Today's Houston Criminal Law News

 Posted on March 11, 2009 in Uncategorized

This, an appeal arising out of a Houston case is, as far as I can tell, the first time ever that Judge Sharon Keller has reversed a case to a defendant's benefit.

Bailiff uses taser on man accused of photographing witness.

Johnson was watching a trial in state District Judge Ruben Guerrero's court, officials said, then stood up in the gallery and took a picture with his cell phone.Because a witness whose identity was being protected was testifying, a bailiff escorted the man out and tried to confiscate the phone, Harris County Sheriff's Office spokeswoman Susan Card said. The two struggled and the bailiff shocked the man with the Taser, Card said.

Alternate story:

Darrell Jordan, a defense attorney, said he was an observer in the murder trial when the incident occurred. Jordan, who is not connected to the trial, said the man protested that he didn't take a picture of the witness. He told to bailiffs and Precinct 1 constable's deputies that he took a picture of his younger brother, the victim in the case.Jordan said a bailiff escorted the man out of the courtroom and told him not to come back. Cussing the bailiff, Jordan said, the man tried to go back in and was brought out again.

Convicted Houston cop killer wins new trial because the trial judge shouldn't have allowed the State to exclude two Canadians black people from the jury.

In the opinion in Haynes v. Quarterman (PDF), the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals noted that the judge, who did not observe the voir dire, had no reason to uphold the prosecution's demeanor-based justifications for its peremptory challenges of the two black jurors.

Why didn't the judge observe the voir dire? Because a visiting judge presided over jury selection (and, not for nothing, that judge was cleaning his pistols during the jury selection).

Haynes, a Houston Fire Department arson investigator's son, shot HPD Sgt. Kent Kincaid for no apparent reason.

Choice quote:

"It's the view of this court that the life that was taken by you was certainly of greater value than the life that you have lived for the short time you have been on this earth," Wallace said.

See, that's why I could never be a judge - I'm not acting under the impression that I'm God.

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