Friday, January 15, 2010

Odds and ends

Here are a several items worthy of Grits readers attention while I'm focused elsewhere today:

Texas Senate interim charges out
The Lieutenant Governor issued the interim charges (pdf) for standing Senate committees and the Criminal Justice Committee's plate is particularly full (see pp. 3-5). More on this later.

Fighting the Power (of DNA)
At the Houston Chronicle, Rick Casey has the story of Williamson County DA and Forensics Science Commission chair John Bradley's fight to prevent postconviction DNA testing in a 25-year old murder case, arguing that finality is more important than potential actual innocence claims. Texas' Third Court of Appeals recently disagreed, declaring the state must allow testing at the defendant's expense.

More on Perry's Forensic Science Commission appointments
Speaking of the Forensics Science Commission, while its new presshound chairman has attracted the most attention, Walter Reaves mentions that it might be worth keeping an eye on another of Gov. Perry's recent FSC appointments, Tarrant County medical examiner Nizam Peerwani, whose unique contract agreement was the subject of an extensive Fort Worth Weekly feature last year. Peerwani recently was appointed to the FSC after the Bexar County medical examiner resigned rather than comply with required state ethics disclosures.

I remember nothing, ask me anything you want
At Liberty and Justice For Y'all, read about a case out of the 10th Court of Appeals in Waco and the odd, straight-out-of-a-soap-opera question, how can the state satisfy the confrontation clause requirement when it introduces a written statement signed by a witness who later contracted amnesia and can't recall any of the events described. The 10th Court allowed the testimony; LJFY thinks that was a mistake. MORE: See a discussion of this case from Evidence Prof Blog.

Strict Harris DIVERT rules sending more DWI defendants to trial?
Mark Bennett shares a copy of the strict new Harris County DIVERT Court agreement for drunk drivers and says his one client who considered it decided after reading it to instead go to trial - something that usually happens in only 1% of misdemeanor cases. His impression jibes with other accounts I've seen of the new program. I wonder how many people they're actually "diverting"?

Something to read when you're alone
Journalist James Ridgeway has launched the blog Solitary Watch to focus on issues related to solitary confinement.


Don Dickson said...

I found it curious that there was virtually no reference to DPS in the entire document. The agency just went through a complete (and costly!) makeover, and nobody's interested to see how things are going?

Gritsforbreakfast said...

Good point, Don!