Random Thursday Morning Thoughts

This was on the front page of the Bridgeport Index, and I still can't believe it.   

  • Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy update: The local media hasn't figured it out yet, but a shockingly curt ruling yesterday by the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals puts the conviction for Attempted Murder of Danita Thetford Tutt in serious jeopardy. But it's a hollow victory: Her five year sentence out of Tarrant County for Injury to a Child will stand, but the 10 year probated sentence for Attempted Murder will almost certainly be thrown out. (She's still in prison on the five year sentence, has already been denied parole once, but cannot be held past October 17, 2023.) 
  • The freeing of Bill Cosby yesterday was flat out weird. The headline is that a court ruled that Cosby should not have be prosecuted because the former DA and Cosby entered into an agreement where no criminal charges would be filed and, in exchange, Cosby would not and could not raise his Fifth Amendment right not to testify in a civil suit against him. That's not true at all.
    • First, there wasn't an "immunity agreement." Heck, there was no agreement at all.  It was only a decision and press release by the DA that Cosby "relied" upon to not invoke his Fifth Amendment rights.

    • Even if he wanted to, the DA couldn't make such an agreement. Heck, it's unethical and probably a crime. Think of this way: Say a drunk driver killed a woman in Wise County and the DA agreed that he wouldn't file criminal charges so that the defendant would have to testify in the civil suit which would help the man's family, and his lawyers, get money. The DA might get disbarred.
    • Importantly, there was no actual representation by the DA that Cosby would never be prosecuted. The prosecutor just announced that he was dropping the case based upon the evidence then in existence. 
    • Side note: The DA wasn't really helping the Plaintiff in the civil case out. So what if Cosby would have taken the Fifth Amendment? That's a Plaintiff's dream. A jury, in a civil case, are allowed to "draw negative inferences" from a defendant invoking the Fifth. 
    • And the court's decision yesterday was reversal with an acquittal. The only time you see that is when a case is reversed for insufficient evidence. It seems like the proper remedy would be to remand the case for a new trial where his deposition testimony couldn't be used. Nope, Cosby actually walked out of prison with complete double jeopardy protection. 

  • Mrs. Huxtable, though, decided to unleash an atomic bomb. 

  • Former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld died yesterday. He was always mocked for his statement below but, I'll be honest, it always made perfect sense to me. 

  • Texas Politics: A Portrait. 

  • The Tarrant County Sheriff managed to get in front of the cameras with Abbott and Trump yesterday. It should be noted that:
    • He has jurisdiction of an area which is over 300 miles from border at its closet point. 
    • And he's really not in the business of law enforcement at all since so little of Tarrant County is unincorporated. Local police departments in Tarrant County are in charge. What he knows about fentanyl, and especially how it gets here, would fit on the head of a pin.  
    • His main job is to run the Tarrant County Jail which he fails miserably at -- 17 inmates died under his care last year.  
    • But, nevertheless, there he was . . . 

  • The just released New York Times video on the Trump Insurrection should be watched by anyone who is inclined to downplay what happened on January 6th. It's an amazing documentary all based on actual footage. 

  • Announced yesterday, and taking effect immediately at midnight, college athletes can now profit on the "name, image and likeness" or "NIL."   I'm all in favor of this, but this is going to an earth-shaking change in the area of recruiting, right? "You want to sell a bunch of T-shirts? Come to [insert marketing savvy school.]" And how do you stop big monied boosters from promising a recruit a perfectly legal contract for his NIL if he signs with the desired school? It's like legalizing SuperPACs for athletes. By the way, OU's Spencer Rattler already has a very cool logo to sell:

  • Legal nerd stuff:
    • A federal appellate court actually used the Internet slang "tl;dr" in an opinion. Judges, don't do that. 

    • Over-the-top nerdy: Yesterday, the first federal opinions which will carry with it a "F.4th" designation were released
  • A Wichita County Commissioner pleaded guilty to DWI yesterday. His sentence was routine: 180 days in jail but probated for 14 months, a $800 fine, and 60 hours of community service.  But he has to have an ignition interlock in his vehicle for the entire term of probation which was unusually harsh, but the case did involve a one car wreck. (Paywall.)