Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Team court & prosecutrix v. me - last in the series

First, if you want to read my blog posts about this trial from the beginning, you have to go back to March. There are 10 posts about this trial, and none are that long. : ) (I had someone comment on yesterday's who did not realize there were more. In fact, she helped me in jury deselection - which is really what it is - choosing those we DON'T want v. choosing those we do want.)

Anyway, rarely do we sequester a jury. Sequester means make them stay together until verdict. That is more court t.v.ish - jurors get angry & sometimes rush to a verdict which is not often good for the defense because it is the little things we often rely upon; the judge makes your life hell, etc. But, it is available to us if we think it proper.

It was odd that the judge asked me before this trial if I was going to want the jury sequestered. I said probably not, as I have never done it before & had no expectation of doing it now - this was supposed to be about a week long trial (including starting after daily docket & all). It stretched & stretched & stretched. The judge said we had 7 days of testimony. When I've orally told the story in the past, my memory told me it lasted over the course of 3 weeks. (It actually felt longer.) It was definitely the longest state (non-federal) trial I had ever been involved in!

So, here we are the Tuesday before Thanksgiving. The judge had already said she was taking Wednesday off. It was early afternoon. We finally finished the jury instructions (which took forever - the reason being that limiting instruction I previously talked about. Now that she was trying to put it in writing, she could see the folly in her oral instruction, as could P who called her quote appellate section to be told she was WRONG. The case I provided was not enough - no. Anyway, I digress.)

I express concern about arguing & then letting the jury go FOR SIX DAYS!!! (The timing was so bad, but I just cannot believe that she is going to make us argue & then let them go home. They wouldn't remember anything!)

Remember, my client's freedom is at stake - he could get life in prison for this bunch of hogwash! I have fought, & fought hard against The Team, but the timing I just could not help. (I was trying to think of other witnesses I could call - but I had exhausted all & P who deserves no number had chickened out of calling additional witnesses after I got ahold of her extraneous complainant.)

The Court: ...And I just don't think it's fair to the jurors not to get as far as we can today. (Believe me - she is not kidding. She is thinking voters, not potential conviction & life imprisonment. She doesn't hesitate to send people away on a daily basis.)

Me: I am going to request to sequester the jury if we turn the case over to them.

The Court: (read with utter disbelief & complete disdain for me) You're going to sequester the jury over the Thanksgiving holidays?

Of course, I'm not the one doing it - she will. Now she is M A D, mad! Me: Yes, Judge. Over a six-day-period where all kinds of discussions can take place, yes, ma'am.

Now before you think badly of me - remember - all that I asked was to let the jury go (it was about 2 or 3 in the afternoon) and have them return on the following Monday for argument. SHE wanted us to argue, and then if they did not reach a verdict in about 30 minutes, have them return on Monday. Not much of a difference really but a HUGE one for the client. But, The Court was trying to find some way to make me pay for protecting my client.

So, she brings in the jury. (I'm sure that I reminded her that the jury was not to know who asked for them to be sequestered but that is not in the record for some reason. You, having read the prior posts, know why I would have to ask the Court to follow the law & not snitch me out . . .)

The Court: Members of the jury, the charge is almost ready. We have two minor typographical errors to fix, that won't take too long. However, the jury has been sequestered. (Just a little white lie, I guess.) That means the jury will not be allowed to go home while you're in deliberations. You'll be put up in a hotel. Sequestration is mandatory if either the State or the Defense requests it. So if either the State or the Defense requests, it's not discretionary with the court. (She's trying to put it on somebody but herself when in reality it is her - she is the only one pushing to have argument that day.)

We're willing to work late today; that is, until you reach a verdict. We'll get dinner, one way or the other, and we'll send you to a hotel so you'll have to call somebody down to bring your suitcase and so forth. Potentially, I guess we could work late tonight, all day tomorrow, late the next night and then we'd end up on Thanksgiving day. So I guess potentially we would be down here on Thanksgiving day. (Boy - she is really making this a big deal. HHHHmmmm - and whose fault would that be? All I asked was to wait until Monday to argue. Jurors are eyeing P & me to see if they can figure out who the culprit is. I'm waiting for the client's ex to shout out - it is the fault of that stupid ex husband of mine. All faults in life are his! HA! I had told my client not to make ANY faces whatsoever. I didn't want to give our side away - and you can bet that I was carefully watching The Team to make sure they weren't making googoo eyes or something.)

