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

Random Friday Morning Thoughts

  • I bring you the greatest legal story of the year:
  • State Rep. Poncho Nevarez announced he wouldn't seek re-election last week and now we know why: He dropped a sealed envelope at an Austin airport which had four little bags of cocaine in it. It was found by a TxDOT worker on the ground who opened it. The press learned of this after DPS sought a search warrant to get the DNA off the seal of the envelope. Besides the issue of whether that should kill someone's political career, this case is a great factual scenario for Criminal Law exam:
    • Was it an illegal search for the TxDOT worker to open up a sealed envelope? Should the the government have obtained a warrant first? (If yes, the cocaine can't be used against Nevarez and there is no criminal case.)
    • Does it matter that that person who opened it was just a TxDOT agent who not part of law enforcement? Does it matter if he was on duty or off duty?
    • Does it matter that the sealed envelope was found on the ground?  Does the owner still have a privacy interest in it or is it considered "abandoned"?
    • Can you accidentally abandon property or must you intentionally discard it to lose your privacy interest?
    • Does it matter that it was sealed with his name and office address on it since it would  appear to be property that was lost and a person could easily determine where to return it?
    • Do any of the federal mail laws apply? What if there was a stamp and address on it? 
    • Do the cops actually need a search warrant to get the DNA off the envelope? They didn't get a warrant to open the envelope so why do they need one now? 
    • Does the seeking of a search warrant for the DNA by DPS constitute an admission by the agency that the envelope shouldn't have been opened without a warrant?
    • Nevarez admitted he was an "addict" yesterday and was seeking "help". Can he still challenge the opening of the envelope as an illegal search?  
    • Does Nevarez's statement qualify as an "admission" of knowingly possessing cocaine in this very incident or is it too vague or refers only to extraneous offenses which are generally inadmissible?
    • Nevarez had just gotten off a private plane. Is there any way he could be federally charged? Is there sufficient proof of crossing state lines? If not, does federal regulation of airport property enough to give federal jurisdiction?
  • Nevarez, amazingly, is facing a Third Degree Felony (2 to 10 years) although no one outside of law enforcement seems particularly excited about prosecution. All his colleagues are "saddened" and "glad to see he is seeking help." No one thinks he should be locked up. (And it makes you wonder how many other "normal" people routinely do cocaine but you just simply don't know about it and nothing about their conduct tips you off.)
  • A guy who should face a greater offense is the guy in San Francisco caught on video tearing off the face mask on the Joe Montana statute. I hope he at least sees some time inside the hoosegow. 
  • Nancy Pelosi spoke yesterday indicating that key word from here on out will be "bribery" instead of "quid pro quo." In more entertaining news, she turned to the camera and explained "exculpatory" to Trump.
  • The PAC Empower Texans has made a lot of news lately primarily by ambushing Texas House Speaker Dennis Bonnen and causing his ouster. I've found its president is one strange guy. And factually and legally challenged as well as Exhibit A demonstrates: 
  • Fort Worth ISD is selling Farrington Field (by Casa Manana). It has lots of bathrooms, a big yard, but is kind of a fixer-upper. 
  • This was floating around yesterday regarding how UT's south end zone will look like once construction is complete. I have no idea if it is real. I hope it is.
  • In case you missed it, an aTm alum almost killed a quarterback last night by trying to crush his head with a helmet. Best quick loading videos are here and here if you haven't seen it. 
  • The Star-Telegram will no longer have a Saturday print edition beginning sometime in 2020.
  • The Federalist Society, which every conservative judge sucks up to in order to get federal appointments, had a big gala in D.C. last night. Brett Kavanaugh was there. Outside, protesters put up a huge video screen showing the testimony of Christine Blasey Ford (video), and others dressed up as from the Handmaid's Tale (pics).  I'm more interested in Kavanaugh talking to a young Mary Tyler Moore look-alike.
    "Ooooooooh, Brett!"
  • The first Watergate hearing in 1973 was described with terms of "dramatic laboriousness" and "tedious" in the New York Times
  • The alternative Fort Worth Weekly is already questioning how the Tarrant County DA's office will handle the prosecution of the police officer who shot and killed Atatiana Jefferson. On a related note, I was caught off guard by a line in the story that said "the judge" had issued a gag order in this case. I thought that was 100% wrong because the cop hasn't even been indicted. How can there be a gag order when there is no case which has been assigned to a judge? But, I'll be, there is one. Some of my criminal law knowing readers need to explain this to me. (I'm guessing the judge is the one who has jurisdiction over the grand jury, but why is there a cause number?) Regardless, I've never heard of a gag order pre-grand jury. 
  • There should be a better system than 10-0 Decatur having to travel all the way to Childress for a first round playoff game. (It's 181 miles away per The Google.)
  • Regarding the headline below, I'm not sure why he is "sought"? Give him a call and he'll turn himself in. What are we, Barbarians? (DPS obtained a warrant last night and let the press know about it.)


