Thursday, September 25, 2008

Open Thread

I'll be out most of the day to attend the second meeting of the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals' Criminal Justice Integrity Unit, so check out the blogs in Grits' sidebar while I'm gone and use this post as an open thread to let us know what Texas criminal justice issues you're paying attention to that the rest of us should be watching.

Also, though I've not covered the West Texas polygamy story in a while, a college pal of mine, Susan Hays, who was one of the nearly 300 attorneys ad litem involved in the case, was interviewed extensively about the case and her experiences in this extended ABA Journal article. Those interested should give it a read.


Anonymous said...

Is Grits familiar with a recent (I believe Williamson Co.) Case where an actual innocence writ applicant was prosecuted for aggravated perjury for swearing to the writ when he had previously confessed. The DA's office supposedly mentioned it on the TDCAA site. If this is true, what a chilling episode for post-conviction relief seekers - Perhaps this should be discussed at the symposium.

Anonymous said...

There is talk of a bill that would allow for juvenile probation officers to carry a firearm while working in the field. What are the thought on this?

Anonymous said...

The JPO carrying arms bill is nothing new. There's a JOP in Crosby County whos been pushing it for years and it's never gotten out of committee. Won't happen this year either.


123txpublicdefender123 said...

That type of perjury prosecution sounds exactly like something Williamson County would do. They are as draconian and vindictive--and by "they," I mean both the DA and the jurors--as they come.

Scott, thanks for the link to the ABA article. Julie Balovich, the TRLA was one of my public interest law buddies from law school. I know she worked like crazy on that case, and did a fantastic job.

Anonymous said...

Go look at the logo on the t-shirts for sale on the website for the Juvenile Justice Association of Texas. Did the JPO from Crosby Co. pick that out? Go look at it and let me know what you think.

Anonymous said...

Actually there has not been a bill in several years. (2001)

Anonymous said...

I ran across your blog trying to find information on reporting Williamson County CSCD officers but apparently there are none. I was wondering if you would like to know that Williamson County Probation is currently forcing DWI probationers and parolees of Atheist or Other Religious beliefs to attend AA by force as a term of probation. Now going to meetings I find it helps alot of people and they definately need help if they can't get it through treament, but their are a few of us who just made a dumb decision to get behind the wheel of a car. First and foremost it was wrong, but Probationeers/Parolees are being threatened with Jail time for their full sentence if we do not attend and give Williamson County CSCD private details of our AA meetings and if they working the AA 12 Steps. Williamson county is breaking AA tradition and the 1st Amendment. They have plain clothes officers attend AA meetings as a precondition for employment so they see how meetings are conducted and not actually understanding the AA religious philosophy, also they are threatening Perjury to anyone who writes in a name falsely for their AA attendence sheet because Williamson County is gaining access to a list of Chairpersons conducting meetings in certain Willaimson County towns Georgetown being one of them. They are bending AA's Open door policy for their purposes which is meant for Alcoholics and Drug Addicts and those who suffer.
By Williamson Countys standard they feel they are within their right to do this, but its is highly unethical, because Judges have cited the anything said in a religious meeting stays there and cannot be used in the court systems meaning AA is a religious meeting place for Alcoholics.

Also if you do not have a vehicle they require you to have a ViCap machine which is a Video Surveillence unit placed on your home phone and it sends the Video to an outsourced company from another state. This company calls you and you have to set up a morning time and a night time to blow into a breathalyzer and transmit the video back to an out of state company which is being paid by Texas Tax payers and Probationeers the other half to do an instate Probation Officers job. If you miss a call it counts as a Dirty UA or Not seeing you PO and your Supervision status can be changed by Williamson County CSCD highly unethical use of technology.

Establishment of religion:

Main article: Establishment Clause of the First Amendment

The Establishment Clause of the First Amendment prohibits the establishment of a national religion by the Congress or the preference of one religion over another, or religion over non-religion. Originally, the First Amendment only applied to the federal government. Subsequently, under the incorporation doctrine, certain selected provisions were applied to states. It was not, however, until the middle and later years of the twentieth century that the Supreme Court began to interpret the Establishment and Free Exercise Clauses in such a manner as to restrict the promotion of religion by state governments. For example, in the Board of Education of Kiryas Joel Village School District v. Grumet, 512 U.S. 687 (1994), Justice David Souter, writing for the majority, concluded that "government should not prefer one religion to another, or religion to irreligion".

