Citations for NOT speaking English?

After an entirely long break, I am coming back to blogging and this time, I am going to stay on top of it and strive to write something at least two times per week.  For those of you who have continued reading this, despite the lack of new content, thank you.  For those who have not read it, please take a look and post your opinions.

I have continued to post comments, even during my break, and hope that readers will continue to publish information, opinions, etc. to this blog.

Having said that, I’d like to start by commenting on a story that seems to be getting national attention, and not to my surprise, being completely misunderstood by so many of the people who write comments on the bottom of news stories, online.

The topic is citations for "non-English speaking drivers" in Dallas, Texas.  The uproar in the comments is how the supervising police officers (the command staff) are not backing up officers who wrote these tickets and then all the hateful things that are often said about immigrants and those coming to the United States.  

The really interesting part to me is how the article took a turn from dealing with the citations to comments about illegal immigration practices.  The two have absolutely nothing to do with one another.  The officers were not targeting "illegal immigrants", in fact, I do not think they were targeting anyone.  However, I do believe the law was being inappropriately applied to non-commercial drivers.

This is definitely a story to watch as it develops and to see how it goes.  But, the correct decision was made, which is to not issue this citation.  Afterall, there is not a "national language" and to require one and to enforce it with criminal sanctions is ridiculous.  Afterall, when all of our ancestors first came to this country, which was a very primitive land at the time, inhabited only by non-English speaking Native Americans…. we changed the rules and took what we wanted to take… and forced our language on them. 

I’m not suggesting that this is what is happening with Hispanics or any other groups of people, but to have a law and to actually enforce a law that one must speak English is quite out of bounds….

This article describes the story more and has a video, but I am not vouching for how long it will remain up on the site.

NewLawyer.com: Not just for “New Lawyers”

After reviewing this site, it seems legit and like it has a lot of information we could all benefit from, especially as it relates to networking:  www.newlawyer.com

A Criminal’s “Right” to Sue v. A Police Officer’s Duty & Responsiblity

Another video and story that is all over the internet and played throught news outlets across the country is the story of Anthony Warren, who is now serving a 20 year prison sentence for his crimes, to which he accepted a plea bargain to resolve the case.

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While the above video is rather lengthy and includes a lot of commentary, a simple search on the internet will produce multiple copies of the video that shows a group of officers beating the accused after his ejection from a vehicle.

In no way am I defending Warren’s decision to evade in a vehicle (captured on the same footage) and jeopardize the safety of other motorists; however, there is absolutely no way to justify the severe and egrigious lapse of judgment shown by the officers who attacked and assaulted Warren when he is clearly unconcious, lying on the ground, and posing no threat to anyone.

As a former officer who has been involved in a vehicle pursuit, I would never have beaten the suspect, despite being high on endorphins caused by the adrenaline rush of the pursuit, and neither should these officers.  The proper actions for them to take would have been to handcuff him and call for medical support due to ejection from the vehicle.

Fortunately, these officers have been terminated from their positions of power and trust, but what is also disturbing about this story is that multiple other officers knew of this incident and failed to report it, according to news accounts.  For a profession that claims to value "truth" above all else, there is a severe lapse of judgment and irony present here.

More disturbing to me are comments that are made after the article.  Given the source of this information, I believe it to be statements written by other officers or their families, which would explain the bias demonstrated.  The article with comments is linked in order to read the context and for anyone interested to continue to follow the posts made by others. 

Further alarming news is reported by CBS when they describe how evidence was tampered with by some law enforcement officers and it was only the will of an upstanding prosecutor, who discovered the evidence and provided the video to the Defense.

To conclude, the very idea that any person can justify the officers’ actions is an embarassment to the entire legal system in this Country.  We as a society must be above barbaric behaviors like those demonstrated by these officers, who lost control of their faculties and beat an unconcious man.  And while it may be distasteful that Anthony Warren is allowed to file a lawsuit against the officers, that is really the only way in which he can seek any relief from these officers.

Lazy? Oversight? Moronic? Red Tape? (a few words that crossed my mind while driving to the Williamson County Jail)

So tonight, I found myself having to work through more of the bureaucratic red-tape that is caused by either the lack of communication, poor training, disorganization, laziness or simply the complete ineptitude by some but not all of the people working in the Williamson County Sheriff’s Office. 

The background:

At approximately 3:45 to 4:30 p.m. on Friday, February 13, 2009, I spoke with a client and signed a waiver of magistration to speed up the time of her release from custody in the Williamson County Jail.  She was arrested earlier this date on a warrant with a bond already set by a different judge.  I completed the form that the jail staff provided me and submitted it to one of the jail staff supervisors.  The Waiver was accepted.  The time was now approximately 4:30-4:45 p.m.  I left the jail and spoke with the client’s relative who had hired me on her behalf.  In addition, the surety bond itself was posted almost simultaneously to this by a local bonding company.  The client should be released anytime now that these documents were in place.

