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Bail litigation updates across Texas, and other stories

A bit of personal news: After Just Liberty's Executive Director, Shakira Pumphrey, left to join the new Texas House Speaker's staff to work on criminal-justice policy, your correspondent was elevated to her old post on an interim basis. Many thanks to Shakira for all her hard work for Just Liberty over the last two years, and good luck at the new gig! Meanwhile, as Grits struggles to fulfill his new admin duties, here are a few odds and ends that merit readers' attention. New Harris judges propo...
Tags: Texas, Law, Austin, Rangers, Shakira, Houston, Texas Rangers, Lasalle, Houston Chronicle, Legislature, DPS, Harris County, Harris Co, Galveston, Hanks, 5th Circuit


In-Laws Have Certificate of Family Membership

My question involves adoption law for the State of: Texas My in-laws showed me a certificate of family membership, signed by an attorney and a judge, that says my daughter is the child of my in-laws. I don't know how they got this. I have never been to court or received notice of any court hearings. Did I just lose my daughter?
Tags: Texas, Law, Adoption Law and Surrogacy


#txlege budget writers in denial on prisoner health care

In its Legislative Appropriations Request, the Texas Department of Criminal Justice said its needs an additional $247 million in order to continue delivering inmate healthcare at current levels, and ideally would like tens of millions more to make salaries more competitive. In response, the initial Texas House budget authorized an additional $160 million, and the Senate budget cut medical care by $1.3 million, reported the Texas Tribune.The House clearly came up with the $160 million number beca...
Tags: Texas, Law, Senate, House, Legislature, Texas Tribune, Texas House, Gritsforbreakfast, TDCJ, Lege


Making Beto go away.

They know they have to do it. Here's what the early-stage ousting looks like on Drudge:Reading the links (in order):1. "MEDIA TURNING AGAINST 'BABBLING' BETO..." = "Preseason is over for Beto O'Rourke" (Carter Eskew in WaPo, reprinted at CT): The nation's best and toughest reporters have his number and want nothing more than to take his measure and knock him down.... The love bubble surrounding O'Rourke is leaking. To his would-be Democratic rivals, he's no longer the scrappy, truth-telling, uni...
Tags: Music, England, Texas, London, Law, Scotland, Senate, White House, Wikipedia, Cnn, The Who, Yale, Jack Kerouac, The Washington Post, BETO, Ray


William Barr: “The Single Most Important Thing We Can Do In Gun Control”

CNSNEWS.com: (CNSNews.com) – “In 1994, you said that gun control is a dead end,” Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) told Attorney General-nominee William Barr at his confirmation hearing on Tuesday. “Do you still believe that prudent controls on weapons won’t reduce violent crime?” Feinstein, a staunch gun control advocate, asked him. “I think that the problem of our time is to get an effective system in place that can keep dangerous firearms out of the hands of mentally ill people,” Barr replied....
Tags: Texas, Supreme Court, Obama, Congress, Military, Gun Control, Dianne Feinstein, Trump, Nra, Feinstein, Calif, PAUL, John Calvin, Barr, Heller, John Locke


NY Times op-ed explores "How to Make New York as Progressive on Criminal Justice as Texas"

The New York Times this week has this notable editorial about criminal discovery that bore the provocative (and fitting) headline that I have quoted in the title of this post.  As practitioners know, these discovery issues can have a profound impact on plea practices and sentencing outcomes.  Here are excerpts: In New York, prosecutors operate within a draconian system that gives them free rein to leave defendants in the dark about aspects of their cases for months or even years.  In cases big ...
Tags: New York, Texas, Supreme Court, Law, Brooklyn, New York Times, New Jersey, North Carolina, Criminal Justice, Ny Times, Douglas A Berman


