Archive for the ‘judges’ Category

Police will not renew support of Harris County DA Lykos

December 3, 2011

Police will not renew support of Harris County DA Lykos.

I want to share some Kelly Case with you. We need more lawyers like him. Government saying “Trust us” shouldn’t be good enough to brand us.

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Justice Does Not Always Come For All

November 25, 2011

Justice does not always come for all.  Maybe justice just takes time.  A jury convicted Judge Suzanne Wooten of bribery last Friday and I believe wrongfully.  This was a trial involving politics and the constant struggle for power.  

“Mr.” John R. Roach, Sr. probably didn’t appreciate the fact that Suzanne ran against and beat incumbent, Charles Sandoval.  Everyone involved in Collin County politics knew that while, John Roach, Sr. was in charge, “if you fight, he will indict”  (from my friend Montgomery).  Mr. Roach enjoyed instilling fear in everyone.  I feel sorry for his wife and family because I don’t think you can turn off the need for power when you go home.   It tells you a lot about the man, when he insists on being called “Judge” by his friends at informal settings and by his employees after he left the bench to become the District Attorney.  Judge Suzanne Wooten was just one of his many targets.   Fortunately, his efforts to prevent Judge Greg Willis from becoming the Collin County District Attorney were unsuccessful.   Greg will bring back some respect and integrity to our County.  Greg doesn’t need to demand respect.  He gets it because we want to give it.  We got lucky this time folks.   The John Roach, Sr. and Charles Sandoval’s will be back.  Who will be left to fight?  Who will have Suzanne’s guts and courage?

Charles Sandoval should never have been a judge anywhere.  He was and is, in my opinion, a very bad lawyer and judge.  Yet, the people, through our partisan politics, voted him into office.  He was the kind of judge, like many others, who would more than likely make you pay if you did not support him.  Suzanne knew the probable consequences when she decided to run against him.  She was given money by people who had been the recipients of his authority and wanted him out.  Many lawyers would not support Suzanne publicly for fear of retaliation by Sandoval if she lost the election.  Suzanne had the courage to take on the bully and beat him soundly in his bid for reelection.  Since the controversial donor to her campaign had a case pending in her court, she had a visiting judge hear his case to avoid any conflict of interest.  Now, think about all the donations given to campaigns from law firms, PACs, etc.   Why do they do it?  Do they enjoy giving money away?  Where is their Indictment?   Suzanne wasn’t bribed by anyone.  She did what most of us didn’t have the courage to do. 

As my good friend, Matt, put it, “A judge is now a convicted felon.  Suzanne will be disbarred, her law license and a lifetime of work is taken away in the blink of an eye.  An assistant attorney general will receive a hero’s welcome upon his arrival back to Austin.  The public will undoubtedly rejoice in the downfall and destruction of a lawyer.  An awful day for our profession…”  Is that how we are supposed to treat others?  I believe the prosecution violated their duty.  Their primary duty is not to convict, but to see that justice is done.  How does the Golden Rule fit in with all of this?  Is it really justice to ruin Judge Suzanne Wooten’s life?   I don’t think so. 

The assistant attorney general, John Roach, Sr., Chris Milner, Greg Davis and anyone else who had a part in this prosecution ought to be ashamed, not proud.  Judge Suzanne Wooten is the hero. 

I thank Judge Suzanne Wooten for standing up to a bad judge and the self-proclaimed Daddy of Collin County, Mr. John Roach, Sr.  I thank her for showing us what it means to be courageous.  This fight for justice is never ending.  Sometimes, we feel defeated, but we sleep and get up to fight some more.   I hope Suzanne will get back up and keep fighting in her journey.   I pray for peace for Suzanne and her family.   

