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

Random Friday Morning Thoughts

  • I saw a plea yesterday in the Wise County district court for 40 years to do in a child sex abuse case. (Chad Beland, CR-21418). He'll be eligible for parole in 20 years. That's one of the highest accepted plea bargains I've ever seen, but I can't say it's a bad deal. He was facing 25 to life with no possibility of parole on his original charge. 
  • Trump lost his Census citizenship question case yesterday before the Supreme Court as they said his Administration was lying about the question's purpose (calling it "contrived reasons.") Trump immediately wanted to delay the Census "no matter how long" despite the Constitution expressly saying it must take place every 10 years. 
  • Let me not explain all of this:
  • In the debate last night, Chuck Todd asked the candidates what their first call would be as president. I can't stop watching the answer of Marianne Williamson. "Girlfriend!"
  • We've all seen the heartbreaking picture of the dad and his child laying face down and dead in the Rio Grande. But why do almost all news organization block out the child's identity in this photo which was found. What's the purpose? If we are trying to protect the child, it's way too late for that.
  • The State Prosecuting Attorney's Office represents the State on cases that go to Texas' highest criminal court. They gave us a heads up yesterday about one the court decided to hear which got everyone's attention. (The guy got 40 years. The facts of the case can be found attached to this document.)
  • The Dallas DA picked up the phone last night and groggily asked, "I'm sorry, what did you say?"
  • Most of you know I'm a sports genius. And faithful readers will recall that I predicted the Rangers would have a season that was "all downhill from here" after they won their first game. However, they've been doing well. I want to alert the masses who don't have my sports intellect that something ain't right with this team. I've been tracking the Ranger's team ERA against the American League team ERA all season long. I've even created a fancy Google Sheets graph which I update daily. The Rangers not only do not have a good ERA, they been below average all season long. My hot prediction: Since it always depends on pitching, the Rangers can't keep this winning pace. It's a mirage. 
    As of yesterday
    Blue is Rangers' ERA. Red is AL average. 
  • When you lose a morality battle to Bank of America, and you don't even realize it:
  • While you were sleeping, Trump and his Overlord got together. A reporter shouted to Trump about warning Putin "not to meddle" in the 2020 election. Trump replied: "Yes, of course, I will", which caused Putin to laugh. Trump then mockingly pointed a finger at Putin and said,  "Don't meddle in the election, please." 
  • If English was good enough for Jesus, it should be good enough for those Dirty Libs!
  • I specifically remember my Constitutional Law professor at Baylor lecturing on the "Political Question" doctrine and me thinking that it was a really interesting yet surprising concept. Little did I know that the next time the Supreme Court would use it, and the next time I would think about it, was yesterday in the partisan gerrymandering case. (I just looked up the doctrine and saw there were "six factors" to be used in deciding to invoke the doctrine as set out in Baker v. Carr. I'm sure I memorized those six factors in law school without understanding what they meant. I still don't.)


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. 


Random Wednesday Morning Thoughts

  • Trump toned down his rhetoric towards Iran until the Iranian president said, the White House was "afflicted by mental retardation." Now he is ready for a full scale war.
  • We have a new White House press secretary,  Stephanie Grisham. There hasn't been a televised press briefing in 107 days. 
  • The Star-Telegram has a great article about how marijuana possession cases are now in jeopardy because the State will need to prove a certain threshold level of THC in the Devil's Lettuce in order to meet the requirements of a new law. The problem is that most Texas labs aren't prepared to do that. (It impacts cases after 6/10/19 when the law took effect.) 
  • For those familiar with the Bart Reagor saga out of Lubbock (the car dealer who went bankrupt after an avalanche of lawsuits), he has hired a PR firm which produced a video to revamp his image. It is as bad as you would expect. 
    "I keep it real by having an old football pic of me framed and on the floor. "
  • A good car dealer has to know how to execute a good bit for his clientele. When in Alabama ...
  • On Monday, I posted a pic of a Louisville pitcher who was caught taunting the Vanderbilt dugout.  I had no idea the clean-cut kid with glasses who was dropping F-bombs had wild hair under his cap: 
  • Student loan forgiveness? No way! That's one step closer to socialism and the next thing you know we'll be bailing out the auto industry, big banks, and farmers. 
  • Guess who's coming to dinner?
  • For those following the Wesley Mathews trial -- the Richardson father accused of killing her leaving his adopted daughter, Sherin Mathews, in a drainage ditch after not taking steps to save her  -- I don't think the jury will buy his story. But I wonder how in the world the mother was indicted in the first place. (The case was dismissed earlier this year, and I wrote about how Richardson police were mad about it.) Edit: It starts up again at 8:30 this morning with the defendant testifying on cross. Watch it. 
  • The feds are after Rep. Duncan Hunter for allegedly spending $250,000 in campaign funds on personal expenses. Personal expenses which include spending on a wife and five extra-martial affairs. (His wife pleaded guilty earlier this year, and has turned on him.)
    And they know that about $32

