It's Friday -- Let's Get Out of Here

Random Friday Morning Thoughts

Ten years ago this week there was a multi-day civil lawsuit tried in Wise County which involved a mind-numbing number of lawyers. It concerned a motorcycle and FedEx collision. The jury, which included a criminal investigator from the Wise County Attorney's office, ruled in favor of Fed Ex.  (But I heard after the fact that there was some type of "high/low agreement" reached before the verdict which guaranteed the Plaintiff would at least receive something. (In exchange, he agreed to cap the verdict if the jury went wild in his favor.)   

  • Speaking of FedEx, morning in America means another mass shooting

  • The Texas House, on an 84-56 vote yesterday, approved open carry without the need for training or obtaining a license.  (Phil King - Yes. David Spiller - Yes.) 

    • There's almost no news coverage of it, but an amendment was made and passed, 145-0, which will allow the expungement of all former conviction of Unlawfully Carrying a Weapon. 
    • License to carry instructors were against the Constitutional Carry bill. Of course, it causes them loss of income since they won't be needed any longer.
  • I actually thought the releasing of the video of the shooting of 13 year old Adam Toledo yesterday would cause Chicago to erupt last night. I'm not real sure why it didn't. 

  • Meanwhile in Highland Park

  • I see an appellate problem in the Derek Chauvin trial. Yesterday, outside of the precense of the jury, he invoked his Fifth Amendment right to not testify. His lawyer asked him questions on the record about the decision to insure that it was knowingly, freely, and intelligently made.* Then the following happened.   Attorney: "You understand that if you were cross-examined by the State we could not attempt to limit the scope of your testimony. The State would be given broad latitude to ask you questions." Chauvin: "Yes." (Starts at 45 seconds here.)

    • Here's my problem. First, that's a blatant misstatement of the law. His cross-examination would be extremely limited by the Rules of Evidence if the defense lawyer did his job. For example, the prosecutor couldn't legally ask him about doing cocaine at a party 10 years ago. But it takes the defense lawyer to object to those kind of questions to prevent it from becoming a free for all. 
    • But the lawyer told him "he could not even attempt to limit" what the State could ask him about. You kidding me? And what makes it worse is that the judge and the prosecutor just stood around like stooges and didn't correct the misstatement. 
    • So what if later the Defendant alleges ineffectiveness of counsel? "I wanted desperately to testify," he says, "But I only chose not to because of the advice I got from my  lawyer, and he told me the prosecutor could ask me about anything, and there wouldn't be anything he could do about it. The judge was there and heard him tell me that.  That frightened me away from testifying." And he has absolutely proof on the record to back this claim up. 
    • (*The whole question and answer exchange about invoking the Fifth is a bit weird. The only purpose of it is to protect the lawyer from a claim on ineffective assistance. It has nothing to do with protecting the client. That's ironic here because the lawyer laid out a great claim for ineffective assistance for everyone to see. That wasn't some type of sinister plan.)
  • Random Pat Robertson image from yesterday. (He actually was going on a rampage against bad cops which makes me wonder what happened to Pat Robertson.)  

  • This was out of El Paso on Wednesday morning. It is wild. Video.

  • Sad to see the passing of Decatur attorney Jean Bishop. She was always incredibly kind to me.  She was a also the former elected Wise County Attorney but there's been hardly no mention of that.  
  • The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals has some nutcase judges. Due to Supreme Court rulings, they were forced to commute the death sentence of a mentally ill man on Wednesday who had been in prison for over 40 years. But not without dissent. Three judges said that even if upon resentencing he receives a life sentence, he would automatically be eligible for parole because he has been in prison for so long. And so, the three said, he'd probably be better off in prison because TDC has so much to offer him! The judges are Michelle Slaughter, Bert Richardson, and Kevin Yeary. 

  • I haven't posted the Texas COVID Hospitalization chart in a while because it has been going consistently down for weeks. But now it has leveled off and even showing a slight uptick. 

  • 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: 651 days.
  • Messenger: Above the Fold 


Random Thursday Morning Thoughts

Yet another thing I didn't remember. The verdict: He was acquitted on three counts of perjury, but found guilty of one count of Obstruction for "misleading" a grand jury. I ranted against the Obstruction verdict at the time. In 2015, a federal appellate court overturned the conviction for insufficient evidence.

  • That Burleson police shooting ended up to be a wild story. As I understand it by deciphering this story from the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, this is what we know:
    • It started as a traffic stop at 4:15 a.m. in a residential neighborhood not far from the Burleson High School stadium. 
    • A Burleson officer was shot three times (he will survive.)
    • There were three people in that car: Two men and one woman. The woman was in the front passenger seat.
    • They then drive away and abandon the car about a mile south. It tried to figure out from the news reports where all this happened and here's my best re-creation: The shooting is at the top red x and the car is  abandoned near the bottom "x". It is burned. 

