Saturday, July 30, 2005

8-Year-Old Child Predator?

It took a while for prosecutors in Salt Lake City to figure out that an 8-year-old boy wasn't a dangerous child molester. It seems that his mom hired a 14-year-old girl to babysit him while she was out. At some point, the two of them played truth or dare. The babysitter dared the little tyke to touch her breasts. He did. When mom came home, she thought something was weird, so she asked her little boy what happened while she was gone. He freely told her about the truth or dare game. The mother took her child to the authorities who launched an investigation. This is where it gets really fun! The prosecutor who reviewed the case decided to file charges of lewd act with a minor against both the 14-year-old and the 8-year-old! They were both willing participants, the prosecutor claimed. Thankfully, someone in the prosecutor's office eventually saw the light and dropped charges against the 8-year-old before he was required to register as a sex offender, wear a GPS tracking device for the rest of his life, be castrated, or spend the rest of his life in prison.

Friday, July 29, 2005

What a Week!

This turned out to be quite a successful work week for me. All together, I had two grand jury no-bills, one dismissal, and five plea bargains for the statutory minimum. I suppose it would have been asking too much to get a not guilty from a jury in the same week, eh?

Pop Culture Friday

It's back! Here's a round-up:

*It's been fun to watch the early episodes of The Amazing Race every night at 8 p.m. (central) on Game Show Network. I didn't find the show until it's fourth season, and getting to watch the classics--a new one every night!--has been a special treat.

*I defy anyone to not love March of the Penguins. It's got penguins, baby penguins, and Morgan Freeman!

*Marilynne Robinson's Gilead won the most recent Pulitzer for fiction--and it completely deserved it. It is one of the best books I've ever read.

Grits is Back

Grits for Breakfast is finally back from his well-deserved vacation. He's still steaming over Perry's veto of probation reform. As am I.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Prosecutors Who Give Other Prosecutors a Bad Name

DUI Blog catches this story out of Kansas City where a prosecutor has filed DUI charges against a man despite a 0.00 breathalyzer result and a negative drug screen. In her mind, apparently, intoxication is the only possible cause of bad driving and poor performance on field sobriety tests. I hate prosecutors like this. I'm sure most defense attorneys hate prosecutors like this. I wonder how other prosecutors feel about prosecutors like this? Do they hate them the same way I hate sleazy and/or lazy bottom-feeder defense attorneys who make a mockery of the system and give us all a bad name? Tom? Anyone else?

Oregon Tries an End Run Around Crawford?

CrimProf Blog writes up a story about a criminal procedure professor in Oregon who drafted a law recently passed in Oregon which amends its Rules of Evidence to allow hearsay statements made my an alleged victim to be admitted, over a Crawford confrontation clause objection, if the victim's unavailability was caused by the defendant (by threats of retaliation, for example). It would have been nice if the little article actually provided the text of the rule, because from just reading the article, it sounds terrible. First of all, the Crawford decision was explicit in stating that the Rules of Evidence do not and cannot trump a defendant's 6th Amendment Confrontation Clause right to cross-examination. Second, how exactly does the State prove that the declarant's unavailability was caused by the defendant? Obviously, there may be instances where there is another witness to threats made by the defendant--sometimes it is the arresting officers. But is another witness required? Or is it enough that the declarant has told others--such as friends, family members, or prosecutors--that she is not appearing because of a threat of retaliation by the defendant? If it is the latter, isn't that bootstrapping of the first order?

New Links and Welcome

I've added a few new links recently--Appellate Law & Practice, SCOTUSblog, Crime & Federalism, CrimProf Blawg., and Sentencing Law & Policy. They all have good stuff, so be sure to check them out, if you haven't already. In addition, I want to welcome a new PD blog to the fun--Preservation of Error (Midwest PD). It's always good to have more PD voices in the wilderness.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Judge Not So Subtly Rebukes Bush Administration During Terrorist Sentencing

Remember the terrorist who tried to cross into the country from Canada before the milennium celebrations? Well, he was finally sentenced today--to 22 years in prison. The Los Angeles Times reports on it here and the New York Times writes it up here. Neither one mentions the comments by the sentencing judge that a Seattle television station's web site quotes at length. Some highlights:

I would like to convey the message that our system works. We did not need to use a secret military tribunal, or detain the defendant indefinitely as an enemy combatant, or deny him the right to counsel, or invoke any proceedings beyond those guaranteed by or contrary to the United States Constitution.

. . .

