I get a weekly email of recent legal Case Updates from the Texas District and County Attorney Association because
I'm a famous former prosecutor I pay them an annual fee. The updates are always informative, but I especially love the prosecutor oriented "Commentary" after each one -- it let's me know when they are really scared about a particular case.
But this one got my attention this morning. Prosecutors, by their very nature, are right wing law and order types that, amazingly, oftentimes want to do their brand of justice so badly that they forget about silly things like the Constitution -- a Constitution that most right wingers will tell you they hold sacred. At least when it serves their purpose.
In this case we have a clear violation of a valuable Constitutional right: The right to a public jury trial (which prevents the government from operating a secret Star Chamber.) So what is the "official" response from the organization that represents all DAs and CAs from around the state: "Come on!! So what if it's a violation? It didn't hurt the Defendant so who cares!!"
Amazing. If there are no consequences for violating the Constitution, we might as well not have a Constitution at all.
at 11:52 AM
- I'm not informed enough to understand the consequences of the Supreme Court decision yesterday which struck down limits on corporate donations to candidates. But some people sure were screaming "the sky is falling yesterday" proclaiming that we will have the equivalent of a congressman "sponsored by AT&T."
- Heck, that might be true.
- Something happened late yesterday during a DWI trial in Decatur but I've got to go check it out this morning.
- Those Brink Home Security commercials sure depict some violent home invasions.
- You don't hear much about MySpace anymore.
- Someone emailed me and said, "Barry you need to get a picture of the sign at the Bridgeport Vet office for the blog. It reads 'Chupacabra Vaccinated Here"" Anyone?
- When I walked into a driver's license hearing room in Fort Worth two days ago everone wanted to talk about the chupacabra. Even the judge.
- Fox 4 had a story about tuition hikes at the University of Texas this morning while the University of Tennessee logo was in the background.
- D Magazine named a restaurant in Forest Hill the best BBQ in the metroplex. I honestly had no idea where Forest Hill was.
- Greatest New Orleans Saints fan "Hey, Now" in the history of ever. Really. Triple really.
- Yesterday I was asked to look at a transcript of a case I prosecuted in 1993. Good grief.
- Bobby Bragan died yesterday. Honestly, I don't know much about the man other than he was the only guy I got an autograph from as a child. I was at some baseball clinic in the metroplex and. after someone told me he was famous, I went up to him and handed him a baseball. It's still in my parents house somewhere.
- Good grief: A nine year old commits suicide at an elementary school in The Colony?
Stolen from the D Magazine Blog: Loyal readers of the “print product” will remember Brandon Day as the cover boy for our December 2006 issue. He and his then girlfriend, Gina Allen, after dating for only about a month, took a trip together to Palm Springs. Then they rode a tram to the top of Mount San Jacinto to get some drinks at a bar — and wound up lost, spending three nights in the wilderness without shelter. Read their story. It’s truly amazing. And when they told it in the pages of D, I figured it would only be a matter of time before it became the subject of a made-for-TV movie. (Do they still make made-for-TV movies?) Well, that hasn’t happened yet. But this Friday, the story will be told from Day’s perspective on the Discovery Channel show I Shouldn’t Be Alive. The episode is titled “Date From Hell” and will air at 8 p.m. Set your TIVOs now. (Seriously. This cable TV thing is here to stay?) I just read their story over lunch. It is amazing. Check it out if you can.
at 12:37 PM
(1) A DWI trial just started in Wise County where the defendant is African American and, not surprisingly, there was not a single African American on the jury panel. (2) Former Jacksboro mayor Jerry Craft has just written a book about his experience being the only white player in the West Texas Colored League. Kind of a "reverse Jackie Robinson situation." (Thanks, Allen.)
at 10:53 AM
- They were taking down Christmas street decorations on the courthouse square this morning. They are never in a rush about that.
- Do they still sell those "contact" capsules where you can see the little balls inside? Haven't seen a commercial for them in 20 years.
- Tech news: With Apple set to announce a tablet computer (maybe), Amazon will fire back with an announcement that it will all allow developers to create apps for the Kindle. The desktop computer may become a thing of the past very soon.