The Court continues: The staff and I are willing to do that. (Well, another stretch of the truth. SHE is the only one who wanted Wednesday off. None of the jurors had expressed concern about Wednesday.) You've been here so long (I didn't see it but I wouldn't be surprised if I didn't get a look shot my way), we'll be willing to do that if finishing is in the realm of possibility. (You see - I think it really is within the realm of probability IF we don't take off Wednesday - for The Court's cooking convenience. I felt at that time that at a minimum, I had a hung jury. I felt a couple of the jurors weren't buying into the BS, & would make it known pretty quickly.)

The Court continues: The other possibility is to send you home now and then to have final arguments Monday morning. So it's your choice -- would you all like to step into the jury room for just a moment ... (and she tells them only to talk about when they want to hear argument with the constraints she has just listed. But, she looks good now - she is protecting their Thanksgiving holiday from one of us mean lawyers - like she figured out how to get around our little game . . .)

I then get my hiney chewed out because I didn't mention sequestration earlier. Mid-chew, bailiff comes in and says they want to come back Monday. I can't blame her but she asks if I will want the jury sequestered then, and I tell her no - ME: My concern was with the six-day lapse in time. The Court: Are you likely to change you mind on Monday. Me: I am not likely to change my mind on Monday.

I have to tell you that the bailiff and the process server loved this trial. They thought it was funny that I did not let The Team just run right over me like so many lawyers do, and they especially liked the sequestration threat I made. But they told me what a great lawyer I was & how much they respected my work, blah blah. (They still swear I am the most hated lawyer in that court by The Court even though this trial was several years ago.)

I know I have written this in a smartie panties way - for entertainment, really - but I was NEVER disrespectful. I never played outside the rules. I tried my best to be cooperative. But, first and foremost, my client's freedom was at stake and truth and justice just could not be found in that courtroom. And while The Court didn't think I had some special knowledge to know my client was innocent (remember - I had the greater self-righteous attitude as discussed in an earlier post), I had spent MANY, many, many . . . hours with this client, with the family, and I knew - I know - he did not do this.

I also knew that The Court was not letting in ANY of my defense - NONE. All I had was cross - which wasn't bad, I must admit. But, I would have had a not guilty if I got my stuff in, and because the c/w & c/w2 told so many lies, I figured that if there was a retrial after a hung jury, I would just completely kill them.

The moral of my hours of effort in writing up this trial experience was not only for entertainment, but to encourage especially the less experienced lawyers not to let the trial crap get you down; to fight the good fight & keep fighting. Think outside the box.

And, for everyone - be a great juror. Listen closely, and use all your common sense. So many times after a trial, prosecutors run in & tell jurors all the bad stuff that didn't get in - like priors, etc. (which frequently are unrelated & do not mean that the person is necessarily guilty), but it happens to the defense, too, just like it did in this case.

Don't guess about what you are not hearing - but do take a stand, while listening to the discussions among the jurors, and stand for what you believe. If you believe the State has proven every element beyond a reasonable doubt, so be it - it is a guilty verdict. But if something just isn't right - ask yourself if you have a reasonable doubt because of that. Reasonable doubt has no definition but what you apply to it.

Finally - when you get that jury summons - GO. We need good jurors. We need good listeners. We need people with common sense.

HHHhhhhmmmmmm - what shall I blog post next? Suggestions? : )

Thanks for reading.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Team court & prosecutrix v. me - trial fun 9 (of 10)

I am crossing the extraneous complainant (about which I had no notice as required by the rules. She admits she talked to my client's ex-wife a couple of weeks before the trial began but just decided she wanted to testify. Client's ex-wife was there every day & hated client. So, uh, yeah, right. I'm believing that. DUH.)

