26 October 2004

Texas Yet Again

As always, when I get upset at how bad things seem to be in the Virginia criminal legal system all I have to do is look to Texas and realize it could be much worse.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I can understand why the guilty man headed for a life sentence wouldn't enjoy his going-away party especially since he had been a fugitive from justice for a year. But, there will be few Texans who are much concerned that the judge celebrated his return to her courtroom. On the contrary, the average citizen of the Lone Star State feels much greater grievance at what criminal lawyers like Lott Brooks do.

Brooks requested five extensions and ignored twelve past-due notices in filing a brief with the 14th Court of Appeals. He finally submitted an "Anders brief", an admission that his client had no basis for appeal. He freely admits that he filed the extensions and ignored the notices to keep his client, who had pled guilty to aggravated sexual assault of a child, out of prison on appeal as long as possible.

The judge of the appeals court ordered Brooks arrested and sentenced him to two days in jail and a $500 fine, citing Brooks's abuse of the appeal process. (For his part, Brooks attributes his penalty not to his conduct but to racial prejudice.)

Half of all juvenile court cases in the USA are dismissed because the victims do not testify. One of the main reasons for this is that the public defenders who handle 90% of such cases exploit the legal system's burden on witness by stalling tactics like Brooks's. They file continuance after continuance, wasting days and days of the victim's time. When and if the case does come to trial, the PD requires the witness to testify that he really didn't give the defendant permission to break out a window in the victim's car, hack the dashboard open, bypass the ignition, steal the car and set it on fire.

The Texas criminal legal system might not be as good as that of Virginia, as you claim. But, most of the citizens of either state are more concerned about the safety of their lives and property than hurting the feelings of a man who nearly strangled his girlfriend to death.