Random Tuesday Morning Thoughts

This was awful. County Judge Bill McElhaney collapsed during a commissioner's court meeting in the courthouse and passed away. 

  • A hearing was held yesterday in the Tanner Horner Capital Murder case to comply with a higher court's order directing the judge to "ask" him if he wanted the Regional Public Defender's Office, who had been recently appointed, to continue to represent him. (Background here.)

    • I wasn't sure what to expect, but it went off about as smoothly as possible. The judge simply asked him in open court, as Horner sat at counsel table, if he wanted the RPDO to continue their representation, and he said that he did. 
    • I was expecting him to give some type of weird or ambiguous answer, or refuse to answer at all, but that didn't happen. He was cooperative and kept his answers short. 
    • Before the judge spoke to him, he asked the RPDO lawyers if they had any objection to Tanner being sworn in, and they said they didn't. The judge then did so. I also kind of expected that process to go sideways, but it didn't. 
    • So now the case goes back to the Court of Criminal Appeals to determine whether it was OK for the judge to remove the original court appointed lawyer, Bill Ray, and appoint the RPDO in his place. (The change was made because it was discovered that Wise County had a contract with RPDO for any death penalty cases.)
    • Prediction: The court either (1) approves the change, or (2) they will do a 180 and dodge the whole thing by saying they don't have pre-trial jurisdiction to decide the issue at all at this point. 
    • But if the DA's whole purpose was to prevent the case from being reversed after a conviction by getting a pre-trial ruling now on the propriety of the lawyer change, he did manage to receive a massive victory: He got the Defendant to go under oath and say he approved the change. Before yesterday, the only thing that we had was an "unsworn declaration" filed by the defendant that he approved. 
    • The most revealing thing about the hearing: We got to hear the defendant's voice.  It is much, much higher than you would expect. 
    • One odd thing: Aside from the Capital Murder indictment there is also an indictment for Aggravated Kidnapping. It just serves as a back-up case is case something goes horribly wrong with the Capital Murder case.  The judge had originally taken Bill Ray off of that case as well and appointed the RPDO, but the RPDO had said they don't have authority to represent people other than cases for Capital Murder. So yesterday, as the higher court requested, the judge asked the Defendant if he wanted Bill Ray to remain on the Aggravated Kidnapping case. He somewhat surprisingly said "no."  I don't know what's going on there. Pam Fernandez out of Fort Worth was then appointed on that case -- she'll have a surprise in her inbox. 
    • Here's the lead attorney for the RPDO by the way:

  • Israel/Gaza:
    • Say what?

    • President Biden is going to Israel.  He will arrive tomorrow. 

  • Hey, I'm a fan of the Messenger, but they've got an irritating habit of including the tag line of "Avoid the Area" after announcing any breaking news  For example, I don't think you have to tell us not to go to residential street in Paradise at 10:00 a.m. on a Monday morning.

  • Former Bridgeport resident Elaine [Taylor] Hays officially announces her run for the Texas House seat which includes Wise County and part of Denton. (I think she lives in Runaway Bay now. She was in Amarillo for a long time up until recently.)
  • The vote on Jim Jordan as Speaker is at 11:00 CST. He will need 217 of 221 Republican votes. I can't believe this might even be close. 

  • Santa Claus has died.

  • This does not make sense. 

  • So McCarthy doesn't trust Dak enough to not accidentally take off the complete 8 seconds right before the half to take one shot? Even with a timeout left in case something goes wrong? Just tell him to get rid of it immediately and throw it into either the end zone or the fifth row.