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

Random Friday Morning Thoughts


  • Texas Hospitalizations: +42. The only question now is whether it will surpass the Summer Wave.  This one isn't as steep but its incline has already gone on longer and still growing. 

    • There were 244 deaths recorded in Texas yesterday. You have to wonder how many of those people who were in the hospital and, therefore, weren't counted in yesterday's  9,151. 
    • All time record deaths in U.S. yesterday: 2,857.
    • The "19-county North Texas region" set the second highest record for the number of new cases ever yesterday with 1,894 reported.
    • 81 Tarrant County jailers have the COVID.
  • And to bring it all close to home: Links to watch Judge Melton Cude's funeral at 2:00 p.m. today from the First Baptist Church in Decatur:
  • I'm still rattled by that. Wear a mask. 
  • I you haven't seen the video of last night's assault of a referee by an Edinburg High School football player, here ya go

    Photo credit: Joel Martinez/The Monitor via AP. 
  • Has anyone collected Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick's $1 million prize for election fraud yet? 
  • They used the Panama Canal?

  • I've been informed that all the gentlemen who appeared in photos in the Los Angeles Times this past weekend (which I linked to yesterday) are from Wise County.  So Fred Jones and Chase Lasater, rest assured your friends and family let me know about it. 

  • I had no idea there are online archives of a newspaper, The Frontier Echo, which was published in  the 1870s in Jacksboro. That's the 1870s and not the 1970s. 

  • Presented without comment other than a link to the Wise County Zillow listing which got this gal's attention. 

  • Random small town Texas criminal justice news here. But the story notes that the Texas Attorney General's Office will be named as special prosecutor which almost guarantees an acquittal.  (They've shown up twice in Wise County as special prosecutors: Not guilty on one and a directed verdict of acquittal on the other.)

  • I was standing right there at the base of capitol a year ago when I asked a cop at what level the swearing in took place. He told me the first level. I couldn't envision it. A photo published yesterday of the ongoing construction of the temporary stands and platforms helps me out in that regard: 

  • One last COVID note:
  • Longhorn Nation went on a hunt this week to discover if Urban Meyer was actually making a TV appearance while secretly secluded at Austin's Horseshoe Bay. Curtain rod? Ceiling fan? (It didn't really pan out, but it was fun.)

  • Time which has passed since the Wise County Sheriff's Office has failed to solve the murder of Lauren Whitener in her home at Lake Bridgeport: 518 days.
  • Messenger: Above the Fold


Random Thursday Morning Thoughts

  • Texas hospitalizations: +62.  

    • Record deaths in U.S. yesterday: 2,777.
    • Record number of new cases in U.S. yesterday: 200,070.
  • Wise County hog hunters were featured in a front page story in the Los Angeles Times last weekend. Link. Trey Hawkins even got color photos in the newspaper. He's gone all Hollywood on us. 

  • Arizona's newest U.S. Senator was sworn in yesterday. Big kudos for the other Arizona senator, Krysten Sinema, with the purple hair. Mrs. LL? You're on the clock.  (That's not the senator who had the wild leather boots on a while back, is it?)

  • As COVID spreads throughout Texas at the quickest rate ever, there are some numb-nuts like former state Rep. Jonathon Stickland (who endorses Shelley Luther) who think Gov. Abbott needs to ease restrictions and stop "being a tyrant." What restrictions?

  • In addition to doing great political polling tracking, 538.com also tracks things like how concerned Americans are about the spread of COVID-19.  I'm telling you, no matter what the issue, there are 1/3 of all Americans who are just "out there."  

  • A response filed late yesterday to one of Sidney Powell's crazy Kraken lawsuits pulled no punches

  • Speaking of incompetence: 

  • Rudy brought a lady to a "hearing" in Michigan yesterday who was apparently channeling a drunk Victoria Jackson* as she sparred with a fellow Republican. Watch. (*A dated reference yet an accurate one.)

  • There were six people killed in a crash near Snyder last Friday. I noticed a Bridgeport name: 

  • Warning: Here comes legal nerdy stuff. Double warning: I offer conclusive proof that I am The Premier Legal Genius in the Southwest Proper. 
    • Remember the crazy Amber Guyger trial last year?  The Dallas cop who killed Botham Jean while he was in his own apartment?

