Monday Roundup: Out, Out Damn Spot!

  • I’m glad they got a voice of reason into this look at how the Lege is stomping all over both parental and teenager rights. Because who cares more about a kid — a mere parent, or some semi-pro political tool? (And what a surprise to find State Sen. John Carona‘s fat fingerprints all over the worst of the bills.) Of course, the unintentional (or is it?) effect of all this is to raise up young adults who think their every decision as an adult is subject to permission from elected. Which, now that I mention it
  • I missed something in Tanya Eiserer’s story on Friday that Grits certainly didn’t miss: “Eiserer’s story concludes with an especially fascinating account that suggests Sundquist’s lying wasn’t just malfeasance by a single officer but actually part of a pattern attributed to his entire unit.”
  • This is going to be fun. After all, if the product isn’t intended to cross state lines in manufacture, sale or us, how can the federal government justify regulating it under the interstate commerce clause? (I think you know what product I’m talking about.)
  • Stupid Flu Reactions: This weekend the softball team waved instead of high-fived. Cashiers at Kroger wore rubber gloves or lathered in hand sanitizer. No surgical mask sightings. What did you see?

Challenging Speeding Laws?

One of my favorite law blogs (right up there with Grits and Bob Loblaw’s Law Blog) is by Robert Guest.

His latest entry, if I’m understanding it, is he may be challenging the very nature of speed limit laws against the state’s rule on whether the driver is “reasonable and prudent.” Which is to say, maybe going 10 mph too fast isn’t necessarily meeting that standard. Check for yourself.

Thursday Roundup: Does This Look Like a ‘Q’ to You?

  • There’s no part of this story about Ryan v Margolin that I don’t love. Keep. It. Coming.
  • Meanwhile, Bud Kennedy shows that the Guv is really going after the mouth-breathing crowd. I mean, yeah, I believe it’s been 100 days/100 epic fails, but are we really going to continue hearing this “Obama’s not a citizen!” stuff for the next four years? This is the right-wing’s version of the water-headed left-wing’s “the 2000 election was stolen!” whine.
  • Seriously though, if you are really worried about the swine flu epidemic, your risk factors, and possible symptoms, here’s a web site that will help you self diagnose —
  • And in two bits of Twitter news, first, if you’re not following the anchors and reporters from all three of the primary local network news stations, plus NBC, then you’re missing dozens OF cheery “morning” updates!!!! LOL :) that … well, it’s like getting a new blog post from Jane McGarry every 10 minutes. Or having Steve Blow text you.
  • Also, I’m getting love tweets.12

Tuesday Roundup: It’s All About Me

Shocker: A revised feasibility study for the People’s Hotel won’t be completed before the May 9 referendum. Coupled with the city’s lawsuit against the Texas AG to keep records from the public’s prying eyes, who isn’t wondering what else the comisars aren’t telling us? Shades of the Trinity referendum.

BONUS: Check Wednesday’s Dallas Morning News for my column on the People’s Hotel.

Want a solid — if biased — look at the Richardson City Council races? Peruse Ed Cognoski, a guy who also just loves taking delightfully cranky potshots at yours truly whenever he gets a chance.

Crime is, in fact, down in Dallas. Let’s celebrate with a Detroit-style riot.

It will be a crying shame if they can’t find a home for the Jetson’s style Siegel’s sign that’s coming down. End of an era and all that.

Not a single one-armed bandit or armed robbery quip. I’m deeply disappointed, Fox Four. No Fugitive joke? Nothing? Bah.

Monday Roundup: We Have Three B.O.B.s and No Insectorsaurus. WTF McDonalds?

Dave Levinthal breaks down everything you wanted to know about the People’s Hotel here. Such as, the People’s Hotel will cost taxpayers directly because to break even, the hotel would need to hve 68 percent occupancy (in a market where it’s at 55 percent) while charging almost double the going market rate. This is what happens when you let government try to compete in the free market. Oh, and the claim that a whole lot of organizations have committed to have their conventions in Dallas if we build glorious state hotel? Phillip Jones, CEO of the Convention & Visitors Bureau, can’t name a single one. Levinthal’s report is even-handed and objective, and in being so is a devastating case against the hotel.

