Friday, March 21, 2008

End-of-Week Roundup

Here are a few short items that deserve Grits readers' attention:

Jail 'em now, accuse 'em later
Fort Worth Star Telegram editorial writer Linda Campbell offered up an excellent editorial about the Kafka-esque implications of the Rothgery case argued this week before the Supreme Court, discussed by Grits here and here. She was as astonished by the arguments for Gillespie County as I was that it was constitutional to lock a defendant up in jail for weeks or months without charging them or providing them access to an attorney. Incidentally, Gregory Coleman, who argued the case for the county and was "pummeled" by Scalia and other Justices, in Campbell's words, is one of Governor Perry's appointees to the board of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice. He chairs the TBCJ legal committee and formerly clerked for Justice Clarence Thomas, and also for Edith Jones on the 5th Circuit.

What does the justice system owe to defendants' children?
Having discussed recently whether the justice system "owes" anything to defendants' families, I was saddened to see this post from Doc Berman questioning whether a dying child's wish to have her father at her bedside should justify sentencing leniency.

Tyler deputies using inmate labor for personal profit
Four deputies in Smith County including the Lieutenant who ran the low-risk detention facility were fired for a scheme to use trustees to collect and sell scrap metal and pocketing the profits. Other deputies may also be involved, according to the Tyler Morning Telegraph, which said Sheriff J.B. Smith also cited possible misappropriation of "Estray funds," which "are monies collected from the sale of stray livestock rounded up off county roadways that no one has claimed. He further stated these animals are publicized in legal advertisements and are only sold after all attempts to locate the owner have failed. Monies collected from the sales are deposited into the county’s general fund." No word on how much money we're talking about, but I'll bet those funds haven't been audited in a while, not just in Smith County but most places.

Don't Mess with Texas C&W Singers
Speaking of alleged police misconduct, two police officers were indicted for kidnapping and aggravated assault in Dallas after C&W singer Steve Holy invited them to his home along with another friend to play foosball after a bar closed. Reported AP, "Holy told police the officers pointed their guns at him and the friend and ordered them on the ground. Before the officers left, the police report said, Anderson told Holy that he'd kill him if he said anything." Here's a question for readers: If Mr. Holy a) wasn't a wealthy country and western singer and b) didn't have a witness, do you think the department would have acted on his complaint?

Ain't technology grand?
Here's a tip: If an immigration or law enforcement officer attempts to blackmail you for sex, record the conversation with your cell phone.

Reflections on death row
The Dallas News has a jailhouse interview with Thomas Miller-El, the now-former death row inmate whose name became nearly synonymous with two decades of litigation about racial discrimination in Dallas jury selection. The victims' family are unhappy that a new plea bargain will keep him from receiving the death penalty ("My son just got murdered again in 2008," said the father), but it remains unlikely Mr. Miller-El will ever see the free world again. RELATED, from NPR, High court says blacks kept off jury in murder case.

TBCJ to meet in Austin
For those interested, there's a TDCJ board meeting in Austin next week. Here's the agenda.


Ed Veronda said...

The case about the immigration officer blackmailing the woman for sex is absolutely disgusting. It is just as corrupt as anything an officer of the law can do. Today, I saw (in a very small jurisdiction) an officer with his radio having both audio and visual recording abilities, and they record each and every single one of their domestic violence, dui, and other serious criminal contacts. The idea is not only to gather more accurate evidence, but to avoid AND investigate allegations of police misconduct. Wonderfully new (and expensive) technology, but nothing could stop something like this. This coming to light makes one wonder how frequent and pervasive it is.

~Western Justice

Anonymous said...

Justice Thomas and Judge Edith Jones? Could one even pick two more extreme right-wing judges in the country to clerk for?

Anonymous said...

Grits in regrades to the article on Steve Holy.I worked with Randy Anderson when he worked for the Houston Police Jail Div. as a Jailer after he left there he went to TDCJ.Then he went to DPD.Then he lost his mind I guess.But anyway how can I find his trail date. Bye the way his whole family is in Law Enforcement.I guess there's always one bad apple.

Anonymous said...

Regarding the Smith County use of inmate labor: This is nothing new. It's been going on for years. There were allegations a few years ago that were presented to a grand jury. But as in other cases of alleged misconduct by law enforcement somehow Smith County grand juries can be convinced not to indict the perpetrators. I laughed when I saw JB Smith talking about it on the news. This stuff has been going on so long if he isn't in on it he would have to know about. I don't think he's that blind and stupid. In years past we've had the K-9 fund that funneled kickbacks from the commissary vendor, over a million dollars in unaccounted for surplus property with trustees testifying some of it was sold at a local flea market, gifts given to jail staff from a bondsman, a lieutenant caught using drugs was just going to be suspended for a couple of weeks before the media found out, a jail that has to be one of the worst run in the country............and on and on. Yet, JB Smith was just reelected. Smith County has to have the stupidest voters in the country.