Random Thursday Morning Thoughts

  • Impeachment Hearings:
    • Jim Jordan's lack of jacket drives me insane.
    • Ambassador William B Taylor's voice sounded familiar. The closest I can get is that of actor Donald Moffat who was the president in Clear and Present Danger. (Great movie by the way.)
    • Taylor was impressive. He's nothing but a patriot who graduated fifth in his class from West Point and then volunteered to seek combat in Vietnam. He was there voluntarily because he cares about his country.
    • The biggest news was that there will be a witness who will testify on Friday who heard Trump and Ambassador Gordon Sondland, on an unsecured cell phone call in a Ukranian restaurant, talking about whether Ukraine was caving to the pressure to investigate Biden's son. It will be very interesting to see if Sondland will admit to that. And if he'll admit to this shocker from Taylor: 
    • You'll recall Sondland is already on shaky ground because he had to "amend" his testimony to the Congressional impeachment inquiry committee. He's already worried about being caught in a lie again.
    • Trump denied that call yesterday when a reporter hit him with the question after meeting with the Turkish president. No one had time to prep him. 
    • I thought it was amazing that the counsel for the Republicans just casually and continuously referred to Rudy Giuliani rooting around in Ukraine  as an "irregular channel."  It certainly was, but I didn't expect them to admit it so freely.
    • He even incorporated the "irregular channel" into one of the hearing's funniest moments:
    • Or maybe this one was funnier. “If they impeach President Trump . . . then they have to call President Trump a liar to do it. [Insert awkward pause.] I yield back.”
    • Trump's third favorite child had a great defense yesterday morning.
    • All this (very irrelevant) talk about "hearsay" reminds me that almost everyone, including the vast majority of lawyers, don't understand the Hearsay Rule.  And, even when the rules of evidence apply, you can get almost any out of court statement into evidence if you know what you're doing. The chances of any statement not meeting the legal definition of hearsay (or some exception applying even when it does) are greatly in your favor. 
    • I don't understand this defense of: "Trump was just trying to crack down on general corruption in the Ukraine." Do you think Trump would give one flying flip about Joe Biden's son making money for being on the board of directors if he wasn't Joe Biden's son?
  • We had an increasingly rare death penalty handed down in Tarrant County yesterday.  Little known fact: Two of his victims, one of which was found beheaded, were stopped by Decatur PD for a traffic violations not long before their murders. They just happened to be passing through Wise County.
  • The Texas high school playoffs begin tonight. Chico made the playoffs with only a 3-10 record, but that's nothing compared to Iraan. The Braves from their 2A division finished 0-10 (all four teams in its four team district made the playoffs.)  In a playoff game which will probably be played somewhere in the Middle East, they will face Sudan who went 10-0. 
  • Wow: TCU raised tuition to $51,570 per year yesterday. 
    Raise your hand if you aren't the one paying for it.
  • It's just delaying the inevitable, but the lawyers for one of the Texas Seven have had his execution stopped by the Fifth Circuit again. For some reason Texas thinks it's proper to provide a chaplain to pray with a Christian before his execution but not a Muslim.  The very conservative court said
  • I continue to think this is a funny bit.
    And the "Magnifying Lens"
  • On this day in 1960, Ruby Bridges becomes the first black child to attend an all-white elementary school in Louisiana. 1960. Heck, she's only 65 today.
  • I mentioned Judge Fostel yesterday, and I'm not sure how many people knew he had Norman Rockwell's painting of Ruby Bridges on his office wall at the courthouse.  One of my great joys as DA in the 1990s was occasionally getting to walk into his chambers with an out-of-town defense lawyer who I just knew was expecting to see a Redneck/Bubba/Country judge.  They'd glance at the painting and try to keep a poker face as I got to think, "This isn't exactly what you anticipated, is it, hoss?" (It eventually made them feel at ease. It just took a while for it to sink in.)
    "The Problem We All Live With"
  • In response to the Astros-stealing-signs scandal, this made me laugh.
  • I just randomly posted her pic yesterday as a bullet point. I didn't know I could be the cover editor of a New York newpaper.