I do not believe her any more than I believed the complainant for numerous reasons. And, I do not have to concede their stories when I am talking - do I? Well apparently the judge thinks I do. P (the PNDL who deserves no number) objects that I am being argumentative in the phrasing of my questions when I ask, ME: And were ya'll on the couch, by your allegation, when he was rubbing himself on you, or on the floor? [For my Northern area readers - I know you are not believing I actually said ya'll - but I did, and I do. That & this Texas accent are how my jurors know I'm from 'round these here parts. Gosh that made me laugh when I was editing. Hope you are, too.]

So, the judge asks to hear the question again - of course, this is impossible for me because my mind races so I get close: ME: Were you on the couch when you claim he sexually assaulted you or were you on the floor. The Court: Thank you. (the ever famous phrase) [to P] You withdraw your objection? P: She's changed the phrasing, yes. [Actually, didn't I make it more argumentative?! Anyway, I'm frequently accused of something regarding my phrasing by the judge in this case, so now P is at it.]

Anyway, I began my next question when I am interrupted. ME: Were you on the couch when you say you were sexually assaulted - - The Court: Excuse me. Anytime you say, quote when you say or quote when you claim, that's an argumentative question. MAN - my hearing must be bad because I did NOT hear an objection. So, I take to use the word alleging. ME: You're alleging that Ralph rubbed his [I'm leaving out the specific word for this body part] on you; correct?. . . And when you are saying that this happened, were ya'll on the couch or on the floor? [Guess they gave up because the second question was just after the first . . .]

I mean - this is the way it is done. I do not have to concede that one word this girl is saying is true! Anyway, just some more crap to try to screw with me and thereby screw my client.

I like a short while later when I am asking her about some things that P represented to me & the Court that c/w2 said. She says she did NOT tell P this, and she did not tell P that. Her objection? P: [now remember - read this in a whiny tone!!!] Objection, she's asked and answered it. The Court: Sustained. HA! HA! HA! Yes, P, go ahead & make sure that everyone is aware that you have at least told me that c/w2 said certain things that she did not!!! My integrity continues to remain intact while hers is - in tatters. HA!

You know the problem here - not enough practice. You know how hard it is to remember a lie. Well, these two just did not have enough time for them to practice back & forth (this is frequently called woodshedding) and the girl wasn't a professional witness. If they had had more time, then they could have perfected the story. As it was, things were just falling apart with every question I asked. I had begun really liking this additional allegation because it was so bogus that everyone in the room could smell it. [And I didn't even throw that skunk in the box! P did by going TOO far.]

Normally when a defense lawyer gets finished cross-examining someone like a sweet girl who has supposedly been sexually assaulted & then has to endure the hateful ole' defense lawyer's insinuations or outright allegations that she is lying [during her horrid embarassment in telling the tale], the State wants to fix any little problems and make that mean defense lawyer really pay for hurting such an innocent c/w. Well, not this time. I tore this girl up so bad not only did the State not redirect (ask additional questions) but she immediately rested & did not call the other witnesses that she had. HA!

Next thing is me putting on one of Client's children to talk about how his mother (Client's ex) has been threatening to get people down to that courthouse and testify against Client to ensure conviction. I'm trying to get in some good stuff quickly because I know, from my experience in THIS trial, that once P objects, the party is over. (I'm not allowed to do anything that might hurt the State's case, ya know. Some special rule made up just for this case apparently.)

The Court calls for the jury to retire so she & P can figure out how to keep any impeachment out when apparently a fight breaks out in the hall between witnesses. This case was the biggest cluster you know what I have ever been involved in! In fact, after the jury fails to convict my client, the judge holds a hearing to determine contempt. (The Court even orders witnesses for one side to use the restroom on one floor, and witnesses on the other side to use the restroom on a separate form! I swear! But, I didn't get my evidence in before the jury so I made a bill with several witnesses. I already told you, if Client got convicted, I was sure this case would be reversed. I made sure the appellate court would know everything that I was put through in trying to get this man a fair trial!)

One final posting on THIS case after this one - my threat to sequester the jury, and the court's response. It is funny. Remember - we have had 7 days of testimony that has lasted over a couple of weeks because of The Court's various personal scheduling. . . You will enjoy my only win in this trial. (Okay - not really my only - I got a hung jury & a dismissal which was most wonderful . . .)

Until next time. . .

