Meanwhile, Back At The Ranch…

…Texans happily elect the worst judge in America and a creepy-voiced fanatic who has already pledged to be yet another obstructionist jackass.

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Published in: on November 7, 2012 at 12:34 am  Leave a Comment  
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Column for 23 July 2011

FIXING THE SYSTEM

 

“Keep far from a false charge and do not kill the innocent and righteous, for I will not acquit the wicked.”

–Exodus 23:7

 

The criminal justice system in Texas is broken.  Badly.  We lead the nation (and indeed the industrialized world) in executions and exonerations of the wrongfully convicted.  Disturbingly, some of these exonerations involve clear cases of misconduct by prosecutors and/or the police, misconduct that is for all intents and purposes never punished.  We currently have well over 2,000 discrete felony offenses on the books, eleven of which involve oysters and the most recent of which makes cheating in fishing tournaments a felony.  Texas has one peace officer for every 300 men, women and children, a level one would more likely associate with East Germany before the Berlin Wall fell than in a democracy.  Our prison-industrial complex is the largest in the world, and only likely to grow as private prison corporations seek to influence legislators into passing draconian Arizona-style police-state legislation so that they can make even more money off taxpayers by housing an expected tide of illegal aliens.  Our incarceration rate is second in the nation (behind Louisiana, so thank God for that).  The Court of Criminal Appeals, the state’s highest court for criminal cases, has become a national joke for its’ ludicrously pro-prosecution bias, culminating in Presiding Judge Sharon Keller literally locking the courthouse doors to prevent defense counsel from filing an appeal in a death penalty case.  The conviction rate in criminal jury trials has held steady at around 84% over the last ten years (aided at least in part by a public that is woefully uninformed or misinformed about the law in general and criminal trials in particular), yet we are still eighth in the nation in per capita crime rate, some 25% higher than the national average.  Our institutional devotion to criminalization, prosecution and incarceration doesn’t seem to have accomplished much in terms of keeping the average Texan safe.  Part of the problem lies in the creaky, bloated, outdated Texas constitution: we have a highly politicized criminal justice system and pick our trial judges in just (more…)

Published in: on July 22, 2011 at 9:41 pm  Comments (2)  
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Couldn’t Happen to a Nicer Person

Presiding Judge Sharon Keller, very possibly the worst sitting judge in America today, may finally get her comeuppance from the Commission on Judicial Conduct.  Personally, I hope she does not resign and sticks it out until removed from office; it is long past time that light was shed on the Court of Criminal Appeals.