Relist Watch

John Elwood reviews Monday’s relists. I’m today, so I’m going to be more summary than usual. The April calendar already appears to have a full complement of 12 cases, but the court in theory could add to it with this Friday’s grants. Admittedly, if it does so, petitioners won’t have the full 30 days to file reply briefs before oral argument. After this Friday, the court’s next scheduled conference isn’t until February 15 – almost a month from now. And any cases granted at that conference will ...
Tags: Texas, Featured, Supreme Court, Law, Congress, Virginia, New York City, Freedom, Alabama, Indiana, Dhs, United States, House Of Representatives, Kansas, Louisiana, Nielsen


First scheduled execution of 2019 stayed by Texas Court of Criminal Appeals

As reported in this local article, the "Texas Court of Criminal Appeals has stopped the state’s first execution of the year, calling for a lower court to take another look at the case following changes in bite-mark science and laws regarding intellectual disability and the death penalty."  Here is more: Blaine Milam received a stay from the court on Monday, a day before his death was scheduled. Milam, 29, was convicted in the brutal death of his girlfriend’s 13-month-old baby girl in 2008 in Ea...
Tags: Texas, Law, U S Supreme Court, Milam, Carson, Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, Court of Criminal Appeals, Rusk County, Douglas A Berman, Elsa Alcala, Kevin Yeary, Sharon Keller, Robert Jennings, Blaine Milam, Amora Carson, Steven Chaney


Beto bitter over El Paso police-union fight: Here's why that's okay

Grits must admit, I thought a bit more highly of Beto O'Rourke after reading this feature from The Intercept detailing his fraught relationship with the police union in El Paso when he was on the City Council.Police unions have increasingly found themselves in conflict with progressive Democrats in cities across the country, and are notorious for defending even the worst officers on the force against charges of assault or murder. Chris Evans, O’Rourke’s spokesperson, said that when he relayed Th...
Tags: Texas, Law, Senate, Boston, Austin, Wisconsin, Scott Walker, Council, AFL, Sierra Club, BETO, El Paso, Chris Perkins, Ron, Rourke, Moore


No action on blockbuster cases

This morning the Supreme Court released another set of orders from the justices’ private conference last week. On Friday, the justices announced that they would add eight cases from that conference to their docket. Today’s list did not grant review in any new cases, but it was perhaps most significant for what it did not do: The justices did not act on a long list of high-profile cases that they considered last week, involving everything from abortion to the Trump administration’s ban on service...
Tags: Texas, Featured, Supreme Court, Law, Kentucky, New York City, Indiana, United States, Lgbtq, White, Trump, U S Supreme Court, Toshiba Corp, Moore, Michaels, Howe


Justice Kavanaugh joins Chief and more liberal Justices in GVR of Kentucky capital case

This morning's Supreme Court order list is fairly short and is mostly denials of certiorari. But the last page of the order list should intrigue capital sentencing fans, and it contains an order in White v. Kentucky, No. 17-9467, in which the Court vacated the decision below "and the case is remanded to the Supreme Court of Kentucky for further consideration in light of Moore v. Texas, 581 U. S. ___ (2017)." This GVR is made extra interesting because Justice Alito issued this short dissent, whic...
Tags: Texas, Supreme Court, Law, Kentucky, Court, Indiana, Kennedy, Cooper, Webster, Scalia, Moore, Alito, Kavanaugh, Kaushal, Gorsuch, Douglas A Berman


Fixing longstanding criminal-justice problems in a black-ink budget year

Comptroller Glenn Hegar gave the Texas Legislature some good news with a black-ink budget projection for the coming biennium, suggesting they may have more than $9 billion more to spend than in 2017. Some of that will go for Hurricane Harvey costs (thought the Rainy Day fund should also contribute to that), some will get gobbled up with increased costs for entitlement programs, and any school finance fix will almost certainly consume the lion's share of the rest. But it's not inconceivable th...
Tags: Texas, Law, House, Legislature, DPS, RTA, Texas Legislature, LAR, Glenn Hegar, Legislative Budget Board, Gritsforbreakfast, TDCJ, Elsa Alcala, 85th Texas Legislature, Texas Indigent Defense Commission, Office of Capital