[A]ll of this occurred in the sunlight of a public trial. There were no secret proceedings, no indefinite detention, no denial of counsel.

. . .

Unfortunately, some believe that this threat [of terrorism] renders our Constitution obsolete. This is a Constitution for which men and women have died and continue to die and which has made us a model among nations. If that view is allowed to prevail, the terrorists will have won.

. . .

It is my sworn duty, and as long as there is breath in my body I'll perform it, to support and defend the Constitution of the United States.


Questioning Nancy Fans

Alaskablawg has a great post questioning why, exactly, someone would be a fan of Nancy Grace. Anyone who has spent a fair amount of time reading my blog knows exactly how I feel about Nancy. And I'm obviously not the only one.

Hell Hath No Fury . . .

This week, the grand jury declined to indict two of my clients. That's the first time that I've ever had a double no-bill day. All is well and good. But, these two cases were very similar to one another, and they both piss me off. One client was charged with felony theft; the other was charged with unauthorized use of a motor vehicle. Both are state jail felonies that carry up to a two-year prison sentence. In each case, my client's girlfriend/friendgirl/babymama alleged that my client had stolen her car. In each case, it appears that no stealing ever took place, but rather, that the complainant was mad at my client over issues in the relationship. Their response to this was to call the police and report their car stolen. Now, everything turned out okay for my clients since neither were indicted. But, because neither could afford to bond out of jail, they both spent a considerable amount of time locked up--two weeks for one and one month for the other--for something they didn't do. And what is the consequence to the complainants? Nothing. No criminal charges. No inconvenient jail time. Zilch. Now, one on hand, I am glad they were willing to fess up to the false charges without worrying about being charged with a crime themselves. It helped my clients immensely. On the other hand, it really annoys me that they walk away from this without a scratch, while my clients wasted away in jail for weeks.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Go, Discovery, Go! Posted by Picasa

After Death Row

There is an interesting article in the Dallas Morning News today about how many of the death row inmates in Texas whose sentences were commuted after the Supreme Court threw out the death penalty in Furman eventually were released. The article is focused on what might happen to the latest round of Texas commutees caused by the Supreme Court decision striking down the death penalty for juveniles. But, to me, it is interesting to read about what became of these formerly condemned men.

Monday, July 25, 2005

Blawg Review

I never knew animal sex could have so much power! My post on the surprising lack of state laws criminalizing bestiality got me into Blawg Review this week. And I didn't even submit it, so I'm not sure how it got in there. Anyway, pretty cool.

Congratulations Lance!

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Congratulations to one of my heroes, Lance Armstrong, on winning his seventh consecutive Tour de France! He truly is an inspiration.

Why Isn't This Murder?

The man British police brutally shot and killed was not, after all, involved in the terrorists plots in that country. Despite initial police statements that he was connected to the bombings, it turns out that he was just on his way to work. It is still not clear why police felt the need to shoot him five times after having already pinned him to the ground, although the initial reports indicated that police were afraid he was going to detonate a suicide bomb. I have yet to see any witness or police statements indicating what he may have done that led them to believe he was attempting to do any such thing. Slate's "Today's Papers" feature also makes a good point on the media coverage of the incident when it notes that the Washington Post put the story about the man connected to the bombing investigation being shot and killed on Page 1, but put the story of his exoneration of Page 24. That is typical in a lot of criminal cases, but it would seem that in this case, the man's exoneration was at least as newsworthy, if not more so, than his actual shooting.

City Can't Fire Disbarred Judge

Judge Tiffany Lewis, a former Dallas prosecutor and now a municipal judge, can't be fired by the powers that be in Dallas--even though she has been disbarred. Why? Because there is nothing in the city charter that allows city leaders to fire a municipal judge before her term is up under any circumstances. So, although she says she won't, she still has the authority to sign off on arrest warrants and search warrants. What a system.

Friday, July 22, 2005

Alabama House Passes Mandatory Castration Law

Animal Sex Legal in 20 States

Who knew? A Washington legislator has proposed legislation to make sex with animals illegal in her state. Shockingly, only 30 states currently have laws criminalizing sex with animals. In Texas, it violates the "public lewdness" statute if it is done in a public place, but, if you have sex with an animal in the privacy of your own home, you are free to go--unless prosecutors can allege that your conduct caused injury, serious injury, or constituted "torture". In that case, you could be charged under the general animal cruelty statute. Meanwhile, although it has been struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court, the statute criminalizing consensual sex between members of the same sex is still on the books.