    "Strongly" believes in family values. 
  • I used to talk about retiring to the jungle of Costa Rica until a couple of acts of violence got my attention. Maybe I'll change that to Belize. Or maybe not. 
  • Fun fact to make you ponder government structure: There was an election last night for the DA of Queens, New York. So? Queens has more people than New Mexico, Nebraska, West Virginia, Idaho, Hawaii, New Hampshire, Maine, Montana, Rhode Island, Delaware, South Dakota, North Dakota, Alaska, Vermont, and Wyoming -- who, combined, get 30 U.S. Senators. (And for the 1% who do care about the Queens DA race, it is too close to call between Tiffany and Melinda with 99% of precincts reporting.)
  • Messenger: Above The Fold
"They're bringing drugs. They're bringing crime. They're rapists.
And some, I assume, are good people." -  Donald Trump


Random Tuesday Morning Thoughts

  • Shawn Younger, a DPS sergeant in Decatur, was indicted last Thursday under cause number CR-21417 for "TAMPER/FABRICATE PHYS EVID W/INTENT TO IMPAIR" according to Wise County online records. Fort Worth attorney Bill Ray is the special prosecutor. (That's about all I know right now, and I have no idea if the case is legitimate or not.) 
  • One of my big rants over the years is people being criminally prosecuted for what used to be considered a car wreck, and I mentioned a couple of months back about a case out of Tyler featured in Texas Monthly. In general, a guy was prosecuted for drinking at a golf course and a restaurant afterwards, not being legally intoxicated, and then having a car wreck by failing to negotiate a curve. That wreck ended up in the death of a young girl, and the driver being sent to prison, shockingly, for 10 years. Late last week, the Tyler court of appeals affirmed his conviction (but at least gave him a new punishment hearing because of a lawyer screw up.) But it's a 2-1 decision and the dissent was spot on: Drinking and driving is not illegal in Texas. Drinking and being intoxicated and driving is. But the majority "blurs that distinction" in a criminally negligent homicide case because a tragic accident occurred.  I hope the Texas Court of Appeals reviews this one. The man is sitting in prison. 
  • Lightening rod Jonathon Stickland announced he won't run for the Texas Legislature again. The Tea Party darling and Empower Texans PAC golden boy, barely won re-election last time. 
    Krause thought this was a good look?
  • I didn't watch it, but a couple of members of  the Wallenda family walked a tightrope at Times Square on Sunday on live TV.  I'm surprised it didn't end in injury because Joel Osteen said a prayer for them beforehand. (Side note: The fact that they wore a safety harness probably eliminated the need for any thoughts and prayers from Osteen.) 
  • TDCAA, the official prosecutors organization in Texas, has a pretty good publication which is available for all to see. But a recent cover story on "implicit bias" got my attention when it had this very odd tip to not let racial bias sneak into a trial. If a prosecutor tried this, I'd be worried they were at Charlottesville (on the bad side.) 
  • From the WFAA archives, a quick video of kids riding the old slide at Six Flags. I rode that thing. You would catch a bizarre amount of air (as evidenced by the kid at the end who looks like he needs to be in traction after the ride.)
  • If you like those old videos from WFAA, you'll love this one: "In what is an insane series of words, Oaklawn’s The Patch Go-Go Club in Dallas is having its go-go dancers dance for 21 hours straight to help Jerry Lewis’ telethon fight muscular dystrophy. Bill O’Reilly reports. WFAA Collection. September 1976."
  • Trump responded again to the accusation that he raped the women who was on the cover of New York magazine: "She's not my type."  He's the only guy who can deny something with words which make you certain that he did it. 
  • Is it called "It's Like Getting a Root Canal" tour?
  • Funny exchanged up at the courthouse yesterday when a group was discussing the novel legal question: Can a person who has voluntarily agreed to provide a sample of his blood revoke that consent after the blood is drawn but before it is analyzed by the lab? Lawyer #1: "I'd get a court order!" Lawyer #2: "Get a court order? What is this? C.S.I.?"
  • There's nothing wrong with the "deal" below: The prosecution is guaranteed a conviction and the defendant now faces a maximum of life in prison with eligibility for parole in 30 years instead of life in prison without the possibility of parole. The jury will hear the same facts had no plea bargain occurred. 


