Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Grand jury not told shooter-cop was drunk, and other stories

Here are a few odds and end that merit Grits readers attention but likely won't make it into independent posts:
  • Celebrate your victories. In Houston on Friday, May 6, the Texas Indigent Defense Commission and other notables will hold a symposium on the 15th anniversary of the Texas Fair Defense Act.
  • The Hogg Foundation for Mental Health's Lynda Frost in 2016 has been on a one woman op-ed crusade on the topic of pretrial detention and mental illness. Here's her latest in the Houston Chronicle.
  • Here's a good item from the Texas Criminal Justice Coalition's Doug Smith on the occasion of "Reentry Week."
  • The Atlantic explored recently how license-plate readers target the poor.
  • Readers may recall Texas became the first state to require law enforcement to get warrants to read old emails in 2013. Now Congress may make that a requirement nationwide, including for federal agents.
  • Judge Spillane's Washington Post op ed seems to have emboldened municipal judges in other jurisdictions to speak out.
  • If this headline is true, "Carthage residents" should be ashamed of themselves.
  • In Houston, the DA's office never told a grand jury that an off-duty police officer who shot two brothers, one fatally, had downed six beers and a triple shot of whiskey before confronting the two men in a parking lot. "The reason: The courts have ruled that in internal police investigations, testimony officers are ordered to provide cannot be used against them in criminal proceedings." There's a loophole you can drive a truck through: Confess and they can't use the evidence against you. Grits understands the employment-law reasoning behind it, but who else gets that deal?
  • More biker bullshit out of Waco. For a while it fell out of fashion to refer to Waco as "Whacko," but DA Abel Reyna and the local judiciary in his thrall re-invite the term. The whole biker-shooting mess has been a travesty of justice and a public embarrassment from start to finish, incarcerating dozens of clearly innocent defendants and setting their bail at a million dollars each. Both higher courts and state officials, not to mention the US Justice Department, seem uninterested, unable, or unwilling to rein in one of the most extreme examples of government overreach in Texas since the Great Eldorado Polygamist Roundup. And all those Second Amendment groups who're supposed to be championing the rights of legal gun owners? Listen for their advocacy on this ... you could hear a pin drop. Why? Hard to understand why this hasn't been a bigger deal in terms of press and public opinion.
  • The Obama Administration proposed a "holistic" approach to confronting crime focused more on economics than incarceration. E.g., they estimate raising the minimum wage to $12 would cause a 3-5 percent reduction in crime rates. See Washington Post coverage and the presentation given at the White House this week by the Chairman of the President's Council of Economic Advisers.


Anonymous said...

The current grand jury process is a travesty. The system is broke.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

While I might be convinced to agree, for different reasons, in this case the culprit is partially the state civil service code and (I think) some federal court precedents in an employment-law context that I can't name off the top of my head. The information they got from the officer couldn't have been used as evidence at trial, as I understand it, because he gave it voluntarily as required by his employment agreement. There might be extraneous implications/consequences to trying to change that, but it's worth identifying what they are and applying a cost-benefit analysis to them because, as you say, the current GJ "system is broke."

Anonymous said...

I read the article via the link about the grand jury not hearing the officer was drunk. It wasn't a very convincing conclusion drawn since the grand jury's deliberations were secret, the writer suggesting that the grand jury had no other evidence regarding drunken behavior when any number of witnesses or the officer himself could have testified he had been drinking. One of the comments struck home too, regarding being drunk versus intoxicated, a great deal of time spent on that distinction in a trial I sat in on awhile back.

Anonymous said...

If the Carthage residents applauded Bernie Tiede's life sentence, why should they be ashamed? Are they not allowed to applaud what they want to applaud? Are they required to feel sorry for Tiede because he was allegedly molested as a child when evaluating his murdering the old lady and using her money?

Anonymous said...


Four different meetings, a new coordinator, three different reports are released by the TFSC and the 'so-called' accreditation agency ASCLD-LAB merges with another accreditation agency...[1].pdf

...and not a single MSM story.

People are finally wising up about the hand-waving smoke and mirrors. Including the bench analysts.

Nothing to see here.