Monday, April 18, 2011

Blawg Review #307

On the afternoon of April 21, 1836, General Sam Houston led his band of Texians against the forces of Mexican General Santa Anna on the banks of the San Jacinto River (just east of present day Houston). Gen. Houston ordered "Deaf" Smith to destroy the Vince's Bridge - cutting off the Mexican army from further reinforcement. Then came the assault. The Mexicans, having their only means of egress eliminated, were left with the choice of standing and fighting or trying to cross the bayous or river by foot. Eighteen minutes after the assault began, it was over.

The following day Texian forces captured a man wearing the uniform of an enlisted man attempting to escape through the woods into Vince's Bayou. The Mexican soldier was taken to the Texian's camp where he was recognized by the Mexican prisoners. Shouts of "El Presidente!" blew Santa Anna's cover. In exchange for his life being spared, Santa Anna signed an order commanding the Mexican army to leave Texas. The war for independence was over. The Republic of Texas was born. The Raven, Sam Houston, accepted Santa Anna's surrender leaning up against a tree suffering from a broken ankle.

General Houston's victory at San Jacinto ended a campaign that began on October 2, 1835 when a band of Texians held off a Mexican assault on Gonzales. The assault on Gonzales and the fight over a cannon were the basis of the famous "Come and Take It" flag. Along the way hundreds of Texians were slaughtered at the Alamo and in the town of Goliad.

Texas remained an independent republic until it was annexed in 1845 under U.S. President John Tyler. As part of the annexation, Texas retained all of its public lands (some parks have since been ceded to the federal government). And now for a celebration of all things Texan...

I know it's not a current post, but my colleague, Murray Newman, found himself involved in a situation in which no one wins. What do you do when you've exhausted all your remedies trying to help someone who's mentally ill?

Now I prefer my crawfish cooked in a big pot with potatoes and corn and lots and lots of crab boil (and a little ham or andouille never hurt anyone). Over at Defending People, Mark Bennett found some prosecutors "crawfishing" at the Criminal (In)justice Center. When it comes to "total refusal" DWI cases, the Harris County DA's Office attitude is "ethics be damned."

While Congress debates how to create the illusion they are responsible adults, Dallas attorney Robert Guest has a new pen pal - U.S. Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison. Are illegal drugs to blame for the national debt spiraling out of control?

Jeff Gamso, a Texan living in Ohio, compares the degree of attention given to a death row inmate on his final day versus the degree of attention for an inmate in the general prison population. Some balance might have saved the lives of two men.

Lordy, lordy, Marcus Schantz, another transplanted Texan, is turning forty. Welcome to the club, Marcus. As I've told my wife every year when my birthday rolls around -- age is just a number.

Scott Henson over at Grits for Breakfast has an idea that probably makes too much sense for the folks in charge of public education in Texas to heed. Why don't we focus our dollars on educating the kids, not introducing them to the joys of the criminal (in)justice system? Schools as places of education? Now that's a novel concept.

Barry Green, a criminal defense attorney from Wise County, is upset that los federales are just releasing this memo regarding aliens and flying saucers. If the tinfoil hat wearing conspiracy crowd was a substantial voting bloc, maybe this would have come out much sooner.

What do Fort Worth and Dallas have in common? Outside of I-20, not a whole helluva lot. Political blogger Charles Kuffner provides the answer - Hispanic voters. All's fair in love, war and political redistricting - especially when you have a chance to draw your opponents' districts out of existence.

In his blawg, Liberty and Justice for Y'all, B.W. Barnett explains the art of pleading a tautology. It's the legal equivalent to your mom saying "Because I said so." Of course now that I'm a parent I take particular joy in using that to justify the rules of the house. That doesn't mean it should be used in the courthouse, though.

Houston defense attorney John Floyd takes a look at exploring jurors' biases during voir dire. He uses a new opinion from the Texas Supreme Court as his jumping-off point. Although the parties to a suit have the right to question jurors about their biases, defense attorneys must push the fight to ensure their client's rights are protected.

Kendall Gray, who works for one of them white shoe firms in Houston and wears a bow tie, asks a question that will be asked more frequently as e-filing goes mainstream - what font should I use in an e-filing? Luckily for all of us, he asked the Typography Guru himself, Matthew Butterick, what to do.

Anytime I walk out of the civil courthouse I also check my back pocket to make sure my wallet's still there and my back to see if there's a knife in it. After a recent experience on the "civil" side of the docket, Houston's Jacquelyn Carpenter probably feels the same way.

Houston's "Clear Thinker" Tom Kirkendall answers the question of why there have been so few criminal prosecutions related to the meltdown on Wall Street in 2008. Was Gordon Gekko right?

As reluctant to admit it as I am at times, there is a world outside Texas. So, here we go...