The Innocence Project of Texas, which is fighting to overturn wrongful convictions, is facing shut down because of the Madoff fraud. Make a donation here. (via Grits for Breakfast.)

One thing this story forgot on looking at what’s wrong with all the post-Columbine anxiety: the police uber-emphasis on “officer safety” that has created the brilliant tactic of sealing off campuses and locking the shooters up with the victims. Meanwhile police hide behind barricades outside and wait for tanks. We’ve seen this cowardly practice at Columbine, Virginia Tech, and other places, and it’s time for it to go.

Sorry, my bad.

Friday Roundup: Does That Come With Soup?

Bethany Anderson, without taking a side, points out the folly of the crutch the pro-People’s Hotel people are using by focusing on and demonizing Harlan Crow and where he lives, as if he shouldn’t have a say in a city where he does tens of millions of dollars of business every year (quarter?).

So are we now going to travel down this slippery slope where we tell businesses the only time we really want to hear from them is when they write that check to pay taxes?

New wave of house cleaning down at DPD headquarters.

If your name really is Perry Mason, they ought to just give you a law license when you turn 18.

The next 10 Matthew McConaughey movies.

Abusing The System, or Due Process?

I’ve gotten into a friendly exchange with DMN metro columnist Steve Blow over whether demanding a court date for a speeding ticket is an abuse of the system.

Blow’s take:

I criticized Dallas City Council candidate Brint Ryan here yesterday for trying to beat his many speeding tickets by using the old request-a-trial-and-hope-the-cop-doesn’t-show-up technique.

I said that has the effect of pulling much-needed officers off our streets or forcing the city to pay them overtime for testifying while off duty.

And his initial expansion on his remarks in regards to my request that he “Explain how demanding your day in court is ‘abusing the system’ and not, in fact, ‘due process,’ Mr. Blow. And then explain how you would remedy this.”

Mr. Garrison, I would compare this tactic to the giant corporations that use lawsuits to intimidate and coerce smaller adversaries. They don’t need the law on their side. They merely have to to file lawsuits that would be financially ruinous for an individual to defend. That’s “abusing the system.”

I’m fine with anyone who wants to mount a legitimate defense against a traffic citation. But it’s abusing the system to demand a traffic-court trial that you have absolutely no intention of conducting. If the officer shows, you switch to a no contest plea, pay your fine and curse your luck.

My take:

I disagree, Mr. Blow.

Civil and criminal cases are entirely different animals. And yes, there is abuse in the civil system.

But a defendant in a criminal case, faced with charges from the state, should be free to use every avenue to defend himself. And we should never forget — innocent until PROVEN guilty.

An example: We hear people gripe that some criminals abuse the exclusionary rule to get off, but that exclusionary rule protects every last one of us from a far worse abuse — abuse of our 4th Amendment rights by the state against illegal searches and seizures.

In this kind of case, the state established its system for prosecution and defendants should be free to use the rules they established, even if it inconveniences the state and its agents.

Recent revelations in the Powell history regarding his lying in a DWI traffic stop — that he smelled alcohol when in fact he said on the dash cam he did not smell alcohol — prove that some officers will lie, exaggerate or mislead. Powell was a stellar example of this kind of abuse, and it shows that defendants deserve every avenue to protect themselves from wrongful prosecution. Powell’s reveal — speaking on tape in contradiction to his later sworn testimony — was fortunate, and rare, since most officer who do lie (and I’m not saying most do, I’m saying most who DO lie) are not as stupid as he was.

No, I don’t think following the very rules the state establishes constitutes abuse. If there must be a fix, fix the problem of officers being so overextended they can’t make court dates. Don’t fix it by limiting the rights of citizens, or by labeling people who follow the rules established as “abusers.”