- There has been a sensational murder trial of a pastor's wife in Waco going on with her husband being found guilty last night. The local Waco paper had a live blog of the trial which is better than any news article would be.
- A congressional panel was upset yesterday because the "underwear bomber" was arrested, read his Miranda rights, and then requested a lawyer. This is still America, right?
- It's weird that when television was just getting started, sitcoms had the most bizarre premises. Gilligan's Island, Hogan's Heros, The Munsters, Mr. Ed, and My Favorite Martian are bizarre by even today's standards.
- An occupied Decatur police car sat alone in the bank parking lot across from my office the other morning. Kind of creeped me out.
- Do local folks still go to Shreveport since the Oklahoma casinos are now available?
- Conan O'Brien will be getting $45 million from NBC. Holy, cow.
- That 6.0 earthquake in Haiti yesterday didn't do any damage after all. But I appreciate all the advice from all you structural engineers out there.
- If I'm on Decatur's Planning and Zoning Committee, I do whatever it takes to please CVS Pharmacy.
- Rudy Giuliana is like fingernails on a chalkboard to me.
- NFL Fraud: A krillion players are named to the Pro Bowl yet when a ton of them decline the opportunity to play their replacements also receive the label "pro bowler".
- Wow: I didn't know spare Cowboys receiver Roy Williams is owed $9 million in March even if the Cowboys were to cut him right now.
- More evidence Fox's Glenn Beck is crazy: He said he thought Massachusetts Golden Boy Republican Scott Brown could end up with a "dead intern" during his congressional term. What?
at 8:21 AM
- Crazy pileup on 287 southbound out of Decatur this morning - - traffic backed up for a couple of miles. My expertise in accident reconstruction says fog has something to do with it.
- Haiti had a 6.0 earthquake this morning. It would seem that not much damage was caused since if a building can withstand a 7.0, a 6.0 isn't going to bring it down.
- I've mentioned Kayak.com before as a great travel site, but I'll do it again. If you fiddle with it, you can set up an email alert for a specific flight in the future so you'll know if the prices drop on it.
- Got an email about a Decatur teacher's home being burglarized in the last few days. A couple of flat screen TV's taken among other things. (And it wasn't far from the courthouse.)
- The Bridgeport Bulls basketball team is 2-17? Eeek.
- The concept of raising money by text messaging is brillant since it is so easy. As of last night, $24 million had been raised for Haiti relief via that method.
- And it's stunning to think there are folks who believe Haiti should "handle their own problems and we need to focus on helping Americans."
- You won't believe the front page of the Messenger today. Never has a fake chupacabra received so much attention. I'm talking a huge photo above the fold.
- Republican Scott "Aw Shucks" Brown won the Massachusetts Senate race last night. My predictions lately have been awful. Completely awful.
- I wonder if everyone has been taking their mood controlling drugs lately?
- Standing next to Brown last night was a hawt gal who, I learned, was his daughter, Ayla. I also learned Ayla was a Top 24 finalist for American Idol.
- Ladies: ESPN is after you.
- And he didn't mind using both daughters to get votes.
- I hope Fox and Friends urging people to vote for Brown by suggesting that their 401Ks would benefit by a Republican victory didn't have anything to do with it.
- It takes a second to load, but the Worst Album Covers ever is pretty funny.
- Boy, those Rick Perry commercials are condescending. Does he really spend all his time going out to ranches and shaking hands?
- The kindergartner from Mesquite who was kicked out of school for long hair (all aspects of the story make me insane) is now back in class. Problem solved by the mother, Elizabeth Taylor, putting his hair in french braids. "He looks a little like Princess Leia," she said. Note to kid: You're doomed.