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Team court & prosecutrix v. me - trial fun VIII

Okay, we are working with the surprise extraneous complainant (c/w2) - who has known about the allegations against my client forever - she is a cousin to the original complainant and my client's niece. So, she is talking about her "outcry" which was VERY recent.

(She is about 20 at the time & supposedly the stuff happened when she was about 4 or 5 so the judge is going to let in her hearsay. At this point, I am fine because I love impeaching every witness with another - they cannot remember what they last said. But here is The Court's take on changing of stories - outside the presence of the jury on voir dire because I am trying to have potential witnesses who are in the courtroom sworn & removed. The Court wants to question ME about what I might question them about - before I have even heard all of what C/W2 might say about what she told them. I am really trying to do as she is instructing me in my questioning, but it is hard to understand what she wants.)

The Court: I'm sorry, the purpose of the hearing now is to determine whether or not these people are witnesses. We're getting a little far field from that; aren't we? [Don't you like how she tries to include me in her conspiracy.]

ME: I don't know, Judge, because that's not what she said the first time. (She had already testified to her purported outcry, and of course now she was saying something different after listening to the judge essentially coach what she would & would not let in. I have to admit - this was a great trial for impeaching because there were so many lies flying around that seriously, I couldn't keep up. In fact, in summation, I couldn't possibly list 1/2 of them I caught this bunch of - uh, people - in.)

The Court: You keep saying that people are changing their story. And to be honest,(hmm - what was it Randy Schaffer said when someone uses this phrase . . .) from what I heard, I didn't hear her change anything. It was the way it comes out. (Okay - first time sisters are in the room, 2nd time they aren't - I thought that was a change but apparently . . . .) It's for the jury to decide. (EXACTLY - so why is The Court trying to prevent me from simply having the potential witnesses sworn & out of the courtroom. It IS for the jury to HEAR and to decide - only they aren't getting to HEAR much of anything from my side.) If they want to construe that as a change in testimony, they may. But every time someone says something in a different way than they said it earlier, doesn't mean they changed their testimony. (UH - really?!) It just means they said it a different way. And a lot of it has to do with how the questions are phrased and how it comes out. (Yep - blame me for being good at cross - I'll accept that.)

Are you still seeking to have these people witnesses since they weren't present during the outcry? I don't see how they could be witnesses. They weren't present during the alleged improper contact. And they weren't present during the outcry. So how could they be witnesses? Whatever they said or did on another day is irrelevant to this case?

(First, as you can see P need not say anything because The Court is making all the arguments for her - even though she supposedly is hearing this stuff for the first time. Further, she is wanting me to tell the witness as well as P what I have on this girl & about what witnesses will say if they tell the truth. It is known as giving the prosecutor a little preview, only I really don't want to do it. I don't try my cases against untrustworthy people that way. If I have something to share & feel I can based on who I am dealing with, I do it pre-trial - to avoid trial - not during trial to help them prepare!)

ME: She's also testified that -- may we approach so I don't have to tell them? (I recognized the coaching . . . I wasn't going to help them. Heck, I couldn't believe The Court was actually getting involved at this point. I think maybe P had taken a restroom break. Obviously she wasn't needed. I'm kidding . . .)

The Court: Okay. (I'm sure this was said with disgust.)

ME: There is going to be testimony from my witnesses that this girl has spent the night at their house since then (her purported assault), with her sisters, at my client's house, since these allegations occurred. (I hesitate because I don't want to continue, but The Court says nothing, so I start with more:) And in addition, at the time, based on her testimony, when she says this happened. . .

The Court interrupts: In that case, the sisters were potential witnesses, if they were in the house at the time this happened. Who stood up awhile ago? Stand up again, please. (And she swears them in. See, I have made enough record at this point that she knows that continuing to allow these potential witnesses to sit in the court is just the icing on the cake. I'm already sure that I'm just practicing in trying this case. It is going to be a not guilty, a hung jury, or a reversal after a conviction. One can very rarely say that but I've not shared half of what went on, and already I've shared enough for a reversal.)

Remember - I had NO notice of the extraneous until a couple of days before she testifies. So, I remind the court that these witnesses have been in the courtroom throughout the trial. P concedes she has seen them. The Court to P: They were in the bed when he came and took her out (c/w2); correct? P: That's correct. (which means P knew all along that they were witnesses!!!!)

