicate that the three Fifth Circuit judges who entered the stay were Circuit Judges Edith H. Jones, Rhesa H. Barksdale, and Edward Charles Prado," he reported.

I felt a bit sloppy yesterday when I wrote on the topic and initially missed HA's item on the Fifth Circuit stay. I caught it pretty quick, though, within an hour of my initial post. The Chronicle made the same mistake in a piece web-posted almost 24 hours later. Don't you guys Google your news subjects over there? As I said then, from now on I'm checking with Howard first on subjects within his bailiwick. The Houston Chronicle's court watchers would be well advised to do the same.

And to How Appealing: Good scoop.

UPDATE: Charles Kuffner today announces regarding a different Houston Chronicle article, "
I really feel annoyed when it seems clear to me that a few minutes with Google could have produced a better story." I guess that answers the question about whether the Chronicle Googles their news subjects. (BTW, this search engine shows that even Googling won't catch some things). Don't fret, Charles. At least that leaves Houstonians with fertile blogging prospects.


sam said...

Although I haven't read the Government's filing and so there may be something of which I'm not aware, on its face the Fifth Circuit's action is pretty hard to square with cases like Will v. U.S. (S.Ct. 1967) (severely narrowing the circumstances under which the Government may obtain a writ of mandamus in criminal cases). Do you have any clue as to how the Government and (so far) the Fifth Circuit are purporting to get around Will?

Gritsforbreakfast said...

I really don't know. Frankly, the 5th Circuit has been pretty far out there, and many of their decisions don't seem to square with obvious precedents or even direct USSC rulings on their own cases. Recently the USSC kicked a Texas death penalty case back to them 8-1, and they adopted the minority opinion (Clarence Thomas) and sent it back up. They seem to be in a pissing match with the Supremes (a fight they really can't win, I'd think), and charting their own course -- destination unknown.