Wednesday, March 31, 2010
Tuesday, March 30, 2010
Ramsay asked the chef what Italian food was. The answer? Fresh ingredients cooked simply.
They threw out the pre-made sauces, the frozen vegetables and the processed pasta and began using fresh sauces and vegetables and homemade pasta. The restaurant went from being a money pit to being a money maker in a matter of weeks.
The key to fine Italian cuisine is, according to Mario Batali, simplicity in the preparation. Don't overpower the food with seasonings and sauces. Be subtle. Use seasonings to complement the food. For instance, don't drown the fish in sauce -- a little crushed black pepper, sea salt and a drizzle of olive oil is all you need to accentuate the taste of the fish.
The same lesson applies to trial work. Simplify. Distill the facts of your case into a simple story. Take out all the "lawyer words" and use plain English. Just as the key to great cuisine is what's not there, the greatest hammer you have at trial is, oftentimes, what's not said.
Monday, March 29, 2010
The Devils beat the Christians for a spot in the Final Four. Ricky Martin announces that he's gay. Harris County would rather build a stadium than pay for indigent defense.
And now this -- the Republican National Committee spent nearly $2,000 at a topless club in Los Angeles for dinner and a little bondage-themed dancing. And who says those Republicans are a bunch of uptight fuddy-duddies and right-wing wackos?
I'm sensing a little post-modern irony as the well-heeled crowd kicks back to watch leather-clad topless bunnies dance while decrying the very idea of universal health coverage.
Friday, March 26, 2010
This is the old "mug book." I love the hat in the booking photo on the upper left.
These are an assortment of uniform patches. My favorite is the "All American City" in the middle.
This is a collection of detective badges.
Here is some assorted "office equipment." Check out the movie camera on the right.
One comment on Facebook suggested the word "just" would have been a better choice than "fair."
it's not 'fair' that you need...it's 'just.' Sometimes the 'just' thing to do and the 'fair' thing to do are not the same. If you want a partial umpire in a factual dispute, then be prepared for justice not always being fair.And, when I stopped to think about it, I thought she was right. Then my colleague, Houston criminal defense attorney Mark Bennett argued that one cannot be just without being fair.
From the beginning: "Just" and "fair" are synonyms. There's no such thing as "just, but not fair."
To the end: The law does not tell a judge what to do in every situation. Judges have tremendous discretion, within wide bounds, to do what they consider most fair. Examples? Sure: every time a judge decides a defendant's sentence, or sets conditions of probation, or decides whether evidence is admissible under Rule 403, he's making a fairness determination.
One of the rights enshrined in the U.S. Constitution is the right to fairness—"due process." If judging weren't about fairness, a monkey or a computer could do it.
On this point I must disagree with my learned colleague. Although just and fair are synonyms, they do not mean, nor imply, the same idea. The very fact that they are two different words tells me that at some level, they do not refer to or embrace the same idea.
According to Merriam-Webster, if something is fair it is "marked by impartiality and honesty..." and it's free from bias. But fair also refers to an object or idea that is "superficially pleasing." It is that meaning that I think most of us associate with fair. We want a level playing field, we want to play by the same rules, we want a process that allows for honest and impartial competition.
Something is just, on the other hand, if it is based on or conforms to reason or fact or if it is "legally correct." In other words, while fair refers to the appearance of the thing, just refers to the underlying rules or laws. I think it is possible for something to be just, but not fair (or at least not have the appearance of fairness).
The right of a criminal defendant to confront the witnesses against him is an example of a rule that is just with at least the appearance of not being fair. If the prosecutor wants to introduce a report or records into evidence he must bring a person in to testify about those documents and the defendant has the right to cross examine that witness. The defendant, however, can introduce business records into evidence without bringing in an outside witness -- the state has no right of confrontation.
While the application of this right may not seem fair to the state, it is just. The state has the burden of proving beyond all reasonable doubt that the defendant committed a specific criminal act. The defendant has to prove nothing. Therefore the criminal defendant should have the right to question the witness as to the source of the records, the authenticity of the records, the methodology by which someone came to those conclusions and any other area that might tend to show bias, mistake or misconduct.
The rule is just, but not necessarily fair.