Note- while I’m here:

 There has to be a better way to select our judges.  Although we’ve been fortunate lately (for the most part) in Collin County, partisan politics causes people to support and vote blindly.  It isn’t about getting the best person for public office; it is about picking teams and trying to win.  It is merely a game and unfortunately, most voters are simply, uninformed or affected by the propaganda that is constantly pushed in our faces.  The people that are starved for power will do what it takes and play the silly games to get what they desire.  If our local group of lawyers were to anonymously choose lawyers, who would be great judges, the list would include lawyers who would never choose to run because they would have to bite their tongues and maybe even lie to satisfy the “right” thinking, gullible individuals.   The list would surely exclude some judges currently sitting in our courts. 

The more I think and write about this, the more I blame myself for not having Suzanne’s courage years ago.  We humans are weak, scared, and selfish at times.  Doing the right thing is not always easy and usually involves risk.   I wish I had all the answers.  This world is not, and will never be, perfect.

Stopped by Police with alcohol on our breath- Now what?

September 20, 2011

Well, thanks to politics and the bandwagon folks, along with all their propaganda, our chance of continuing on our journey is unlikely whether we are intoxicated or not. The problem for me is that I sometimes like to go out for Oysters. Milk with my Oysters just doesn’t sound like a good combination, but a Blue Moon with them does. Note: This does not apply to anyone under 21. If you are under 21, it is illegal to drive with any alcohol in your system.
They (who are they?) come into our lives through television and billboards with statements that don’t reflect our law. “Drink, Drive, Go to Jail”; “DWI, you can’t afford it”; “Buzzed Driving is Drunk Driving”; “Drink, Drive, You Lose”. They attempt to pressure all involved in the process even though the legislature is clear about drinking and then driving. Besides, whether we are buzzed on Starbucks, alcohol, or our prescribed medication, we can easily still have the normal use of our faculties and often times, better than normal. I’m thinking about a game of pool right now. If you are 21 or older, it is not against the law to drink and then drive as long as we aren’t intoxicated. Intoxication is “not having” the normal use of faculties by reason of alcohol, drugs, or a combination, and it is Not– “Not having” the normal use of faculties because we are tired, sick, weak, or uncoordinated even with some alcohol in our system. The field sobriety tests are designed for people to fail them. They are done on the side of the road, usually at night, where we don’t have a good visual frame of reference. Our vision is most important element in keeping our balance. When they are not performed perfectly, the State says intoxication is to blame. If the legislature wanted the law to be no driving with any alcohol in our system, they would make it the law.
What would I do if stopped on the way home after my Blue Moon and Oysters?
Answer- It depends. I’ve seen a lot over the last 22 years. The machine the state uses is not accurate to determine a quantitative amount of alcohol in our blood, regardless of what their witnesses will say. It is the alcohol in our blood that can affect us, not our breath. No breath test can be accurate, especially since we all have different blood/breath ratios. The machine is only good to show whether alcohol is present in the breath. The Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus test (HGN) is a joke and any perceived nystagmus (jerkiness of the eyeball) is never video recorded for a judge or jury to see. Any misstep on the walk and turn and 1 leg stand will be attributed to alcohol and not my age, hour of the day, bad knee, health, or nervousness. The officer will not investigate any of those issues. I know that if I refuse to give a breath sample, many officers will get a warrant to take blood from my body against my will.
The reality is that anytime we drink and drive, we are taking the risk of being arrested. (“They” like it that way) So, it is best not to drink and drive. But, do we want them deciding what the law is, or should be, by using the fear of arrest to deter the innocent drinking and driving? Not me. And so, when I drink and drive, I will not be intoxicated. I will not drive in fear. If I am stopped, I know that the officer will smell the odor of the alcohol beverage on my breath. I know the pressures he/she is working under and I know the officer is not on my side. I will give him only the information required of me. We are required to give them our name, date of birth and our residence address. We are not required to give it audibly. I will not necessarily answer questions about where I’ve been or where I’m going or how much I’ve had to drink. It is none of their business. Instead, other than identify myself, I may invoke my right to consult with a lawyer before answering any questions, sign anything, or do anything, even when he tells me that I don’t have that right. I will be respectful and courteous even when invoking my rights. And, in response to the statement from the officer that he smells alcohol on my breath, I might say, “It should, I had a beer with dinner”. I will not agree to any breath testing, even if it means I will have my driver’s license suspended. Why do I use the word “never”? I suppose, I could agree to take a breath test after I give a sample of my blood. They wouldn’t want to have both for comparison though. That is probably why the officer will never tell you that you have an independent right to a blood test within (2) hours after you provide a specimen of your breath. Even if you knew about that part of the law, good luck getting the independent blood test if you are locked up. In addition, don’t let the intended fear of losing your driver’s license scare you. We can always apply for an Occupational Drivers’ License. Although the officer will want to conduct some “Field Sobriety Tests” on me, I will not allow the officer to conduct any tests on me and that includes the HGN where he would watch the eye ball move as I follow his pen from side to side. By the way, they will usually phrase their request in a way to make you think, it is no big deal and it is just a formality. i.e. “I’m just going to do a few tests to make sure you are o.k. to drive”. They are trained to phrase things in ways to get what they want, and to me, it is being dishonest. There is a part of me that may make a wager with the officer. “I will provide a blood specimen, provided that if the test shows that I’m under a .08, you agree to pay me $1,000.00 and if the result is .08 or more, I’ll pay you $3,000.00. But, the blood tests have their limitations also, so I may refuse everything. If, for any reason, I had any difficulty in conversing with the officer, I would identify myself with my driver’s license and invoke my right to remain silent.
In the end, it is the State who will have the burden of proof of Beyond a Reasonable Doubt before they can brand us with a DWI. Hopefully, a jury or good judge can endure the unjust pressures and require the State to meet their burden and make the right call. Beyond a Reasonable Doubt should be more than just a phrase used to give Americans the appearance of fairness.

