Sunday, October 30, 2011

Weekend Roundup: Brady violations to police 'code of silence'

Here are several items that haven't made it into stand-alone Grits posts but which merit readers' attention:

John Bradley defends, obfuscates hide-the-ball tactics by his office
Williamson County DA John Bradley has a rather disingenuous op-ed in the Round Rock Leader defending his office against charges that it withheld exculpatory evidence. But the Wilco Watchdog parses the claims in detail, concluding that:
Whoever is giving him advice about trying to make a silk purse out of a sow's ear is badly misguided. And, if he had made that 'going public' decision totally on his own, he's living in fantasyland if he believes reasonable people will buy it. No matter how hard he might try, Bradley can't change the record involving his history as in the Morton case, his admission in another 2010 case involving an assistant DA in his office, Tommy Coleman, his performance as chair of the Texas Forensics Science Commission, and the public disclosures now being made by criminal defense attorneys who have fought the uphill battle of defending their clients against the tactics employed by Bradley's 'policies.'
TDCJ can't parole illegal immigrants in part because of federal judge shortage
Though Texas passed a law this year to speed up parole of deportation-eligible prison inmates, the state has yet to begin doing so, reports the Houston Chronicle, because the feds don't have adequate staff to process the extra cases. Reportedly, "part of the problem lies in a shortage of immigration judges" which gets us back to the conundrum of opposing all of President Obama's judicial and (until recently) prosecutor appointments while complaining that immigration cases aren't processed more quickly.

By appointment only
The appointment procedures for individual Harris County district courts are all online. Coupla things stand out: Many judge use an "attorney of the day" or an "attorney of the week" of their own choosing instead of using the wheel or the new public defender office. Some policies specify those attorneys cannot give campaign contributions to the appointing judge; others do not.

Spate of alcohol incidents spawns more lenient policy for Cow Town cops
Reports the Star-Telegram, "Since 2008, at least 13 Fort Worth police officers have been disciplined -- ranging from a one-day suspension to termination -- on allegations involving driving while intoxicated or being intoxicated while on- or off-duty." The new chief has made departmental policies on alcohol use more lenient. Previously officers were fired for alcohol-related indiscretions, particularly DWI, whether they occurred on or off duty. "Punishments now range from a written reprimand or three-day suspension for off-duty public intoxication to a 15-day suspension or termination for DWI." Officers who are convicted of DWI may lose their license for 10 years under state law, but not if charges are reduced or if deferred adjudication is granted.

New Orleans PD cleaning house
Not a Texas tale but Grits readers will likely be interested in an extraordinary story out of New Orleans where the number of police officers dismissed for cause has skyrocketed, with one officer fired or resigning amidst an investigation on average every ten days.

Cops' views on 'Code of Silence'
Via the Golden State blog, Voice of Orange County, I ran across this dated but fascinating poll of police officers on the question of the "code of silence" which is police slang for police officers protecting one another from misconduct accusations, even when they're justified. In the decade-old analysis:
Twenty-five basic law enforcement academies from 16 states took part in the research by administering and collecting 1,016 confidential questionnaires completed by academy recruits. The findings included that:
· 79% said that a law enforcement Code of Silence exists and is fairly common throughout the nation.
· 52% said that the fact a Code of Silence exists doesn’t really bother them.
· 24% said the Code of Silence is more justified when excessive force involves a citizen who’s abusive.
· 46% said they would not tell on another officer for having sex on duty.
· 23% said they wouldn’t tell on another cop for regularly smoking marijuana off duty.
Prisons as a business model
These two recent MSM stories may interest Grits readers:
Dramatic increase in kids with incarcerated parents
This stunning and depressing chart from the Pew Charitable Trusts via the blog Prison Culture tracks the rise of the number of US children with incarcerated parents, who it should be mentioned are 6-8 times as likely as their peers to end up in prison themselves:


Anonymous said...

To be clear, an immigration judge may technically be a federal judge, but is not an "Article III Judge."

Anonymous said...

Kids with incarcerated parents. It's worse than what we think. Many kids don't know who their dad is. He doesn't come by between his lockups. These days he may have many "baby mommas" with lots of kids.