ME: In addition, when she (P) first told the Court about the allegations, I advised the Court that these two witnesses would be potential witnesses and asked to have them excluded. And the Court told me to wait until we decided if the extraneouses were brought in.

(See I did my job but The Court just couldn't let me try my case & P KNEW - because she had talked to c/w2 & KNEW the allegations, & she let those witnesses watch the trial in violation of what is right. C/w2 refused to talk to me. Most judges would have simply sworn them in & excluded them from the court in an abundance of caution - which was the right thing to do.)

The Court: (in response to me pointing out my prior request) That should have been brought up again this morning. (SO, she is BLAMING ME! Unbelieveable. By quote this morning, we had already had days of testimony these witnesses had heard. This is unbelieveable. P KNEW what c/w2 was going to say, and that she was going to make these girls purported witnesses, and she said nothing when I asked to exclude them. The Court says nothing to P. NOTHING!)

That's it for today, folks. Remember - all of this is in just ONE trial. Do you really think that the quote justice system is just when this is going on? P who deserves no number certainly didn't care about truth and fairness, and I don't know where the judge went because the person I was dealing with was apparently sitting second to P. (so said the jury - in so many words. More on that later.)

Have a great Earth Day! and remember to adopt your pets, don't buy them.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Team court & prosecutrix v. me - trial fun VII - ITS BACK!

So let's begin with the - SURPRISE - extraneous witness of which there was no mention in the file or anywhere, & I had NO idea about - because her two sisters were had been interviewed & said they would testify on behalf of the defense. (She was away or unavailable to me for some reason.)

Of course the extraneous will be admitted - I mean - duh, Cynthia. Okay, so I have to deal. So, I ask the basis of the offer of the extraneous, and the basis of the admission, & you would think -to use my 7th grade history teacher's favorite phrase,
I must be talking Swahili or something?
No one seems to think that (1) P has to show a basis for admission or (2) the judge has to limit the jury's consideration to THAT basis. All they know is that the dang thing is coming in - so just sit down. (Well, you know that ain't happening! My client is already at the train station being railroaded to the best of the teams' ability.)

ME: I'm asking again that the State be required to state the basis of the admission, and that the jury be -- The Court: The basis of WHAT? ME: Of the admission of the extraneous. And that the jury be instructed, just regarding the admission of the extraneous. They will be instructed that they can consider the extraneous against the allegations - - the allegations of the complainant against my client to determine the relationship. And the third-party extraneous goes to the extraneous by the complainant. And I'm asking - It's going to be confusing. (Of course I recognize this immediately as I had been dealing with 2 people who do not know, or at least understand, the law. I was right - especially during THIS trial. EVERYTHING I was legally entitled to seemed to confuse.)

The Court: Yesterday we discussed the wording on the instruction you wanted me to read. And I understood you have no objection. Are you now objecting to the wording in the instruction?

ME: NO, I NEVER said I had no objection. I specifically asked that the instruction be limited to the purpose for which THIS prosecutor offers it. (BTW, folks, I am right on the law. They just didn't have a clue the basis for admission because it should NOT have been admitted. It served no purpose in this case but to inflame the minds of the jurors - which is not a reason to admit it.)

The Court: . . .Right? I understand. You made that objection. Is that still your objection this morning? ME: The Court has NOT required the State to provide a specific reason for offering this. The Court: ... That request is denied. (unbelievable - she gets to offer inadmissible evidence without even trying to explain other than the jury can use it to convict him because he is a bad man - essentially).

The Court then proceeds to read the entire limiting instruction (which has a bunch of confusing stuff that has ZERO to do with the trial.) Of course when asked for objections from P, she says no objections. (All she knows is that somehow she has slipped this in & she doesn't want to blow it now!) When asked for my objection- Me: Yes, I object to providing any wording that has to do with any purpose other than what the State is offering it for. The Court: I think it could come in possibly under more than one of these. So I am going to read them all. So your objection is overruled. ME: Identity? Motive? (Remember this is his niece. Obviously she knows him & if he sexually assaulted her, well, the motive is clear. Can you tell how ludicrous this is all getting?! What the State wants, the State gets.)