The Feeling of Futility

October 25, 2010

Getting some of that “Justice” in Collin County, Texas, under the John R. Roach Regime, and before that under Tom O’Connell can sometimes get a man down. Judge Wooten is saying, “Man?” I don’t want to be, or appear negative, just honest about what’s been happening here. Just know that I’m smiling as I type this out. I can blame it on a lot of things; initially politics comes to mind, but the reality is, that it is deeper than that. One would really have to work very hard on one’s self to find the answer. We can look at a piece of the puzzle though. Most police officers and prosecutors that we produce here in America have a skewed definition of Justice. I say America even though Collin County, Texas is what I really know. The duty “to see that justice is done” means nothing. Put you in the shoes of the types of police officers and prosecutors we produce now.

Look down at your clothing and in the mirror. What do you see? Shiny wingtips, black boots, starched white shirt with your power tie, a face that exudes your almighty judgment. You feel the judgmental attitudes, the pressures, the power (you wouldn’t otherwise get), the political pressure, the lack of love or caring for humans that leads to tunnel vision, etc. Oh…, you might go to church and sit down in a pew, but you aren’t really human. Yes, John Prine has seen it too.

And so, change needs to start at the top. The “Top” is the deeper part of life that each of us needs to find.

Let’s look at the typical prosecutor; as opposed to the good ones back in the day that would do what is right, regardless of the consequences. Anyway, you are not that guy. You are a young man or woman just out of law school. You’re big stuff now. It’s probably your first job and you’ve got school loans to pay. You work for “the man” (it could be “the woman”, but “the man” sounds better). The man (District Attorney) likes his job; he likes his status; and he likes his money. The man knows he has to be a political man to keep the government teat flowing. Everything you do comes from the top, (“the man”), or you get fired. All you know about “justice” is what the man and his other subservient ants have taught you. Sometimes your individual sense of justice bubbles up inside you, but you have to suppress it because the man is evaluating you and you need this job. Now, we get into “slavery”. You are a slave to the job and to the man. Not only do you have a school loan, but you are also now married with kids and on the road to being a career prosecutor. It feels too late to make a change now because the fear of getting off the teat is too great. But, there is one way out. Become a Judge! Freedom at last! No, you are still a slave to our political world. As an aside, who better to judge us? A career prosecutor who “knows the law” and has little, if any, real life experience? That is what, we the people, have allowed it to come to.

