Features

Small-Town Advice for the Big-City Lawyer
Thursday, December 12th, 2019

As a solo practitioner in Nacogdoches, I always enjoy seeing fellow criminal defense lawyers from out of town travel to the courthouse and defend the innocent accused (and occasionally a few guilty ones). It can also be quite entertaining to see how they handle practicing in a small town.

Voir Dire: Method Follows Model
Thursday, December 12th, 2019

Imagine you are repairing a car. How you perform the task depends on your understanding of how the car works. If you think internal combustion is powered by magic hamsters, you’re going to do the job differently than if you understand the suck-squeeze-bang-blow of a four-stroke engine.

Memories of a Christmas in Vietnam
Thursday, December 12th, 2019

After 44 months as a Marine and 158 weeks as a prosecutor for Smith County, I became a Texas criminal defense lawyer on September 15, 1970, at the age of 32. Three months later, Christmas was approaching and the Vietnam war was escalating. By the end of the year, there would be 184,314 American troops in country and 1,928 Americans would have died there.

Coercive Interrogation and the Vulnerable Population
Thursday, December 12th, 2019

[A] system of criminal law enforcement which comes to depend on the “confession” will, in the long run, be less reliable and more subject to abuses than a system which depends on extrinsic evidence independently secured through skillful investigation.” Escobedo v. Illinois, 378 U.S. 478, 488-89 (1964).

Shout Outs
Thursday, December 12th, 2019

A big shout out to appellate adept Keith Hampton for his win in the long-running case of Greg Kelley—finally found innocent in the CCA. All the judges agreed he was innocent, and left undisturbed Judge King’s findings and conclusions regarding Kelley’s other claims of ineffective assistance and due process. His case was sent back to Williamson County, where DA Shawn Dick had no plans to further pursue charges against him.

Thursday, December 12th, 2019

What is a court to do with an inmate who was sentenced to life without parole for an offense that was committed when he was 16 years old and is now seeking habeas relief? A panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit answered that question on October 24, 2019, in United States v. Sparks, ___F.3d___, 2019 WL 5445897 (5th Cir. 2019) [Panel: Circuit Judges Elrod, Graves, and Oldham. (Opinion by Oldham)].

In Sparks, the Court held, as to the life without parole issue, that

Thursday, December 12th, 2019

All of you have heard the song “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” and are familiar with its main character, Rudolph. Rudolph was created in 1939 by Robert May, an employee of Montgomery Ward. Although sources vary as to whether May created the story of Rudolph to promote sales at the Christmas season or to give as a gift to his young daughter to bring her comfort, May was doing his best to keep his job and comfort his child because Ms. May was dying of cancer.

Editor's Comment: First and Last - 1
Thursday, December 12th, 2019

As criminal defense lawyers, we are uniquely positioned.

Thursday, December 12th, 2019

Join the next generation of Texas Defenders by applying to become a mentor or mentee through the Future Indigent Defense Leaders Program (FIDL). Together the Texas Indigent Task Force, Harris County Public Defenders Office, and TCDLA are starting their second year of the program.

Thursday, December 12th, 2019

I admit it—I am a summer person. I LOVE the sunshine and the warm weather. Then it gets close to Christmas and I quit complaining about the cold! What a great time of year—spending time with family and friends and celebrating (for me) the birth of Christ!

 I LOVE trying to find the perfect gift for those I love! Don’t you love receiving Christmas cards from people far and near showing their precious families?

December 2019 Complete Issue - PDF Download
Thursday, December 12th, 2019

Features
22 | Coercive Interrogation and the Vulnerable Population - By Amber Farrelly & Keith Hampton
28 | Memories of a Christmas in Vietnam - By Buck Files
30 | Voir Dire: Method Follows Model - By Mark W. Bennett
34 | Small-Town Advice for the Big-City Lawyer - By Dean Watts

Voting Rights of Felons
Friday, November 8th, 2019

A felony conviction may result in the loss of voting rights in Texas...

Stats Show Racial Inequities for Organized Retail Theft Arrests Statewide
Friday, November 8th, 2019

Let’s say I wanted to steal an Xbox from Fry’s (or any other retail store). Maybe it’s for a thrill, a dare, voices in my head, or maybe I just want to eat Cheetos all day and play video games on my sofa. Whatever the reason, it is unimportant.

The Perils of Blowing the Whistle
Friday, November 8th, 2019

We have met with many potential new clients who know about a crime or fraud and are interested in blowing the whistle. Sometimes the client is motivated by a genuine desire to right a perceived wrong, sometimes the client is motivated by the desire to collect an award, and sometimes the client is motivated by the desire to “get ahead of the problem.”

2019’s Need-to-Know Changes to DWI Law
Friday, November 8th, 2019

 

Together, House Bills 20482 and 35823 refashioned Texas DWI law and punishment—and finally abolished surcharges. Kind of.

My Welcome Home From Vietnam - 1
Friday, November 8th, 2019

My ears popped, and the tires screeched as the TransTexas Airways DC-3 touched down at the Airport in Tyler. The stewardess had avoided eye contact, and the other passengers looked away from me. The short flight from Dallas was a replay of the plane ride from San Francisco. It was strange that no one would look at me, and the stewardesses were not friendly. 

Shout Outs
Thursday, November 7th, 2019

Kudos to ex-prez Randy Wilson for an impressive victory in Federal Court in hometown Abilene. D, charged with Possession of More than 5 grams with intent to deliver, had 2 prior drug convictions and faced 10 years to life. Undisputed evidence showed that while the D was being arrested, he was patted down twice before the officer discovered over 11 grams of meth in the pocket of his shorts.

Thursday, November 7th, 2019

In a case of first impression in the Circuit, a panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit held that—in order to forcibly medicate a criminal defendant against her will—the government bears the burden of satisfying the four-pronged Sell test, 123 S.Ct. 2174, providing clear and convincing evidence under each of these four prongs. United States v. James, ___F.3d___, 2019 WL 4410005 (5th Cir. Sept. 16, 2019) [Panel: Circuit Judges Holly, Ho, and Engelhardt (Opinion by Judge Ho)].

Getting Paid Nov19-1
Thursday, November 7th, 2019

The past few years there has been confusion on setting fees, non-refundable fees, and other matters. I will be putting fee examples in future issues to make sure we are all on sound ethical ground.

Betty Blackwell, Joseph Connors, Judge Herb Ritchie, and Judge Greg Glass have given me permission to use their contracts as examples.

To avoid problems, always get something in writing regarding your fee. At minimum, get a letter of acknowledgment.

Ethics & The Law Nov19
Thursday, November 7th, 2019

I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies foreign and domestic: that I will bear true faith and ­allegiance to the same. That I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God.

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