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Posts under ‘Crime and Punishment’

Harris County DA drops charges against video fraudsters

Disappointing, to say the least. Criminal charges against the anti-abortion activists behind undercover recordings of a Houston Planned Parenthood facility were dismissed Tuesday. David Daleiden and Sandra Merritt, the videographers who infiltrated Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast, had been charged with tampering with a governmental record, a second-degree felony charge that carries up to 20 years […]

Falkenberg talks to DA Anderson about jailed rape victim

Worth reading, as you would expect. I’m going to quote from the conclusion: [Assistant DA Nick] Socias appeared to have diligently tried to help, but he seemed to be trying alone. Anderson’s office said she wasn’t informed about the situation until near the end of trial. She should have been involved from the start. The […]

Looking again for a new justice complex

Got to do something about this sooner or later. Mayor Sylvester Turner has formed a committee to study how to acquire a new police headquarters and courts complex for Houston. Former mayor Annise Parker spent more than two years studying how to replace the city’s aging “justice complex” but ultimately abandoned it without having found […]

Roadside drug tests

Maybe this isn’t such a good idea. A Houston police officer pulled Barry Demings over as he headed to work in Beaumont and plucked a spot of white powder off the floorboard of Demings’ year-old Ford Explorer. Demings had just detailed the SUV – and wondered later if a speck of soap upended his life. […]

Why would you even think to put a rape victim in jail?

I am outraged. The 25-year-old rape victim, frightened and long-suffering from mental illness, agreed in December to testify against the Houston man who brutally assaulted her in 2013. She hoped to put him behind bars for life. But that decision landed her in the Harris County jail for more than a month over the Christmas […]

Abbott pushes for hate crime status for targeted killing of police officers

It will be interesting to see how this plays out. Gov. Greg Abbott wants the targeted killing of a police officer to be deemed a hate crime in Texas and urged lawmakers to send him such a bill to sign during next year’s legislative session. Abbott announced Monday his plan to lobby for adding his […]

We’re outsourcing inmates again

We never learn. Harris County, in the latest move to keep its swelling jail population in check, is pursuing an agreement with neighboring Fort Bend County to send inmates to the suburb’s jail. A Harris County Sheriff’s Office spokesman called the measure precautionary. If it is approved by commissioners at their meeting Tuesday, it’s not […]

America’s deadliest prosecutors

Fascinating. In anticipation of the 40th anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark death penalty decision, Gregg v. Georgia, today the Fair Punishment Project released a new report called America’s Top Five Deadliest Prosecutors: How Overzealous Personalities Drive the Death Penalty. The report identified America’s five deadliest head prosecutors out of the thousands that have held that office across the […]

Sandra Bland, one year later

The timing of this is tragically appropriate. With confident, and sometimes vulnerable, lyrics, a group of poets and singers Sunday afternoon commemorated the life of [Sandra] Bland, who had been found dead in her Waller County Jail cell three days after her arrest. Authorities ruled the 28-year-old’s death a suicide. More than 75 people assembled […]

Dallas

I don’t have anything insightful to say about the horrible events of the past few days – the police officers in Dallas, Alton Sterling, Philando Castile, and so many others before them. I started talking to my 12-year-old Olivia about Philando Castile on Thursday, and I told her I don’t have much faith that people […]

With friends like these

Who needs to worry about legal bills? Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, facing federal and state securities fraud charges, is getting more than a little help from his friends to foot his growing legal bill. The Republican accepted more than $329,000 earmarked for his legal defense from donors and “family friends,” according to a newly […]

District appeals court declines to reconsider Paxton indictment

Sorry, Kenny. A state appeals court Thursday rejected Attorney General Ken Paxton’s motion to reconsider its June 1 ruling that upheld criminal charges against him. The two-sentence order from the Dallas-based 5th Court of Appeals gave no reason for the ruling. […] Paxton will have 30 days to decide whether to take his appeal to […]

Montgomery County Judge suspended for road bond allegations

This just keeps getting better. A state commission has suspended Montgomery County Judge Craig Doyal without pay after a grand jury charged him with violating Texas’ open meetings law while developing a bond package for new and improved roads. The move by the State Commission on Judicial Review came four days after the indictments of […]

Montgomery County officials indicted over road bond shenanigans

I know I’m a bad person, but this continues to amuse me greatly. A grand jury has indicted Montgomery County Judge Craig Doyal and two commissioners, charging them with violating Texas’ open meetings law last year while developing a bond package for new and improved roads. Traffic-weary voters in the rapidly growing county approved the […]

Paxton asks appeals court to reconsider

Pretty please? Lawyers for Attorney General Ken Paxton on Wednesday asked a state appeals court to reconsider its recent ruling that upheld the criminal charges against him. The motion did not address the two most serious charges alleging that Paxton committed fraud when he solicited investors in Servergy Inc. without disclosing that he was being […]

Misdemeanor charge dropped against video fraudster Daleiden

Just the misdemeanor charge, not the felony. A Harris County judge has dropped one of the criminal charges against an anti-abortion activist who was indicted after making undercover recordings of a Houston Planned Parenthood facility. David Daleiden, one of the videographers who infiltrated Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast, had been charged with the very crime he […]

Paxton moves to dismiss SEC charges against him

We’ll see if he has any more luck with this than he has had with the state charges. Lawyers for Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton have asked a federal court to dismiss the federal securities fraud charges against him. […] Paxton’s lawyers in the federal case filed a motion Thursday seeking to dismiss the charges, […]