    • Here's where it gets wilder. At 7:15 a.m. the three approach the house of Phillip Waddell and the female, wet and muddy, "bangs" on the door. Waddell "met the suspects with a shotgun and yelled at them to get off his property."
    • The Waddell house (approximately at the circle below) looks to be about a mile from where the car was abandoned (at the "x"): 

    • Waddell's mother, Robin, lived "across from" Phillip, and he was in contact with her. At 8:15 a.m. Robin texted Phillip and told him she was going to sit on the porch and watch the helicopters involved in the search for the people.
    • It now gets really crazy. At 8:45 a.m., Robin Waddell, 61, shows up on foot at the Burleson PD with gun shot wounds. She had been "carjacked." She later died. 
    • Cops, with the license plate number of Robin's vehicle, enter it into a database of license plate readers located around the state. (I've told you for years they exist.) Later that morning, an automated reader in Denton gets a hit showing the vehicle headed north on I-35. Two men are in the vehicle based upon police observations according to the Star-Telegram report. 
    • I'm not sure what exactly happened after that, but Jerry Don Elders, 39, was arrested around 2:00 p.m. in some woods in Gainesville. They think he is the shooter and was driving the car at the time of the initial stop in Burleson. 

    • I don't know about the other guy. The Star-Telegram says they "were still searching for him in Gainesville on Wednesday evening." NBC5, however, says he has been "located" but didn't imply that he was with Elder at all in Gainesville. 
    • The female who has with them has been "interviewed." 
  • A general manager from Allen Samuels Auto Group gave Baylor coach Scott Drew a Jeep at the victory parade two days ago and added he could use it to "recruit, pull some people out of the hood."  Video. Baylor gave the Jeep back and issued a statement

  • Man, there was a wild fight on Fox News last night between Dan Bongino and Geraldo Rivera. Two clips of it are here

  • The Texas Senate voted yesterday to have the government set the policy of what a private hotel can allow on its premises. 

  • I've written another Two Act Play.
    • Act I

    • Act II

  • Hey, Josh, remind me why they are there.

  • Never a question about this one.

  • For clarity, Trump actually raised the troop level to 14,000, but then struck a deal with the Taliban in February 2020 to remove all U.S. Troops. Biden is just honoring that agreement (but actually extending the deadline from May to September.) Still, let's get out there.
    Preach on!

  • Photo of how it all started in Afghanistan on October 5, 2001, below. I remember it was a Sunday and the announcement came shortly after noon. I was in the parking lot of the First Baptist Church of Bridgeport and remembered watching a lady cry as a group gathered around a car to listen to the radio broadcast. I wondered then if she was over-reacting. To this day, I'm still not sure.

  • Nerdy Legal Stuff: Government officials get sued all the time, but I'm curious about a case on the Wise County district court docket today filed against the D.A.'s office for the simple reason that, after much Googling, I discovered the Plaintiff's lawyer has argued before the U.S. Supreme Court before. (Local cause no. CV20-10-827.) I'll have to find out what it's about. 
  • Pete Rose turned 80 yesterday. That doesn't seem right. 


Random Wednesday Morning Thoughts

The next day . . . 

The shooting wasn't intentional but got a lot notoriety because it was captured on video on Christmas Eve. The conviction was affirmed the next year.    It is possible he has been released because TDC doesn't list him as an inmate. He would have become eligible for parole in 2017.

  • New this morning. I haven't heard an update. 

  • Near Love Field late yesterday:

  • That story doesn't say who the alleged victim was, but here's a flashback from May, 2020: 

  • The Baylor basketball team was honored at the Capitol in Austin yesterday, but there was an awkward moment in the Senate. As various Senators took turns sucking up to the team who stood at the front of the hall, Senator Larry Taylor out of Galveston decided he would briefly reflect on when coach Scott Drew first arrived at Baylor.  He told the crowd: "If you'll remember . . . those were pretty dreadful times in the history of Baylor. We actually had one player kill another player." (Video at 17:30 mark.)

    Cut to Scott Drew's reaction.
  • I caught a little bit of the noon press conference in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota, yesterday and it was a disaster. Because they had no scene control, city leaders just stood up there and took a beating from local activists who didn't ask questions but gave speeches. What a mess. (And take that dang cap off.) 

  • Brooklyn Center fired its police chief who said the death of Daunte Wright was due to an "accidental discharge" and replaced him with someone who is ill equipped for the job. "I don't have a plan. I'll work on a plan," new Chief Tony Gruening actually said, adding, "I was just informed less than a half-hour ago [that I'm the new Chief.] There's just a lot of chaos going on right now. We're just trying to wrap our heads around the situation . . . . ."

  • Local city councils are one step closer to losing control over the budget of its police departments.