The result:

At 10:25 p.m. (approximately 6 hours later) I receive a call from the bonding company saying there is a problem with the client’s release because "they" (Williamson County Jail) did not have a copy of my bar card with the Waiver.  I called the jail and spoke with the Sgt. working at that time and was told that they must have the bar card with it.  I explained that it had been filed by a Lt. on a previous release, but this Sgt. said that was not sufficient, that it must be with this Waiver.  I asked the Sgt. if she could copy it from a prior file that I turned in on a different client on February 12.  I was told no because that does not verify my identity.  I then asked if it could be pulled from the State Bar of Texas website, where the State of Texas maintains my record as an attorney.  Again, I was told "no".  Then, I was told that if I wanted to wait and discuss the matter with the Lt. or another supervisor, I was free to do that but that the client would not be released without a copy of my bar card.  Of course, I got out of bed and made a special trip back to Georgetown to fulfill this "request".

My opinion:

Granted, we all have opinions and thus they are not necessarily worth anything.  However, I was completely appalled by this entire process for a number of reasons:

  1. This information (bar card information) is on file with the Sheriff’s Department in a rolodex at the front desk (taken by the Lt. I referenced);
  2. This information is available on the Internet, which I provided the link to above and offered to the Sgt. (and given the countless hours that County employees spend surfing the internet when they should be working, this "required information" could have been pulled and put with the Waiver, if it is so important);
  3. Most importantly, the Waiver was accepted when I turned it in … no one told me that they needed my bar card again (previously filed and even checked when I entered the jail on this date, so they knew I was an attorney);
  4. Probably of less importance, but I worked at the Williamson County Sheriff’s Office from October, 2005 until June, 2008 (granted I doubt everyone knows that or cares, but I know that I am in the County computer system);
  5. This was probably just a passive aggressive act to hold the client in jail a few hours longer… afterall, why on earth did it take until 10:25 p.m. for me to even get a call about this "error"?

My plea to anyone with an interest in changing Williamson County:

  1. Start paying attention to things that happen here;
  2. VOTE (for anyone who runs against the elected members of this monopolized, disfunctional machine);
  3. Take note of stories like this and remember them … it is only a matter of time until something happens to every one of us (directly or indirectly);
  4. Question why it took so long to process this release when the documents were submitted before 5:00 p.m.;
  5. Respond to my blog … let’s really start a discussion here (I am still incensed by the lack of professionalism, communication, and integrity that pervades the very core of the Williamson County Criminal Justice System and so should every person who resides in that County… unless you are part of the problem rather than the solution).

I purposely omitted names of the parties and other entities involved, as there is no reason for me to name them individually, however, the ranks of the people I spoke with were accurate and gender was purposely excluded.  As a criminal defense attorney who regularly defends people accused of crimes in Williamson County, Texas, I see a direct need for getting that system to change, as it is overrun with problems just like this on so many levels and with a very few exceptions, most people are not willing to speak against it to urge that Change come to this place.

Mean, Sick, Cruel “Activists” … all in the Name of God … Prosecuted for Flag Desecration???

The inspiration for this article began when I was reading headlines and found one that said Judge Permits Flag-Desecration Prosecution in Nebraska.  This was referenced by one Mark Godsey, a criminal law professor.  So, as I read his article, I wanted to know more about the facts of the case and the ruling made by the Court, and I got very, very distracted… I’ve always known you could find anything on the internet, and this verifies it.

Given that there was a reference to the Defendant, Shirley Phelps-Roper, who is a member of the Westboro Baptist Church of Topeka, Kansas, I looked up both, and was amazed at the amount of traffic out there.  And, when you go to the church’s link, pay attention to their URL.  To think that this is a "church" really makes the statement of Trust in God but Question Religion make more sense to me….

Check out this video for a really good taste for more about Shirley Phelps-Roper:

 

Yes, now I’m ranting, and this has little to do with me as an Austin criminal defense attorney, other than to point out that even people like Shirley and the members of her church deserve to be protected by the laws of this nation, to have the right to free speech, as protected by the Constitution.  I must be clear, I am not defending or condoning Shirley or her "church" but I am saying that she should not be prosecuted for flag desecration, assuming it was a form of speech.

More coming on the flag desecration line of cases… even though it may protect a hate-monger like Shirley and the Westboro Baptist Church…. Quite honestly, I’m surprised that the Baptist conventions have not taken it upon themselves to expel this "church" from their flock.