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Posts under ‘Crime and Punishment’

Federal judge smacks video fraudsters

That’s gonna leave a mark. In a sharp rebuke, a federal judge on Friday issued a preliminary injunction ordering abortion opponents not to release videos they had secretly made at meetings of abortion providers, and he added that the opponents’ claims that such organizations were illegally selling fetal tissue were baseless. In the ruling, Judge […]

More on DNA mixtures

Some good news here. Texas criminal justice organizations have begun reviewing thousands of cases that relied on an outdated method for calculating the odds that a particular person left DNA evidence at a crime scene. At issue are samples that include more than one person’s DNA, such as evidence swabbed from a countertop after a […]

Video fraudsters offered probation

First the one, on Wednesday. A California woman charged last week for her role in the production of undercover videos at a Houston Planned Parenthood clinic will be offered probation, a Harris County prosecutor said in court. Sandra Susan Merritt, of San Jose, Calif., appeared in court Wednesday morning on charges of tampering with a […]

Collin County argues against anti-Paxton prosecutor lawsuit

Reluctantly. [Collin County Commissioners] Court on Thursday urged a Dallas judge to drop a lawsuit seeking to block payment to the special prosecutors. The suit, filed in December by local real estate developer and Paxton donor Jeffory Blackard, should be declared moot because the commissioners already had sent the prosecutors their six-figure check, the county […]

Sebesta appeals disbarment

This saga that I thought was over still has another chapter in it. Lawyers for Charles Sebesta, the ex-prosecutor who secured the wrongful death sentence of Anthony Graves, told a panel of the State Bar of Texas on Friday that he should not be disbarred based on technicalities in the rules that govern lawyer discipline. […]

HPD Chief McClelland to retire

From the inbox: Mayor Sylvester Turner today announced that he has accepted the retirement of Houston Police Chief Charles McClelland, effective February 26, 2016. McClelland was sworn in as a police officer in September 1977. He rose through the ranks at HPD and was sworn in by former Mayor Annise Parker as police chief on […]

How the tables got turned on the video fraudsters

A must read. Planned Parenthood’s legal strategy was in some ways similar to how corporations facing major white-collar criminal investigations often cooperate closely with prosecutors to try to influence the outcome. From the start, Planned Parenthood and its Houston lawyer Josh Schaffer settled on a strategy of cooperating with investigators, said Rochelle Tafolla, a spokeswoman […]

Don’t hold your breath waiting for the Paxton appeals process to play out

Better settle in and get comfy, because this could take awhile. An appeal by Attorney General Ken Paxton, who is seeking to dismiss charges that he violated state securities laws, will extend at least into spring, with a strong chance of a ruling being delayed until summer or later. The Dallas-based 5th Court of Appeals […]

Every investigation on Planned Parenthood has cleared them

From Think Progress: After a months-long investigation, a Texas grand jury decided not to indict Planned Parenthood on Monday — providing more confirmation that there’s no solid evidence to support the accusations against the national women’s health organization. This trend goes far beyond Texas. Across the country, GOP-led investigations into Planned Parenthood’s activities haven’t turned […]

Another way to achieve bail reform

From the Quorum Report: The unnecessary death of Sandra Bland in the Waller County Jail last summer has now put the reform of bail bonds in focus as a key criminal justice issue ahead of the next legislative session. Last month, a Waller County grand jury declined to indict those involved in [Sandra] Bland’s arrest […]

Reynolds loses another request in court

More bad news. State Rep. Ron Reynolds has lost his bid to resume practicing law while he appeals his conviction for illegally soliciting clients. Montgomery County County Court-at-Law Judge Mary Ann Turner on Thursday denied the request by Reynolds, who argued that the bond condition prevents him from being able to financially support his family. […]

Paxton prosecutors sue AG office to block records

Hold on to your hats. In an unusual and head-spinning twist, prosecutors in the criminal case against Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton sued the attorney general’s office Thursday to block the release of sensitive case information that could hinder Paxton’s defense but that his own agency ordered to be turned over to a Texas newspaper. […]

Collin County agrees to pay Paxton prosecutors

Grudgingly. For now. The special prosecutors handling the criminal case against Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton will be paid for their work so far at the rate they were promised. Commissioners voted 3-2 on Monday to pay the more than $254,000 in legal fees and expenses that have accumulated since April. […] “We have very […]

County finally takes jail overcrowding seriously

We’ll see what this actually becomes. Chasing $4 million in grant money, Harris County officials on Thursday announced reforms in the criminal justice system to unclog dockets, lower jail population and address racial and ethnic disparities. And because the changes are so important, they said, they will do it even if they don’t get the […]

Paxton motion to cap prosecutors’ fees rejected

Sorry, Kenny. A state district judge Wednesday rejected Attorney General Ken Paxton’s attempt to drastically cut legal fees for prosecutors in the criminal case against him. District Judge George Gallagher issued two orders overruling Paxton’s objections to the prosecutors’ fees and ordering Collin County to honor an agreement to pay $300 an hour to Kent […]

Trooper Encinia turns himself in

As expected. Six months after arresting Sandra Bland during a now-infamous traffic stop, state trooper Brian Encinia on Thursday returned to the Waller County jail where Bland died – this time to surrender to authorities on perjury charges. Encinia, 30, surrendered to Texas Rangers after a Waller County judge signed his arrest warrant, Sheriff R. […]

Grand jury indicts trooper in Sandra Bland case

Wow. Waller County grand jurors indicted Department of Public Safety trooper Brian Encinia on a single charge of perjury Wednesday because they did not believe he was telling the truth about his actions during the arrest of Sandra Bland, special prosecutor Darrell Jordan confirmed. The charge against Encinia stems from the trooper’s statement at the […]

Our bail policies are unjust, costly, and stupid

Any questions about how I really feel? “The numbers clearly tell the story: More than three-fourths of the people in Harris County Jail haven’t been convicted of crime, and the majority of them are sitting in jail simply because they can’t afford to get out – not because they’re a threat to public safety,” said […]

When should body camera video be released?

