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

Random Friday Morning Thoughts

That was me recounting what had just happened in one of my misdemeanor jury trials.  There had been a giant ball of electrical smoke just blast straight up from my laptop keyboard while I was mid-sentence. It stopped me completely in my tracks. The prosecutor, Robert Carper, was withholding laughter as he grinned at me. And the now late Judge Cude was smiling at me from the bench with a "Whatcha gonna do now?" look since at that moment I had been using the laptop to project on the big TV screens -- screens which had now gone dark. Good times. 

  •  The Sheriff of Clay County, who I just mentioned for being part of Oath Keepers a couple of days ago, was arrested yesterday on a charge of Official Oppression. I'll admit this one is a little confusing to me because the charge is holding an inmate after 48 hours when there had been no finding of probable cause. 

    • The way it is supposed to work is that a person who has been arrested is supposed to be taken by "the person making the arrest or the person having custody of the person arrested [i.e. the Sheriff]" in front of a magistrate (normally a JP) for a determination of probable cause. If probable cause is found (and it is found in 99.99% of all cases), the magistrate then sets a bond. If the person has money, he posts a bond. If he is poor, he stays in jail. 
    • The indictment wording is interesting, It accuses him of holding someone after 48 hours "without a finding of probable cause." I didn't accuse him his only real job in the process which would be "failing to have the person arrested taken before a magistrate" to make a determination about  probable cause. Pure speculation on my part: I'm wondering if we have a situation of some Clay County deputy arrested two people on a wonky case, they were taken before the magistrate, the magistrate surprised everyone with a finding of no probable cause, and then the Sheriff got pissy and still didn't release them. Now that would get you indicted. 

    • The Sheriff actually posted a Facebook video here right after he got out of jail. Man, he's got a lot of Trump in him. After blaming the media, he said that he wanted the people of Clay County "to know exactly what's going on" and then didn't tell them a thing. But he did managed to admit that "there are truth to the thing" at the 40 second mark.  I'm sure his lawyer appreciates the admission. 
    • One weird thing that he said: "I normally set the misdemeanor bonds. I didn't do that in [my] case. We called Judge Campbell" (at 2:53) who then gave him a personal recognizance bond? Huh? What did it mean that he normally sets the misdemeanor bonds? A Sheriff doesn't have the authority to set bonds. Maybe that's the source of the problem here. 

  • An assistant DA in the Georgia Ahmaud Arbery trial got in big trouble yesterday for asking one of the the defense witnesses --just a neighbor who was just testifying about thefts in general -- if he thought those who was stole "deserved the death penalty" for it.   All the defense lawyers went nuts and the judge agreed. Honestly, I don't think that question is out of line. She's just asking, "If you thought Arbery was stealing, do you think he needed to be executed by these guys over my shoulder because of it?" On second thought, maybe that did go too far. 

  • MSNBC got banned by the judge from the courthouse in the Rittenhouse trial after one of their freelancers allegedly followed the jury out of the courthouse and tried to take their picture.  Here's a hot opinion: I think there's a huge First Amendment question about the right to do that outside of the courthouse. I'm not saying it's a good thing, I'm saying it's a huge constitutional question. 

  • The Fort Worth Court of Appeals ruled yesterday that it can't stop a hospital from preventing a doctor from injecting a patient with a horse drug. Opinion here. (We live in strange days.)

  • Legal nerdy stuff: If you are confused by these headlines, you should be. The court had already affirmed they conviction in August, and Amber Guyger didn't even ask for a rehearing.  What happened was the State actually requested a rehearing (which was very weird because the won, but they wanted the law clarified), but on Wednesday the Court denied the State's request for a rehearing but then hauled off and withdrew their prior opinion and issued a new opinion which still affirmed the conviction. Got all that? 

  • You would think they would at least wait until the Christmas season rush was over.

  • Kickoff time at Duke last night.

  • I wonder if we know of any law enforcement officials who need to talk to her?

  • 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: 868 days.
  • Messenger: Above the Fold


Random Thursday Morning Thoughts

   I'd still like to see that. 

  • Forty-one months in the hoosegow. He earned every day of it. 

  • One of the defendants in the Ahmaud Arbery trial in Georgia took the stand in his own defense yesterday.  (Cross-exam is live on YouTube right now  - the prosecutor is terrible.)  I've been an advocate of defendants testifying for years and, with Rittenhouse doing the same thing, I feel like defense lawyers are finally coming around. 

  • This will be Day Three of the Rittenhouse jury deliberations. If anyone tries to tell you what that means, they don't.  In the meantime, the judge is taking a page out of someone else's playbook as he blamed the media for televising how wheels off he can be. 