The Court: I'm going to read them all and the jury can decide whether -- thank you. (See - she doesn't even know what the jury is supposed to be deciding about the inadmissible extraneous. But she gives that well known thank you, as I heard so many times in this farce of a trial.

Then there is conversation between The Court & P in which they decide that well, identity isn't really an issue so the judge can take that out. It's okay. (I hope you are laughing. It was such a joke. I just shook my head & wondered where I was. Surely I was having a horrible nightmare. Sad thing is - my client was having the exact same nightmare & his freedom was at stake. This was serious stuff.)

P then proceeds to put on the extraneous complainant. Remember PNDL1 and the other liar, I mean prosecutor who I wanted to have testify & was denied - they come into court & P announces that they want to watch the testimony. Of course, I object, and guess what - MIRACLE of all miracles - it is sustained. (That was easy - I didn't really get anything & now she can say - see - I granted some of your objections . . . )

I'll stop now because I want you all to know that there was NO WAY the extraneous was admissible in this case for any legitimate reason. It was a lie, but more important to this - it simply had no law under which it was arguably admissible! That is why P could not said why she was offering & that is why the judge didn't know what to do with the limiting instruction - because it did not fit any excuse of admission.

Until next time - remember to go when called upon to serve on the jury. (Just try not to smell that skunk the judges let these prosecutors throw in the box, and then instruct you to ignore.)

And adopt a pet - don't buy one. There are too many babies needing homes out in the world. : )

Monday, April 13, 2009

Update regarding communication with children

I have to say after I posted my last blog, the next day I awoke to find a most lovely note from my 20 year-old daughter. It made me feel warm all over, and reminded me that even when we think they are so selfish, they are listening and paying attention so treat your children with love and as much kindness as you can muster (as they roll their eyes, huff, and complain incessantly.) The letter says:

Dear Mom,

I greatly appreciate you taking me and Shelby on this trip. I have had so much fun! I know this trip was planned mainly for me, and the beluga experience was amazing. I have also had a great time spending time with you and Shelby. I'm glad we were able to do this because we have not be able to spend time like this together in a whil and I would love to do it alot more. Than you so much again for this experience and having so much fun with us.

Love always,


Can you see me crying? I share this because so many times we don't hear anything but the bad, but the happiness is in there. It is just harder to get out when they are teenagers (or young teens.)

I love both of my daughters with all my heart, and I would definitely take a bullet or a disease if it potentially saved them.

Kiss & hug your children, even when you disgust them. : )

Friday, April 10, 2009

Communicating with your children, communicating with juries

In the middle of spending a weekend with my children (ages 16 & 20), I am led to question my ability to communicate. I cannot get them to tell me about their favorite childhood memory, or even when I specify their favorite vacation, I get nothing. Asked about the thing they remember most about the house we lived at the longest (which had a pool & kids always around), they claim to remember nothing. When asked about what they remember about a specific vacation, nothing. (My oldest, who is the nicest to me, was busy deleting photos off her phone. My youngest rolls her eyes at everything that I say.)

I spend lots of $, I spend my time, I give my heart - what do I get in return - nothing.

So, I wonder what do we really get when we question potential jurors. I shared things with my children, trying to open them up. Made suggestions about various memories - because I know them - and yet I got nothing. Every once in a while I'd get an oh, yeah, I remember that.

Very scary. And these are my children who see me feel sad & supposedly don't want that. They have no agenda to hurt me - they just don't really care to have their thoughts or time interrupted.

So, what about jurors who are missing work - not getting paid OR paying someone to take care of the children they normally take care of. What are we getting from them? What agenda do the talkers come to us with? The silent folks (who can't wait to hang the next SOB?!)

I think of myself as a good communicator. I think of myself as one who can move mountains - convince others that I am correct - that there is reasonable doubt. Yet I can't convince my children that their ivory tower, silver spoon lives have anything worth sharing - apparently.

So who is sitting on my juries? (And given the positive outcomes, maybe I should just continue to be unable to communicate. Or maybe I was cutting all the youngsters off. I can't remember now. I can't remember anything right now.)

So, who do you THINK you are communicating with? (And how much have you spent to do it?!)

Monday, April 6, 2009

How Can You Defend Those People?!

