The Campaign For DA


Random Thursday Morning Thoughts

  • Our DA's office filed a brief the other day which was well done and very high tech (the PDF even had internal hyperlinks). But I was struck with something in the mandatory "word count" certification at the end:  "WordPerfect X9 was used to prepare this document . . . . " WordPerfect? I had no idea it still existed.
  • A guy died in a Texas prison from heat exhaustion (he had worked outside.)  He was serving a 12 year sentence for Intoxication Manslaughter for killing a 71 year old man riding a motorcycle in Fort Worth. He might have needed to do time for his crime, but he didn't need to die. (And the prison is already blaming methamphetamine use -- something they cannot possibly know with any degree of certainty at this early stage.)
  • Justice Gorsuch, the Trump appointee to the Supreme Court, is now officially a great criminal defendant advocate. Not because of empathy mind you, but because he believes the Bill of Rights actually means something. Yesterday, he wrote for the Court in a child pornography case where federal law required extra years on a sentence when a person violates his parole even though there is no requirement that a jury find he violate the parole.  Just read how this begins (I love the way this guy writes) as he says the law is unconstitutional: 
  • Trump got mad at our nation's premier women's soccer player, Megan Rapinoe, for saying she wouldn't go to the White House. In typical Trump fashion, he tagged the wrong person in his Tweet. (He has the nuclear codes.)
  • And this is today's America: An American competes on the world stage representing the world's beacon of freedom, expresses her opinion, and then that nation's leader slaps her down for all the world to see. 
  • Is it proper for a Texas D.A. to brag about how one of his county's juries didn't really spend time thinking about a case?
  • A school district outside of Texas has now set first year teacher salaries at $60,000.
  • "A substitute teacher has been fired from El Campo High School in El Campo, Texas, after she uploaded several videos of her . . .  inside the school to a porn site. According to KPRC in Houston, the woman — who had been with the district for about three months — was fired, although no charges have been filed. 'We can’t find a law that she violated,' El Campo police Chief Terry Stanphill said."  I think he's right. I can't think of any crime.
  • What happens in your head when you calculate 27+48? For me, I go 20+40=60. 7+8=15. And then 60+15=75. (The link has far more ways people do it than I would have thought.)
  • Legal nerd alert: Here's an update to the unintended consequences of Texas's new marijuana law which changed the definition of marijuana based upon the amount of THC. We now have dismissals in Tarrant County with 235 cases no longer in existence. Here we go:
    • The new law makes the possession of weed to only be a crime if it contains  0.3% THC. It was passed to make it clear that stuff like CBD oil is legal. 
    • But it had unintended consequences because simple marijuana possession cases now require the State to prove that the weed it actually illegal. That is, it's got have more THC than 0.3%. Hey, probably 99% of all weed possession cases meet that threshold, but it will now take a lab report to prove it.
    • In the past, marijuana cases would be filed without the weed even being sent to the lab because the case could technically be proven with a cop saying, "Yep, I know weed when I see it and that was weed." Yeah, it's nice to have a lab report to cover all basis, but technically the State didn't need it. (That's been the law since at least 1956.)
    • Now the part I'm confused about. The new law took effect of June 10th. Normally, any changes in criminal law concern offenses occurring on or after a law's effective date. But these Tarrant County cases, if the story is correct, are being dismissed because they were filed after June 10th regardless of when the offense was committed.  That's confusing especially since the DA said in the story that the cases could be refiled if they get a lab report showing that the weed had the requisite amount of THC. 
    • So why dismiss them at all? Why not just keep them pending and wait for the lab (even if that could take a while). She seems to be bothered that the cases have been filed without a lab report -- something that used to be commonplace. You wouldn't file a cocaine case without a lab report. So I guess the DA is saying, "I don't want to charge someone with violating the marijuana possession law unless we are sure that they actually violated it by possession weed with 0.03% THC or higher." Once again, for offenses committed before June 10th, it shouldn't matter. Maybe she is just being cautious. 
    • You want to know what the biggest problem going forward? Lab costs. Specifically, who is going to pay for it in simple marijuana cases? The agency or the prosecutor? This is going to be a major, major issue. 
    • If I remember correctly, this used to be a problem in Wise County because the weed in every marijuana case was actually sent to the lab. It's was just the common practice. However, some agency balked at paying for every lab report (I can't remember which one).  I think the problem was resolved by a policy change by the prosecutor where weed wasn't sent to the lab unless it looked like a case was actually headed towards trial.  But if every case now has to go to the lab, and it does, the cost is a big problem. 
    • There have been exactly 150 misdemeanor marijuana cases filed this year in tiny Wise County as of yesterday. That is 25.15% of all of their cases. Houston, we have a problem.  It's going to be a financial standoff.
    • Could Texas practically legalize marijuana because no one wants to pay the lab costs so no marijuana case can be successfully prosecuted?
  • Bad lawyer (allegedly):
  • This is literally right out of a Black Mirror episode ("Hated in the Nation") or  kind of like the robotic spiders of the police out in Minority Report but smaller and with the ability to fly:
  • Trump is in Japan but before he left a reporter asked him what he would say to Putin about election interference. His response? "None of your business." Incredible.