Saturday, January 31, 2009

The Texas Criminal Law Generator

Are you a Texas legislator having trouble deciding what behaviors to criminalize next? If so, Dallas attorney Robert Guest has helpfully proposed the Texas Criminal Law Generator, which he describes thusly:
Every two years our most electable citizens gather in Austin to enact new criminal laws. Passing a new criminal law can be hard. You must invent a crisis that only a new criminal law can solve, and then convince other reps to vote for it. This takes time away from important activities like boozing it up with lobbyists or pandering to special interests. To help streamline the process I have created the Texas Criminal Law Generator. This system creates instant "tough on crime" legislation that is guaranteed to pass and be signed by Rick Perry!

If you are a politician who needs the appearance of "doing something about crime" without being distracted by details like justice, rights, or liberty, the TCLG is for you.
Hilarious, and brilliantly conceived: The whole post is a must read.


Anonymous said...

Do you know what percentage of the lege membership is made up of lawyers?

Anonymous said...

I doubt the parents of 3 year old Griffin Jones would find much humor about this lawyers take on using a cell phone in a car.

I have written my state senator and representative and hope that HB220 and HB221 filed by state rep Jose Menendez is signed into law.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

Please! According to the story you point to, the parents don't KNOW texting caused the wreck but can think of "no other reason" for the accident.

In other words, they have no reason at all to believe that, or at least none that the were able to articulate to the reporter. But you think that's justification to pass new criminal laws?!

Even if what they say is true, civil litigation is the way to handle ACCIDENTS, which is what this was. There's simply no need to make every little thing a crime in cases where there's no criminal intent.

For that matter, if you're going to ban cell phones, you must also ban car stereos, since lots of rear-enders happen while people are looking for their favorite radio station or changing out CDs.

Or how about the parent who rear ends someone while distracted by their kids misbehaving in the back seat? By your logic, if you can point to a single incident where that happens and someone is hurt, we should outlaw driving with kids in the car. Robert's right to poke fun at that mentality. It's misguided and silly.

To 11:15 - the portion who are legislators are only a small number.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

Whoops, meant the portion of legislators who are LAWYERS is a relatively small number.

Anonymous said...

If you would read the two bills, it does not ban cell phones. It requires a handsfree device. And I don't know of a way to text without a handsfree device so that means you are going to have to pull over and stop.

Do you think drivers should text and read while driving and drive with their head up their ass, (we are going to call that DWHUA, ha!) or should they drive with regard for the safety of others?

"Even if what they say is true, civil litigation is the way to handle ACCIDENTS, which is what this was."

By your logic, lets do away with speed limits, school zones, stop signs, turn signals and headlights, anything that might save a life or reduce injuries and accidents.

Let's just settle it in civil litigation!

Anonymous said...

Don't forget to criminalize eating in the car. And putting on makeup. And shaving. And reading a printed out Google map. Or looking at distracting billboards on the side of the road. Cell phones are no more distracting than any of those things.

Much, much more important to the story 11:46 points to is that the driver was just 18 years old. From the perspective of statistics, banning YOUNG drivers would do more to make roads safer than banning cell phones.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

The first 2:16 writes: "If you would read the two bills, it does not ban cell phones. It requires a handsfree device."

My apologies. That legislation was not the topic of this post and I was relying on your characterization of the bills as being about "using a cell phone in a car."

And no, I don't think texting in the car is a good idea. Or eating. Or shaving, or putting on makeup, as the second 2:16 says. I just don't think every potentially harmful thing in the world deserves its own criminal law.

I also agree with the second 2:16 that young drivers are a geater danger than texting drivers, and Rep. Menendez would save many more lives by raising the driving age to 25.

Finally, while I realize you believed you were being facetious when you suggested "do away with speed limits, school zones, stop signs, turn signals and headlights, anything that might save a life or reduce injuries and accidents," you've actually probably identified a very good idea. See here, here, and here.

There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.

Anonymous said...

Here is a link you can go to. It contains various links you can click on and read about the dangers of texting while driving.

Handsfree devices are the way go. Texting while driving has got to go. Pull over on the side of the road.

I suppose Scott you would have liked to have been on the train that recently crashed where the engineer was texting at the time of the accident.

Yes, do away with the oyster law, but texting while driving is dangerous, either by an adult or teen.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

2:39, I don't know why you think hands-free cell phones are some panacea. According to the Harvard Center for Risk Analysis:

"Hands-free cell phones are just as risky as hand held phones ... It's not just what you're doing with your hands — it's that your head is in the conversation and so your eyes are not on the road" (Source)

Of course, that's also true of fiddling with your car stereo. There's always something else to ban, if you're of that mentality.

Anonymous said...

You know, I'm not really one to complain, but could the Lege. possibly just try to focus on the fixing the problems with the laws already on the books?

Case in point - The use of red light cameras and there likely responsibility of raising the rate of accidents at those intersections by as much as 50%.

Anonymous said...

Of course when this law is passed, there will be group of people who will be exempt from this law. Police officers will still be able to text/call while speeding down the street in front of your children.

I guess the state believes that police officers are smarter then the average citizen? If you believe that crap, I have proof that the average police officer is ignorant.

x4livin said...

Just an observation:We separate church and state and still require that you wait till noon on Sunday to buy alcohol.
(Occurred to me when looking at the enhancements on the "generator")

I agree that we need to fix or nix the laws we already have.

Solving dangerous situations don't have to require a new law, common sense has died, hasn't it. I remember when............

Gritsforbreakfast said...

11:22 - I don't think that the average police officer is any more "ignorant" than the average Texan, nor particularly smarter.

But since you mention exemptions for police, the cell phone bill mentioned above, HB 220, declares:

"(e) This section does not apply if:
(1) the operator is a peace officer or an emergency response provider; and
(2) the use of the wireless communication device is in connection with official duties."

So if it's dangerous for me to do workaday business on the cell phone in my car, why not the cops?

For that matter, surely the in-car computers now common in squad cars generate the same danger as text messaging while driving, since it forces the officer to look away from the road unless they pull over and come to a complete stop before using it.

If there are two officers in the car, no problem. But most agencies just can't afford that level of staffing.

SB said...

The Guest post was in another forum and it was seen in a different way. It is a poke at a system that has to have 110 variations of every law. Who dares show up in Austin with nothing? Some idiotic laws get passed and we wonder where these ideas come from.Guest may not be far off.
Every pilgrimage to Austin means we give up additional rights and never get anything returned. We elect people to give our freedom away. Personal responsibility has come down to obeying laws that cover every aspect of our lives. When everything is a criminal act you get bet our prisons are overflowing. Our future military is gone since the kids that usually join to further their educations often have some mark on their criminal record. If the draft were reinstated a quick little felony would give a lifetime exemption. We have had at least 6 military recruiters commit suicide because public anger is directed toward them. We lock up young men and keep them through the years they would normally be reproducing so that also impacts the future. Any American that fights for this country has the intent of fighting for a United Nation rather than a chaotic piece of real estate. What good does it do to fight for this country when we, the Americans, are the ones that are destroying it?

Anonymous said...

Police officers are people, just like you and me. But some put on that uniform and immediately put on another personality and some of the personalities they put on are ugly.

There are many who should be drug and steroid tested. You can pick out the steroid users by looking at their biceps and neck muscles, they are the ones with the bad attitudes and have bad attitudes before they ever become police officers In my opinion all should have psychological testing before they ever put on the uniform or are employed where they are in charge of someone's life. Forgive me if this is done, but I have never heard that psychological testing is a requirement prior to becoming a policeman.

Mecial personal are drug tested, why not police officers? Medical personal are randomly tested, why not police officers?