Busy day today but here are several items that merit Grits readers attention, even if I don't have time to fully adumbrate them.
DA does favor for appellate judge on way out door
Hidalgo DA Rene Guerra is on his way out the door (following 32 years in office and a primary defeat this spring) so there's probably little that can be done in response to his abuse of discretion declining DWI charges against 13th Court of Appeals Justice Nora Longoria. It turned out, though he said no video recorded at the stop, that was a falsehood and the contents were damning. See coverage from Texas Monthly and ValleyCentral.com.
CCA: Judges must better explain reasons for certifying juvies as adults
The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals today established stricter criteria for certifying juveniles to be tried as adults, requiring that judges better articulate their reasons for such decisions. See the majority opinion and coverage from the Houston Chronicle. Earlier, the paper reported that this was "the first certification overturned in Texas in a quarter century." That's an amazing statistic! "'It's potentially a really big deal, because there's not a lot of
appellate guidance on this issue,' state District Judge Michael
Schneider noted." The boy's attorney "hopes the landmark ruling spurs lawmakers to make changes to the
practice of certifying certain juvenile offenders as adults, a process
criminal justice advocates say has been reduced to a 'rubber stamp.'"
Reflection follows tragedy in death of mentally ill Midlander
A mentally ill man was shot and killed in Midland after he threatened police officers with a machete when they visited his home for a "welfare check." They'd first tried and failed to take him down with bean-bag rounds. The Midland Reporter-Telegram followed up with a story titled "Mentally ill often end up in criminal justice system" that merits Grits readers' attention.
Update on feds' hair and fiber review
See a letter from the USDOJ to Attorney General Greg Abbott from September regarding the review of flawed hair and fiber analyses by the FBI crime lab, which were used in some 20,000 cases. Most of these are from the '90s and earlier before DNA analysis supplanted these now dated and discredited techniques and the overstated conclusions drawn from them. Even more hair and fiber analyses were performed at the state level by crime lab analysts the FBI trained. The Texas Forensic Science Commission has launched its own, similar review which is only just beginning to pick up steam. Before long, perhaps we'll see Texas' new junk science writ used to overturn convictions which were principally based on hair and fiber analysis.
Crime does pay, but wages are crappy
A new study finds that street-level drug dealers make about half the minimum wage and that the disparity between front-line workers and management in drug organizations is greater than at US corporations.