In praise of pretrial-detention algorithms, the 'failure to appear fallacy,' Louisiana ↓ technical revocations, and other stories

Several national items merit Grits readers' attention here during the calm before the 86th Texas Legislature storm. Debtors-prison reform: Economic populism and the justice system The New York Times this week published a lengthy, excellent feature on how criminal fines and fees oppress the poor. Good analysis and background. Best evidence supports use of risk assessments in pretrial release decisions Some prominent heavyweight corrections researchers responded to criticisms in the press, not to ...
Tags: Texas, Law, Philippines, Aclu, New York Times, Louisiana, Harris County, FTA, Texas Legislature, Gritsforbreakfast, 86th Texas Legislature, Jennifer Skeem, Skeem, Intermediate Sanctions Facilities, Louisiana The Bayou State


Schools and childhood roundup

“It also highlights the shortcomings of federal education [privacy] laws that protect even admitted killers like [the Parkland, Florida school gunman] who are no longer students.” [Brittany Wallman, Megan O’Matz and Paula McMahon, South Florida Sun Sentinel] Germany forbids homeschooling and the European Court of Human Rights has just upheld the removal of four children from their parents’ home over the issue [BBC] Is there a constitutional right to homeschool in the U.S.? [Eugene Volokh] ...
Tags: Texas, Law, Washington Post, Germany, Uncategorized, Bbc, Atlantic, Schools, European Court Of Human Rights, Rhode Island, San Antonio, Trump, U S Supreme Court, Rodriguez, Eugene Volokh, Lenore Skenazy


Child Neglect: What Are the Legal Actions I Can Do

My question involves child abuse or neglect in the State of Texas (I'll just call her Emily) ( we're both 17 btw about to turn 18 in a little over a month) so I'll start at the beginning of it all. I met this girl the start of senior year of high school, and we basically became more than friends and everything was going great. I told my parents about her, and so I thought she would've done the same, so I asked her if she did, but she didn't. She told me that her parents are pretty strict, which ...
Tags: Texas, Law, Dad, Abuse and Neglect, Emily


Relist Watch Returns

John Elwood reviews the first relists of 2019. Happy New Year and welcome back! Most of D.C. started 2019 nice and slow, enjoying offices (and roads) made quiet by vacations, both planned and unexpected. But not the Supremes. They jumped in with both feet, when most of the lawyering class was still finishing off their fruit baskets. On January 4, the court gave plenary review to the Maryland and North Carolina political-gerrymandering cases and set them for expedited briefing so they could be ...
Tags: Florida, Texas, Featured, Maryland, Supreme Court, Law, Congress, California, Planned Parenthood, Kentucky, Virginia, New York City, Freedom, Alabama, Indiana, United States


Episode 23: The Technology Twilight Zone

On this mini-episode of The Geek In Review, Greg talks about three eerie/interesting/scary instances where the technology seems to be ahead of us humans. Can Amazon be tracking us in a craft store? Are automated computer game players AI? Should guidance apps like WAZE, create a dangerous situation? Well, all three happened. Is it purely happenstance, or is it the technology going beyond our understanding. Probably happenstance… but still eerie. Marlene explored a number of unique holiday dri...
Tags: Amazon, Podcast, Texas, Law, Russia, Uncategorized, Waze, Knowledge Management, Devil, Greg, Alexia, CI, Marlene, Richard Brautigan, David Whelan, Donde Esta Santa Claus


Runaways: Can I Legally Move Out at 18 in Texas with Out Parents Consent

My question involves juvenile law in the State of: Texas. I saw your reply on someone moving out at 18. I’m not doing it to be rebellious or jump into bills. I might not have a choice. I’m starting university and my mom won’t let me live on campus. She’s paranoid something bad would happen to me and thinks driving 1 hour taking me everyday would be fine. So I don’t want to argue with her and said fine, whatever. Yet, she complains about the gas and time frame doing it. So overall I feels she doe...
Tags: Texas, Law, Juvenile Law