    • Back then, I was listening to a replay of one of the final day's proceedings when I heard the judge read the jury the "Court's Charge" (the jury instructions). I fell out of my chair because, based upon the way it was worded, the judge basically told them to find her not guilty. Spoiler: They jury didn't. 
    • The wording was simply wrong, and I couldn't believe it had been given.  I was so amazed by it that I even went to the trouble of sitting down and transcribing what the the judge read and wrote a long post about it the next morning. (I care that much about you, dear reader.) 
    • At the time, I heard no one else say what I had observed: The jury was told to acquit Amber if she simply believed she had gone to her own apartment. Heck, that fact was undisputed. 
    • And it was far worse than that. The court's charge put the burden on the State: The jury was told to acquit unless they believed the State had proved beyond a reasonable doubt that Amber did not believe she was in her apartment. 
    • Here's a small portion of what I wrote: 
    • And here comes the part that proves I'm a modern day Oliver Wendell Holmes disguised as a backwoods Wise County country lawyer. The Dallas County D.A.'s office recently filed its brief on appeal and they, after months of study, have finally discovered exactly what I was trying to point out at the time. 
    • The prosecutors are now freaking out about that very wording in the charge.  Here's an excerpt of their brief which, after quoting the charge just like I did, complained that it should have never been given. What they wrote should sound pretty, pretty familiar now: 

    • I had written, "Holy cow. That's insane." They wrote: "That's open season [to kill]"!
    • I wrote: "Do you understand how that literally reads?" They wrote: "Read it again"! 
    • Have I mentioned that I'm simple country lawyer who was just listening to the court's charge on the radio and heard something in real time that a roomful of silk-suited boys in Dallas at the time did not. Do I need another trophy?
    • The next day I was driven more nuts that Amber's lawyers didn't take advantage of the error by jumping up and down during closing argument with the charge, as written, in front of the jury. It was fair game then.
    • I would have highlighted those important words on the hard copy of the charge and held it up like I was Moses presenting the Ten Commandments to partying Israelites. I would have blown it up the big screen. And then I would have read that part of the court's charge with all the passion of a soap opera star trying to convince his mistress not to call his wife: "Look at the law that the judge has given you! Look what she has told you in her own words." Like I said, it was a gift to the defense, but they didn't use it. 
    • Here's triple legal nerdy stuff, but if you've read this far, here goes: The fact that the Dallas D.A.'s office brings this jury charge error up in their brief, as a "cross-point" no less, is really weird. It doesn't matter to Amber's appeal at all. The incorrect wording in the charge wasn't (and couldn't have been) one of Amber's points of error because the error had no impact on the verdict. Any insufficient evidence Amber has raised on appeal must be based upon what the law is (the "hypothetically correct jury charge") and not the law given to the jury. Amber's lawyer even filed a reply brief pointing this out, and said the D.A.'s office was just trying to get an advisory opinion on an irrelevant matter. I'm guessing they are just worried about other Dallas judges using the that same form in the future. 
  • There's always basketball: #2 Baylor beat #5 Illinois last night, 82-69. On Saturday, we get #2 Baylor vs. #1 Gonzaga at noon. 
  • Crazy football breaking news: Undefeated BYU and undefeated Coastal Carolina just got scheduled for this weekend. 
  • If there is any question that government is one of our America's biggest employers and a major cog in the economy, the City of Fort Worth has bought the Pier 1 building for around $90 million: 


Random Wednesday Morning Thoughts

  • Texas Hospitalizations: We cracked 9,000.

  • WFAA's Rebecca Lopez's mother passed away from COVID, as did the mayor-pro-tem in Grand Prairie, as did a Denton County deputy constable. 

  • Gov. Abbott endorsed Drew Springer over Shelley Luther yesterday. Luther was then passive-aggressive on Twitter. 

  • Even Bill Barr can't bring himself to stoop to the level of Rudy Giuliani and Sidney Powell.

  • Sean Hannity was pondering a question last night. And to think they were obsessed with the conduct of President-Elect Joe Biden's son for months. 

  • The Ticket's Dan McDowell posted this picture of a Grapevine fitness center and their very odd COVID prevention measures for the exercise bikes.

  • Having my outdoor Christmas lights on a timer makes me feel like a technological wizard. 
  • I feel old because every time there is any news story about any social media "influencer" I have no idea who they are talking about. 

  • Hey, we all get to ride dirty for a few months. Good. Mine expires this month. 

  • I had almost forgotten about Chris Faulkner after he was in my cross-hairs for years because of being an absolute fraud and huckster. Here's the update. He used to be a sponsor of the 660AM's podcast of the Mark Davis Show. 

  • Domestic violence is way up in Tarrant County which just goes to show you that fancy PR campaigns are just for show. In 2017, the D.A.'s office started a "Not In My County" promotion where elected officials from across the county posed with signs proclaiming that abuse won't be tolerated in the county. 

