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Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Stay of Execution Granted to look at DNA

Monday, November 7th, 2011

The law regarding retesting of DNA evidence changed while a Texas man was on Death Row. The new set of rules had never been applied to his case. Stay of execution granted. It will be interesting to see how long the stay is in place. The Houston Chronicle reports on the case here.

Texas Driver Responsibility Program Revisited

Tuesday, April 19th, 2011

At least 1.9 million Texans have lost their drivers licenses due to not paying surcharges under the Driver Responsibility Program. Recently the Texas House passed legislation (HB 588) allowing the Department of Public Safety to encourage drivers to pay off their surcharge obligations up front instead of over a three-year period. Read about the incentive program here.  As we all know, just because the House passes it, doesn’t mean the Governor will sign off on the legislation.

If this legislation is implemented, drivers will be able to pay a percentage of the three years worth of surcharges in a one-time sum. These rules were originally drafted when the Amnesty and Indigence programs was approved to help people save money on paying tickets, but were not immediately put into effect.

The Driver Responsibility Program was established to assess surcharges based on certain traffic offenses that occurred on or after September 1, 2003. These surcharges (administrative fees) charged to a driver are either point system or conviction based and are in addition to all other reinstatement fees. Point system surcharges are based on moving traffic violation convictions, while conviction-based surcharges include Driving While Intoxicated (DWI), DWI- Subsequent Offense, DWI w/blood alcohol concentration of 0.16 or more (Texas or out-of state conviction), No Insurance, Driving While License Invalid or No Driver License. Read further details here.

HB 588 is now on its way to the Senate.

If have questions you should contact and experienced Texas Traffic Attorney.

The Accountability Factor

Tuesday, April 12th, 2011

Justice Clarence Thomas on Civil Rights and the Right to Sue Government Officials:

An innocent man wrongfully imprisoned and slated for execution is almost not news in this country. Mismanaged blood samples, paid informants and egregious mistakes are common factors that have led to years wasted behind bars, innocence lost.

In 1985, John Thompson was convicted of murder in Louisiana.He spent 18 years in prison, and just before his scheduled execution in 1999, a private investigator discovered that prosecutors had failed to turn over important evidence. Read the whole story here.

In 1963, in Brady v. Maryland, the Supreme Court held that prosecutors must turn over to the defense any evidence that would tend to prove a defendant’s innocence. Thompson sued the former Louisiana district attorney for Orleans Parish, Harry Connick Sr. for failing to train his prosecutors about this legal obligation. (Connick claimed that he misunderstood Brady and was unsure if his prosecutors had adequate Brady training.) Thompson was awarded $14 million (plus $1 million for court fees) for the civil rights violation.

But here’s where it gets interesting. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas recently threw out the verdict, claiming that the district attorney can’t be responsible for the single act of a solo prosecutor. Read his first majority opinion here.

Thomas’s opinion not only ignores a man’s near-death because of prosecutorial concealment, it removes district attorneys’ accountability for their subordinates leaving no one responsible for civil rights violations.

Is Jail on Your List of Spring Break Destinations?

Sunday, March 13th, 2011

Spring Break. Those two words conjure up different images, depending on your age. If your definition of the term translates into massive drinking, wild abandon and reckless behavior, take a minute to glimpse your future. I’m not saying that you should miss out on all the fun, but if you drink and drive in Texas, the consequences will last long after that lingering headache subsides and your final vacation moment sits in framed photograph.

Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) will be in full force during Spring Break, March 12-20, 2011. They’ll be increase patrolling especially during hours when drunk driving incidents occur. Get the details here.

While sleeping on hard floors, consuming bad food, and bunking with questionable roommates could occur on both a Spring Break trip and a jail visit, the latter doesn’t usually rank high on Spring Breakers fun places to visit. If you’re charged with drunk driving, some souvenirs for obtaining a 0.8 blood alcohol level (BAC) and your first DWI conviction include a Class B misdemeanor on your record, fines up to $2,000, a $1,000 surcharge for three years to keep your license, up to six months in jail, a possible suspended driver’s license for one year, education classes, at least 24 hours of community service and higher insurance premiums.