Darlie Routier, 20 years later

Here’s an update on one of the more notorious murder cases in recent history. If it hadn’t been for that crazy Silly String, Darlie Lynn Routier might be a free woman today. At least, that’s what many people believe about the notorious Rowlett woman now on death row after savagely stabbing her 5- and 6-year-old […]

Sonia Cacy

A long-time-coming story of actual innocence. A judge has ruled that Sonia Cacy, a West Texas woman convicted of setting her uncle on fire, is innocent of murder, basing his decision on new analysis of evidence presented at her 1993 trial. “The cumulation of evidence supports Applicant’s claim of actual innocence,” visiting state District Judge […]

5th Court of Appeals refuses to toss Paxton indictments

Sorry, Kenny. A Dallas appeals court on Wednesday upheld Attorney General Ken Paxton’s three felony fraud indictments, a decision he is likely to appeal to the highest criminal court in the state. “We are gratified but not surprised that just three weeks after oral argument, the en banc court of appeals unanimously concluded that Mr. […]

Ellis v. Radack

From the inbox: On Tuesday, Commissioner Steve Radack said during a public session of the Harris County Commissioner’s Court that Senator Rodney Ellis should “shut up” about criminal justice reform. Click here and scroll to the 30 second mark of the Executive Session. Today, Senator Ellis offers the following response: “In an outburst more in […]

Lawsuit filed over Harris County bail practices

This could be a big deal. An advocacy group based in Washington, D.C., challenged Harris County’s bail system on Thursday, arguing in a federal civil rights lawsuit that hundreds of offenders are unlawfully jailed for minor offenses like trespassing and shoplifting simply because they are poor and cannot afford even nominal bail payments. Lawyers for […]

Locke calls for jail administrator

Some strong words from Precinct 1 Commissioner Gene Locke. Harris County Commissioner Gene L. Locke on Tuesday demanded that a certified jail administrator be hired after learning that four Harris County inmates have died after being assaulted by other inmates or suffered blunt force trauma while jailed over the last year. The latest of the […]

Harris County crime lab experiencing DNA testing backlog

These things do happen. Expanded testing for property crimes has helped create a backlog of more than 4,600 DNA cases in the Harris County crime lab, straining its ability to complete the processing of such evidence for sexual assaults and even homicide cases in a timely manner. Officials with the Harris County Institute of Forensic […]

Paxton’s day in appellate court

The grand jury was out to get Ken Paxton, apparently. Lawyers for Attorney General Ken Paxton on Thursday tried to cast doubt on the makeup of the grand jury that indicted him. They’re hoping to overturn a lower court’s decision not to dismiss the securities fraud charges against him. Much of the discussion at the […]

Video fraudsters to go to trial

All righty then. David Robert Daleiden, 27, and his colleague, Sandra Susan Merritt, 63, both of California, have rejected a plea deal that would have effectively put an end to the criminal charges against them, their lawyers confirmed Friday. “I don’t advise my clients to accept responsibility for cases that they haven’t done anything wrong […]

Harris County takes a step towards jail reform

Good. Harris County commissioners voted Tuesday to back a sweeping plan to reform the criminal justice system, a week after the Harris County Jail began shipping inmates to other counties to avoid reaching capacity. Commissioners voted to accept a $2 million grant from the MacArthur Foundation and to allocate more than $3.3 million from general-fund […]

Council approves body camera storage funds

Good. City Council voted Wednesday to spend $1 million to buy servers and other equipment to store video collected by city police officers equipped with body cameras. The vote, passed with relatively little fuss following months of sometimes-contentious public debate, marks the next step in the Houston Police Department’s ongoing effort to equip more than […]

It’s a conspiracy!

Oh, noes! Planned Parenthood is in cahoots with the Harris County DA! Run for your lives! The anti-abortion activist accused of falsifying records to secretly videotape Planned Parenthood officials in Houston is accusing the Harris County district attorney’s office of illegally colluding with the nonprofit. The allegations were raised in court documents filed Thursday seeking […]

HPD rolls out its body cameras

The first wave has been deployed. The Houston Police Department handed out Thursday the first wave of 4,100 body cameras being distributed to all first-line officers over the next 12 to 18 months, initiating a new policy that will require officers to wear the cameras for all law-enforcement related activities. About 200 officers – those […]

More on Paxton’s SEC troubles

The short answer is, he’s gonna lose. Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton may have some history on his side, but as of this week the numbers appear to be against him. Paxton, who is trying to become the latest in a long line of Texas officials to beat prominent allegations, unwittingly entered treacherous waters Monday […]

Bland committee makes its recommendations for Waller County jail

Good to see. Waller County needs a new jail, local officers need body cameras to record their activities and the sheriff’s office needs to promote civility, a study committee formed after the death of Sandra Bland said Tuesday. The county came under national scrutiny in July when Bland was found hanged in her jail cell […]

Criminal complaint filed over Uptown land acquisition

All righty then. A consultant who represents property owners in the Galleria area has filed a criminal complaint with the Harris County District Attorney’s Office, alleging the Uptown Development Authority and related entities broke state open meetings and disclosure laws in relation to acquiring property for a dedicated bus lane project. The complaint, filed last […]

More troubles for the Planned Parenthood video fraudsters

Couldn’t happen to a nicer guy. Investigators with the California Department of Justice on Tuesday raided the home of David Daleiden, the anti-abortion activist behind a series of undercover videos targeting Planned Parenthood, the activist said. Authorities seized a laptop and multiple hard drives from his Orange County apartment, Daleiden said in an email. The […]