Argument preview: Requiring notice and comment under the Medicare statute

The intricacies of the Medicare program will be on display at the Supreme Court next week, in a case challenging a major Department of Health and Human Services payment determination issued without notice-and-comment procedures. The case has administrative law mavens tuned in as well, as it may have broader implications for the still unresolved but critical question of when agencies in general may act without such procedures. Medicare, the massive federal health insurance program for the elder...
Tags: Texas, Featured, Supreme Court, Law, Congress, Barack Obama, Cms, United States, Medicare, Department Of Homeland Security, APA, HHS, D C Circuit, Department of Health and Human Services, Kavanaugh, Sebelius


Calculation of Support: How to Determine Amount Paid when Parent Owns LLC and Pays Themselves

My question involves a child custody case from the State of: Texas. My child's bio and completely absent father (until recently) has asked to be a part of her life and financially support the child. My husband (the only father she has ever known) and I met with him to discuss moving forward. The bio father came up with the number of $800 a month, saying " I only pay myself $4k a month or $48k a year from my company, because that is all I want to pay taxes on" We all know that his " worth" is m...
Tags: Texas, Law, Child Custody, Support And Visitation


Appeal of Harris bail suit withdrawn, lazy judges cause jail overcrowding, and the paradox of progressive prosecutors

Here are a few odds and ends that merit Grits readers' attention: Appeal withdrawn in Harris Co bail suit The new Harris County misdemeanor court judges have withdrawn their appeal in ongoing federal bail litigation of the 5th Circuit's ruling that inmates must be released within 48 hours. The Houston Chronicle's Keri Blakinger and Gabi Banks reported that the county has spent $9 million fighting Judge Lee Rosenthal's order. Lazy judges contribute to jail overcrowding, colleague charges Eric Dex...
Tags: Texas, Law, Urban, Austin, San Antonio, Tarrant County, Barry Johnson, Houston Chronicle, HARRIS, Harvard Law Review, Harris County, Harris Co, 5th Circuit, Texas Legislature, Star Telegram, McLennan County


Background Checks: Can Background Checks Include Applications at Other Employers

My question involves labor and employment law for the state of: Texas I'm doing some research for my wife. She's applied for a couple of government positions that are law enforcement related. Part of the normal application process is filling out something called a Personal History Statement (PHS), it's like a 50 page story of your life. They ask all the typical stuff along with not just what you may have got caught doing but what you actually have done. For example they ask about drug use, ...
Tags: Texas, Law, Employment and Labor


“Science Favors J&J in Talcum Powder Lawsuits”

For years lawyers have been suing Johnson & Johnson claiming that its baby powder has caused ovarian cancer, a theory that has mostly met with failure in court. This summer, however, a St. Louis jury found liability and ordered the company to pay $4.69 billion, on a related theory that asbestos contaminants in the product (as opposed to talc itself) caused the disease. On December 14 Reuters followed with a lengthy piece laying out, and implicitly siding with, the plaintiff lawyers’ accusations...
Tags: New York, Texas, Law, California, Uncategorized, New Jersey, St Louis, Asbestos, Product Liability, Reuters, Johnson Johnson, Nocera, Mark Lanier, Daniel Fisher Forbes, Toxic Torts, Joe Nocera Bloomberg


Sex Offenses: 25 Year Old Got a 17 Year Old Pregnant. Will He Get in Trouble

My question involves criminal law for the state of: Texas I’m 17 and my boyfriend is 25. I found out I might be pregnant. Will he go to jail? I know the age of consent in Texas is 17 but Texas Penal Code Section 43.25 says that, and I quote, “the defendant employs, authorizes, or induces a child younger than 18 years of age; to engage in sexual conduct or a sexual performance; knowing the character and content thereof” which makes no sense to me, please help me. Thank you for reading:)
Tags: Texas, Law, Criminal Charges, Texas Penal Code Section