Massachusetts Governor's "Perfect" Death Penalty Scheme Not So Perfect After All

Gideon has a good post on the problems Gov. Mitt Romney has had in enacting his death penalty proposal. Basically, nobody likes it. I previously scoffed at Romney's claims that it would ensure that no innocent person would be executed. Others point out that the legislation is basically a huge bureaucratic behemoth that probably wouldn't lead to anyone ever being executed.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

My Blog, As Published by Snoop Dogg

Check out this link to see how my blog would read if it were written by Snoop Dogg. I'm still laughing about the time I apparently told a DA, ""You kniznow I don't git many innocent clients cuz I'm fresh out the pen. This one is. Do tha R-to-tha-izzight pimpin' pleaze."

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

NACDL Annual Meeting & Seminar

I was lucky enough to get a scholarship to attend the NACDL Annual Meeting & Seminar in Portland, Oregon August 3-5. If anyone of my fellow bloggers or readers is going to attend, I'd love to meet you! Drop me an e-mail at

"Hypothetical" Update

Recently, I posted a "hypothetical" for prosecutors out there which related to one of my cases I was struggling with. Here is the short version of facts. Two men were accused of committing a purse snatching. The victim had picked each defendant out of separate photo arrays. One of the men was indisputably innocent--he was in jail at the time of the offense. The other defendant--my client--did not have such a lucky alibi, however, there was no other evidence tying him to the offense. I'm happy to say that the prosecutor dismissed my client's case. I wonder if this line I threw at him had anything to do with it: "You know I don't get many innocent clients. This one is. Do the right thing, please." Hmmmm . . . I suppose you lose credibility if you use that one too often.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

How Many Casualties Must We Suffer Before We Call Off Our Ridiculous "War" on Drugs?

I challenge anyone who supports the government's "War on Drugs" to read this article in the New York Times and tell me that it is just. How do legislators who write these laws and law enforcement officers who enforce them sleep at night?

Link via Public Defender Dude, who pretty much sums up how I feel in his excellent commentary on the article.

Bush to Announce Supreme Court Pick Tonight

Update: has a breaking news tag right now that says that a source has told them that Edith Clement is not Bush's pick. Isn't this fun? Also, what kind of news report is that? A "source" tells them? I know it's just a tag, and not a full story, but couldn't they give a little more info, like "White House source" or "court source" or "friend of a friend's cousin who works at the restaurant where the judge always has lunch?"
Original post:

Everyone is reporting that President Bush will announce his nominee to replace Sandra Day O'Connor on the Supreme Court tonight in a prime-time address. The rumor is that he has selected Judge Edith Brown Clement of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit. I don't know much about her, although I do know how to pronounce her name, thanks to this helpful link I found on Slate. As a side note, what is the deal with the President asking the TV networks to pre-empt primetime programming so he can make his announcement? Isn't it more standard procedure to just make the announcement in a morning or afternoon Rose Garden address?

Monday, July 18, 2005

Texas Has Wave of Taser Deaths

According to the Associated Press, there have been at least six people killed in Texas by Tasers in the last nine months. I am in full support of police departments finding better, non-lethal ways of responding to those who violently resist arrest or place others in danger. But, it seems like too many departments have jumped on the Taser bandwagon based on little more than studies published by the company that produces Tasers. There also seems to be increased use of Tasers on minors, despite the fact that there doesn't seem to be any real research on the potential side effects on children. It also seems like every time I see a news story on the controversy over Tasers, they show recruits at the police academy being shot with a Taser as a demonstration of how safe and effective they are--sometimes, the reporter himself volunteers to be shot. But that is nothing more than anecdotal evidence. It may make for good TV, but it does nothing to establish how safe these weapons actually are.

Big Firm v. Public Defender's Office

Skelly at Arbitrary and Capricious points to this ridiculous item which suggests that working for a few years as a prosecutor or public defender won't give you the kind of experience big law firms are looking for. Hogwash. But, it did get me thinking about all the things about big firm life that I definitely don't miss. I worked at a big firm for two years before I jumped ship and became a public defender. Even with the 60% paycut, I have never once regretted the decision. Here is just a sampling of things I don't miss about working as an associate at a big firm:

*Spending entire weeks doing nothing but reading thousands of pages of internal company documents.

*Spending at least half of my time on cases in which I was never informed of the overall nature of the case, but instead, was merely given some tiny legal point to research and write a memo about.

*Researching, writing, and preparing the arguments for motions and briefs on which your name does not appear, you don't get to argue in front of the judge, and you're lucky if you actually get to carry the file to the courtroom for the hearing.