"the Supreme Court began to interpret the Establishment and Free Exercise Clauses in such a manner as to restrict the promotion of religion by state governments."--Please note this!!!

The Oxford Group influenced the structure of Alcoholics Anonymous is common knowledge within the program. What has not always been told or recognized are the details of the spiritual recovery material that Bill W and Dr. Bob heard, learned, and applied from the Oxford Group. Many of the ideas that formed the foundation of AAs suggested Steps of recovery came from (the then named) A First Century Christian Fellowship-founded in 1921 by a Lutheran minister, Dr. Frank Buchman, and led in New York by his chief American lieutenant, Rev. Samuel Shoemaker, rector of
Calvary Episcopal Church. This fellowship changed its name to the Oxford Group in 1928.

The 12 Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous

1.) We admitted we were powerless over alcohol--that our lives had become unmanageable.

2.) "Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves" could restore us to sanity.

3.) "Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him."

4.) Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.

5.) "Admitted to God", to ourselves and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.

6.) "Were entirely ready to have God" remove all these defects of character.

7.) "Humbly asked Him" to remove our shortcomings.

8.) Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.

9.) Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.

10.) Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.

11.) "Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out."

12.) Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.

The word God or implying a Religious deity is used 6 times in the AA 12 Steps

Anonymous said...

Regarding corruption in Williamson County, you may want to view some of the videos on this site

Also, it you get public access TV in Austin, tune in Sunday nights on either Channel 10 or 16 for this show which often covers this topic of W. County corruption. Not only is their just-us system criminal, but also the conduct of their Georgetown and W. County government offices, finances-wise, is corrupt.

I just want to make everyone aware that starting Oct. 1, the US military is going to have an unprecedented Northcom controlled military unit available for law enforcement in our cities and towns and they plan to use "non leathal" things like tasers and "bean bullets" or something like that as well as other technologies. Looks like another false flag terrorist attack about to be perpetrated on we the people as maybe an "October surprise."

The more the general government moves to martial law, the less justice there is for those currently in the Texas criminal justice system.

Ordo ab chao is the name of the game, and the tanking economy should greatly facilitate that game plan.

Anonymous said...

Williamson County, the same county that recently sent a young man to three years in prison because at age 17 he had sex with a girl who told him she was 15 but turned out to be
13? What a tremendous waste of taxpayer resources. This young man should be taught responsible sexual behavior not labeled a sex offender for life. Texas lawmakers have certainly missed the mark in dealing with sex offenses which is costng the taxpayers, creating panic, and protecting no one.

Unknown said...

I am the family member of a wrongly convicted person. So I eagerly called the Tx Court of Criminal Appeals when I first read about their new "integrity unit." I was told that it's "more of a think tank" and there's really no way to contact them to make recommendations, etc. It made it all sound like nothing more than a PR move, especially since the announcement said that the unit would work with "all parties affected by the criminal justice system, including currently incarcerated inmates who may have been wrongfully convicted."

I hope that's not true. I hope that they are truly going to recommend legislation that could help avoid wrongful convictions.

If you would like information on the case of my niece, Hannah Overton, convicted of capital murder by "omission" for not seeking medical help "soon enough" for her son, write me at or go to

A San Antonio Express News expose on her case is here

ABC's 20/20 is expected to air a story on her case on Oct 24.

Don said...

to anon 10:54: Actually, although Williamson County is probably a fitting poster child for all that is wrong with Texas Criminal Justice, the forced AA problem is not exclusive with them. It is done almost everywhere, and it has almost destroyed AA. You are absolutely correct in everything you say. It is as much of an affront to the AA Traditions as it is to the offender and the Constitution. Although as a recovering alcoholic, and an LCDC for 22 years, working mostly in the CJ system, this has always been a pet peeve of mine. There have been instances when members of local chapters of AA have actually gone to the judges, DA's, and probation chiefs to implore them to stop this, to no avail. Why? It's free, it's easy, requires no effort on the probation officer, judge, DA etc. Williamson County DA is a terrible place for justice, but they have a lot of company in this. AA chapters should stop signing the stupid papers, and notify the courts of this, and tell them why. Start having more closed meetings, and fewer open meetings. There are ways to fight the stupidity, but AA does not participate in controversy, so it is difficult.