Monday, February 23, 2009

Dark Justice, part 2

Dark Age of Justice, part 2
The Dark Age of Criminal Justice, concrete examples:

1. Court of Criminal Appeals (highest criminal court in Texas) said a sleeping lawyer renders effective assistance of counsel.
2. Court of Criminal Appeals Justice Cathy Cochran said at a 2008 TCDLA seminar in San Antonio that 95% of the time they uphold what the trial judge has done and do everything humanly possible to do so. (Then why do we need appellate courts anyway ? Clearly they are just protecting bad rulings of trial judges otherwise there would be no legal grounds to do an appeal. Common sense.)
3. Tarrant County District Attorney claims they will not reduce a DWI misdemeanor second due to “office policy”. (Don’t even ask about their felony DWI policy which is absurd.)They have forgotten that their job is to seek justice and not a conviction. Facts are suppose to matter !
4. Even though we live in a day of cell phones, text messaging and emails Tarrant County courts make citizens accused take numerous vacation days to come to court just to pass a case (while discovery is pending, waiting for a license hearing result, waiting for the lawyer to get paid attorney fees). Many people lose jobs before they are convicted.
5. Some judges put citizens accused in jail for being late to court even when it is uncontrollable (massive traffic accident that causes delays).
6. Many citizens accused are being punished by “bond conditions” such as paying probation fees, reporting, taking tests even before they are convicted with no need for such supervision as they have never missed a court date and have not been found guilty yet.
7. Many citizens are expected to resolve their cases in 3 months when they can’t afford to pay their laywer in this time. Too bad so says the courts. Even with a typical judge’s salary, most judges could not afford to pay their lawyer in 3 months if they were accused.
8. DWI punishments are illegal. The Constitution says a citizen cannot be punished twice for the same crime (violation of double jeopardy) yet that is exactly what is happening first with the courts and then with a $3k-$6k surcharge by Texas DPS.
9. The Constitution says one cannot be deprived of life, liberty or property without due process of law yet Texas DPS surcharges are mailed with NO DUE PROCESS hearing whatsoever. Texas DPS is making up late charges and incidental fees ad hoc at their leisure with no constraints of law.
10. Defense lawyers of 15 years like myself are being stripsearched everyday just to go into the courthouse (remove shoes, belts, pens, etc.). All this while a brand new first year district attorney walks right through waiving their pass. In Tarrant County, the Sheriff said he would allow defense attorneys to pay to get an id pass and the Tarrant County judges voted it down. Yes, what are these judges afraid of and why ?
11. The district attorney in every trial always sits at the table closest to the jury even though there is no law that mandates this and the Constitution and Bill of Rights was founded on the principles that you give every benefit of the doubt to the citizen accused including the right not to testify, the fact they have no burden to prove, that they are entitled to government assistance in the procurement of witnesses (subpoenas). Not to mention, they always get the last word in argument. How fair is that ? The state gets 2 speeches to the defense lawyer’s one.
12. It is illegal for a cop to draw blood. Yet Dalworthington Gardens Police do it and the Tarrant County District Attorney’s office hasn’t stopped them. Case law clearly says they cannot nor does the statute provide for this.
13. Texas law says you can’t forcefully extract blood from a DWI suspect unless there is death or the possibility of serious bodily injury. State laws can afford citizens more protections than federal laws. Yet our own judges violate this Texas law routinely.
14. In Texas, you can get convicted of DWI for being in your driveway asleep with the keys in the ignition (heater to keep you from freezing to death). Crazy. Our district attorneys would rather intoxicated people risk killing someone on the road to make it home opposed to just pulling over to sleep it off. This one has always baffled me.
15. Some judges won’t let a citizen “do the time”- go to jail. So they stuff probation down their throats (of course the counseling centers and government is making money off of classes and fees). How messed up is that ? A judge won’t let you go to jail if you want ? Of course, the interlock companies are making a killing off this gig too. They are the ones (Smart Start) who are writing the DWI laws in Texas.
16. Many metroplex jails like Lew Sterret won’t let you make a phone call to bond out for over 8 hours !
17. You can’t bring a book to read to jail. The government says better that your brain rot or read the nasty crap they have in there.
18. There is no law that says when your videotape of the cop beating you disappears the case should be automatically dismissed. Guess what ? Funny, how in every case there is some lame excuse and the judges bat a blind eye. No wonder cops keep doing the same-o, same-o. Had a Fort Worth cop beat a lawyer client of mine in the sallyport and I can’t even get a jury instruction on the missing evidence ! How pathetic is that ?
19. The Fort Worth Crime Lab claims they will not release the results of the gas chromatography blood runs which would show contamination. Crazy that anyone should ever trust their blood tests. Of course, I’ll be getting them. At first, they thought they did not have to give me anything but my client’s results they type out (I’m going to trust that ?). I had one blood test where the 3 blood tests of the same client varied by .09. These kind of blood tests make the breath test machine look stellar. Ha !
20. Crazy dockets. Most Tarrant County judges will not let me set my own court dates and you wonder why they go apeshit when I have ten trials set on the same date.

These are just a few examples of how low the criminal justice system has sunk. These are facts. I wish this was some Saturday Night Live skit but it is reality. We must inject compassion, respect and common sense back into a system that is suppose to be fair. At one time America had the best criminal justice system in the world. Now it is the worst of all western democracies. It is time for good men and women to stand up for basic decency. A society is only as good as they treat the humblest of their citizens. Justice demands integrity, respect, fairness and compassion. When it comes to DWI, we have lost our roots. It is the most common of all crimes with the most normal of all citizen accused with only a 1% number resulting in fatalities yet the system treats each offender worse than rapists, murderes, and robbers. Time for change.

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