*Being given an assignment from a partner at 5:00 p.m. on a Friday afternoon that you are told must be completed by 8:00 a.m. Monday when the partner has known about the project needing to be done for two weeks; then, after spending all weekend rushing to get it done, not having the partner even look at it until a week after you turned it in.

*Keeping track of my time in six-minute increments.

The entire experience wasn't an awful one. I worked with some excellent lawyers and some really fun people. I did get to do some interesting, complex legal work. The money I made helped me pay off my student loans pretty quickly. And, my firm did support me in spending about 200 hours on a political asylum case--pro bono--that I was able to win. But, I wouldn't want to trade what I'm doing now for that life again. Nothing can compare to representing your own clients, taking your own cases to trial on a regular basis, and helping truly needy people through the most difficult experiences of their lives.

Rep. "Nonsense"nbrenner Strikes Again

This guy is out of control, and somebody needs to stop him. Legally. Not in the way he, Rep. Tom DeLay and Sen. John Cornyn may think someone needs to stop out of control judges. Sensenbrenner actually wrote a letter to an appellate court demanding that they increase a defendant's sentence, even though the prosecution had not requested any increase in sentence. The letter was completely ex parte (no notice was given to the defendant), and also cited what Sensenbrenner contended was controlling legal precedent. The court refused to obey Emperor Sensenbrenner, however, and isntead, amended their opinion citing a Supreme Court case that explained why they were right and he was wrong. This is just the latest instance of this particular Congressmen being completely out of control when it comes to criminal justice issues. He is also the one who has sponsored the federal law which would make it a crime if any citizen doesn't snitch to the government on any drug activity they know about, and then agree to be an undercover agent for the government in bringing the evildoers to justice. Seriously, somebody stop this man.

Thanks to Indefensible for the link.

Man Gets Arrested for Rescuing Drowning Man

Update: In between jury service, tons of work, and being sick last week, I missed this update. The authorities decided to drop charges against the man who heroically rescued another man from drowning.

Update: The police try to explain their actions. Here's a tip that they might want to remember in the future: refusing to speak with authorities does not constitute "interfering" with their duties.
Original post:

This is a classic. Someone please tell the Texas State University police that it is impolite to immediately handcuff and arrest a man after he has just saved another person from drowning. Apparently, the man "interfered with public duties" like standing on the safe shore and ordering a rescuer to leave the drowning person in the water and get out.

Welcome to another voice in the wilderness!

Three more indigent defense attorneys have joined the blogosphere. Check out their new site: Gideon's Guardians.

Mentally Ill's Care Goes From Bad to Worse

Care for the mentally ill in Dallas has been a problem for a long time. Unfortunately, it seems to only get worse as time goes on. Now, clients who have been found incompetent are waiting for weeks and weeks in the jail before being sent to state mental hopsitals. The longer they sit in the jail without proper treatment, the worse they get, and the longer it takes and more difficult it is to bring them to competency.

Monday, July 11, 2005

Juror #6

In the last couple weeks, I had the privilege of serving on a jury in a civil case--specifically, a case alleging wrongful termination on account of filing a workman's compensation claim. It was the first time I had ever been summoned for jury duty, and I was quite surprised to be picked. I was also pretty excited. As a trial lawyer, the jury is the ultimate mystery. Do they follow their instructions? Do they make up their minds about the case before they even deliberate? What gets discussed in the jury room? Are bargains struck? Compromises reached? Of course, I wanted to properly fulfill my obligations as a juror, but I also knew that this was one hell of a chance to get an inside view of jury service. And, indeed, it was. So here, in no particular order, are the things I learned from serving on a jury:

1. Jurors have to sit around and wait--a lot. This is annoying and frustrating. Anything judges and lawyers can do to alleviate this problem will go a long way to keeping the jurors happy.

2. The first witness in the case is crucial. In our case, the plaintiff was the first to testify. He testified on direct for a couple hours, and came across as credible. Once he was done with his direct testimony, I am 99% convinced that at least one of the jurors had already made up her mind to find in his favor. Even I had to fight the urge to simply adopt the plaintiff's story as the truth. For at least a couple of the jurors, I think anything they subsequently heard in cross examination or from defense witnesses was viewed with immediate skepticism. It was as though the truth had been established, and the defense now had to try to pound up against and chip away at that.