Much as the Mexican troops overran the walls of the Alamo back in 1836, prosecutors and police have inundated our courts with junk science over the years. So much, in fact, that most judges are afraid to be the one to stand up and question this pseudo-science that has been accepted in our courts for decades. Scott Greenfield has a message for you -- maybe it's our fault the courts don't question junk science.

Over at Military Underdog, Eric Meyer has had it with "standard operating procedure." That's the only excuse the TSA can offer up after a video surfaced on YouTube showing a TSA employee groping a 6-year-old in New Orleans. As a nation we are slowly but surely allowing our civil rights and liberties to be eroded under our very eyes.

Mike at Crime and Federalism wants to know why it isn't a crime for prosecutors to hide evidence and send an innocent man to prison. As he points out, if a man chained someone to his basement (whatever that is) wall, he'd be arrested and thrown in jail - unless it's a prosecutor who let an innocent man sit in prison for 18 years.

John Thompson is a death row exoneree. He sat in prison for eighteen years, fourteen of them on death row. The prosecutor withheld blood evidence that would have demonstrated his innocence. As it turns out, the convictions of five of the six men one of the prosecutors saw sentenced to death were overturned due to prosecutorial misconduct. Brian Tannebaum is upset. We all should be upset.

If Brian's not happy, then nobody's happy. Add Rick Horowitz to the list of upset attorneys. Rick wants to know why we spend so much money incarcerating people and less money on educating them. C'mon, it's common sense. It costs a whole lot less money to take care of something on the front end than cleaning up the mess on the back end. The criminal (in)justice system is broke.

And, speaking of broken systems, here's the Volokh Conspiracy with the tale of a judge who couldn't even bother to write his own opinion in a case. It's not that he relied on his clerk -- nope. Justice Joel Groves lifted most of his opinion verbatim from the plaintiff's pleadings.

Who is Mark Robins and what business does he have rating lawyers? The Trial Warrior did some digging (with a backhoe) and has the answers you're looking for.

Here are a handful of quick hits for your perusal...

Charon QC asks if the era of "the high-rolling criminal barrister" has come to an end. Damn! No one told me it had even started.

From Blonde Justice, the big city jail presents "Love Connection."

Here's a little advice for you - before approaching the judge, make sure he's eaten.

Is it ethical for drug companies to keep their prices high while spending millions on marketing, solicitations and attorney fees? Erin Gilmer wants to know.

So, Charles Fincher, how do you really feel about mediation?

Keven Underhill over at Lowering the Bar has what might be the worst brief ever written.

Norm Pattis takes a look at the deaths of Socrates and Jesus and asks "Who were these men?"

Eric Turkewitz documents the race to the bottom.

Palmetto State criminal lawyer Bobby Frederick thinks someone might be protesting just a little bit too much.

Now for a word from the other side of the aisle... Virginia prosecutor Ken Lammers thinks that work performance bonuses for prosecutors might not be the best thing in the world. He points out that rewarding prosecutors for convictions isn't the best way to ensure that justice is done.

Before I sign off, let's take a little tour through this wild and crazy place we call the Lone Star State. Texas is the home of a varied food culture as food maven Robb Walsh will gladly tell you. Now if it's barbecue that sustains you, the folks at Full Custom Gospel BBQ have you covered. To wash down that brisket, Ronnie Crocker's got the scoop on beer in Texas. If you need a little twangy music to go with your smoked meat, here's the place to go. And, if you're just looking for something to do, click here.

I'll leave you with this montage to Gary P. Nunn's "What I Like About Texas."

Blawg Review has information about next week's host and instructions how to get your blawg posts reviewed in upcoming issues.


Jim_Fuel said...

By Texians, I assume you mean, Texans.

Paul B. Kennedy said...

Back in the days of the War for Independence, the Anglos living in present-day Texas were known as Texians. In fact, one of the Houston Dynamo supporter groups is called the Texian Army.

Joel Rosenberg said...

This is why us lesser folks are scared to do Blawg Review.

Joel Rosenberg said...

This is why us lesser mortals are scared to do Blawg Review. Very well done.

Paul B. Kennedy said...

Thank you, Joel.

I do hope your issue is resolved favorably.

Anonymous said...

Glad to see Luckenbach here. I'm still going through all of the blog links and respective posts. It's great to have that playing in the background. And I love all the links in the last paragraph. Makes me want to get back to Texas real soon. I'll get a Dr. Pepper in Waco and cerveza in Terlingua.

Anonymous said...

Glad to see Luckenbach here. I'm still going through all of the blog links and respective posts. It's great to have that playing in the background. And I love all the links in the last paragraph. Makes me want to get back to Texas real soon. I'll get a Dr. Pepper in Waco and cerveza in Terlingua.

Laura Ingram said...

Thanks for this post. There's some really interesting stuff on your blog, keep up the good work!