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Author Archives: Richard L. Ellison

No Evidentiary Privilege for AA Fifth Step Confessions

They say that confession is good for the soul. The 12 step programs enshrine this idea in the Fifth Step, where the recovering alcoholic or addict “admits to God, ourselves and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.” What if the penitent has committed a crime? Take, for example, Michael Skakel, a… Read More »

Can I get deported for misdemeanor drug or weapon offense?

I practice law in a small town (20,000). In the past 18 months, I’ve represented two Legal Permanent Residents (LPR’s) who came to me after they plead guilty to minor offenses, were placed on probation, and shocked when immigration agents arrested them and locked them up pending deportation. One was a 20 year old woman,… Read More »

What does 3g mean?

Sometimes you’ll hear defendants and their lawyers and prosecutors talk about “3g offenses.” They’re referring to Sec. 3g of Article 42.12 of the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure, captioned Limitation on Judge Ordered Community Supervision. A judge cannot order probation to a defendant adjudged guilty of numerous serious offenses, including murder, indecency with a child,… Read More »

When Loaning Your Roommate a Xanax Bar Makes You a Drug Dealer

Hey, Can You Spare a Couple of Xanax Bars? National Inventory of the Collateral Consequences of Conviction, or how a minor drug offense can ruin your life. Collateral consequences are the bad things that happen to a person convicted of a crime, in addition to the criminal penalties themselves (direct consequences). If you are charged… Read More »

Is a criminal trial a “search for the truth”?

For a good exploration of the idea of a trial as a truth seeking inquiry, I recommend an online essay by Harvard Law Professor Alan Dershowitz, described by Frontline as a clear and compelling explanation by renowned legal expert Alan Dershowitz on how there are several kinds of “truths” in a criminal trial — as… Read More »

How Do Criminal Defense Lawyers Say What They Do With a Straight Face?

Are criminal defense lawyers dishonest? Or, how can he say that with a straight face? We’re all familiar with famous cases where everyone knew the defendant was guilty before the trial ever started. The most infamous guilty criminal who walked is probably O.J. Simpson, acquitted for the murders of his estranged wife Nicole and a… Read More »

SCOTUS – Lying Under Oath is Still a Crime

The Supreme Court issued three bad opinions this week, on immigration, health care, and Stolen Valor. Even though they struck down the Stolen Valor Act, they made clear again that lying under oath is perjury and there’s no constitutional right to do that. From Justice Kennedy’s plurality opinion: The same point can be made about… Read More »

Freedom of Information Act Letter to Military

Your name and address here June 22, 2012 Much thanks to “This ain’t hell but you can see it from here” Put your request into this form and send it with the official form NPRC has online; otherwise all you’ll get is the dates of service. XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX This is a request under the… Read More »

Stolen Valor Perp Exposed

Stolen Valor – Is it criminal or just lying?

How to Check Someone’s Claims of Military Service, Honors and Medals Here’s how the Stolen Valor project describes it: “It starts off simple enough. A casual mention of military service. And, oh by the way, a Purple Heart and a few other honors earned. How can you not trust a man who served his country… Read More »