Now take a break and come on back for a look at our current Collin County District Attorney, “John R. Roach”. He really wants his first name to be “Judge”. This Man wants everyone to believe that he is the “Chief Law Enforcement Officer in Collin County”. His picture should be in Wikipedia under “Power Hungry Individual”. The definition, in my opinion, would include words like arrogant, narcissistic, and egotistical. He is the opposite of love. Although he is retiring in December 2010, he must really want to go out with a bang. The bang is backfiring on him though and the people are finally seeing him for what he has become. He enjoys using fear to intimidate. He wrongfully targeted and investigated good judges and others, who he does not want in public office. He has wrongfully indicted lawyers in his continued effort to instill fear. You might say, “It is not affecting me…why should I care?” The answer is as simple as a Google search for “Martin Niemollor”. I blame myself and the lawyers before me for not seeing him for what he was when he first came to Collin County, Texas. Politics and public office has no place for the arrogant. Maybe it takes people like Greg Willis, Susanne Wooten, and many others to endure his wrath, to get us to see. Fortunately, these people are strong and would not give into the threats and oppression brought by him and those in his control.

And so, the far right thinking people, who sit right next to you in church, vote. Unreasonable fears about safety, etc. cause them to get radical and multiply like wild feral hogs. Their motivation, although wrong, is as strong as the policeman or judge who will do just about anything to get the power and perceived respect he didn’t get as a child. These types of people know, not what they do. God love them. And the cycle goes on and on. We sit back feeling helpless to change. We see our one vote as meaningless. We keep rolling with the flow, ignoring what we sense deep down in our soul, until they, come for us. By then, it is too late really. We are in our 50’s and 60’s, beat down and tired. We can only wish we could have seen it coming when we were younger. We can only wish we would have had the backbone to stand up. What held us back? I’m guessing that fear is behind the reason.

When we really look at the problem, solving it seems futile. But we do not quit; we do not give up. We keep getting back up and we keep fighting. Where is the top for you?

Despite Roach’s objection, attempted indictment, and the required political games, Greg Willis persevered and will be our District Attorney in January, 2011. Until the next starved politician comes along, the people will be in good hands with Greg at the top of our District Attorney’s Office. I really see the potential for some positive change here. He knows what Justice is and will ensure that his office will see that it is done. I believe that Greg is doing this for reasons that are right and just.

And now it is time to change the name of, what is publicly referred to as, the John R. Roach Juvenile Detention Center. Until the name is changed, I will call it the Collin County Juvenile Detention Center. Keep smiling, and loving your neighbor, even when they make it so difficult.

Who is Timothy Cole?

April 10, 2009

Timothy Cole is the name of a man who once lived on this earth. Tim spent the last 13 years of his life in prison for a crime that he did not commit. When he was 25 years old, he was wrongfully convicted of raping a white woman and spent the next 13 years of his life in prison. I said white woman didn’t I? Does it matter? Well, it shouldn’t matter, but I believe everything matters when you are the one sitting in that chair with (12) jurors staring at you while the witnesses point at you and say, “He is the one, the black man wearing the black suit with the white shirt”.

We could say, “Well, our system isn’t perfect” or “that is just the way it goes sometimes”. But, we won’t do that when it is happening to “one of our own”.

Let’s think about what we are doing between the ages of 25 and 38. I’m leaving Texas Tech about a year before Tim was accused of rape. Tim is enjoying his life as a Tech student. Maybe he is thinking, “Life is good”. He has already served in the military. His parents, a Bell Helicopter manager and a schoolteacher, are proud of their son. Tim has no idea, or thought, that he will ever be accused of rape and be locked up for the rest of his life. Meanwhile, I’ve just experienced one of the best times of my life at Tech. I’m not thinking about the Tim Coles among us because it is all about me, and my life.

