Thursday, January 15, 2009

Justice News Roundup

While I'm busy today with other tasks, here's a roundup of current criminal justice stories that deserve Grits readers' attention:

Lies and Damn Lies
Six different Dallas police officers allegedly lied in a sworn statement about evidence in a drug case, and the defendant's defense attorneys came up with video evidence to prove the point.

Someplace for 'nowhere kids'
The Waco Tribune Herald has a staff editorial lauding local investments in juvenile justice infrastructure and "lament[ing] the lack of transitional programs for young people returning from the TYC." The Senate Criminal Justice Committee raised similar concerns in its recent interim report (pdf).

Mental Health Court Profile
See an excellent profile of Judge Jan Krocker who will run Harris County's new mental health court.

Recovering addict to preside over drug cases
New Harris County Judge Kevin Fine, himself a recovering addict, wants to focus his docket on drug crimes, declaring "My goal is to help as many people with substance abuse problems that really want help to get help and to reduce the number of those people who go to the penitentiary, because it clearly doesn't work."

Re-Entry Focus of Bexar Ministry
The SA Express News published a feature on Bexar County Detention Ministries and their efforts helping ex-prisoners with re-entry services.

Copkiller Claims Castle Doctrine Defense
Will the Castle Doctrine law passed by the 80th Texas Legislature provide a valid defense for the killer of a Dallas police officer? Possibly: Police lied about who was at the door then tried to force their way in when Officer Norman Smith was shot. The shooter was not the target of the warrant and says he didn't know they were police when he fired.

Defensive, Much?
See an account of Dallas County DA Craig Watkins speech this week to the Texas prosecutors association, but some of them didn't think they needed to hear his message. Said Greg Buckley, the assistant district attorney in Childress County, "I appreciate him wanting to tell us to do the right thing. But it may be that he just has more problems with it in his department than we do." Or it may be that much of Watkins' audience is living in denial.

Innocent and Starting Over
On my brother's blog we find a story of a Louisiana man who's starting his own leatherworking business after spending more than two decades in Angola prison on a false rape conviction.

DOJ Civil Rights Enforcement Tainted
A new report from the DOJ inspector general alleges that the Bush Administration ran the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division to promote a partisan political agenda.

Narco Juniors
Says Reuters, "Feuding gangs in the violent cities of Tijuana and Ciudad Juarez prize teenage drug cartel members, known as 'narco juniors,' because they give the attacks an added element of surprise and because they can't be given long prison sentences, police and social workers say."


Anonymous said...

Somebody please, please make the sunset commission verify their information. They can't do it. PLEASE HEAR ME-THEIR INFORMATION IS BOGUS. 1. It's way too soon to see whether changes made to TYC are working. They've not even had a chance to implement anything. They are just trying to survive through the day 2. I don't know where they got their information but it is wrong. 3. They are not qualified to make such major decisions, they do not even begin to understand hoe the system works. DOES ANYONE OUT THERE UNDERSTAND THIS? I VOW I WILL FIND SOMEONE TO LISTEN TO ME.
THIS MORNING on SIDE II in MART, TX, FOUR EMPLOYEES were LAYED OFF. Including a 20 YEAR VETERAN. I am embarassed to say I am from Texas. I've never seen a more corrupt, heartless, uninformed group of people in my life. I'm not crazy, I'm not an employee, I am a concerned citizen.

Anonymous said...

I am contacting the media now!

Anonymous said...

Sunset Commission members have done lost their damn minds.

How can you sit there and listen to all the public input that was provided on a potential TYC/TJPC merger and then open your packet and read all the written public input and still vote to basically merge the two agencies together.

TO the 6 who voted for the merger, how arrogant can you be to think you know better than all the juvenile justice professionals who testified and wrote in that this was a bad idea (to merge TJPC/TYC). If you just read that last sentence and said to yourself that your not arrogant then resign from Sunset Commission because someone else got you to vote for the merger and you have no backbone.

The Sunset took in a tremendous amount of public input and from what I have read and seen in writing how can you represent the public and vote yes on a TJPC/TYC consolidation.

You don't represent the public in the least if you voted yes on this one. Not after all the public input.

Anonymous said...

Cops lying. No, say it ain't so. Does this surprise anyone. This has been going on in law enforcement for years. They just now getting caught. And as to the castle doctrine, see what happens when you lie about who's at the door. You get your ass shot. Citizens have the right to defend themselves and their homes, regardless if the guy on the other side of the door has a badge and gun. Hell, we need protect ourselves from them more than anyone.

Anonymous said...

Dear State Legislature:

When you eliminate TYC and TJPC and combine them into one agency (despite everyone's objection), could you at least give the agency a better name than the Texas Juvenile Justice Department.


Anonymous said...

Todays headlines

Texas House members boost their office budgets

02:44 PM CST on Thursday, January 15, 2009
By ROBERT T. GARRETT / The Dallas Morning News

Texas Youth Commission to lay off 100 people amid reform efforts

01:23 PM CST on Thursday, January 15, 2009
By EMILY RAMSHAW / The Dallas Morning News

What a deal!

Anonymous said...

Re today's headlines........

The only asset they cannot take from you through inflation or deflation is education.

The Republican and Democrat parties only look out for the very wealthy elite.

We must have strict term limits on all levels of government, including bureaucrats in order to purge the system of the hopeless rot.

Anonymous said...

Someplace for nowhere kids is something so needed in our state. We need something to prevent the track of children being prepared by tyc to go to prison. I’m in the very early stages of working on starting a foundation for these poor kids to break tyc norms, and am ecstatic to see that Sen. Whitmire is all over this. The kids need to be educated and learn how to be civilized, these are the key areas that tyc is failing imo.