Throughout my almost 21 years of representing people accused of criminal offenses, I have had people ask me how I can do it. (I am certain most, if not all lawyers are on the defense side of the criminal bar have heard this question many times.) I have many thoughts on this, and many reasons, but I want to share one with you from today.

Former DPS Trooper Damien Cauley who was assigned to the Montgomery County area decided that he should abuse the position that had been given to him (or earned, at least initially) by stealing. How did he do it?

According to the news reports, this man, in full uniform, and in his patrol car, would target illegal aliens and suspected intoxicated drivers for alleged traffic stops, and then he would steal from them. (Heck, the purported traffic violations were probably lies.)

What could they do? If they are illegal, they cannot complain (you don't need details-you understand), and if they were drinking, they could easily decide that having to pay a little money to the trooper was better than the alternative even if they were not guilty - being arrested, posting bond, hiring a lawyer, going to court - you know - what we call THE RIDE. (You might beat the rap but you can't beat the ride . . .)

So, what you will rarely hear from me is KUDOS to the Rangers & whoever decided to report this guy. KUDOS to the DA for following up and not just walking the case into a no-bill. KUDOS to the Ranger who testified essentially how this trooper was an embarassment - a black mark on all law enforcement. KUDOS to Judge Michael Mayes who sentenced this guy to the maximum for his offense. (He will serve 2 years, day for day - no parole, in state jail.)

But, let me add - it is guys like this and others with whose opinions I do not agree, with whose conclusions I do not agree, and for many other reasons (like protecting citizens against false accusations of other citizens) that I CAN DO WHAT I DO & sleep very easily at night. If it were not for me and the hundreds of other lawyers who do what I do, many of you could not sleep so easily at night. Think about it.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Volunteer to help change a child's life

Before I continue with the court & prosecutrix team blog, I wanted to blog a minute about volunteering. A few months ago I became a avid volunteer with the Boston Terrier Rescue of Greater Houston organization - I love animals & I enjoy helping those who cannot speak for themselves. I chose this organization because I think BTs are just the best dogs. I was being selfish in a way, because I get to be around or doing for animals I adore.

Yesterday, though, I enjoyed a different volunteerism. Harris County Criminal Lawyers Association received a request from Wendy Miller to help Big Brothers & Big Sisters, and the Houston Young Lawyers Association, by volunteering time to join kids who have an incarcerated parent at the Aquarium in downtown. I joined them & had charge of two very delightful boys. They shared their hairstyles (wanting me to feel how smooth they were), their dance techniques, their girlfriend "issues" (they were 8 & 12), & other talk. I shared photos of my husband & my dogs, and talked about futures with them. I was the only lawyer from HCCLA, but there were other lawyers there & the boys I had were so impressed that lawyers were there with them. I took their photos on my phone & let them check it out. They were careful and respectful.

I want to report that it was such an experience that I hope that many hidden boundaries were blurred for these boys who have had at least a semi bad start (by example of an incarcerated parent apparently - I did not ask & know no details) in life. I told their mother, when she came to get them, what great boys they were. She was very pleased and told me how hard she worked to show these kids the "right way." (She also had a daughter in another group there.)

So my blog is about - make a difference in a life. I spoke to the woman who runs BBBS & says they ask only for 4 hours per MONTH & they have far more requests than volunteers. (I know one of my charges has been waiting for 2 years!)

If you can't commit to that, then find another way like the 4 hours I spent on Saturday. It is rewarding, and I feel that there is a great possibility that I made a difference in these boys lives. I feel very positive. We all have so many blessings, despite any hardships we have endured, that we should share our time, at a minimum!

Finally, I want to thank Wendy Miller, a local lawyer. This woman is the most positive, giving person that I know. (I have never discussed with this with her but she is in a wheel chair & has been since at least law school to my knowledge. I tell you this because I want readers to understand the depth of my respect and awe of this woman.)

She volunteers constantly - arranging these opportunities, putting on talks to encourage lawyers to be mentors to children in court cases, etc. She goes around asking for money for the kids (which most of us hate to do) as well as giving her time to be at the events. She asks no more (and much less) than she gives. I am very proud to be able to call Wendy Miller a friend, and I hope that I can be more like her.

What is stopping you?