It's Friday. Let's Get Out Of Here.

Random Friday Morning Thoughts

  • Williamson County is notorious in Texas in large part for the shocking wrongful conviction of Michael Morton where evidence conclusively establishing his innocence was withheld. The DA who fought to keep the conviction intact, John Bradley, was defeated by Jana Duty who campaigned on the Morton case. Duty's term in office was wheels off  (she spent a weekend in jail for contempt and was sanctioned by the State Bar for withholding evidence herself), and she was then defeated in her attempt at re-election. Now Duty, 54, has been found dead in a condo in Rockport after neighbors reported hearing a gunshot. Foul play is not suspected.
  • Near Houston in a police academy class, a student had a loaded gun in his backpack which went off when he reached into it. The results were that of a magic bullet with one round firing: "Two cadets, a male and a female, were shot in their calves and the bullet grazed the third cadet."
  • It is 2019 and we are still arresting people for gambling
  • I always dog the Tarrant County DA's office when they have a bad week in trial so I might as well point out stellar weeks as well. The misdemeanor section went 7 for 7 this week with one remaining case in the hands of the jury. 
  • Is this bad? A Rangers' starter was pulled after only managing one out last night. (And it doesn't even show his four walks -- three of which were the first three batters.)
  • Late yesterday the Texas House voted to let people buy beer and wine at grocery stores at 10:00 a.m. on Sunday instead of noon. Rep. Springer introduced the bill by saying, "Some people like me get out of church at 11:30 and go by the store." Someone made a motion to table the bill but that failed on a vote of 64-69, and then Springer's bill passed, 99-40. (Don't ask me about the vote total discrepancies. The only thing I know about voting in the House is by watching the legislature online. They move fast. I bet any vote is open for about 30 seconds.) The alcohol law still needs Senate approval. (They didn't vote on the marijuana bill, by the way.)
  • Someone must have the back story on the lady in the above screenshot. She's there every time the House is in session. Her job is to jump to the podium and read the title of the bill when called upon, quickly shuffle paper to someone to her right, and then go back to her standing position. 
  • I've heard a former Chico ISD employee has created a couple of "rap" songs which caught the attention of that community as he named names. They were on Soundcloud but soon disappeared. I'm trying to find a new link.  
  • It's unclear whether (1) it was paid, or (2) Trump broke his promise to pay it. This morning Trump denied paying it -- making it, like I said, unclear. He didn't, however, deny promising to pay it.
  • I had the NFL Draft on as background noise last night and looked up after Devin Bush was picked by the Steelers with the 10th pick. My first thought was: Does he have a shoulder injury?
  • And that crowd at the draft got my attention. That's insane. 
  • I've mentioned before an obviously unconstitutional Texas law that Gov. Greg Abbott signed in 2017 which "prohibits governmental entities from contracting with and investing in companies that boycott Israel." It's unconstitutional because it is the government restricting your speech in order to get a contract. Yesterday, the first judge to review it struck it down. (I've never understand this Israel worship by far right wingers.)
  • Hey, prosecutors. An ice-cream manufacturer is watching you closely.
  • According to the Update, we had a police chase around Alvord last night which led to a "quantity of marijuana" being found. I'm wondering if that's going to be a small quantity. (I'll update here later. The online jail records should show the men along with their charges this morning but it doesn't.)