Thursday, March 25, 2010
changeJustice: Execution set for 6pm CST tomorrow, Hank Skinner needs us now...Tell TX Governor to grant stay!http://cot.ag/bsEfCPPrisonReformMvt: Call to action! Demand a stay for#HankSkinner Gov Perry 512-463-1782 Fax: 512-463-1849 Main number: 512-463-2000thetrialwarrior: SPEAK OUT AGAINST INJUSTICE: Call Texas Gov. Perry 512-463-1782 and urge him to stay #HankSkinner's execution to allow a DNA test.
Wednesday, March 24, 2010
I'm going to start off by saying I don't know Marc Brown and I wouldn't recognize him if he walked right up to me and said hello. But I do know that this campaign sign is very disturbing and it makes me wonder if Mr. Brown should be sitting on a criminal bench.
Tuesday, March 23, 2010
I caught a rerun of Mythbusters on the DVR the other night that dealt with intoxication myths. The boys decided to test whether there was any way to sober up faster than just passing the time.
Alcohol Myths (Oct. Alcohol Myths (Oct. 22, 2008) Is there such thing as "beer goggles"? Can running on a treadmill or slapping someone's face help to sober up a drunk person? Can an ancient medieval weapon really fire 200 arrows over 500 yards?
Monday, March 22, 2010
Defendant did unlawfully operate a commercial vehicle in the 3950 block of Terminal Road (South), a public street, when the said vehicle had been modified from the original design so that a part of the said vehicle other than the wheel and the surface of the level roadway was less than the clearance between the roadway and the lowest part of a rim in contact with the roadway.
Sunday, March 21, 2010
HOW DPS SURCHARGES CAN SNOWBALL
Friday, March 19, 2010
In a study, 49 participants consumed 12 ounces of 40 proof vodka (?) which scientists said was the equivalent of four shots (I think that should be eight shots) and their elimination rates were measured. The group that drank the "low oxygen" vodka eliminated the alcohol from their bloodstream in five hours while the group that drank the "oxygenated" vodka eliminated it 27 minutes faster. Those that drank the "oxygenated" vodka also reached an alcohol concentration of .05 faster than those who drank the regular vodka.
According to my calculations, tripling the oxygen levels in vodka increased the elimination rate by a little under 10%. If we accept the state's expert's testimony that the "average" elimination rate is .015 an hour, that works out to an elimination rate of .0165 instead. Not a great deal - but possibly enough to be the difference on a borderline breath test.
It remains to be seen whether those results can be duplicated with regular strength drinks.
I can't wait to see the marketing campaign should oxygenated alcohol hit the American market.
Tuesday, March 16, 2010
Thursday, March 11, 2010
Mr. Sajdak commented "Nah, if a prosecutor is 'nice' but would still screw you, he's worse than the asshole you know will screw you."Then he commented "I think I'm nice, and I won't intentionally screw defense counsel either - unless they've tried to screw me b4."Cynthia Henley, a colleague of mine in the Harris County criminal defense bar (and a fellow blogger) then replied "So if you think that DC has screwed you in the past, you will try to screw them, & thus their client, in retaliation?"I piped back up and stated "But screwing someone over would be a violation of your ethical duty to 'do justice.'"Mr. Sajdak then tweeted "Not screw, per se, but less cooperative (e.g., less likely to agree to an adjournment, etc.)"
Wednesday, March 10, 2010
I apologize for using e-mail, but I am not real sure of the comment process on your blog. You seem to stay on top of things so I thought you may want to modify your last post. You didn’t exactly describe the special answer process on capital murder correctly. It only takes 10 answers for the questions to be answered in such a way that death is not imposed. If the either of the first two issues receive 10 No answers, or the last issue receives 10 Yes answers, then the sentence is life. In order to answer the special issues in such a way that death is imposed, the answers must be unanimous. Thus, the first two issues must each receive 12 Yes answers, and the third issue (the mitigation issue) must receive 12 No answers to result in a sentence of death.
Tuesday, March 9, 2010
Monday, March 8, 2010
It was good to talk to you the other day. I was very busy the next day, I was hoping to talk with you again. I can’t help but smile at the irony that you radiate. When I look at your website it appears that you make your living, helping guilty people game the system to get out of trouble. I am sure a few people are wrongly accused, or are they. It is hard to believe that all the clients that come to you with a DWI really are innocent. But you know that, and you make money trying to convince the court otherwise. That would be really hard for me to do and have a clean conscious. What do you do when one of those drunks, gets off from a DWI by your help, and then a month later goes out and gets drunk and drives home and runs over someone’s sweet 5 year old daughter?