OK, this is what I know about the marijuana case which began this morning in the County Court at Law. The jury is picked and sworn in, and then there's a break for lunch. One of the jurors goes to Chili's to eat and sits in the bar area (sans alcohol). Coincidentally, the defendant, along with two girls, eats there as well. As the juror asks for his bill, the waitress tells him that it has been taken care of "anonymously". (Insert dramatic music.) He sees an acquaintance at the restaurant and asks him if he paid for it. Nope. The juror then seeks out the waitress and asks. insistently, who paid his bill. She is hesitant to disclose the information but points in the general vicinity of the defendant. Oh, my. So the juror is kind of freaked out and pays the bill anyway. (He didn't want any part of this whole mess.) He then heads up back to the courthouse and stops by the office of someone there that he knows and explains what happens. His confidant says (and I paraphrase), "sheesh" and takes the juror up to the judge to disclose what happened. The juror is very uncomfortable at this point. This is when I stumbled into the scene and get excited simply because of the craziness. The judge then gets the prosecutor and the defense lawyer together and explains what is going on. A mistrial is going to happen but let's at least get the defendant's story. The defense lawyer checks with him and comes back and declares that, "He says he didn't do it." That my or may not be true. Who knows. Well, since the juror at least thinks the defendant tried to buy his lunch, either with ill intent or by trying to make an innocent (but idiotic) nice gesture, the damage is done. Heck, this probably would make the juror more likely to convict than it the whole incident didn't happen. But now law enforcement is checking into the whole situation.
at 7:30 PM
I had a DWI case set for trial this morning but it pled out at the last moment (which is bittersweet because that's a ton of prep gone down the tubes but with a result my client was happy with -- I even got a "fist bump".) Anyway, the back-up case that the jury is actually hearing is a misdemeanor marijuana case. Those don't go to trial very often, as they shouldn't, so this is a bit of a rarity. (I'll explain what's going on behind the scenes once it's over.) But, having dodge a trial, I sat around to watch jury selection hoping to learn something. In a word: Fascinating. Of probably 30 potential jurors, at least five said it should be legalized. One guy went so far to say, "We ought to legalize it and tax the hell out of it!" But almost everyone else, save two or three, said they did not have "strong feelings" about the marijuana laws with several saying, "I couldn't care less one way or another." That's pretty strong when most of the jury panel really doesn't care about the crime allegedly committed. One guy even admitted to using marijuana, and the vast, vast majority said they had been "in close proximity" to marijuana being smoked. Then, as the jury panel was being excused on a break, one of them looked at me and said, "If you get caught with the s&^%, just fess up and do your time. Maybe I was raised different than everyone else." Power. Down. (Since one of the issues is whether the marijuana was a "usable amount" as required for prosecution. I believe the evidence is going to show it was .06 grams.) Jim Shaw is the defense attorney. I might have been the only one, be he entertained the heck out of me. Edit: A mistrial was declared after one of the craziest developments I've heard of. More later.
at 11:39 AM
- Overnight: A TCU student is found dead on her bed with duct tape over her mouth and police think it is not a homicide. Oh, my.
- Tech thoughts: Is Google Wave a bust? And everyone sure thinks Apple is about to unveil a tablet computer.
- #1 UT lost at Kansas State last night. That's going to happen.
- The Update says that the Boyd ISD's superintendent believes he has been fired after 2012 based upon the school board's decision last night not to extend his contract. But since the vote was 4-3, couldn't an intervening change in the make up of the board change that decision in future votes?
- Guilty pleasure: The Fail Blog.
- I didn't go outside once yesterday after I entered my office early in the morning (the courthouse was closed.) People tell me it was beautiful outside.
- Business news I don't understand: Citigroup loses $7.6 billion (with a "B") last quarter but that "meets analysts estimates" so the stock "remains unchanged." Callback: Remember when I bought $1,000 of Citigroup shares a year ago on the hunch that it wouldn't go bankrupt? Prediction = Success. Make Money = Fail.
- ABC has a new series called "The Deep End" about a bunch of fun loving first year associates in a law firm. The New York Times says in today's legal landscape, that's a fantasy. True that.
- Somebody busted me yesterday by pulling out an old Random Thought that Brett Favre would be a failure this year. Boy, was I wrong.
- After actually to the "lyrics" of "Pants On The Ground", anyone else uncomfortable with Favre singing that in the locker room in front of a bunch of black guys?
- I still laugh at Favre's appearance in Something About Mary.
- That was some Favre overload.
- I ordered a book called "Living In Costa Rica."
