Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Tuesday Morning Roundup

Here are a few items that would merit full blog posts if I had more time to focus on them:

Who gets an appointed lawyer?
The Abilene Reporter News had a story over the weekend about the process of evaluating defendants for eligibility to receive court-appointed lawyers.

UTMB on why UTMB prison healthcare is great
Since I'd said some critical things about UTMB prison healthcare, here's an article from UTMB's house publication giving a more positive perspective.

Drug war refugees
An AP story, "Fear now a way of life in border towns," tells of "Mexican families fleeing the violence" in Juarez and elsewhere who "have moved here or just sent their children." Writes Paul Weber, "At schools in Fort Hancock and nearby Texas towns, new security measures and counseling for young children of murdered parents have become a troubling part of the day." The Wall Street Journal reports on college students literally caught in the crossfire between the military and cartels in Monterrey. These stories makes me wonder what if any accommodations US immigration officials give for asylum seekers fleeing Mexico's drug war (probably none, I imagine), or if there's any sort of witness protection arrangement for Mexican citizens to come to the US for safety?

Third rule of Fight Club: If someone yells "stop!", goes limp, or taps out, the fight is over
The Odessa American has more detail on the fight orchestrated by TDCJ supervisors between a prisoner and guard at the Lynaugh unit southwest of Fort Stockton: "'offender Clark struck officer Acosta once in the mouth, knocking him to the ground,' the report said. The report suggests the blow ended the fight."

A curious medical condition
Is "excited delirium" a real medical condition or just a term manufactured by law-enforcement friendly coroners to excuse deaths caused during police restraints? Two pending cases involving deaths at the Dallas County jail may explore the question. "The American Medical Association does not recognize excited delirium as a condition, though the National Association of Medical Examiners does." The term always seemed bogus to me: I know of no other medical condition that occurs only while in custody of law enforcement.

Smarter deployment can offset cuts to cops
Handwringers in Houston are worried the new mayor, Annise Parker, will reduce the number of officers on the streets, giving me the opportunity to once again point out that smarter policies can boost police coverage even in a bad economy.

Jail in Houston tax increment district won't generate revenue
I still don't understand how anybody can justify building a jail booking facility with tax increment financing, which is what's being proposed in Houston as part of a larger deal involving construction of a pro soccer stadium. The jail not only doesn't generate tax revenue but the land it's built on will no longer be available for taxation. So how will a tax increment finance district generate revenue from a jail to pay off the bonds? Will the soccer stadium and improvements to the Astrodome really carry the whole load? I smell a bailout down the line.

Study: Judges seldom challenge police perjury

A law prof out of Kansas "concludes that trial judges are perpetuating police perjury by failing to denounce police dishonesty with their rulings. " Studying federal judicial rulings in a single district for two years, Melanie Wilson found that "defendants rarely assert police dishonesty and, when they do, often buttress their arguments with corroborative evidence, trial judges are highly unlikely to rule that the police have lied. In other words, trial judges 'habitually accept the policeman‘s word.'" MORE: See also another, related paper by Wilson in which she argues that, "Because our legal system treats the police as if they were impartial fact gatherers, trained and motivated to gather facts both for and against guilt, rather than biased advocates attempting to disprove innocence, which is the reality, the criminal justice system lacks the appropriate structure to expose and effectively deal with police lies that distort the truth about criminal or unconstitutional conduct."


kaptinemo said...

"Drug War Refugees". Earlier this decade, we had the quiet exodus of US medicinal cannabis users emigrating to Canada to avoid the US's Draconian anti-cannabis laws.

Now, in a similar move, we are receiving Mex refugees, more products of the US's insane drug laws, in this case, courtesy of the violence drug prohibition produces.

I think that, at long last, it's beginning to sink in that we are shooting ourselves in our own feet with these drug laws that are always (to use Professor Whitebread's Iron Law of Prohibition), enacted by an identifiable US (in this case, the dominant White Anglo-Saxon Protestant social majority) to be used against an identifiable THEM (African-, Asian- and Hispanic-Americans).

And now the chickens from the DrugWar have come home to roost. Mex are seeking asylum in the US thanks to official US policy. And Uncle Sam has only himself to blame for allowing this to happen.

Anonymous said...

Jail in Houston....saw an article where Houston Mayor is proposing 50% increase in RETIREE health insurance premium due to budget shortfall of 7 million and they want to BUILD SOMETHING!

Anonymous said...

Amazing.. Excited Delirium!?!? Seriously?

So other people don't die of gunshot wounds either?? It must be opposing ventilation of the cranium that kills them instead!

Scott Stevens said...

Re: Judges believe the police

As a young prosecutor in 1986, I was assigned to handle trial in JP courts. One of them confided to me that he never understood why defendants asked for non-jury trials, because "who do they think I'm going to believe--I work with these troopers every day." I've never forgotten those words and never will.