  • We are also one step closer to open carry without a license in Texas. For the first time ever, it will get a vote on the House floor on Thursday. Meanwhile in Austin yesterday:

  • President Biden at Capitol officer Billy Evans memorial service yesterday. The return to normalcy continues. 

  • I mentioned the unsolved Missy Bevers case out of Midlothian a couple of months ago, and the Dallas Morning News has a story on it today. Have I ever mentioned she grew up in Jacksboro and graduated from high school there in 1988? (A faithful reader pointed that out to me.)

  • The Census Bureau said yesterday that it expects to release the new state population numbers in the next two weeks. I'm not sure why that excites me so much. 
  • Fun sports quick hit:

  • Messenger: Above the fold


Random Tuesday Morning Thoughts

This "going back 10 years" bit has pretty much convinced me I don't remember anything at all. I certainly don't remember this.  But $299 for a softball bat still shocks me today.    

  • Breaking: The FDC and CDC are recommending pausing the use of the Johnson & Johnson COVID vaccine after adverse reactions to it.  Somehow six cases "of a severe type of blood clot" out of more than 6.8 million doses administered is enough to recommend the pause.  
    • I find this pause to be shocking and irresponsible. My Bridgeport math puts the odds of the blood clot at . . . 

    • The narrative on Facebook by noon will be "All the vaccines will kill you! The CDC said that! Didn't you see it! I tried to tell ya the government rushed it!"
    • Somehow the same people who are fine with over a half million people dying of the disease will justify not getting the vaccine because 6 people developed blood clots.
  • Random thoughts on the shooting of Daunte Wright by Officer Kim Potter.

    • The Chief of Police said this: "As I watch the video and listen to the officer's commands, it is my belief that the officer had the intention to deploy their Taser, but instead shot Mr. Wright with a single bullet . . . ."
      • We all agree with this, right? The officer actually thought she had the Taser in her hand.  I mean, it might be bizarre to make that kind of mistake (especially as a 26 year veteran officer), but she did actually believe it, right? 

    •  The Chief continued: [T]his was an accidental discharge, that resulted in a tragic death of Mr. Wright."  
      • <Insert loud record scratch.> Say what? There was nothing "accidental" about the discharge of the weapon. It would be an accidental discharge if it went off when she didn't intend for it to go off. 
      • That was incredibly sloppy language for a prepared statement which he knew would be broadcast across the nation (and world.) 
    • Will they charge Officer Potter with murder? She shouldn't be.  She intended to tase him; she didn't intend to kill him. Murder should be off the table. 

    • What about criminal negligence (at least its Texas equivalent)? Ok, I can go with that. 
      • Criminal negligence in Texas means that she "ought to be aware of a substantial and unjustifiable risk that the circumstances exist [she is holding a gun instead of a taser] or the result [the death] will occur.  The risk must be of such a nature and degree that the failure to perceive it constitutes a gross deviation from the standard of care that an ordinary person would exercise under all the circumstances as viewed from the actor's standpoint." I think all the elements exist here. Honestly, it fits really, really well. 
      • Should she be incarcerated?  I'm not sure she belongs to put in a cage because of a mistake. I'm not sure anyone belongs there for a mistake -- even a horrible one. 
    • In an attempt to seek comparisons, this case, in my humble opinion, has worse facts that that of the Amber Guyger wrongful shooting case. 
      • I actually understood how Amber could end up on the wrong floor and think she was entering her own apartment. It certainly didn't seem like a "gross deviation" of what would happen to a normal person or that she "ought to be aware" of the circumstances or that a death would occur because of the mistake. 
      • How Amber was convicted of murder -- not even criminally negligent homicide -- is still mind-boggling to me. 
      • Sorry, I digressed. 
    • Back to Brooklyn Center, MN. Sure we hear the same old comments of "he would be alive" if he had "obeyed the police" or "didn't try to run." 

  • Spoiler alert: The microchip is not inserted when you get the vaccine. (This story was actually on 60 Minutes last Sunday.)

  • This headline is a shot at both Trump and Biden, but it's misleading. Can anyone think of anything different between the periods of October 2020 to March 2021 when compared to the period of October 2019 to March 2020? 

  • This is worth watching. You'll remember the Inside Edition interview because of how creepy Copeland acted.  But one thing which I find surprising in his recent explanation of that interview is that how he tells the congregation that it is "his jet" instead of saying it is "our jet" or the "the church's jet." Maybe I shouldn't feel that way. (I always say Wise County gets to claim Copeland because the church and airstrip is closer to Newark than it is to any other town or city.)

  • University of North Texas pitcher was so good she made The Washington Post. (She also struck out 21 in a game in February but somehow managed to give up five hits back then.)  

  • The fire in Big Bend reminds me how I need to make it to Big Bend. I've never been.