So, if your Spring Break plans include a little debauchery, plan ahead with a designated driver. Your foresight will save you time, energy and money. And make for much better memories.

Revenge Scheme Reaches Supreme Court

Monday, February 28th, 2011

Betrayal, infidelity, threats, revenge and intrigue are themes that catch our attention. It’s makes for bad television plots and light summer reading. But, toss in the question: Can citizens challenge the 10th Amendment which limits federal power? NOW, you’ve got lawyers paying attention.

This particular case involves a Philadelphia woman, Carol A. Bond, who attempted to poison her best friend, Myrlinda Haynes, after learning her husband had impregnated Haynes. Bond used her microbiologist credentials to obtain a highly toxic powdery substance (10-chloro-10H-phenoxarsine) and covered Haynes’s mailbox, car door handles and car muffler two dozen times. Get the details here.

Bond was indicted for stealing mail, and for violating the Chemical Weapons Convention of 1993, a treaty usually aimed at terrorists. What would have been a six months jail sentence from the Montgomery County Court, became a six year prison sentence (with a sentencing enhancement since Bond was a trained scientist) when she pleaded guilty in a federal court.

Bond’s attorney, Robert Goldman, says this case should be handled on the state level. A panel of federal appeals court judges unanimously agreed, but said that only states, not individuals, have the ability to make challenges under the auspices of the 10th amendment.

Population Growth in Texas Counties

Friday, February 18th, 2011

The Houston Chronicle has an interesting graphic related to population growth in Texas. Bexar County now tops 1.7 million people. Both Comal and Guadalupe Counties are well over 100,000 residents. Schertz and Cibolo account for a large part of the growth since 2000.

http://www.chron.com/databases/Census2010Texas.html

Bexar County – No Refusal Weekends

Thursday, December 30th, 2010

Come on vacation, leave on probation, goes the old joke. Bexar County District Attorney has announced that all weekends will be “no refusal” weekends. Blood will be drawn from DWI suspects who refuse to submit to the county’s breath test program.

So goes the story.

The factor often left out of the story:  Judges will be required to find probable cause before the warrants should issue.  Hopefully, those duties won’t be abdicated. Further, let’s hope that the media follows up to see:  (1) what happens to these cases when they go to court? (2)  when will officers NOT ask for a blood draw?  One can imagine a case where the officer might not want his “papers graded” by a machine.  (3) In that vein, will arrest numbers go down?

What’s Another Day in Jail When You’ve Been Wrongfully Incarcerated for Almost Three Decades?

Friday, July 30th, 2010

A Houston man was set to be released after serving 27 years for a rape he did not commit. Apparently, he became too emotional about the situation and the court decided to keep him another day. Uh. What? He apparently became angry when bailiffs put him leg-irons and handcuffs for his day in court; a day that everyone knew was supposed to be his release date. One observer called his continued incarceration a “mystery.” Long-time observers of Texas courtrooms might not find it mysterious, at all.

The story can be read here.

Lance Armstrong Records Subpoenaed by Feds

Wednesday, July 28th, 2010

Federal prosecutors have subpoenaed records from a lawsuit filed by Texas company pertaining to allegations of the use of performance enhancing drugs.  The story appears in today’s Austin American-Statesman here. The investigation by federal authorities is located in Los Angeles, but records are being sought from around the country.

Attorney-Client Privilege Exists, even for Wayward Hollywood Starlets

Tuesday, July 13th, 2010

In a blatant violation of attorney-client privilege, a lawyer consulted by Lindsey Lohan aired some of her dirty laundry in People Magazine.  To be clear, ANY communication with an attorney that you MAY hire is confidential and privileged.  The lawyer cannot divulge the substance of the communication without consent from the prospective client.  The lawyer cannot divulge information learned during the course of the representation or consultation, without regard to whether the information is “public knowledge.”