3. Defense attorneys should almost always make an opening statement. The one thing that prevented me from simply believing the plaintiff's testimony outright was knowing what the defense said their theory of the case was. It's not that I believed the defense attorney was telling the truth and the plaintiff was not. Rather, knowing what the defense version was made me want to wait until I heard cross-examination of the plaintiff and saw more evidence before I decided which version I believed.

4. Juror questions are scary. In this civil case, the jurors were allowed to ask questions. Once the attorneys had finished questioning a witness, we were permitted to submit written questions which the judge and the attorneys reviewed. If they passed muster, the judge asked the witness the questions. As a juror, I found this extremely helpful. As a trial lawyer, the thought of jurors asking questions is frigtening. If the prosecutor doesn't think to ask a question that he should, I don't want the juror to do it for him! And sometimes, you may have some questions you could ask, but you prefer to leave for closing argument. Again, I don't want the jurors asking those questions. The one way I think it can be helpful for the attorneys is to get some idea what the jury may be thinking as the trial is progressing. But it still scares the hell out of me. Are there lawyers out there who practice in a jurisdiction that allows this in criminal trials? I'd love to hear your thoughts on how it works.

5. Jurors make compromises. Our jury instructions were very clear on the issue of making bargains. Jurors were not permitted to go along with other jurors on Question #1 in exchange for getting their way on Question #2, for example. On the surface, none of my fellow jurors did that. But one of them did change his original opinion on the liability question to go with the majority, and then state more than once that he would change it back if the damages were too high. When reminded that we were not permitted to strike those bargains, he said he was not. And he may have honestly believed that he wasn't. I certainly could never prove that he did. But, in my mind, that is what it appeared to be--he agreed to find the defendant liable as long as the damages awarded to the plaintiff weren't too high.

6. Requiring unanimity is a good thing. In this civil case, we were not required to have a unanimous verdict. All that was required was 5-1. That, to me, posed a huge problem. When we took our first vote, we were 4-2. We spoke about the case for a short while, and then one of the two changed his opinion, and we were 5-1. That was it. We spent maybe 10-15 minutes discussing the evidence in the case before we had a verdict on liability. Since five votes was enough to have a verdict, no one was willing to discuss the evidence or listen to an opposing viewpoint anymore. In essence, there was very little deliberation. I think when jurors are required to reach a unanimous verdict, there is a much greater probability that the jurors will actually spend an appropriate amount of time to discuss the evidence and work out the right result. Of course, there is always the possibility of a hung jury, which nobody likes. But I'm not sure that it isn't better to have a few more hung juries than to have such little deliberation before a verdict is reached.

7. Who the presiding juror (foreperson) is doesn't really matter. Whenever big media cases are in deliberations, you always hear the reporters gossiping about who the jury foreperson is--as if that somehow gives them insight into what the verdict will be. I am here to tell you that--at least in my case--it doesn't matter one bit. As you might have guessed from the above discussion, I was the one juror who dissented from the verdict. This, despite the fact that as soon as we entered the jury room for deliberations, my fellow jurors made me the presiding juror. It ended up meaning virtually nothing. I did referee some little tiffs over damages issues. I tried to ensure that everyone was allowed to speak their mind. And I did my best to ensure that we followed all the instructions from the judge. But, in the end, I could not persuade any of my fellow jurors that my position was correct. Neither my position as a lawyer nor as presiding juror mattered when it came to that decision. I don't say this as a complaint. That is exactly how it should be, in my opinion. The presiding juror gets one vote--just like everyone else. And I don't believe a lawyer is any better qualified to reach an appropriate verdict than an average citizen.

In the end, the plaintiff was victorious and was awarded about a year's salary in damages plus $5000 for mental anguish. I dissented from the verdict, but I cannot say that my fellow jurors were wrong. I disagreed with them, for sure. But with five of them agreeing, it's more than probable that they got it right. I found out afterwards that the defense lawyer had actually meant to use a peremptory strike on me, but had been confused by the numbering after one of the panel members was excused early due to language problems. As it turned out, I was the only person who saw the case his way. Go figure.

It truly was an honor to serve, and it was a great learning experience. If I think of anything else, I'll post it. If you have any questions, fire away! I'll answer whatever I can.


Work has been like a swamp that I can't seem to dig myself out of lately. I promise to be posting more soon. I still want to do a report on my jury service, but I can't seem to find a big enough chunk of time to write it. Soon, I promise. In the meantime, Grits has been ranting (quite appropriately) about how much we got screwed by Governor Goodhair when he vetoed the probation overhaul legislation. He also points to a couple of editorials from the Houston Chronicle about the crime lab scandal there that sounds worse and worse with every report. Good stuff-be sure to check it out.

