1) The written consent bill has passed both houses and will become law as long as the governor signs it. This is a huge victory for civil liberties!
2) The massive probation reform package has passed and will become law as long as the governor signs it. I'm in favor of a lot of the changes, but just found out that the overhaul will prohibit juries from granting probation on murder cases. I've never heard that talked about as part of this bill, so I'm guessing it was a recent amendment. I don't like it because the cases where a jury typically gives such a sentence are ones where it is truly deserved--imperfect self defense type cases. This is Texas after all. It's not like juries are inclined to put cold-blooded killers out on the streets every day. If there is any hope of that provision getting killed in the conference committee (and I'm not sure if there is even going to be a conference committee), I hope it does. That said, I wouldn't want to see the entire probation overhaul shot down just to save jury probation in murder cases. So, if it remains in the final bill, I still hope the governor has the sense to sign it.
3) Slate considers the hypocrisy of George W. Bush's staunch opposition to stem cell research and strong support of the death penalty. I don't think the two positions are necessarily inconsistent, but I do think Bush's particular statements on the issues definitely are. Update: Check out this excellent post from a Slate reader and the ensuing discussion.
4) The Michael Jackson trial is wrapping up. The defense rested after calling Chris Tucker who painted the entire family as a bunch of cons--even calling the accuser himself "cunning." I've been in this business long enough to know there's no such thing as a sure thing when it comes to a jury trial, but I am predicting an acquittal here. The entire theory of the case was incredible to begin with, and the credibility of all the key prosecution witnesses has been thoroughly demolished. We'll know in a week or so.
5) Seth starts a discussion that Alaskablawg picks up and runs with about criminal defense attorneys using "my momma didn't love me" as a defense. Both posts are excellent reads.