The only reason I bring all of this up, is that it seems you are extremely fast to convict me, yet you refuse to convict your clients that you know are guilty. I guess my only fault is that I am not paying you. I suppose if I pay you to “represent” me maybe you would have a better opinion of me. Like your website says, “when bad things happen to good people”.
I don’t have any problem with you. I know you are a good dad. The fact you go to your girls softball practice and games, says a lot. But as Dad’s of girls, we really do need to set the tone and set the example for them. If we want them to grow up and live in a loving world, then we better do something to make it that way.
I don’t know what possessed me to sit down and start typing, but something intrigued me about you on the phone the other day. When I told you repeatedly that what you wrote about me was blatantly false and a lie, and when you admitted that you supported my opponent, and I asked you to do what was right and remove the lie. you were silent for a second, I think you were actually thinking about what was right and wrong for a split second. I asked you not to let the thirst for me to lose to Jeff, blur your vision to what is right and what is wrong. I actually think for a second you heard what I was saying.
I know it is hard in your profession. Right and wrong can get confusing. Prosecutor or Criminal Defense? Which one is the noble one? Which one is good versus evil? What do you do when you know in your heart that the client is guilty and you argue otherwise?
Well that’s about all I have. My daughters are waking up and we are going to the park.
Friday, March 5, 2010
Company spokesman Floyd LeBlanc said CenterPoint is “extremely confident” in the accuracy of the meters but will take part in the third-party testing.
Ms. Krell's conduct was unquestionably a serious breach of her obligations as a juror and a clear violation of the court's instructions. The fundamental right of a fair trial cannot be guaranteed if jurors fail to take their obligations seriously and disregard their oaths to follow the court's rules. Before a court can set aside a verdict based on a juror's violation of a rule, however, the misconduct must have prejudiced a substantial right of the defendants. -- People v. Rios, No. 1200/06 (Feb. 23, 2010).
In May 2009, the Office of Court Administration's Committee on Criminal Jury Instructions amended itsrecommended "jury admonitions" to suggest that trial judges state that "you must not communicate with anyone about the case by any other means, including by telephone, text messages, email, internet chat or chat rooms, blogs, or social websites, such as Facebook, MySpace or Twitter."
Thursday, March 4, 2010
Where the seller at the time of contracting has reason to know any particular purpose for which the goods are required and that the buyer is relying on the seller's skill or judgment to select or furnish suitable goods, there is unless excluded or modified under the next section an implied warranty that the goods shall be fit for such purpose.
Wednesday, March 3, 2010
Tuesday, March 2, 2010
When a government has ceased to protect the lives, liberty and property of the people, from whom its legitimate powers are derived, and for the advancement of whose happiness it was instituted, and so far from being a guarantee for the enjoyment of those inestimable and inalienable rights, becomes an instrument in the hands of evil rulers for their oppression.
When the Federal Republican Constitution of their country, which they have sworn to support, no longer has a substantial existence, and the whole nature of their government has been forcibly changed, without their consent, from a restricted federative republic, composed of sovereign states, to a consolidated central military despotism, in which every interest is disregarded but that of the army and the priesthood, both the eternal enemies of civil liberty, the everready minions of power, and the usual instruments of tyrants.
When, long after the spirit of the constitution has departed, moderation is at length so far lost by those in power, that even the semblance of freedom is removed, and the forms themselves of the constitution discontinued, and so far from their petitions and remonstrances being regarded, the agents who bear them are thrown into dungeons, and mercenary armies sent forth to force a new government upon them at the point of the bayonet.
When, in consequence of such acts of malfeasance and abdication on the part of the government, anarchy prevails, and civil society is dissolved into its original elements. In such a crisis, the first law of nature, the right of self-preservation, the inherent and inalienable rights of the people to appeal to first principles, and take their political affairs into their own hands in extreme cases, enjoins it as a right towards themselves, and a sacred obligation to their posterity, to abolish such government, and create another in its stead, calculated to rescue them from impending dangers, and to secure their future welfare and happiness.
