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Proper Dress and Etiquette for Court

I am constantly amazed at how some people dress when they go to court. Defendants charged with drug offenses show up in baggy t-shirts with pictures of Bob Marley smoking a joint. Some look like they got dressed to stand on a street corner selling cocaine, in football jerseys and baggy shorts and sporting gold… Read More »

What is a Summary Judgment?

In a civil case (as opposed to a criminal case), a court may enter a summary judgment when the undisputed facts show that there is no genuine issue of any material fact and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. The party seeking summary judgment files a motion that states… Read More »

Texas Department Public Safety Lab Scandal – Cases Thrown Out

Nearly 5,000 cases “may all be jeopardized” by DPS lab worker misconduct Gritsforbreakfast (the best blog on Texas criminal law) reports that potentially all of the 4,944 cases worked by a since-discredited DPS crime lab worker may be thrown out, and this morning an appellate case summary posted at the prosecutors’ association agreed that those… Read More »

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 »