  • In other Tarrant County crime news, murders overall have surpassed 100 for the year, the most in 25 years.
  • Shout out to the past Wise County elected official who just causally dropped off John Grisham's latest novel, A Time of Mercy, and then simply left. From the cover notes, it looks like Southern lawyer Jake Brigance makes his first appearance since A Time to Kill.
  • Also, shout out to a stranger who dropped off for me a series of Bridgeport Index's from 1973.  People just give me stuff!?
  • The Supreme Court is hearing oral arguments today on whether last term's ruling that jury verdicts must be unanimous should apply retroactively. That is, if you are sitting in prison because of a non-unanimous verdict, can you get a new trial because of that recent decision? You would think the obvious answer is "yes", but that's not so.  It's a tough standard and "[t]he landmark 1963 right-to-counsel decision in Gideon v. Wainwright is the only one the court has ever indicated could achieve this . . . status." (The test is whether the right at issue implicates "fundamental fairness that is implicit in the concept of ordered liberty." I've said it before: Constitutional Law is just trying to keep up with what the Supreme Court just makes up along the way.)
  • Sports: The very last two games of the Southwest Conference were played 25 years ago today. Texas beat Aggie, 16-6, followed by Houston over Rice, 18-17.  Fun fact: Houston and Rice, who weren't invited to the Big 12, moved their game in order to be the final game of the conference instead of the bluebloods. 
    (Yes, I know Arkansas left before the conference disbanded.)
  • Speaking of Aggie, the band tried to pull a fast one last weekend: 

  • Messenger: Above the Fold (with a great picture of Judge Cude.)


Random Tuesday Morning Thoughts


  • Texas hospitalizations: +266.  Tarrant County set a record yesterday.

  • National hospitalizations put this Third Wave into perspective:

  • Bridgeport High School reported "2 staff members and 12 students tested positive for COVID-19 over the Thanksgiving Break."
  • I'm still rocked by the death of Judge Cude. And it was a kick in the stomach to realize that his death actually substracted one number from the Texas hospitalization numbers I post daily. 
    • Flowers were left on the judge's bench yesterday. 

    • That seal in the background was handmade by an inmate of the Wise County Jail circa 2004. The guy, my client at the time, had about eight DWIs and was headed to prison for another one. But we managed to let him serve a lot of his time in the county jail in exchange for letting him redo the courtroom because he was a skilled woodsman and artist. Every piece of wood in the courtroom was his handiwork.
    • One other thing about the seal: The inmate told me that Judge Cude whipped him so much during the remodeling project about being a Texas Aggie that had secretly carved a longhorn into the seal. I was never able to definitively find it, and I never told the judge about it. (As I looked at it today, it seems possible that it might, ironically, be a set of upside down horns at the 6:00 o'clock position. If that's it, I'm now regretting not telling him.)
    • The governor's office was responsive yesterday. And kudos to County Judge J.D. Clark for quickly taking the initiative to get this done. The county would have probably flown the flags at half-staff regardless of permission, but this was a nice touch.  

  • In case you haven't heard, the Cowboys are playing Thursday night. Edit: No, it's now Monday afternoon. Double edit: No, now it's Tuesday at 7:05. 

  • I've had my second iPhone in a row crap out on me after a very short life span. This used to never happen. 
  • Sean Hannity last night had a moment of honesty: "I don't vet the information on this program." And it wasn't a misspeak. He intended to say it. 
  • Various bills are being filed in the Texas legislature. Here may be my favorite proposal so far: A Texas constitutional amendment to prevent any governor from limiting the sale of booze, guns, and explosives during an emergency. There are some things we just hold sacred. 

  • In Senate District 30, If you care about who defeated candidate Andy Hopper (he got 3.6% of the vote) thinks should win the run-off between Shelly Luther and Drew Springer, here you go. (Warning: That person, he says, "has solid core principles and is connected to solid conservatives such as Jonathan Stickland.")

  • This was supposed to be news yesterday because somehow in the bizarro world we live in it's a big deal when a Republican states that Biden won the election. I was more surprised to learn she has actually been ambassador to the U.N. all this time. 

  • The Wichita Falls paper during casually mocking the poor during the holiday season.

  • I actually have no idea what happens. The responses were funny. 

  • I meant to post yesterday the link to the video of the F1 driver emerging from the flaming wreckage. It's like a scene from the Terminator

  • Legal stuff: A guy who got kicked out of a Texas law school for bad grades is suing the school, and it has made its way all the way to the Texas Supreme Court.  His claim isn't as crazy as it sounds (a professor, who graded on the curve, leaked exam questions to students who attended extra-study sessions which weren't authorized), but, let me tell you something, you have to be incredibly dumb to have a GPA 1.98 at Thurgood Marshall School of Law even if you did get screwed in one class.

  • If I have to see one more reference to Undoing I'm going to have to break down and watch it. I had never heard of it until yesterday. 
  • At the Thanksgiving table, during a lull, I just abruptly blurted out, "I think Home Alone is a bad movie." Instead of getting a reaction of, "Where in the world did that come from?", a conversation began -- without me -- of the merits of Home Alone.