Nations, as well as individuals, are amenable for their acts to the public opinion of mankind. A statement of a part of our grievances is therefore submitted to an impartial world, in justification of the hazardous but unavoidable step now taken, of severing our political connection with the Mexican people, and assuming an independent attitude among the nations of the earth.
The Mexican government, by its colonization laws, invited and induced the Anglo-American population of Texas to colonize its wilderness under the pledged faith of a written constitution, that they should continue to enjoy that constitutional liberty and republican government to which they had been habituated in the land of their birth, the United States of America.
In this expectation they have been cruelly disappointed, inasmuch as the Mexican nation has acquiesced in the late changes made in the government by General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna, who having overturned the constitution of his country, now offers us the cruel alternative, either to abandon our homes, acquired by so many privations, or submit to the most intolerable of all tyranny, the combined despotism of the sword and the priesthood.
It has sacrificed our welfare to the state of Coahuila, by which our interests have been continually depressed through a jealous and partial course of legislation, carried on at a far distant seat of government, by a hostile majority, in an unknown tongue, and this too, notwithstanding we have petitioned in the humblest terms for the establishment of a separate state government, and have, in accordance with the provisions of the national constitution, presented to the general Congress a republican constitution, which was, without just cause, contemptuously rejected.
It incarcerated in a dungeon, for a long time, one of our citizens, for no other cause but a zealous endeavor to procure the acceptance of our constitution, and the establishment of a state government.
It has failed and refused to secure, on a firm basis, the right of trial by jury, that palladium of civil liberty, and only safe guarantee for the life, liberty, and property of the citizen.
It has failed to establish any public system of education, although possessed of almost boundless resources, (the public domain,) and although it is an axiom in political science, that unless a people are educated and enlightened, it is idle to expect the continuance of civil liberty, or the capacity for self government.
It has suffered the military commandants, stationed among us, to exercise arbitrary acts of oppression and tyrrany, thus trampling upon the most sacred rights of the citizens, and rendering the military superior to the civil power.
It has dissolved, by force of arms, the state Congress of Coahuila and Texas, and obliged our representatives to fly for their lives from the seat of government, thus depriving us of the fundamental political right of representation.
It has demanded the surrender of a number of our citizens, and ordered military detachments to seize and carry them into the Interior for trial, in contempt of the civil authorities, and in defiance of the laws and the constitution.
It has made piratical attacks upon our commerce, by commissioning foreign desperadoes, and authorizing them to seize our vessels, and convey the property of our citizens to far distant ports for confiscation.
It denies us the right of worshipping the Almighty according to the dictates of our own conscience, by the support of a national religion, calculated to promote the temporal interest of its human functionaries, rather than the glory of the true and living God.
It has demanded us to deliver up our arms, which are essential to our defence, the rightful property of freemen, and formidable only to tyrannical governments.
It has invaded our country both by sea and by land, with intent to lay waste our territory, and drive us from our homes; and has now a large mercenary army advancing, to carry on against us a war of extermination.
It has, through its emissaries, incited the merciless savage, with the tomahawk and scalping knife, to massacre the inhabitants of our defenseless frontiers.
It hath been, during the whole time of our connection with it, the contemptible sport and victim of successive military revolutions, and hath continually exhibited every characteristic of a weak, corrupt, and tyrranical government.
These, and other grievances, were patiently borne by the people of Texas, untill they reached that point at which forbearance ceases to be a virtue. We then took up arms in defence of the national constitution. We appealed to our Mexican brethren for assistance. Our appeal has been made in vain. Though months have elapsed, no sympathetic response has yet been heard from the Interior. We are, therefore, forced to the melancholy conclusion, that the Mexican people have acquiesced in the destruction of their liberty, and the substitution therfor of a military government; that they are unfit to be free, and incapable of self government.
The necessity of self-preservation, therefore, now decrees our eternal political separation.
We, therefore, the delegates with plenary powers of the people of Texas, in solemn convention assembled, appealing to a candid world for the necessities of our condition, do hereby resolve and declare, that our political connection with the Mexican nation has forever ended, and that the people of Texas do now constitute a free, Sovereign, and independent republic, and are fully invested with all the rights and attributes which properly belong to independent nations; and, conscious of the rectitude of our intentions, we fearlessly and confidently commit the issue to the decision of the Supreme arbiter of the destinies of nations.