HPD is still working on it. As the Houston Police Department begins rolling out body cameras among the rank and file, Chief Charles A. McClelland said the department is changing its policy governing how and when HPD releases videos collected by the devices. “If we have a body camera video that’s an officer-involved shooting or […]

Paxton officially reindicted

The judge in AG Ken Paxton’s securities fraud case approved the amended indictments that were most recently filed against him. The two first-degree felony indictments alleging securities fraud delete the amount of shares of Servergy Inc. stock that Paxton was to be compensated for. Evidence in the case has shown that Paxton received 100,000 shares […]

John Bradley does John Bradley things

From Grits for Breakfast: Former Williamson County District Attorney and Texas Forensic Science Commission Chairman John Bradley – who left Texas to become Attorney General of the island nation of Palau after facing national disapprobation, losing reelection, and struggling to find work in Texas as a prosecutor – has been suspended “for ten working days […]

Paxton remains under indictment

Sorry, Kenny. A state district judge on Friday rejected Ken Paxton’s request to throw out his three felony indictments, likely sending the first-term attorney general to trial next year unless his lawyers appeal the ruling. “Yes, all the motions we filed have been denied,” said Philip Hilder, one of Paxton’s attorneys, Friday. “We are extremely […]

Paxton’s first day in court

And they’re off! Clashing at a pretrial hearing Tuesday, lawyers for Attorney General Ken Paxton dismissed the criminal case against him as the result of a “rogue prosecution,” while prosecutors accused Paxton of relying on “nonsense” arguments and a string of legal technicalities to challenge the charges of securities law violations. State District Judge George […]

Paxton fires back at prosecutors

Incoming! Lawyers in Attorney General Ken Paxton’s ongoing securities fraud case have fired back against special prosecutors in the latest in a series of back-and-forth court filings. In their Thursday filing, Paxton’s attorneys called the prosecutors’ reply to their motions to drop three felony charges “bombastic and diversionary.” “Attorneys Pro Tem attempt sarcasm and inappropriate […]

Council approves body camera contract

Moving forward. City Council approved a $3.4 million contract Wednesday to equip Houston Police Department officers with body-worn cameras despite some lingering concerns that key pieces of the city’s policy for the equipment have not been finalized. Councilmen Mike Laster, C.O. Bradford and Michael Kubosh along with councilwoman Brenda Stardig voted against the contract with […]

Perry’s day at the CCA

Now we wait to see if he comes out of this a free man or a man still under one or more indictments. Lawyers for former Gov. Rick Perry fought Wednesday before the highest criminal court in Texas to finish off the 15-month-old indictment against him, while prosecutors argued it was far too early to […]

Ken Paxton says Ken Paxton’s arrest video can’t be released

How convenient. I looked into the unusual situation in which the office of Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton was asked to rule on its boss. Here’s what happened. Media organizations requested the video of Paxton’s recent booking into the Collin County Jail. His office denied the requests. Talk about a conflict of interest. The lawyers […]

Jon Buice granted parole

This stirs up a lot of emotions. Jon Buice, serving 45 years in state prison for the 1991 gay-bashing murder of Houston banker Paul Broussard, has been granted parole. Buice, 42, was one of 10 youths from The Woodlands who assaulted Broussard, 27, in the Montrose nightclub district. Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles spokesman […]

More prosecution responses to Paxton

Keep ’em coming, y’all. Prosecutors in the criminal case against Attorney General Ken Paxton defended themselves in a court filing Tuesday, calling accusations of misconduct leveled by defense lawyers a gratuitous ploy to direct attention away from Paxton’s felony indictments. “Paxton’s ploy, as any Google search of this case will readily reveal, is merely the […]

Anderson updates pot prosecution policy

Good. Small amounts of marijuana now mean a citation, not a ride to jail, Harris County District Attorney Devon Anderson said Thursday. The county’s top prosecutor outlined changes to a pilot plan for low-level offenders she implemented last year, one that she called a “huge cultural change for Harris County.” Instead of arresting first offenders […]

Another unintended consequence of tort “reform”

From Lisa Falkenberg: At every turn in her ordeal, Laura has felt irrelevant. The Houston mother of two says she was raped in her hospital bed by a doctor who she claims checked his phone afterward while she cried. She reported the rape to nurses who responded with cold skepticism. She had to wait nearly […]

Prosecution responds to Paxton’s motions to quash

They’re pretty harsh. In a 19-page court filing peppered with disdain — one footnote likens Paxton’s defense to an exchange from the 1978 film Animal House — the prosecutors called the attorney general’s legal arguments this week that the judge overseeing his case abused his discretion a “pre-trial shell game” based on a “quicksand-like foundation.” […]

Paxton moves to dismiss the charges against him

To be expected. [Ken] Paxton’s legal team announced late Monday it had filed six motions to quash the three indictments against him, citing problems with the grand jury process. They also raised other objections to the case in four pretrial applications for writ of habeas corpus. A Collin County grand jury indicted Paxton earlier this […]

It’s not just bail reform that we need

The latest from Emily dePrang at the Observer: It’s a Monday morning, a little past 9:00. Half an hour ago, this hallway on the eighth floor of the Harris County Criminal Justice Center in downtown Houston was swarmed with people. Now all the other courtrooms have opened, swallowed their subjects, and closed up again. Only […]