Thursday, November 17, 2011

Apologies, incompetence, tweaks and farewells

Here are a few odds and ends that may interest Grits readers:

Adios, Jerry y Suerte, Pete
There's a nice, exeunt profile of Jerry Madden in the Plano Star-Courier after the House Corrections Chairman announced his retirement from the Legislature. And it turns out House Criminal Jurisprudence Chairman Pete Gallego left his seat to run for Congress. Both were fine legislators and I wish them well. MORE on Madden's departure from Rodger Jones at the Dallas News.

Empty Apology
Williamson County District Judge and former prosecutor Ken Anderson apologized for Michael Morton's false conviction that earned him 25 years in prison based on false allegations that Morton murdered his wife. If Anderson had included $4 with that apology perhaps Mr. Morton could have gotten himself a latte at Starbucks after the presser. Morton's second chair, Mike Davis, at his deposition said he was "shocked" by then-DA Anderson's failure to disclose exculpatory evidence. Wilco Watchdog rightly says Anderson's substance-free press conference was a (mostly successful) attempt at "pre-emptive damage control" before the transcript of his deposition is released next week.

'Mental health facility? The county jail'
At the Houston Chronicle, Patricia Kilday Hart asks "How did Texas law enforcement get in the mental health business?"

Cameron constable merger?
The Cameron County commissioners court voted to eliminate two constable positions in light of a budget crunch. "The consolidation still requires the approval of the U.S. Department of Justice."

'Texas Tweakers'
The Houston Press has a lengthy article on meth in Lufkin. The Wall Street Journal recently ran a fascinating story about the rise of "one pot" or "micro" meth labs, which use a small enough amount of pseudoephedrine to fly under the registries' radar.

Texting bans hard to enforce
Police told the Amarillo Traffic Commission that a ban on texting in school zones is hard to enforce because, predictably, officers have "difficulty distinguishing between a driver tapping a phone to make a call or text messages."

Incompetent defendants 'held hostage'
See an essay and new report (pdf) on a subject much discussed here at Grits: "defendants found to be incompetent [who] are being held hostage by the court," in particular a Baltimore-based mental health court, but the circumstances are far from unique.

Prisoners online?
Matt Kelley has a column promoting a group dedicated to "giving prisoners a voice online," which reminded me of Grits' email exchange with Michael Landauer at the Dallas News earlier this year titled "Putting iPhones behind bars." Notably, Facebook recently announced it will disable prisoners' accounts if they're updated while the prisoner is incarcerated, since by definition prisoners have no legal access and it's a violation of their user agreement if the page is updated by someone other than the account holder.


A Texas PO said...

Re: Empty Apology- That was the most pathetic public apology I have ever seen from a politician (and there have been many as of late). Not sure how Anderson can justify his actions by blaming this on "the system."

Thomas R. Griffith said...

Hey Grits, regarding "Empty Apology".

When I confronted former career Harris County ADA Casey J. O'Brien aka:jigmeister in the comment section of a Simple Justice blawg Posting titled - "Plea bargaining 201" about 'his' role in my wrongful conviction. He simply replied that he didn't remember and put the enabler (judge) up on a moral pedastal.

I offered to refresh his failing memory by forwarding him copies of the police report, certified case files & mug-shot via a third party of his choice. He simply went away thinking that I'll justforgetaboutit. No way in Hell that's happening.

With that, I'd like to commend the disgraced former ADA Ken Anderson for going public with his dismal attempt to offer up his day late and dollar short worthless words. He's still a piece of shit but at least he's on the record to have apologized. Now, the reporters can follow up and get him to take responsibilty for 'his' role. Thanks.

Thomas R. Griffith said...

Hey Texas PO, not certain what the PO stands for. Parole Officer, Probation Officer, Post Office.

If it just happens to be one of the first two, then please consider providing some insight.

If someone is on (5) years adult deferred adjudication probation and gets arrested while on a test drive where the test driver has contraband on his person, does the probation get automatically revoked just for being hauled in with the the test driver? Or is it revoked during trial procedures? Thanks for your assistance.

A Texas PO said...

Thomas: A new arrest is an automatic probation violation, but there is no such thing as automatic revocation in Texas. In your example, a Motion to Adjudicate Guilt (MTAG) would usually be filed and a probation violation hearing would be held to determine whether the alleged violation(s) is/are true or not true. In this case, the prosecutors that I work with will normally wait to see what happens with the new charge (in case the DA rejects the case, grand jury returns a no bill, the case is dismissed, or is otherwise disposed) before moving forward on the MTAG. If a finding of guilt is made on the new charge, then the Court will usually proceed with the probation violation hearing (there is always a hearing for a felony, with few exceptions). A finding of guilt in the new charge usually means a finding of True on the probation violation. But, if the new case is dismissed or not prosecuted, then the violation no longer exists. I would usually recommend that the MTAG proceed to amend the probation if there are other technical violations that need to be resolved, or that the MTAG simply be dismissed so the probation can continue. Hope this helps.

Petra de Jong said...

I thought Anderson's apology was a big leap forward from Sebesta's reaction to the release of Anthony Graves. Goes to show how low my expectations are. :P

RSO wife said...

To Texas PO - I don't know what planet you live on, but it ain't in Harris Co TX. You make it sound like the people in the DA's office and the judge have common sense. In Harris Co they don't and I speak from experience. In Harris Co, they arrest you for what they "think" is a probation violation and then proceed to railroad you to prison, it helps them get re-elected. I have personal proof of that.

A Texas PO said...

RSO Wife: I live on a little planet called Earth. And you're right, I'm not an officer in Harris County. I wasn't generalizing in my response to Thomas. I was simply answering the question based on my own experience in my jurisdiction. BTW, getting arrested for anything while on probation in Texas is considered a probation violation, and it remains such unless the new charge has been dismissed.

Lee said...

Grits, If you watch the video of the apology you will notice that Anderson only apologizes for the system's failures and not his own. The only two things he is truly sorry about is that he got caught and doesent have a really big broom and an even bigger rug.

Steve Egger said...

Keep up the great work!

Anonymous said...

Harris County is not of this world. They have their own laws and ways of doing bidness. In The HC, the law is a bisness.

Anonymous said...

Across the U.S. and beyond, inmates are using social networks and the growing numbers of smartphones smuggled into prisons and jails to harass their victims or accusers and intimidate witnesses.

California corrections officials who monitor social networking sites said they have found many instances in which inmates taunted victims or made unwanted sexual advances.