Random Thursday Morning Thoughts

  • The Dallas County Republican Chairman, Missy Shorey, 47, passed away "unexpectedly" in a hotel bathroom in D.C.  That's all we know. 
    Photo from D Magazine article about her last year.
  • The NFL draft is tonight. Here's a hot sports prediction from me (a renowned sports expert): If Kyler Murray is taken #1 by the Arizona Cardinals then both Murray and coach Kliff Kingsbury will not be in the NFL in five years. 
  • House Bill 63, making minor pot possession a civil fine only, is debated today on the House floor. It'll be televised online and, believe or not, that stuff can be entertaining.  Edit: The bill was amended late yesterday to make the penalty a Class C misdemeanor. Still not bad, but not as good as a civil fine. 
  • Jennifer Emily, a crime reporter for the Dallas Morning News, ended up on a jury in a murder case so she wrote about it. The column is good but this sentence caught me off guard. "At first, I was Juror 40. A shuffle — a unique Texas tradition that randomly moves jurors around in an attempt to get more people of color toward the front — rocketed me, a college-educated white woman, to the second spot."  (Emphasis added). That's a weird sentence on many levels. Who is she saying is using a shuffle this way since both the State and the defense have an absolute right to a shuffle. Is she saying the State is doing it to avoid the look of discrimination? That the defense is doing it to use discrimination in their favor? And since when did either become a "Texas tradition"? 
  • Photo from Nixon's funeral 25 years ago this week: 
  • In case you missed it, two of Trump's buddies have been hanging out together this week: 
  • The Texas legislature has a weird tradition where some (or all) of past House district reps send current reps a Bible verse using the district number. For example, Sid Miller, former representative of District 137, sent the current rep of that district, Gene Wu, Psalm 137.  Two things: (1) He spelled is "Pslam" and (2) nothing expresses God's love like verse 9: "Happy he shall be, that taketh and dasheth thy little ones against the stones."
  • One of the guys who murder James Byrd Jr. by dragging him to death in Jasper, Texas was executed last night. This photo has always stuck with me. It's art.
    "Jasper County Assistant District Attorney Pat Hardy displays the chain allegedly used to drag James Byrd Jr. to his death during a break in the trial of Lawrence Russell Brewer Thursday, Sept. 16, 1999, at the Brazos County Courthouse in Bryan, Texas. The chain was introduced into evidence Thursday. Brewer is the second of three white men charged with capital murder in the dragging death of James Byrd Jr. near Jasper, Texas. (AP Photo/Pool, Butch Ireland)"
  • My dreams, which haven't exactly been my traditional "I'm in school for the first time in weeks and can't find my class", have really kicked up. They are nightmarish. And I have no idea why they have started up. 
  • Remember Junior High when kids would float a rumor about you liking someone? 
  • Four people have died at the Grand Canyon in the last month or so. In March, before any of those deaths, I was talking to a guy up at the courthouse who went to that national park for spring break. He told me that he went into a convenience store in Flagstaff where the clerk actually said, "You guys be careful. People die out there all the time." And the clerk was right. There are even high tech maps to track them all. 
  • There are just random pieces of news these days which will be forgotten in minutes that would have been considered unbelievably bizarre just five years ago. You know, like a story in the Wall Street Journal of a convicted lawyer of a sitting president talking to, and doing a photo bit with, a washed up star of Rosanne.
  • The four people found dead in the north Fort Worth off of Basswood turned out to be the result of murder/suicide. It's awful. Two of the victims were age 4 and and almost 2, and their father who did it was training to be a CPS investigator. 