- Roy Williams is due $10 million next year? No. Way.
- I always thought former conservative Senator Bill Frist was a fraud (at least every since he, as a doctor, misdiagnosed Terri Schiavo from the senate floor.) But I noticed that he's in Haiti putting to use his skills as a surgeon. I appreciate that.
- The federal government is about to hand out a "river of cash" to the states for the creation of bullet trains, but Texas will get the short end of the stick. When your a right wing state in a country with a Democratic President and Congress, that's going to happen. A lot.
at 8:15 AM
Second video here. The Messenger hit a home run with their critter story from yesterday. The Weekly World News is on it as well as our local Fox affiliate (and it's already being picked up by some other national affiliates.) It's going big time, baby! If somebody doesn't start printing T-shirts quickly, they are missing out.
at 4:20 PM
at 12:13 PM
- Well, that Cowboy game was a dud. No offensive line. No defensive line. No receivers. They just got plain beat.
- Hey, Keith Brooking, if you don't like the Vikings scoring in the final two minutes, do something to stop them. (Brooking called the score "classless and disrespectful" and then confronted Minnesota's bench.)
- Conan might get $30 million severance because of the Jay Leno/Tonight show issue? What's to complain about?
- Christina Hendricks (from Mad Men -- which I still haven't seen) qualifies as a "Hey, Now" at the Golden Globes last night. As did a rare Christina Aguilera sighting (who presented with Cher.)
- But overall the Golden Globes was fairly boring despite the very funny Ricky Gervais hosting.
- I may be the only person who doesn't appreciate, "Pants On The Ground."
- And when Brett Favre is singing it in the locker room, I'm totally confused.
- Brendan Higgins is out as co-anchor of the Channel 5 local morning news. Brutal business.
- And the Star-Telegram announced on Friday that it would layoff 28 people and not fill 17 open positions. This is a slow death which is hard to watch.
- After almost screwing it up, I doubt if the Democrats will lose Ted Kennedy's long time Senate seat. I think.
- Incredible story: The Fort Worth man who needs a face transplant after his was literally destroyed because of an electrical accident while working on a church window. You think you have hardship? Sheesh.
- I got to play with a Kindle over the Christmas holidays. Very, very cool device. (I didn't know it ran over it's own wireless connection -- you don't need Wifi, you don't need a cell phone plan: You just turn it on and it works.)
- I like jogging in the mornings and then walking around my neighborhood on weekends. Something oddly peaceful about it.
- It's about at this point in time when Americans will get bored with the suffering in Haiti.
at 8:26 AM
Showed up at the new 7th Street Movie Tavern yesterday at 3:00 to see The Lovely Bones but, nope, sold out. Sheesh. A matinee sold out? My female companion was dead set on seeing it but the next showing was at 7:00. So what to do? I looked up and saw Up In The Air about to start so we decided to do a rare double header. Yes, two movies back to back. (And I thought half marathons were hard.) My abbreviated movie reviews: Up In The Air: A confirmed bachelor (read: George Clooney being cool) spends 300 days a year traveling for a company with his sole job being firing people. Dream job, right? Throw in a fling with another travel-all-the-time girl combined with a cute little new female employee that he is to mentor, and what do you have? I'm not sure. Funny. Smartly written. Mildly thought provoking. But, at the risk of being a spoiler, no sappy sweet ending. That, I liked. (I had a recently divorced friend tell me he hated the movie. That, I understand.) Verdict: Strong B- The Lovely Bones: I have no idea. It was trying to tell me something, but I'm just not sure what. Cherish life? Move on after tragedy? The dead can provide you guidance? Heaven has lots of CGI effects? Still not sure. I was told "the book is much better" but I think she just liked the power of saying, "the book is much better." (I also enjoyed watching the two high tone gals that decided to bring their 10 year old daughters to a movie about a 14 year old getting murdered and communicating from the afterlife. Rethinking that ladies?) Warning: Kip Dynamite plays the villain in this movie. That's a little hard to overcome. Verdict: C+ 7th Street Movie Tavern: Absolutely the greatest place to see a movie. Ever.
at 11:06 AM