Random Wednesday Morning Thoughts

  • The Prosperity Gospel is really upping its game down in Houston. 
  • Have I told you how to watch a Joel Osteen sermon? Every one will have a phrase like, "Maybe you didn't get that promotion at work", "Maybe a family member has said something hurtful and you've been holding your tongue," "Maybe a relationship isn't going as well as you had expected," or "Maybe you're experiencing a financial issue that you didn't anticipate."  It's a great trick to make everyone in the audience think, "Hey! He's talking directly to me!"
  • A look at the impeachment room a couple of hours ago. It's only the fourth time this will happen to a sitting president.  (Or has someone else said, the first impeachment hearing in the Disney+ Era.)
  • He's not handling it well this morning. I assume this means he's against them. Do you think he threw something against the wall after hitting "send"?
  • Oh, and this is also just outside the impeachment hearing room.  Man, I hope she makes it in the gallery and can be seen all day in the background.
  • Tyler Technologies, which provides criminal justice software to many, may counties and the state, is making money hand over fist. They have a huge piece of the pie of with e-filing in addition to contracts with the counties.  Now they are being sued for patent infringement. I'm not saying the plaintiff is a "patent troll" but the story says that some people have called him that. (And that's not to imply a suit by a patent troll doesn't have merit. In 2013 I wrote about how a patent troll, Erich Spangenberg, owned one of the fifty most expensive homes in Dallas.)
  • The City of Bridgeport purchased the old Spot Cash building in the revitalized downtown area, and it seems the belief was it would be turned into a park. Now there's a discussion of the city selling it off to the highest bidder which has created a bit of an uproar. It's a little confusing, but I'm not sure I've seen quiet an exchange like this in a city council meeting. From this week's Messenger:
  • Also from the Messenger, Robin Garrett, the wife of a current Justice of the Peace, pled* guilty yesterday to stealing from the Decatur Wood's family. It's probation with 120 days in jail as a condition but get this: Restitution of $472,291 has been paid.  (Buy the Messenger. Support local journalism. Give them your money.)
  • *Yes, I know it is "pleaded" and not "pled" but that's something that needs to be changed. I'm here to champion that cause.
  • I think I'm battling pink eye. The last time I got it - fifteen years ago - I got some prescription drops and it went away within 24 hours. Now Mrs. LL hands me some over-the-counter pink eye medicine and tells me it's the same thing because "things have changed." I cocked an eyebrow over my watery eye at that.
  • I normally don't care about baseball news, but it seems to be a pretty big deal that the Astros were stealing signs with a camera during the 2017 season. The story really took off yesterday when "Jomboy", a guy on Twitter who normally does fantastic voice overs as a lip reader to interpret player/umpire fights, put up an incredible video revealing the Astros making a "bang bang" sound from the dugout whenever a change-up pitch was coming. 
  • A rare volleyball bullet point: The defending state champion Decatur girls team was upset by Krum in five sets in the playoffs last night. Decatur had beaten Krum twice in the regular season -- although it took five sets both times. Here's the final point.
  • Hey, southern Wise County, your congressional rep has a Republican primary challenger who says she is not loyal enough to Trump. That's the standard now? 
  • He lies every day and yesterday was no exception.
  • The cast of Days of Our Lives has been laid off. It was the first soap opera I ever watched as a teenager. Back then, there was nothing funnier than when two of the characters were about to jump into bed together, and my brother would alert my mom in the kitchen with, "We need a sin ruling over here!" She'd look up at the screen and say, "Oh, my goodness. Yes that's sin, boy. Pure sin."  He did that bit dozens of times.
  • I think I'd like Yu Darvish off the field. (He goes by the screen name @faridyu)
  • Remember, kids. Even Lee Harvey Oswald had a library card. 
  • No, I'm not bitter about Baylor going to 9-0 and dropping one spot in the playoff rankings. Baylor is 13 and one loss Oklahoma is 10. But if Baylor had been wearing OU jerseys all year long and OU wearing Baylor jerseys, OU would be in the top 4 and Baylor would be ranked 20th. 
  • Messenger: Above the Fold