The justices return, without Ginsburg or any new grants (Updated)

[Editor’s Note: This post was updated to cover the four cases in which the Supreme Court asked the U.S. solicitor general to file briefs.] The justices returned to the bench today for the first arguments of the new year. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who had surgery on December 21 to remove two cancerous growths from her lungs, was not on the bench this morning; a court spokeswoman indicated that she would still participate in today’s cases based on the briefs and transcripts. The justices issued...
Tags: Texas, Featured, Supreme Court, Law, Virginia, New York City, Court, Georgia, Indiana, United States, Citigroup, Argentina, Ohio, Atkins, Lgbtq, Ruth Bader Ginsburg


Monday round-up

This morning the Supreme Court kicks off the January argument session with oral arguments in two cases. The first is Merck Sharp & Dohme v. Albrecht, which raises questions about whether a state-law failure-to-warn claim is pre-empted by federal law regulating the safety and efficacy of prescription drugs. Elizabeth McCuskey previewed the case for this blog. Garion Liberti and Tayler Woelcke have a preview for Cornell Law School’s Legal Information Institute. The second case today is Obduskey v....
Tags: Texas, Maryland, Supreme Court, Law, Washington Post, Washington, Massachusetts, Bloomberg, Gop, Wyoming, North Carolina, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Justice Department, Cornell, Trump, Round-up


Innocence Project Math 101: Why it's certain eyewitnesses are still sending innocent people to prison in Texas

Our friends at the prosecutor association want to pretend Texas has solved its problem with eyewitnesses falsely identifying innocent suspects after Texas passed non-binding guidelines for police lineups in 2011. Shannon Edmonds last night was crowing on Twitter that the last exoneration based a false ID in Texas was in 2010, and the state had solved the problem in 2011.This is such a disingenuous claim I thought I'd dissect it without the 140 character limitations.Texas hasn't seen more eyewitn...
Tags: Texas, Law, New York Times, The Times, Dallas, Houston, Times, Legislature, Shannon, Gritsforbreakfast, TDCAA, 14th Court of Appeals, Shannon Edmonds


An Indiana cancer cluster in the NYT

Over the years, the New York Times and writers associated with it have done more than most of us to debunk scares over purported cancer clusters. “When multiple cases of cancer occur in a community, especially among children, it is only human to fear a common cause,” wrote George Johnson in a 2015 Times piece. “Most often these cancer clusters turn out to be statistical illusions, the result of what epidemiologists call the Texas sharpshooter fallacy. (Blast the side of a barn with a random spra...
Tags: Texas, Law, Uncategorized, Indiana, New York Times, Johnson, Times, Toms River, Erin Brockovich, George Johnson, HIROKO TABUCHI, TCE, Woburn Mass, Gina Kolata, Johnson County Indiana, Toxic Torts


Prospects for reduced marijuana penalties in the 86th #txlege

The Texas Legislature this year is primed for its most serious effort yet at reducing penalties for user-level marijuana possession. Legalization is off the table. This is a debate about reducing punishments. (I'm setting aside here medical marijuana proposals, which Grits doesn't track closely and are outside my area of expertise.) There are essentially two proposals for reducing pot penalties that have a chance, and each have been endorsed by prominent Texas GOP officials. Gov. Greg Abbo...
Tags: Texas, Law, Gop, House, Speaker, Greg Abbott, Allen, Moody, Texas Legislature, Joe Moody, HB, Joe Straus, Gritsforbreakfast, House Criminal Jurisprudence Committee, Alma Allen


A Reciprocated Lack Of Interest

An attorney's probated 30 month suspension in Texas and by the United States Patent and Trademark Office has brought an actual suspension as reciprocal discipline by the New York Appellate Division for the Third Judicial Department Turning to the issue... [Author: Legal Profession Prof]
Tags: Texas, Law, United States Patent and Trademark Office, Legal Profession Prof, Bar Discipline & Process, New York Appellate Division, Third Judicial Department



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