Random Friday Morning Thoughts

 It opened the next year with the hiring of 3,000. And in 2016, it expanded with a second center next door that added 1,000 more positions.

  • Delkus warned us last night about this. I'm not sure it happened, but the roads are much worse than I expected. 

  • Our ice storm was very weird. But Austin got a brief rain storm that hit at the worst possible time to create ice. These types of photos were everywhere. That's kind of what I expected to happen here.

    • And Fox 4 has been showing the footage of this worker down there on a loop. It's driving me crazy that he's not wearing gloves as he chainsaws limbs and removes them.

  • China launched a spy balloon over us? Anyone else think this is an extremely little low-tech way to spy?

  • Yesterday, the Republican majority booted Rep. Ilhan Omar off of the Foreign Affairs Committee because either (1) she made anti-American statements, or (2) she's a Muslim and the vote was the result of the deal that Kevin McCarthy made with the right-wing crazies in order to become Speaker. Anyway, there were some notable sideshows:
    • Serial liar George Santos thinks AOC was being inauthentic in her passionate support of Rep. Omar.

    • American flag lapel pins somehow got replaced with AR-15 pens.

    • Kevin McCarthy, speaking to the press after the vote, fielded a question and gave an answer that the the MAGA Insurrectionists won't like.
  • This seems to be a under-the-radar development which seems significant.
  • The 5th Circuit yesterday struck down a federal law that prevents a person from possessing firearms if the are subject to a protective order issued because of a domestic violence allegation. More and more cases are jumping on a Supreme Court case from last term and striking down any gun regulation laws.  Opinion here. The Attorney General immediately issued a statement promising an appeal.
    • Legal nerdy background: If someone gets accused of domestic violence in Texas, they can apply to the local DA or CA to apply to a judge for a protective order. The order can be issued immediately based upon only an affidavit. After that, the person subject to the order is entitled to hearing before it can remain in effect. After the hearing, the order can stay in place for up to two years.  Notice that (1) this order is not permanent. and (2) it is a civil proceeding and not a criminal one. And it is certainly not a permanent criminal conviction. 
    • One thing which is sometimes done, is that a person agrees to the Order. That's what the defendant had done in that case in Tarrant County. The he got hit with a federal crime by possessing a gun while the protective order was still valid.
    • Extremely legal nerdy point: There's a way to agree to the protective order but still have the court not make the normally required finding that family violence had occurred or will occur. See Family Code §85.005. I don't think that such an agreed order would trigger the federal firearms prohibition -- although that is a moot point if the 5th Circuit decision stands.
  • In Ohio,  "aggravated menacing" apparently means pointing a gun at someone. Honestly, I don't know how the former OU star ever survived the shocking video of him slugging the girl in a bar in Norman while he was in college.

  • Kind of weird. Theater students at the University of Houston were rehearsing a "violent scene" outdoors when an officer saw them and mistakenly drew down on them. So then the Administration decided that the theater students should wear neon vests so they won't be accidentally shot.  
  • Legal nerdy stuff: The defense lawyer defending South Carolina Alex Murdaugh made a mistake all criminal defense lawyers fear when he either "opened the door" to what would have been inadmissible financial crimes and/or failed to properly object to it. Stay with me here.
    • He asked a state's witness, who otherwise didn't add all that much,  “Can you think of any circumstance that you can envision, knowing them as you do, where Alex would brutally murder Paul and Maggie?” He answered, "No."
    • The defense lawyer was probably feeling pretty good at that point. However, on re-direct, the prosecutor asked the witness, “Did you know anything about him being confronted on the morning of June 7, 2021, about $792,000 of missing fees from his law firm?” 
    • Hey, that's normally a question that is off limits. If he stole money from his law firm, that's an inadmissible extraneous crime in a murder case. But if the confrontation about the theft was a "circumstance . . . where" the murder could be "envisioned", it's fair game because of the defense lawyer's prior question. That's called "opening the door" to normally inadmissible evidence. 
    • I'm don't 100% follow how the confrontation was a "circumstance" that would lead to murder which necessarily "opened the door", but it doesn't really matter now because . . . 
    • The defense lawyer then screwed up again. He objected, but the objection was that the prosecutor's question was "totally inappropriate." That may be true, but that's not the right objection. He needed to say something about Rule 404 which makes such extraneous evidence inadmissible.  If you don't make the right objection, you waive any error.  That's what the judge tells him the next day outside the presence of the jury. Side note: The judge didn't need to say so much.
    • And then, to add insult to injury, the defense attorney gets wronged by the press! Look how this headline is misleading. It makes it sound like the defense lawyer, himself, acted inappropriately. And "scold" is an unfair word.

  • Being able to watch that trial live and then instantly read articles about evidence and procedure was unheard of when I was in law school. It would be invaluable today (if you had the time to watch it -- which I didn't.) But speaking of law school, I had a wild flashback last night when someone posted the following. That's the bathroom of the old Baylor law school. It looks exactly the same today. 
  • Breaking Big 12 News. OU and UT are stuck for two more years:

  • You guessed it: "Then in 2022, officials said they partnered with the DNA company Othram to look into the woman’s family history and shared their findings with the FBI for 'genealogical research.”'
  • Time which has passed since the Wise County Sheriff's Office, despite having a full male DNA profile, has failed to solve the murder of Lauren Whitener in her home at Lake Bridgeport: 3 years, 213 days.
  • Messenger: Above the Fold. (They were delayed yesterday due to the weather.)