Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Odds and Ends: Trial by Twitter, Beyond Prisons and other stories

Here are several items which caught my attention today and may interest Grits readers:

Be careful what you ask for
Constables in Collin County have been complaining they aren't equipped as well as sheriff's deputies, so the county commissioners court is considering moving all deputy constables under the auspices of the Sheriff's Office. All of a sudden, as you might imagine, the crisis of being under-equipped isn't quite so pressing for constables whose employees would be taken from them.

Regional SWAT unit
Grits complained yesterday of duplicative SWAT team capacity in neighboring jurisdictions, but a commenter points out that several North Texas Jurisdictions have created a regional SWAT force, which makes a lot more sense for smaller agencies.

'Beyond Prisons'
See the special edition of Yes! magazine with the same title as this subhed.

Rick Perry, border security and presidential politics
NPR today broadcast the first of  a two-part series by John Burnett over border security at the Texas-Mexico border, asking "is South Texas being terrorized by Mexican drug gangs, or is Perry trying to score political points against a president he may face in a run for the White House?" More on this, perhaps, after the complete story has aired.

Hot Mexican drug war exposing flawed forensic capacity
American crime labs may have their problems, but the volume of crime-lab services needed for Mexico's drug war has exposed serious flaws, swamped their underdeveloped crime lab system and made it difficult to prosecute cases. Maybe they should have used the Merida Initiative money to bolster crime lab capacity instead of buying helicopters and surveillance software for often-corrupt police.

'I hope they are judging the right people'
An important trial in Juarez, Mexico over an alleged mass murder may be hindered if judges determine that defendants were tortured in order to secure confessions. As the mother of one of the victims declared, “I would like to see them (the killers) in jail, but inside me I’m thinking ‘I hope they investigated well, I hope they are judging the right people.’”

Free Roger Clemens
The perjury trial of UT pitching great Roger Clemens begins tomorrow for allegedly lying to Congress. As I've written before, "I'd still like to know why the Justice Department and Congress don't pay this much attention to the just as clear evidence of widespread steroid use among law enforcement?" While other players included in the Mitchell report frequently were identified through sales records and internet credit card transactions, no one has presented such corroborating evidence against Clemens. This is a conflict between a steroid dealing informant and an allegedly lying athlete with no credible way to judge who's telling the truth. What a waste of prosecutorial resources! As if Congressmen and women don't lie to one another every friggin' day.

New report on snitching
Speaking of snitches, see a new public policy report (pdf) from the ACLU of New Jersey advocating for uniform practices among police departments for managing confidential informants, including recommendations for reform. (This was the issue that got Grits run out of the ACLU of Texas on a rail for violating unwritten codes of political correctness. More on this report, possibly, after I've had a chance to read it.) See AP's coverage.

Trial by Twitter not enough to convict
Despite the ongoing media frenzy, the Casey Anthony not-guilty verdict shows that, at least in some, rare instances, evidence is still required to secure a criminal conviction in this country. The demagoguery over this case from the Nancy Grace crowd and true-crime fetishists has been truly over the top. Brian Tannenbaum called the media coverage disgraceful, and he probably understates how bad it was. Thank heavens for sequestered juries!


DEWEY said...

Casey Anthony: Guilty or innocent (and I am NOT stating my opinion), the jury has spoken.

ckikerintulia said...

Yes, the jury has spoken, and they found her neither guilty nor innocent, but not guilty. I will state my opinion, which is that they did the right thing. They didn't find the evidence to convict as meeting the "reasonable doubt" threshold, so they said "not guilty" on the homicide/child abuse charges. They did find her guilty of being a liar. It is all too seldom these days that juries act out the presumption of innocence as these jurors did.

LR said...

I agree with ckiderintulia. It is a shame that too many cases are tried by the media and not by a jury. I commend the jury in their decision. Bravo! We do not know what they information the jury had access to. Who are we to judge?

Anonymous said...

Nancy Grace is a disgrace.

leejay said...

re: 9:06 A nod to you sir, I was reading this post and considering wheather to comment or not...you beat me to it.IMO she is unprofessional,theaterically emotional and usually off-point. Wherever she came from, I wish she would get out of in front of the camera and go back to where she was.

Hook Em Horns said...

This case was based on circumstantial evidence. No DNA, nothing that actually 'proved' she murdered her daughter. I have seen cases go both ways in situations like this but the state's case was weak at best.

Anonymous said...

I liked Danny Glover's picture on the cover of Yes! magazine. I applaud his support for Fidel Castro and Hugo Chavez.

Wiki: Glover has a well-publicized and benefited friendship with Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez. Chavez has reportedly approved $18,000,000 to finance Glover's directorial debut in a film....

Gritsforbreakfast said...

11:21, those Lethal Weapon movies were all pretty subersive, too! :)

Old Cop said...

When you ask 12 citizens to put a needle full of deadly poison into someone's arm you better have a whole hell of a lot of evidence way beyond a reasonable doubt. JMO

rodsmith said...

actualy ckikerintulia in this country a NOT GUILITY verdict does mean the individual is INNOCENT!

pity the individuals who wrote out our constitution and legal system wouldn't realize that 200+ years later the american public would be so dumbed down as to not realize that and went ahead and added a 3rd choice in a jury verict!

Texas Maverick said...

If the jury had not been sequestered, could a case be made for attempted jury tampering against the people who were out front of the courthouse. I do not understand the need to be there. If you wanted to see the trial, go inside. It reminded me of a lynch mob. I chose not to listen to the broadcasting and now wonder if cameras should have been in the courtroom. Thank goodness the jury decided on the evidence and not the media hype. Prosecutors need to be held to standards and that means prove your case. Too bad that doesn't always hold true in Texas.

Anonymous said...

"Free Roger Clemens"

Shoot, What's the big deal? Congress lies to us everyday, and you don;t hear us screaming perjury after every statement. Pot Meet Kettle

Anonymous said...

Easy to say let Roger go but remember he did this to himself. No one asked him to come testify to congress. He asked to go on his own. They told him he didn't have to.