Random Monday Morning Thoughts

  • This "suspicious" truck caused the federal courthouse and surrounding streets in downtown Dallas to be shut down this morning. 
  • On Friday, yet another woman accused Trump of sexual assault -- this time via cover story in the New York magazine. Trump then told Bloomberg ,"I've never met this person in my life." There was a photo showing them meeting included with the article

  • A local radio personality ran into a Facts of Life star in Plano on Friday. Lisa Whelchel grew up in Lake Worth. 
  • In a crazy case I've mentioned before, the Supreme Court on Friday reversed yet again a case out of Mississippi where the prosecutor intentionally struck African-Americans off of the jury panel. The defendant has been tried six times -- and every time by the same racist prosecutor, Doug Evans. Clarence Thomas issued a dissent. You want to know how a judge has no legal authority to support his position? He opens his opinion with gruesome facts which have nothing to do with the legal issue at hand. It doesn't matter if the discrimination during jury selection occurs during a trial for murder, DWI, or speeding. 
  • A loud boom was heard from Jacksboro to Watauga last week, and the Springtown PD was not buying the government's official position. 
  • Remember that deputy city manager in Wichita Falls who, after decades of service, was fired after cops took his curbside trash, found  a baggie of "green plant" residue along with " Clear Eyes Redness Relief", and raided his house on a search warrant because of it? Well, police finally disclosed they found just a misdemeanor amount of weed in his house.  
  • This guy got 15 minutes of fame with a slow motion lip reading video at the College World Series over the weekend. Those glasses coupled with his fury were the perfect match.
  • A cornerback out of Arlington took an official recruiting visit on Saturday to Texas and then posted this pic. Yeah, it's all in good fun, but I remember a time when the convergence of "new car" and "recruiting" were hot bed topics not to joke about.
  • From DWI criminal law practitioners: There has been a limited recall on some blood kits used by law enforcement. The official Texas prosecutor association said this: "These tubes are used nationwide for the collection of blood alcohol determinations and are widely used in forensic testing for DWI cases. Law enforcement agencies should be notified to stop using tubes from this lot."
  • Other criminal law practitioner news: A defense lawyer out of Waco was arrested on a solicitation of a minor charge. "Layman graduated from Baylor Law School in August 2014 and worked that year as an intern for the Collin County District Attorney’s Office in McKinney. In November, Layman worked for two days as an unlicensed assistant in the district attorney’s office before he was terminated, authorities said." 
  • I told you last week Trump was lying when he said he was going to round up "millions" of Jews, Races He Considers Inferior, People Without Papers "illegal aliens." He just makes stuff up. 
  • You had one job. (And that's one long beam.)
  • You might have seen the Trump lawyer, Sarah Fabian, arguing before the Ninth Circuit that those children who are detained seeking asylum, who are entitled by agreement to "safe and sanitary" conditions, doesn't necessarily mean having access to soap or a toothbrush or being able to sleep. She makes $162,673.00. (And with that salary you would think she could dress a little better for oral arguments.)
  • Look who also took notice of Texas's increasing Hispanic population.  This is nothing other than a not-so-subtle message to his base. (He got such blow back from this that he had to issue a pandering follow-up tweet calling Hispanics "hard working, patriotic, religious, family-oriented believers in the American Dream.")
  • Messenger: Above The Fold