Random Wednesday Morning Thoughts

  • We got the roof finally repaired and re-shingled over the last five days. And not a day too soon.  (Repairs on the inside are about to begin and the insurance issues, if any, are about to come to a head. I'll let you know.) Flashback:
  • I'm beginning to think the new Waco D.A. isn't any smarter than the last one. He has announced his office will oppose recent requests by some of the bikers to have their records expunged even though their cases have been dismissed. Why? Two reasons were given which make no sense: (1)  “Those cases were dismissed. Are they not satisfied with that?” he said. Uh, no. That's an idiotic thing to say. (2) It's possible "some additional evidence surfaces 'down the road' and they can file [other] charges." Not only is that practically and extremely unlikely, an expunction is no legal bar to refiling a case with the same or additional charges.  Now his office will have mini-trials in each expunction case on whether there was probable cause to arrest those people in the first place. He really wants that? 
    Maybe I'm wrong. He put "All" is in all caps and double-underlined it!
  • Meanwhile, in Wisconsin yesterday a guy got to scoreboard all of us.  You never seem to see someone young win those things.
  • Interesting to a handful of outlaws around the Wise County courthouse: The Sixth Circuit federal appellate court has ruled that marking tires to determine if a vehicle has been parked for a time greater than that allowed by a sign posted is unconstitutional. "[The lawyer] argued that marking tires was similar to police secretly putting a GPS device on a vehicle without a proper warrant, which was the subject of a 2012 U.S. Supreme Court ruling." 
  • Trump's nominee for the Federal Reserve dropped out. He should have added "because you never know when I might have to pay off more sexual harassment claims" right after "making money."
  • A new college football rule: If a game advances to a fifth overtime, the teams will run alternating two-point plays instead of regaining possession from the 25-yard line like in prior overtime periods. That Aggie/LSU game last year that ended up 74-72 got their attention.
  • I almost booked a ticket to go to L.A. to join a protest on behalf of the Official Liberally Lean Girl, but it turned out to be a false alarm
  • I saw this graphic so I watched the latest Jeopardy episode last night. (I record it every day but never watch it.) He's quite the machine. The guy knows everything and controls the board by going to the hardest/most financially rewarding question in each category first. After 14 shows, he now hold the top five places in total daily winnings..  (My radio station floated an interesting and unfounded conspiracy theory this morning: What if we have a 1950s quiz show scandal unfolding? I noticed that Alex Trebek said yesterday that "a lot of people have been watching" and ratings were the motivating factor behind those scandals. And, to add fuel to that fire, this guy is a "professional sports gambler.")
  • And I'm happy to announce that the Sophomore In The House new the correct question to the following Jeopardy answer in the category of "American History" (I did help her out when she asked, "So what was going on around that time period?")
  • A Friends photograph that I bet you have never seen:
  • The Travis County DA will no longer prosecute drug cases where the lab returns with an amount designated as a "trace." (When the lab says that, it means there wasn't enough to even weigh. Technical translation: It was less than 1/100th of a gram.) 
  • We had quite the contrast yesterday. Recall the Mueller Report said: “The Russian government interfered in the 2016 presidential election in sweeping and systematic fashion.” But Jared Kushner said in a rare interview that it was just "a couple of Facebook ads." At least, heaven forbid, he didn't say, "some people did something."  That type of downplaying would be considered offensive to any patriot. (Trump called his son-in-law "extraordinarily smart" as the interview was going on.)
  • Another day. More paranoia. Oh, by the way, courts don't interfere in Impeachment proceedings. (Which I'm not in favor of.)

    "I will tell you that President Putin was extremely strong and
    powerful in his denial today."
  • Troy Aikman was drafted into the NFL 30 years ago yesterday. 
  • I may be the only guy defending him and he might be a nutcase, but the Open Carry advocate who went into the neighborhood of the Speaker of the Texas House Dennis Bonnen to hand out fliers wasn't the threat that he was made out to be, and he got a hold the DPS video to prove it. He didn't go to the Speaker's home as alleged and he wasn't "stopped" by troopers. It was almost a love-fest. 
  • Messenger: Above The Fold.


Random Tuesday Morning Thoughts

  • Lots of death yesterday in Texas. Not that far away with had four people, including two children, found dead around I-35 and Basswood (sounds like murder/suicide); two people are dead in Watauga (cops shot one of them); and six people died in a plane crash in Kerrville.