In tyc’s 120 year history, of a culture predominated by staff with hall monitor syndrome, who have physically, mentally, sexually, and VERBALLY abused the throw away kids of Texas, I say to the initial anonymous poster above, what about the 120,000 + children whose lives have been made more difficult by the very people entrusted to make their lives better?

Sheldon tyc#47333 c/s

Tom Neal said...

Copkiller Claims Castle Doctrine Defense

Another pair of victims in the war on some drugs.

Anonymous said...

Obviously no one cares, but there were more lay offs at TYC today.
It is obvious that the sunset commission had a plan all along.
They wouldn't dare let good information gewt in the way of their mission to destroy TYC. That's fine, go ahead and see what you all are about to do to the state of Texas. I think the sunset commission needs a watchdog group watching it. The employees are not stupid, they know what is going on. Nobody wants to lose their hours so why not take them now before they lose them. Let those brainiacs on the commission take over.

Anonymous said...

Sunset Commission you all need to be fired. You work for the public and you just said F.U to the boss.
Thank goodness you are not scientists. Someone could find a cure for cancer and show you all the facts and you arrogant morons would just ignore it. Now I know where all the prople go who are not really successful in the private sector.

Anonymous said...

This is all such an insulting joke. TDCJ is famous for it's corruption and yet it's untouchable. This is all political. I am embarrased that I helped put some of our politicians in office. There is no justice, just us. I now agree with the slimeball lawyer who told me that.

Anonymous said...

"TDCJ is famous for it's corruption and yet it's untouchable."

Your right on 7:08 but you won't get any support about TDCJ from this blog since all you hear is how we've got to figure out how to fill three thousand unfillable guard jobs and a 20% guard pay hike to boot. And give DPS a 14% pay raise.

And all of this with a deficit and the legislature voting today despite hard economic times and cuts to state services used by millions of Texans, House members today added $1,000 a month to their office operating accountsto boost their office budgets. month.

TYC is the sacrificial lamb.

Anonymous said...

Being realistic....TYC pretty well is getting what it sowed. You can only fool the public and mismanage so much before someone has to pay. It is far past time for TYC to dissolve; it is past its reason for existing. Perhaps valid at one time...a dinasour now really to rot.

Anonymous said...

Los Angeles – The gang capital of the world is taking a new tack against them: cash damages.

The city of Los Angeles, plagued by 23,000 violent gang crimes since 2004, including 784 murders and 12,000 felony assaults, announced Tuesday that it had won its first civil judgment, for $5 million, against a criminal gang that had dominated the heroin trade downtown for decades.

The verdict could bode well for another first-of-its-kind lawsuit the city filed last month that goes after all assets of gang leaders, not just those associated with their criminal activity. Both suits seek to plow the money back into improving the neighborhoods affected by the gangs through a fund.

"By giving prosecutors more tools to fight gang activity at the local level, we are protecting our communities at the same time [that] we're able to strengthen our statewide anti-gang efforts," said Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger in a statement released with the announcement of the $5 million verdict against the 5th and Hill gang in L.A.

The civil suits were filed under different amendments to state laws, one passed in 2007 and one in 2008,

Anonymous said...

And you just thought the police are the only ones corrupt....

Disbarred Dallas lawyer Catherine Shelton gets probation for shoplifting

A Dallas attorney with a long history of questionable conduct was sentenced this morning to three years' probation for shoplifting.

Catherine Shelton, who is barred from practicing law, will have to serve her two-year sentence if she violates her probation.

Also Online
11/27/07: Troubled Dallas lawyer disbarred

11/20/07: Dallas criminal defense lawyer Shelton faces theft charge

Link: See a November 2000 Dallas Observer story on the Michael Hierro murder case

Link: See a January 2000 Dallas Observer story on Catherine Shelton
She pleaded guilty in exchange for the probation, which will be transferred to Harris County, where she now lives.

Shelton, 60, was suspected in the December 1999 slaying of Michael Hierro in Rowlett but never charged. Her husband is serving a life sentence for the slaying. In the late 1970s, she was suspected in the bludgeoning death of a former lover.

Shelton was previously convicted of aggravated assault for shooting a former boyfriend, and she was convicted of assaulting a former friend who was pregnant.

Today's sentence stems from her November 2007 arrest for shoplifting a $1,195 Marc Jacobs purse, two shirts worth $326 and an $8 candle from the Nordstrom at NorthPark Center.

Anonymous said...

Damn...she's a typical lawyer...just got caught.

Anonymous said...

Its always hard to bite the bullet....but when you know you're really worthless, its easier to swallow.

Anonymous said...

Excuse me 9:47pm,
Is that an opinion with an attitude or can you back up what you say with research. I can only tell this much, you are very naive if you believe you can only lie and cover up so long without getting caught. You vote people into office that lie to you everyday, retire and never get caught. I bet you have a big secret that only you know about, if you say you don't you are lying. People die all the time at TDCJ and it never gets out. TDCJ would be closed along with many governments and businesses. Yep there are some crappy people at TYC but there are also many, many dedicated people there. Lest you accuse me of being staff, I'll tell you now that I was one for a long, long time untl I got fired for no reason. You won't believe me but it's true. I made some people over my head angry and they got me. They were no good, but I won't say that is true of all because it's not and I'm realistic. I'm not even trying to tell you that TDCJ should close. Closing eithe agency is unrealsitic and impractical. You must look at the big picture to see the resounding effects that closing th agency would have. My goodness, we don't all live in Travis, Harris, Bexar or Dallas county. My little county has major juvenile crime and they are not equipped to even begin to handle it. The cost would be prohibitive, but thats not all to consider. We are talking about mental restructuring which is a much more difficult task. Think about what you are saying and consider the fall out. I'm tired and can't think of a good analogy but it's almost like abolishing public schools overnight.