Wednesday Roundup: Keeping Shady Deals Out of the Light, McKinney’s Moron Mayor, Epic Fail at Plano ISD & More

Here’s a shocker — you know about all the back-room dealing and the shady rush to try to force a $550 million convention center hotel down taxpayers’ throats? No? The city of Dallas doesn’t want you to know about it. They’re suing the Texas AG to prevent the release of information about all their shenanigans. “I think it’s not accurate and disingenuous to say we’ve not been responsive,” (Mayor Tom Lepper) said. If so, then why the lawsuit to keep information from the very public they want to pay for this boondoggle?

Let’s stipulate that the kid in question looks like the typical needs-a-slap teenager. (God I feel so old.) And his story about having OCD seems as phony as a $3 bill. Let’s also stipulate that this kid wasn’t being obscene — his bathing suit was visible under his pants. He wasn’t showing his ass. But the McKinney mayor is now saying it’s OK for McKinney police to harass people for doing nothing at all illegal, even going so far as to lie and say that that something they are offended by is against the law. So now in his view, what’s offensive should be against the law. Unreal. Listen to the whole interview — it gets great toward the end. It’s an eye opener. And it leaves you wondering how out of out of touch the McKinney mayor is. Nice work, Ernie and Jay.

A new trend comes to North Texas: “I said I’m going to get extra meat this time. But he didn’t even put extra shrimp in there,” the woman told a 911 dispatcher. “I asked him, ‘Can I get any extra shrimp, or can you give my money back?’ And he started hollering. So I just said, ‘I’m going to call the police.’”

Minority groups in DPD are asking Chief Kunkle to address some racial sensitivity issues within the department. Thoughts?

Why is Plano ISD considering going down the same road as Dallas ISD with its bone-headed grading policy?

This is bad. I know Sgt. Gil Cerda personally, and my initial reaction to allegation he threatened his wife and physically abused her is one of skepticism. Regardless, it was a cretinous move by Senior Corporal Janice Crowther. No matter how much you may doubt an accusation of domestic violence, every one should be handled seriously.

EDIT: Should have said I was incredulous, not skeptical. Explained in comments.

Friday Roundup: DWI Checkpoints, Good Cop, Hotel Vote On & More

Robert Guest uses the video of a DWI stop from a pretty infamous ex-Dallas cop to show why the new bills authorizing DWI roadblocks — despite their promises of protections that require reasonable suspicion — are no protection at all, given that some cops will outright lie in the field, lie under oath, and lie as often as they accuse suspects of lying. I’m sorry, but it’s true. In the video, the officer admits he smells no alcohol but would administer a field sobriety test anyway. Then the officer testified in court, under oath, that he did smell alcohol. As Robert notes, jurors automatically give cops the benefit of the doubt and trust them, versus those accused of drunk driving. And most cops are smart enough not to admit they don’t have reasonable suspicion or probable cause on video.

After a couple of weeks of bad news, do you want some good news about the Dallas Police Department? Here you go.

Who wins here? Dallas voters. Regardless of the outcome, they will get to decide whether the city of Dallas should go into the hotel business. (Somewhere, Philip Jones and Ron Natinsky are holding each other, alternately cursing and weeping. The power of this blog surprises even me.)

You know, with as many fat little kids as you see waddling around and just using common sense that says kids shouldn’t be cooped up in a school house eight hours a day — why the heck do we have to make it a state law to have recess? But I’m glad someone’s pushing it. Drop the homework for kids below high school level, abolish TAKS, and let the kids play.

Creepy guy at Woodrow Wilson alert. Bonus: He’s a teacher.

Just for fun, watch this:

New Link — Know Your Rights, and Flex Them

I’ve added a link to the youtube home of the “Flex Your Rights” video series that teaches you how to deal with encounters with the police — things like refusing to consent to searches, refusing to allow police into your home, how to avoid inadvertently incriminating yourself with something as simple as answering that you know what the posted speed limit is, and so on.

This is stuff everyone should know. And practice.