Thursday, June 17, 2010

New trials in Mineola Swingers Club cases

Judge Jack Skeen out of Tyler received a sharp-tongued benchslapping from the 14th Court of Appeals out of Houston, ordering new trials in two of the Mineola Swingers Club cases. Here's how Michael Hall from Texas Monthly described the ruling:
the court ultimately based its decision on the “numerous evidentiary errors” it found were committed by trial judge Jack Skeen. For example, Skeen refused to allow any testimony about allegations that John Cantrell, the kids’ foster father, may have abused other kids. Skeen also permitted Kelly’s prosecutors to tell the jury that Mayo and Pittman had already been convicted of running the child-sex ring that Kelly was on trial for. Kelly’s attorney Thad Davidson repeatedly objected to statements made by investigators and CPS workers about what the kids had said during their investigations on the grounds that this testimony was hearsay, but Skeen repeatedly overruled the attorney. In doing so, the appeals court wrote, “The trial court clearly abused its discretion.” In the end, the court concluded, “The record is rife with error … the trial court adopted ad hoc evidentiary rules that operated to assist the State in proving its case, while impeding appellant’s ability to defend himself.”


R. Shackleford said...

Without commenting on the guilt or innocence of those involved, I would like to say,"Good, he needed a slapping". Impartiality is something I find alarmingly absent in many judges these days.

Anonymous said...

Well, I saw this coming 2 years ago when it first appeared in the news. After reading about halfway, I realized this whole case was pure fantasy. I even emailed Scott suggesting he report on this witchhunt months before it was first mentioned on this blog. For anyone who takes the time to read the details of this case and still come away thinking the "mineola 6" are still guilty, are utter morons. Not only do I think these poor schmucks are completely innocent, but also that nothing in this case, not one detail, is even remotely true. It truly frightens me to realize that such a large percentage of the population are such complete and utter idiots when it comes to these types of cases.


Anonymous said...

Jack Skeen Jr. needs to be removed from the bench, and disbarred. He has always played fast, and loose with both, fact, and procedure. He’s repeatedly demonstrated a pronounced disinterest in the integrity of due process, and evidentiary standards.

Anonymous said...

This should be investigated by the Commission on Judicial Conduct. But, since Skeen managed to get his political crony, Joel Baker, appointed to the commission a while back, I'm sure they won't do a thing about it.

Whitney said...

Glad to see Judge Skeen was smacked down by the COA. But don't forget that Dan & Fran Keller's case is just as ridiculous as the Mineola Swingers and yet they're still in prison...

TDCJEX said...

Skeen needs more than a bench slapping he need removal and every case he presided over needs to be reopened . As another commenter said He plays fast and loose with facts and procedure as for evidenitiary procedure . He as long as it gets conviction it si fine with Skeen .Allowing for example the member of a prosecutor's bible study group to sit on a jury .That should have been a mistrial at best.

I can think of another case that has a lot of fabricated testimony and evidence if you read it it becomes clear that the witnesses where told what ots at one got a hell of deal in a capitol murder trail/s that she in fact was the main actor along with one and only one other person he has plead guilty

Unlike The others in that case she is going to be released with in 10 years . .No one can tell me she did not get a deal in exchange for her testimony though . That Person is now in TDCJ unit . Mr Bingham should have told her what it is like for a snitch in TDCJ before she agreed to her deal . But he conveniently left that part out . That is wrong it might be legal but is certainty is not ethical and moral .If your going have person snitch they should know the full consequences of doing so . The jury should know as it should be part of the record that they go ta deal for snitching . even if she is free who will hire her ? It will be n known she at one time made a very bad decision to go along with the state to avoid harsh sentencing how will any one trust her ? I believe it is a decision she now deeply regrets .

Of lied and said no one will know . That too is wrong or was it one of his legal fiction non deals , d where he says you testify and after wards he will sign off on your plea . So he can legally say he did not seek a grealty reduced sentence in exchange for her “testimony “ that has zero credibility if one takes the time to go over the case.

Smith County has a lot of very questionable cases and a lot of misconduct .The question is how d ishe problem going to be remedy it is not enough to simply remove a few very bad actors . Those who are incarcerated for their miss deed should have every opportunity to find justice if it means letting some possible guilty free so bit . That is far better than the alternative of allowing innocent humans ot rot in prison for something they did not do . I can think of a few cases right of the top of my head . Though I believe some are open and active so I will refrain from making them public.

What about Matt Birmingham he loves to play fast and loose with facts and the law . He is another prosecutor who should have every case he ever prosecuted open and in the interest of justice dismissed .
Sadly all no one wins when officials abuse their power and in the case I mentioned families were torn apart because of this kind of corruption and misconduct all so a prosecutor could rack up some capitol convictions . When will reality and facts enter into out justice system and trump procedure ?

On a different note Had this been a death penalty case with clearly guilty all male parties a lot of so called anti death penalty activists would be opening their walls and hearts to the defendants . That too is a lack of amoral compass there is plenty of blame to pass around

Instead of running stores about some celebrities sex life or other non issue maybe a responsible ambitious investigative journalists could look into The corruption and injustice in Smith County . They would be surprised at what they find and just how far it goes.