  • Judge Mollee Westfall has entered the race for District Attorney in Tarrant County. I suspect there will be more popular Republican candidates who will do the same. 
  • Sheesh: Trump's lawyer has sent a letter to the organization who awards Pulitzer Prizes threatening to sue it for awarding the prize in 2018 to The New York Times and The Washington Post.  But it starts off with the lawyer misspelling "spoliation."  No man has ever had so many attorneys which are human train wrecks. 

  • Rep. Paul Gosar was censored yesterday by the House for his video showing the murder of AOC and the slashing of President Biden. Less than 10 years ago that vote would have been 434-1.

  • The Texas Tech radio crew has been suspended by the Big 12 because of the crew's criticism of officials in last week's game against Iowa State. A collection of the audio can be found here.  When they started naming the officiating crew in a fit of McCarthyism is probably what put the Big 12 over the edge. 

  • Greg Abbott's campaign (or at least some PAC) has put up "morphing" billboards.  Let me tell you, as far as political advertising goes, that's pretty clever and eye-catching. 

  • A pretty dramatic fire in North Fort Worth on Monday evening was caught on video.  And I've noticed that a GoFundMe was organized by a family member who lives in Decatur. 

  • Every now and then I see yet another photo from the Trump Insurrection which stops me down. That's the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History & Culture in the background. 

  • That reminds me that I almost forgot to mention Southlake ISD. Let's check in on it . . . 
    • The feds are now after them:

    • I hope they take the time to notice that the feds are after them:

  • Random things I didn't know.

  • There's a new longform story from the great Skip Hollandsworth in this month's Texas Monthly.

  • And another. The police didn't have a direct DNA match in any criminal database so they enlisted the help of a "genealogist" to at least get them in the area of the extended family of the DNA owner. It worked. This was not happening as little as five years ago. 

  • NFL fun fact: On this day in 1984, neither team in the Seahawks/Bengals game threw a pass in the first quarter -- the very last time that any quarter has gone by without at least one pass being thrown in the NFL.  (They combined for 26 running plays.)


Random Wednesday Morning Thoughts

Still not a bad question.    

  • The judge let Kyle Rittenhouse randomly pick the 12 out of 16 jurors to decide his fate.  Odd? Not according to this judge who claims he's been letting defendants do it for 20 years. However, it looks like most judges in Wisconsin have their court clerk do the drawing.

    • That being said, the way Wisconsin handles alternative jurors is good. In Texas, you will see cases where two or four jurors are qualified as alternative jurors who have to hang around and listen to the evidence. But they know they are alternates and that if the trial gets all the way to the deliberations stage with the first 12 jurors selected still being intact, they'll be sent home.  So knowing they are alternates right from the start might cause them to not pay attention quite as much despite the fact they might be needed.  In Wisconsin, all the jurors have no idea who the alternatives will be until the 12 of 16 drawing takes place at the end of the evidence. 
  • Protestors outside of the courthouse in Wisconsin yesterday:
    "Their love was as forbidden as some books in a library in the South."

  • When you can tell a reporter hasn't attended a typical criminal court docket before:

  • That's a heck of a picture from Lewisville yesterday for there to be no serious injuries

  • If you think that Laura Ingraham "who's-on-first" type of video wasn't preplanned and staged, you are a gullible person. Those two have been doing bits like that for years. Example.

  • Well, that was quick. And oil is at $80.23 this morning.  

  • Nothing to see here: Just the judge and the prosecutors hanging out together and watching a jury deliberate on live video (without sound.)  But now there's a problem. There still has to be a punishment phase because the jury found the defendant guilty on one of the charges. (Ironically, the DA was watching the jurors deciding to find the defendant not guilty on the most serious charges of murder and aggravated assault.)  The judge has now recused himself. 

    • But the DA needs to recuse his office as well.  Just by watching the deliberations, they've learned valuable information that they should not know.  For instance, you could determine from the video who was the leader(s) of the jury panel -- those who are most animated and doing all the talking. So you go back and look at their juror information (and even their social media) and then tailor your punishment phase presentation for him or her. 
  • This feels a lot like right before the Dot Com Bubble burst around 2000. This is a 20 year deal for $700 million

  • Some guy in Fort Worth named John Sellers threw a 40th birthday party for himself. That's normally not newsworthy, but this guy rented the Fort Worth Zoo and hired Pearl Jam to play a private concert for the shindig.  

