Random Thursday Morning Thoughts

That's another example of stuff I didn't remember. Four thousand physical Ranger tickets were stolen so the club deactivated the bar codes on all of them. And how quickly things change. Now almost every professional ballpark has gone "ticketless" opting to use barcodes on phones instead.

  • We had a UFO spotting over Wise County last night (and most of North Texas). Video. The explanation is that it was "SpaceX’s Starlight Satellite ‘Train.’"

  • So let me get this straight. Gov. Abbott has condemned "sanctuary cities" for their refusal to help ICE enforce federal immigration laws, but now wants all Texas cities to refuse to enforce federal gun laws? I didn't know "law and order" meant that you got to pick and choose which laws you want to follow. (And does no one understand the Supremacy Clause?)

  • Procedurally and politically, the way this capital murder case against a Dallas cop was handled yesterday was weird. From what I can discern, the cops hauled off and arrested this guy after the DA's office told them not to do it because the prosecutors believed there was insufficient evidence. The cops did it anyway. So what were the DA's options? (Stay with me here.) 

    • They could simply "refuse the case." That is, they have absolute power to kill any case they choose. It happens every day. They didn't do that here. 
    • They could have had the grand jury "no-bill" the case. That is, have them make a decision not to indict. (Sometimes a DA's office will do this for "political cover" instead of refusing the case. That way they can say "It was the grand jury's decision.") This wasn't done either. 
    • Instead, they chose to go forward with an Examining Trial requested by the defense -- a hearing which is a rarely held* in almost every Texas county. It is, theoretically, a hearing where the DA is forced, before an indictment, to produce evidence to the judge that "probable cause" exists to refer the case to a grand jury. If they can't do that, the judge is to order the defendant released. 
    • But if the DA didn't like the case (and for some reason hadn't chosen the option to "refuse the case" or have the grand jury no-bill it), the hearing could be short circuited by simply standing up and saying, "Judge, we believe the evidence is insufficient to establish probable cause and will stipulate to this fact." Then the judge would have no choice other than to find no probable cause and release the defendant.
    • Instead -- and this is very weird --  the DA went forward yesterday and allowed a detective to testify and get cross-examined and then, after that, told the judge that there wasn't probable cause. “Where we stand as a district attorney’s office right now today, we do not feel there’s sufficient probable cause for this case,” prosecutor Jason Fine told the judge after the detective’s testimony. (Even more bizarre: The prosecutor and the detective also had a "tense exchange" while he testified according to the Morning News.
    • But it was the position of the DA all along that there was insufficient evidence. So why go through the dog and pony show yesterday? Just refuse it, no bill it, or tell the judge before the Examining Trial that you agree with the defense.  There was no reason for the hearing to actually happen and have the detective testify. (Side note: The judge's ruling does not invoked Double Jeopardy.) 
    • Theory: The Dallas DA's office and the Dallas PD have never gotten along. This hearing just might have been the DA's office publicly sticking it to the PD in an I-Told-You-So move. If so, that's a bold move. 
    • (*Examining trials are rarely held because (1) like I said, if the case sucks, the DA will simply refuse it or no bill it, and (2) if the DA likes his case, all he has to do is get the grand jury to indict the case before the date of the Examining Trial to make the issue moot -- you don't get an Examining Trial if the grand jury has indicted the case.) 
  • College Station crime: "A 22-year-old Texas man pleaded guilty to murder Wednesday for hiring the hitmen who killed his father in March 2018. Nicolas Shaughnessy also targeted his mother, Corey, in the plot, and he stood to inherit $2 million if both she and Ted Shaughnessy, a jeweler, died."

  • That reminds me of one of the wildest cases out of Fort Worth which is now almost 30 years old: The murder of of Caren Koslow. Her stepdaughter, who is now 46, is still in prison
    Side note: Attorney Mark Daniel has been around a long time. (He's representing one of the
    Southlake school board members who just got indicted in the Open Meetings case.)

  • As much as it drives people nuts, this is legally the correct decision. 

    • Let me tell you something, the same ruling will soon* come come down from the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals in an unrelated case dealing with "revenge porn." (*They've been sitting on it for months which is what the tend to do when they are forced to rule in a way which will get them criticized. The case was argued on December 12, 2018, and they still haven't issued a decision.)
  • I thought I was in big trouble for a second yesterday.

  • I missed that the fiancĂ© of UT's new basketball coach came dressed to the introductory press conference as a referee.

  • Wichita Falls Time Record News: "The way people in Wichita Falls and [others in the 940 area code] make phone calls is about to change. Soon phone users will have to dial 10 digits rather than just seven to make calls." Uh, we didn't already?