  • This is pretty bold: Fourteen police chiefs in Dallas County signed an open letter criticizing the Dallas DA for not prosecuting some low level crimes and announced they will file those cases as Class C misdemeanors in their local city courts. That gets those cases out of the hands of the DA. It's basically saying, "the potential punishment is far less but at least something will happen." It sounds like they will file Class A or Class B marijuana possession cases as Class C paraphernalia cases. And the same would happen for Class B theft cases ($100 to $750) -- they would just file them as Class C theft under $100 cases.
  • When the legislature tries to tell you that there will "only be a 1%" sales tax increase to offset property taxes:
  • I read the book, but the documentary is even better: The Innocent Man on Netflix. (I actually went to Ada, Oklahoma once just to see the courthouse of injustice.)
  • The lady who was badly disfigured in a Texas DWI crash and became the literal face of anti-drunken driving campaigns has died. She might have been the most persuasive message of all time -- DWIs have plummeted over the last 15 years. 
  • I haven't watched hockey all year, and I'm not starting now. 
  • Is there anyone who watches Game of Thrones who doesn't say, "I'm really confused right now" at least a few times every episode?
  • Trump speaking to kids yesterday: "We are completely rebuilding our military. It was very depleted as you know. A lot of the military folks can tell you...." (Really.)
  • Trump seems more unhinged than usual. He has tweeted or retweeted more than 50 times in the last 24 hours. In addition to oddly calling Twitter "very discriminatory,"  promoting Fox News / State TV 19 times (!), and saying he should be "immune from criticism,"  he went all King Joffrey this morning.
    Narrator: "They didn't apologize after the 2016 election"
  • The Supreme Court announced yesterday that it will decide whether the Civil Rights Act, which bans discrimination by employers because of sex, race, color, national origin, and religion includes the protection of gays because of the word "sex." Little know fact: The Act, which was first proposed to protect African-Americans, had "sex" introduced into it by a conservative Virginia representative with hopes of killing it because, he thought, no one would let it go that far. 
  • Someone sent this to me yesterday. Hurtful. 
  • I'll admit that I couldn't find Sri Lanka on a map. 


Random Monday Morning Thoughts

  • Pretty sure the "Affluenza" kid was at the Astros/Rangers game on Friday - a place where he has every right to be -- but I'm not sure why he was on the field. 
  • It should be the first item in the Update because we had the wild, wild West breakout on Saturday evening. There was a wrong way driver on 287 south of Decatur and another motorist shot out his tire(s) to try and stop him. (Side note: The driver didn't have a bond set the next morning like everyone else. Not sure why.)
  • I mentioned the late, great weatherman Harold Taft the other day. A faithful reader pointed out to me that his granddaughter is a criminal defense lawyer in Fort Worth
  • When the Easter Bunny at the White House is sponsored by an egg decorating kit. Now all we need is a resurrection scene where the stone is sponsored by a foundation company.
  • Speaking of  the Easter, we try to do some type of brunch every year. I put Mrs. LL in charge of it who chose Tim Love's Lonesome Dove restaurant. It was quickly cancelled when I asked her, "Uh, have you seen one of the three entrees are on the menu?"
  • This kind of tests your faith one day before Good Friday: "A man was killed in New Braunfels on Thursday morning when he received an electrical shock while washing the exterior windows of the First Baptist Church. 
  • Update on a multi-million dollar verdict obtained by a Decatur law firm against a bank: They have now filed their brief in the appellate court where the bank has appealed. It's here. (Everyone's eyes will glaze over on the legal arguments, but the recitation of the facts in the brief's first 20 pages is fascinating/interesting/curious reading -- especially if you're a banker or involved in any high level financing. And the documents in the appendix aren't bad reading either.)
  • Kate Smith, who was famous for her rendition of God Bless America which could still be heard in sports venues today, is having the song and her image pulled after it was discovered she recorded a song named That's Why Darkies Were Born (shocking lyrics here) in 1938. Interestingly, it was also recorded by African-American Paul Robeson who is best known for Ol' Man River. (Local radio host Mark Davis wrote: "The #KateSmith purge is 2019 at its stupidest.  The controversial song is from 1931 and actually satirizes racism.")
    The Philadelphia Flyers removed her statue (or
    one of the characters in Ghost.)
  • I'm reading Fault Lines which is about the history of the U.S. since 1974 and why we are so divided today. It's amazing how much I've forgotten that has happened in my lifetime.  (Example: California's 1978 "Proposition 13" tax reform on property taxes due to skyrocketing appraisals. It, among other things, limited increases to no more than 2% per year. That sounds pretty familiar if you look towards Austin these days.) 
  • This was up for 20 minutes. 
  • I watched an old episode of Batman this weekend which I hadn't seen in years. It was comedy gold. (Now I know why my dad was laughing in the background when I was a kid as I was worried about whether Batman would get out alive.)
  • Messenger: Above the Fold