Friday, January 24, 2014

Fiddling while Houston freezes

Here I sit at my wife's computer at 6:45 waiting to find out if I'm supposed to show up at the courthouse today. Last night temperatures dipped below freezing and it sleeted in Houston. Further north and east of the city there was snow.

92hHere’s what your world looks like this morning. Stay home if you can, folks! Embedded image permalink

All of the area school districts have shut down for the day. The city has told "non-essential" employees to stay home. Freeway overpasses and on-ramps are closed due to ice. The Fred Hartman Bridge over the Ship Channel has been closed. The local press has urged folks not to get out on the roads this morning.
92hRT : Seems the list of impacted roads is getting longer: avoid traveling if you can!
Jurors have been told to stay home today because of the treacherous conditions on the roads.
Please be advised that Jury Assembly for Harris County Courts has been cancelled for today, Friday, January 24, 2014.  Jurors summoned for duty today do not need to appear and do not need to reschedule. 
County Courthouses will be open.
Yet those in charge of the criminal courts have decided they will be open for business and will require those accused by the state of violating the law to appear.

Is there any decision that could more accurately show the utter contempt the judiciary in Harris County has for criminal defendants than that? Somewhere along the way those wearing the black robes seem to have forgotten what the presumption of innocence is (assuming they ever understood it in the first place).

Once again we have the courts making it crystal clear that they are more concerned with judicial efficiency and economy than they are with justice. Most of those required to be in court today will sit on the benches while their attorneys chat with the prosecutor and reset their court dates. In very few instances will the defendant's presence even be necessary.

Yet they will be required to risk their lives (and the lives of their children) to drive downtown, wait outside in the freezing rain and appear in court. Is that what it means to be tough on crime?

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