Random Tuesday Morning Thoughts

  • This is one odd way to refer to a convenience store parking lot at what turned out to be a  convenience store at Calmont Avenue and Las Vegas Trail in Fort Worth. (One guy ended up dead after being shot in the head and the other one ended up at hospital with gunshot wounds. That's one heck of an "altercation.") If the parking lot is "well known" for crime then I'll admit I'm not in the know about it.
  • What!? Watch. The mascot gets fired for this, right?
  • The definition of the Swamp: Rick Perry went to the inauguration of the President of the Ukraine and handed him a list of potential "energy advisors." Less than a month later, one of them gets a 50 year lease to drill on Ukrainian government lands. That guy just happened to be Michael Bleyzer -- a long time backer of Perry who gave him $30,000 the last time he ran for election. Logs show that Bleyzer visited Perry's office two weeks before Perry attended the inauguration. And of the nine oil and gas grants by Ukraine on July 1, Bleyzer and his partner's "bid was the only one of the winners that didn't include the participation of a Ukrainian company."  That swamp ain't drained -- it's being restocked. 
    Bleyzer and Perry
  • How weird is Trump? He posted the following tweet last night to get the nation to vote for Sean Spicer on Dancing With The Stars last night and then deleted it when Spicer was booted off.
  • Speaking of press secretaries, Spicer's predecessor, Stephanie Grisham, has not held a single press conference -- something that  used to be an almost daily occurrence with other presidents. Now she just appears on the safe confines of Fox News.
  • Yesterday, in watching a video of an "interrogation" of some guy with no criminal history who was stopped in Wise County for speeding but investigated for possibly possessing weed products purchased legally in Colorado, the investigator told him: "At some point you are going to have to sit down in front of a judge and jury and tell them what happened," and "I'm here to help you help yourself out."  First, unless the Fifth Amendment has been repealed, he doesn't have to tell a judge or a jury anything. Secondly, that's a flat out lie that you are there to "help." (It didn't work, by the way.)
  • Alabama gonna Alabama. A guy stabbed the Trump Baby Balloon at the the LSU/Alabama game and then tried to get a GoFundMe campaign going to pay for his legal defense. GoFundMe shut it down
  • I should have mentioned yesterday that when I first explored with Mrs. LL my Master's thesis on The Butterfuly Effect and Whether The Game Would Have Turned Out The Same, which I set forth at length yesterday, that her first reaction was in the Kip Dynamite voice of, "Like anyone can even know that." Really.
  • For those who read the thread I linked to the other day about the lawyer who told a federal district judge that he missed a hearing because his grandfather had died, we have an update
  • Also an update, the Houston prosecutor who asked if a victim was "legal" as a condition of accepting a case has been fired.
  • I normally wouldn't promote someone promoting themselves, but J.D. Clark has done a fantastic job as county judge. He's right. (But the picture of the late Judge Fostel just five years ago was a kick in the gut this morning.) 
  • A first run Jeopardy episode had Alex Trebeck getting chocked up last night. Watch.
  • Trump Jr. got booed off the stage by the alt-right at UCLA, but not before his ex-Fox News girlfriend fired off the very odd put down of, "I bet you engage and go on online dating because you are impressing no one here in person." Have I said we live in strange days?
  • The impeachment transcripts are damning (and just wait to you hear it live and in person in the upcoming days.) The following Orwellian quote, which we all thought was a fantasy, is now 100% reality. These aren't just strange days. They are frightening days. The good news is that his rants of a madman are becoming increasingly ignored.

  • The Cowboys are making it unnecessarily difficult to reach my locked and loaded prediction of over 9 regular season wins this year. And I stress the word "unnecessarily."