Friday, October 17, 2008

Harmless error?

Apparently a visiting judge in a Galveston County misdemeanor court is a little bit confused about the rights the 5th and 6th Amendments are designed to protect.  In Galveston County, on the appearance docket, a citizen accused is given three options: (1) speak to the prosecutor about his case, (2) request time to hire an attorney or (3) request that the court appoint him an attorney.

On a recent appearance docket, the visiting judge (allegedly) told those citizens asking for an appointed attorney that they would have to sign a waiver of their right to remain silent and discuss their cases with the prosecutor before he would allow them to complete an affidavit of indigency!

As there was no court reporter present no record was made of the violations of those citizens' 5th Amendment right not to incriminate themselves and their 6th Amendment right to counsel.  Would it surprise anyone if the Court of Affirms deemed it "harmless error?"


Mark Bennett said...

Paul, did you witness this? This is judicial misconduct and, since GCCDLA is busy trying to recover from the storm, HCCLA will consider filing the complaint if you can bring us a witness.

Rick Horowitz said...

It wouldn't surprise me. I believe I heard recently on Twitter that the United States is now officially a constitution-free zone.

This is probably even worse than the time I lost the argument that my client and I were entitled to meet in a room without an intercom. (And, yes, I filed a petition for writ to the appellate court and still lost.)