    • He and his buddy sold their energy company for  $6.4 billion earlier this year. But, wait, there's more. In 2017 they "sold their previous iteration of their company to Parsley Energy, for $2.8 billion, half cash, half stock." Good lord.
    • So is he a "self made man"? I don't know. But this sentence about how he got started from his self-written profile got my attention.  "Cody Campbell was still playing football [while in college], but the two of us built a real-estate development company with one other partner. We raised money through friends and family. We built a subdivision in Lubbock, some hotels, apartment complexes, senior housing."
  • Rolling Stone profiles a couple of Texas Sheriffs. One is from Clay County. (In a related story, Politico had a feature late last year about how Oath Keeper disciples were infiltrating Hood County law enforcement.) 

  • Former SMU coach Bobby Collins has died. He was fired in 1987 and never coached again. In fact, it's almost next to impossible to find out what he has been doing for the last 30+ years. (If you ever get a chance to watch Pony Excess from ESPN's 30 for 30 collection, do it.)

  • Those headlines will get your attention. 

  • A funny comment I read about this new Netflix show is that "Eight strangers are living together in Austin because that's the only way they can afford to live there." 

  • This picture of a lynching in downtown Dallas goes with the "This is a huge Step" headline on the cover of the Dallas Morning News, below. It was actually a postcard!

  • Messenger: Above the Fold


Random Tuesday Morning Thoughts

In November 2011, it had been one month since the wrongfully-convicted Michael Morton had been released from prison after 25 years, and we were finally beginning to find out about how a corrupt prosecutor's office can destroy lives.  One year later, Texas Monthly revealed all the jaw-dropping details in a two part series by Pamela Colloff which I've been begging you to read ever since. Former DA Ken Anderson would later become the only prosecutor ever jailed for spearheading a wrongful conviction and hiding evidence. He would serve nine days.

  • There was a double murder "of a man and a teenage boy" right in the middle of yesterday afternoon at a park at 820 and 377 in Haltom City.  It happened on a basketball court. And that's about all we know

  • If I'm arrested, I want to be as excited as Steve Bannon being arrested. He loves this.  

  • The jury in the Kyle Rittenhouse case is deliberating, but the preparation of the jury charge in the case, and its reading to the jury, made my head explode yesterday.
    • It is 36 pages long. It might as well be 1,000 because now the jury won't care about it. They are just going to do what they think is right. 
    • Before every instruction on self-defense, the charge began the paragraph with "Self defense is an issue in this case."  Good lord! I know what they are trying to say ("There has been some evidence admitted regarding self-defense and you need to judge its credibility and give it the weight you choose") but it reads like the judge is saying, "That self defense evidence you heard sounds pretty good to me! It's a real issue!"
    • In a bizarre moment, the judge stopped the reading of the charge mid-sentence, and then sent the jury out so he could talk to the lawyers about the wording. You guys had all weekend to work this out. And once it was finalized, there should be no more questions. 
    • As to the time given the lawyers for closing argument, the judge gave them two hours but said, "I really don't enforce it."  I've never hard that before. (Also, you ain't getting two hours in Texas. You probably aren't getting one hour.) 
    • The judge telling one of the attorneys that he wasn't timing the closing argument so he could have "gotten away with murder" might have been a poor choice of words to be uttered in a murder trial. Video.
  • Meanwhile, in Georgia in the Ahmaud Arbery trial, they showed the critical video stabilized and at half-speed. I'm not sure it is much better than the original video. (And I can't believe I'm saying this, but that could be a self-defense acquittal as well.)

  • The Tarrant County District Clerk is running for re-election again. He needs to be booted out because . . .  

    • . . . his office policy of never closing, even when an "historic winter storm" (his words) is coming, probably led to the death of one of his employees in that horrible I-35 pileup in February. 

  • Southlake Carroll is trying to avoid another "present both sides" of the Holocaust incident. 

  • It was big news yesterday that a Connecticut judge found crazy-man Alex Jones liable in a lawsuit brought by Sandy Hook victims as a sanction for discovery abuse.   I thought that sounded familiar and it was: The same thing happened in Texas by a judge in Austin just a month and a half ago.

  • America's most watched news channel:

  • WFAA had a feature on the crazy number of Brazilian bull riders in Decatur.

  • Virginia Tech got added to this list at 6:45 a.m. this morning. 

  • The lede reads, "The Denton Public Library on Monday canceled a children’s story time . . .  citing safety concerns for library patrons and staff. The library said it had received complaints from people who mistakenly believed the event included books about transgender children."  From it's website, I can kind of see where people got that impression.

  • Did they ever catch the Grand Prairie cobra?