Tim is sitting in prison, and I am in Houston going to law school. My purpose is to go get a law degree so I can get out and make some money. Isn’t the money, the reason we live on this earth? The thought of defending Tim or anyone like him doesn’t enter my mind. Tim sits in his cell today as he does everyday, and I’m going to the beach in Galveston; riding my bicycle down the seawall; throwing bread at the seagulls; fishing in Baytown; catching a lot of shrimp; going out with my friends; and spending time with my family. Tim is spending time with his family too. He has a phone at his ear and a glass barrier in between him and his mother. He can see her tears slip down her face. My time with my family is more than a telephone call and I take it for granted. I don’t realize how special it is to be able to hug someone.

We are playing cards and board games at the lake house with my family while Tim is playing cards with other men in prison. The floor is a cold concrete floor with a drain in the middle of it. There is a stainless steel commode without a seat or a privacy door. The toilet paper is worse than what we get at a roadside park, like the one near Benjamin, Texas. Of course, there are no girlfriends or wives as God intended for us.

Well, I’m 29 years old now and have met the girl I’ve hoped for and we are getting married. A few years of living life go by and we have all three of our children now. Time is flying by for me, but Tim’s time is moving slower.

It is 1999 and I’m in Wyoming attending the Trial Lawyer’s College. It is beautiful out here and I’m learning things that I wish I learned in law school. Tim is in prison dying today from being locked up for 13 years, but the prison officials are calling it asthma complications.

On April 7, 2009, Judge Charlie Baird exonerates Timothy Cole. Judge Baird cited poor police work that destroyed, “downplayed or deliberately ignored” evidence showing that Cole did not abduct and rape a fellow Tech student. “The evidence is crystal clear that Timothy Cole died in prison an innocent man, and I find to a 100 percent moral certainty that he did not commit the crime of which he was convicted.” Judge Baird called for reforms to eye-witness identification, prisoner access to scientific evidence that could prove their innocence and compensation for the exonerated. What can money do for Tim and his family now?

Jerry Wayne Johnson, the actual rapist, confessed to the crime by sending letters to prosecutors and judges in 1994, but they were ignored. The innocence project attempted to be heard at a hearing in Lubbock where the case was originally prosecuted, but the judge refused their request. Tim’s family knew they had the rapist’s admission and DNA evidence that proved Tim’s innocence, but couldn’t understand why they couldn’t just say that “Tim is innocent”.

Texas leads the nation with 36 exonerations. Why? How can that be, with all the rights provided by our State and Federal Constitutions? We have the right not to testify; the Presumption of Innocence; the requirement on the Government to prove guilt Beyond a Reasonable Doubt. These words and phrases sound pretty good, but mean very little in our world. Many of us will go to church this Sunday and will be reminded of the unselfish gift of forgiveness. Yet, we live our lives during the week and forget the big picture. We live our selfish lives; we judge others, we hate, and don’t think about what our brothers, like Timothy Cole, are going through. Tim could have accepted the probation offer like many innocent people before him, but he was a man that would not give in to the pressures applied by our “justice system”. I will not forget Timothy Cole.

The “Robert Powell” in us all

April 5, 2009

Most of us don’t want to think about the “Robert Powell” in us. That would be like admitting we have a prejudice or something ugly like that. It is easy to say that someone else is prejudiced, but to find our own and say it out loud is difficult. It is easy to look at the way Powell acted and disown any similarity in us. I may look at myself in a minute, but it is obvious that when we look around at others in this world, we see the “Robert Powells” in other positions of authority. Some of them wear black robes; some stand at the pulpit; some are prosecutors; some sit in our capitols; and some are lawyers like me.

Since I have seen Powell and other officers like him, I don’t view it necessarily as racially motivated, but rather his desire to exert the power that was given to him. The Spiderman quote comes to mind- “with great power comes great responsibility”. We have people in this world that want to be a cop, a judge, a politician, etc. for the wrong reasons. I believe the process begins after birth as opposed to conception. It is possible that young Robert was picked on as a child. It could be that he was starved for attention and respect as a child. I guess when we are starved; we may do what we can to feed the hunger.

For me, I need to use the power, given to me as a parent, more responsibly. Maybe if I give them more attention, respect, and love, they won’t be starving, as they become an adult in this world.