Anonymous said...

Hell, I wish they'd take a better look at Harris County cases. It seems they're reticent to say the same thing about judges down the street, who are just as egregious as Skeen.

And it still cracks me up when you say 'benchslapped.'


Anonymous said...

You absolutely missed the most important holding in the case, i.e., that the State's expert was allowed to "indirectly" testify about their opinion as to the truthtelling by the kids, but refused to allow the defense expert to do the same.

It's not proper testimony in either event, for either side.

Glad to know you're not on an appellate court. Wait, you'd have to be a lawyer for that job, wouldn't you?

Anonymous said...

Skeen taught Bingham how it works. Bingham charges them and Skeen sets the bail out of reach and holds them in jail until they agree to plead guilty to something to finally get the affair behind them. They don't even get a trail. They've done this for years. Jack used to do it when he was prosecutor. The folks in Smith County ought to be ashamed.

And the Sheriff JB Smith and and Police Chief Swindell? They love them some Matt Bingham and Jack Skeen?

Notice how many folks, myself included, are posting anon. You don't want to be in the crosshairs of these folks.

R. Shackleford said...

Something is seriously awry when the public forebears to comment on public officials for fear of reprisal. This is still (barely) America, where the lowest laborer may speak his mind to presidents and kings. But not, apparently, to congressman Bob Etheridge. If you are Bob Etheridge, the rules are different, clearly.

See what I did there?:) Ah, sarcasm.

TDCJEX said...

R Shakelford That is true, citizens should not fear retaliation or reprisal from the government . Though far to often they do . I have friends in another state where just about every thing is voted on and you sure as hell do not want it made know you oppose the cops and certain officials pet projects . You quietly talk. And hope to hell the get voted town at town elections . If they are and the cops then go and a rampage pulling every one over to show their displeasure and intimidate . When we give the government as much authority as it now has it is very easily abused . The Tough on crime types created this with laws to get around the Constitution which was not written for any particular ideology . The easier it is for cops of any ilk to question ,detain you and search your vehicle or place or residence you it is easier for the state to intimate you .The US Supreme court has all but said the Fourth Amendment is dead it is very simple and elegant it does not need any tweaking at all any reasonable person can understand what it means that is if thy know what it is an why we have a bill of rights .

The tactic described is all to common not only in Smith county but across the nation often a judge becomes the second or in capitol cases the third prosecutor in the court room . I have told people do the jail time get a good attorney a fight it . I would like to end plea barging in exchange for testimony a person has a right to plea guilty if they want though it is inadvisable . Once you plea it become a legal binding and you cannot at a later date fight it should any new evidence arise .

On a slight OT note if every one who was facing criminal charges demanded a jury trail it would bring the justice system to a stop and also expose the true cost of what we now call justice . All we would be dong is trying cases . 95 % of all cases are plead out . I love to end that . I also think every criminal defendant should receive the exact same resources the state has . That is the only way to ensure a semblance of a fair trail . You don't see millionaires in prison often ., The state knows they have the recourse to fight back or have connections to make thing go away .

In Smith county you really do not want to be in those guys cross hairs I don't live there but I know more than I care to about that counties very corrupt and illegal system . It is a unspoken rule that if you live or work in Smith County you do not get on the bad side of the likes of Skeen , Bingham other judges and prosecutors , the local law enforcement .thy can and will do anything legal or illegal to ruin your life . That could change if a few case are investigated and those individual released .. Smith County is the poster county for not electing judges and term limits as well a civilian over sight .

I have copies of the beginnings of a investigative report that for some reason cannot be found now .

Dated but google smith county Justice . The names have changed but the tactics prosecutor lawbreaking and misconduct remain.

One guy who was out of Smith county told me that if you ever gut in any trouble there go to county it is cake and then have a attorney from out side the area take your case do not accept a court appointed if it means that you have to pay back some one thousand A good lawyer will preserve every error and object routinely in many case people are doing time because the court appointed attorney not wanting to a incur the wrath of Smith counties quasi dictator ship did not object or preserve an error ! For a lot oft them their best hope is to start with a IAC claim not an easy feat . It once was it was once easy to challenge the state even in Texas . At onetime it was not easy to get convictions in Texas .
You are correct R Shackleford . We should not fear our government.

Anonymous said...

For another absolute travesty of justice, featuring fantasy scenarios of mass child sex abuse and a big dose of San Antonio homophobia, see the case of the women described at

These poor ladies have been imprisoned for 13 years. Their cases have just been taken by the Innocence Project of Texas.

Debbie said...

Where's the website I just tried to post? Just in case it didn't come out, it's:

www fourliveslost dot com

Anonymous said...

Commenting on Anonymous, my ex-husband was living in Washington State with Rebecca Pittman and she did hold her daughter down for her husband then, for him to moleste her. This is true, live in a fantasy world if you want to. Justice needs to come out of this. She, Rebecca Pittman needs to go to trial, she will probably be the one that never goes and they let her out. Wouldn't that be ironic.