Saturday, October 22, 2011

NEWS FROM THE FRONT

MORTON CASE CONTINUES

“People are all over the world telling their one dramatic story and how their life has turned into getting over this one event. Now their lives are more about the past than their future.”― Chuck Palahniuk, Invisible Monsters

     A lot has happened since my last post.  The Michael Morton story continues.  As of this writing, we don't quite know how the aftermath of his release will be finally resolved.  See the Austin American Statesman updates here.   One thing the case illustrates clearly though, is the human factor and judgement that permeates the process at every level.  It begins with a crime scene always open to interpretation (Even the crime scene experts will tell you it's an art, not a science.), progresses to the judgment of the investigators and law enforcement, yet more judgment calls by the medical examiners, on to the prosecutors for the development of a "theory", opposed by defense attorneys with sometimes minimal resources and lack of information, and then to a jury limited to the rules and trappings of a jury trial.
     Don't get me wrong.  Our system is the best.  But we must recognize it for what it is: a system built on the varied human experience at all levels which in and of itself breeds inconsistency, vulnerabilities, and an occasional error with grave consequences

IN MEMORY
     Congratulations to those who walked as a show of support of NAMI and their efforts in the mental health arena.  A special thanks to Judge Nancy Hohengarten and the staff of the Mental Health Public Defenders Office.  The memory of Dan Calamia and Kristi Couvillon will always be with us.

WARRIOR OF THE MONTH
     Russ Hunt Jr., gets our Warrior of the Month award.  Russ consistently takes on the most serious cases (currently a mix of Capital Murder and Murder cases in Travis/Williamson Counties), and a mix of venues stretching from the Federal Court in Austin, all the way to Waco.  Russ is consistently on the Trial Dog List, and was a unanimous pick of the committee this month.  Nowhere in Central Texas can anyone boast of a tougher case load and bigger challenges.  Go get 'em Russ.

ELECTION RACES ABOUND
     Yes, tis the season for commitments and contributions.  From Judicial races to District Attorney, you have your chance to open your wallets and be active in shaping your workplace. Join the fray.  Make enemies and new friends.  But if you have any questions what constitutes a legal contribution, you better consult the Texas Ethics Commission.  Don't break the rules!

RAY ESPERSEN VOIR DIRE
     Recently, the transcript of the terrific Ray Espersen voir dire in the 368th District Court in Williamson County was released to the membership of the Austin Criminal Defense Lawyers Association.  If you would like the transcript and you are a local practitioner of criminal law, drop a line to this blog.

CHARLIE ROADMAN INTERVIEWS
     Recently, our own criminal law practitioner Charlie Roadman sat down with 10 of our colleagues for one-on-one interviews.  Those interviews are available here and on the sidebar of this blog.  Please take the time to listen to the one hour stories of these colleagues.  You may learn something you didn't know.

TAX CREDIT:  HIRE AN EX-FELON
     If you want more information on tax credits up to $2000, contact the Texas Workforce Commission and see if you can put those ex-clients to work.

TRIAL COUNT:  Since last Thanksgiving- 1 murder trial, 3 Habitual trials, 1 Agg Assault x 2, 1 Super-Aggravated Sexual Assault of a Child.  Coming up on the docket:  3 Habitual Offender Trials.

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