Friday, July 08, 2005

Not All Prosecutors are Evil . . . All of the Time

That's a joke, people! Seriously, though, if you read any number of blogs by criminal defense lawyers, you probably see a lot of ranting about prosecutors. I have certainly had my share of rants. But the truth is that, in my experience, prosecutors and defense attorneys get along very well most of the time. By the very nature of the judicial system, we are adversaries. We have to have arguments; we have to push one another; we occasionally have to do things to infuriate one another. But in the vast majority of cases, we are able to negotiate a reasonable plea bargain that manages to do some form of justice. Of course, there are going to be times when I think a prosecutor is being completely unreasonable, sometimes unethical, and sometimes just being a complete jerk. Things can happen where you--rightly or wrongly--feel deceived, misled, screwed over, or stabbed in the back. But things can also happen where you feel like a prosecutor has given you--and more often, your client--a gift. Sometimes, you have a client who doesn't deserve a break, but who the prosecutor gives a chance because they believe that, maybe, this time, the defendant can get his life turned around. Moments like that are sweet and beautiful, and can turn an otherwise hellacious day into a great one.

This week, I had a client who was, by all acounts, a long-time drug addict. He had a prior possession conviction, and had been to prison twice before for home burglary. Now, he was charged with breaking into an auto parts store at night by smashing the glass door of the building. He had removed some items, but they were all found sitting out in front of the store. There was also a trail of blood leading away from the store. My client was found about a block away, a bit dazed, trying to stop his bleeding wrist. He admitted to the officer that he had broken into the building, hoping to steal something he could sell to buy drugs.

Burglary of a building is a state jail felony. However, because my client had been to prison for felonies twice before, his punishment level was enhanced to a second degree felony--2-20 years in prison. The prosecutor's initial offer was five years in prison. My client desperately wanted drug treatment, and asked for probation with the condition that he be sent to SAFP, which is a 6-9 month lockdown drug treatment program run out of the state prison system. In talking to my client, I honestly believed that he wanted to get off drugs, and that he knew that only something as intensive as SAFP would work for him. But, I also knew that a prosecutor would be unlikely to offer probation to someone with his criminal record. Still, I spoke with the prosecutor, laid out my client's case and his plea, and asked her to consider it. She read the police report thoroughly, called the complainant, and came back to me with an offer of ten years probation with SAFP. It seemed like a miracle. But, it wasn't. It was just a situation where this prosecutor saw a guy with a long history of drug-related crime, and thought that maybe, this time, there was a chance to get this guy clean, instead of having him continue to commit crimes, and end up in prison for the rest of his life. She gave him a chance. It wasn't a chance he was entitled to or that he deserved, but it was a chance she chose to offer him. She is no wimpy prosecutor. I have seen her try the hell out of her jury trials, and demand a life setence--and get it--from a jury. But in this case, she threw my guy a life line. I hope he takes every advantage of the opportunity she has given him, and that he realizes that this tough, decent, hard-working prosecutor may have saved his life.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Tale of the Jury . . . Coming Soon

I finished my jury service yesterday, and, schedule permitting, will be blogging about it this afternoon. In general, I can say that, as a trial lawyer, serving on the jury was an invaluable experience.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

The Hits Just Keep on Coming for Houston PD Crime Lab

As has been widely reported, the Houston Police Department crime lab was discovered to be a big, fat mess a couple years ago. A new report from an outside investigator reveals just how bad. And when you read this stuff, remember that Harris County (which includes Houston) is responsible for sending more people to death row than almost every other state in the country.

Thanks to Grits for the links.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Jurors Don't Believe Judge

A Dallas County jury didn't believe the criminal district judge who testified that he was the victim of an aggravated assault. This article, however, leaves out the part about the judge calling the defense attorney a "piece of shit" after closing arguments--in the courtroom.

5th Circuit Ignores the "Supreme" in Supreme Court

Someone out there has noticed that a number of the judges on the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals don't like to follow binding precedent from the Supreme Court. Why isn't Tom DeLay starting impeachment proceedings immediately?

Friday, July 01, 2005

Jury Duty

I haven't been blogging for the past few days because I've been on jury duty. I actually got picked to be on a civil jury! We have an off day today, but I will be back there next week. Obviously, I can't discuss the case while it's still pending, but I am looking forward to sharing my experiences when I finally finish.