Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Court Rules in favor of DPS officer fired after sexual assault allegation


"One witness shall not rise against a man concerning any iniquity or any sin that he commits; by the mouth of two or three witnesses the matter shall be established."
Deuteronomy 19:15

Seventeen months ago, officer John Jones the head of the Department of Public Safety’s “Intelligence and Counterterrorism” division was fired following a sexual assault allegation. The Texas Tribune wrote a salacious and sensationalistic report at the time.

Last week, however, a Travis County senior criminal judge declined to issue a protective against Officer Jones. This is noteworthy because protective orders require the lowest possible evidentiary standard: “Any reasonable basis.” As a point of comparison, the on-campus sexual assault tribunals that attracted controversy during the Obama administration required a “preponderance of evidence” standard.

In other words, the proceeding in question required a lower standard of evidence than that required on college campuses.

Yet, the Travis county DA was unable to meet that low standard.

In court documents and video obtained by Cahnman’s Musings, District Judge Jon Wisser denies the request for the protective order and rebukes the district attorney. Wisser says he “certainly would not find someone guilty beyond a reasonable doubt based on this evidence.” Wisser then goes on to list a series of other legal evidentiary standards the prosecution's case fails to meet.



Most troubling, Judge Wisser rebukes the DA for having failed to take the case to a grand jury.

The Texas Tribune has failed to report on these developments by the time of publication.

The case against Officer Jones will continue its march through the courts.

Bottom Line: These cases are always difficult, but failure to reach even this low standard of evidence does raise any number of questions....

Monday, November 23, 2020

More incoherent, COVID-related, Gobldygook from Abbott

"So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth."
Revelation 3:16


We have questions:
For the sake of discussion, we're going to assume those first three categories are fine. We've seen some questions raised on social media about how those terms are defined. Certainly, that's relevant. But, in terms of a macro-perspective, those populations are certainly where you should start distribution.

But, as far as those other categories are concerned, off the top of our head:
  • Who's going to determine "health inequities" and isn't that a vague catch-all phrase that can mean anything to anyone?!?
  • Why is "geographic diversity" a thing in the first place?!?  There's significant evidence that COVID spreads farther and faster in urban areas.  Shouldn't they get priority...especially if we're doing "data driven allocations?!?"
  • At this point, re: COVID, the idea that Abbott's will be anything remotely resembling "transparent" is laughable.
Bottom Line: None of the details from today's announcement make any sense...but that's also nothing new.

Friday, November 20, 2020

#TXLEGE: Texas house rules reform coalition letter


“I said to the boastful, ‘Do not deal boastfully,’
And to the wicked, ‘Do not lift up the horn."
Psalm 75:4

There's zero chance the Texas house adopts them, but these reforms are nevertheless a good idea:

Speaker Reforms Coalition L... by Brandon Waltens



Bottom Line: If they want to have a good session, the members should adopt these reforms. They won't. The session will proceed accordingly.

Thursday, November 19, 2020

#TXLEGE: Rinaldi makes point that should be completely OBVIOUS (yet apparently isn't)


"But concerning the resurrection of the dead, have you not read what was spoken to you by God, saying,"
Matthew 22:31

We made a Facebook post the other day about Allen West. It set off quite the debate in the comment section. Including this:


Honestly, it's sad is that is that this proposition is even remotely in dispute.

How many times do we need to play this game?!?

Your bills are already dead.

All you can do is make killing them as painful as possible.

Bottom Line: None of this is complicated.

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

#TXLEGE: LOLarson


"and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved."
2 Thessalonians 2:10

GOLD:
[T]here are no discernible reasons [for the Texas Legislature] to continue to meet once every two years, letting important state business languish while we wait for the pages of the calendar to fall.

....

The legislature should meet for 70 days every year beginning in mid-March, finishing in May.
In other words, twice as many opportunities to pass bad bills.

Of course, this sort of gamesmanship is par for Larson's course.

PushJunction has more:
LYLE LARSON is pushing for Texas to have a 70-day annual legislative session. Part of his reasoning includes lamenting that lawmakers weren’t able to follow Rahm Emanuel’s mantra, “never let a crisis go to waste,” to enact gun regulations following recent shootings.

Likewise, Larson's use of the Rahm Emmanuel playbook is nothing new.

Bottom Line: This won't go anywhere, but it's a good insight into how far too many legislators think.

Tuesday, November 17, 2020

#TXLEGE: It's time to sue Texas over Constitutional Carry (or lack thereof)


"Every one of the builders had his sword girded at his side as he built. And the one who sounded the trumpet was beside me."
Nehemiah 4:18

Rachel Malone has a piece about the state of play on #2A issues as we head into session.
Texas lags far behind other states in our right to carry. While 31 states recognize the right to open carry without a government permit—and 17 states recognize the right to conceal carry a handgun without a permit—Texas still generally requires a permit for handgun carry outside of our property, business, or vehicle.

....

In the name of liberty and justice for all, and in the spirit of the Alamo, the 87th Legislature must pass Constitutional Carry and end “gun-free” zones. Our right to carry a firearm for protection should not rely on government. Texas, it’s time to move forward with freedom.
O.K, sure. Nothing she says is wrong. But it's hard to miss that Texas' elected officials care about "the name of liberty and justice for all" or "the spirit of the Alamo."

Something that's never been tried is a lawsuit against the state of Texas over its permitting system. Doesn't take a genius to see how one could argue it's an unconstitutional infringement. Such a lawsuit might not be successful, but it's worth a shot. Especially in the newly Trumpified federal courts.

At a minimum, such a lawsuit would increase pressure on the legislature far more than vauge appeals to buzzwords and cliches.

Bottom Line: This is a ongoing headline the powers that be won't want, so it's not inconceivable they'd take steps to make it go away.

Monday, November 16, 2020

#TXLEGE: Overton Window moving on Paxton impeachment


"Therefore by their fruits you will know them."
Matthew 7:20

Ross Ramsey this morning:
In a political environment like Washington, D.C., the kinds of legal perils encircling Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton might be grounds for firing, impeachment or congressional investigation.

....

Because state lawmakers have gone through two full legislative sessions with an indicted attorney general, it doesn’t seem likely that they would consider impeachment. Paxton is hardly the first elected official in Texas to continue to serve while indicted. He’s not even the first attorney general in modern times: Jim Mattox, who served from 1983-91, was indicted and acquitted on commercial bribery charges early in his first term. Legislators let it play out in the courts. Mattox was reelected once and later ran unsuccessfully for governor and the U.S. Senate.

Impeaching someone in Texas isn’t like impeaching someone in Washington, D.C. It’s rarer, for one thing, and it has immediate consequences in a way that the federal system does not. The person being impeached is removed from office while the case is pending in Texas; in the federal system, they remain in office unless convicted by the Senate.

So what does that mean here? If a state official was impeached by the Texas House, they would be removed from office until after the Senate had held a trial and judged the House’s impeachment. It’s right there in the Texas Constitution: “All officers against whom articles of impeachment may be preferred shall be suspended from the exercise of the duties of their office, during the pendency of such impeachment. The governor may make a provisional appointment to fill the vacancy, occasioned by the suspension of an officer until the decision on the impeachment.”
Honestly, what's interesting isn't (yet) the merits or demerits of impeaching Paxton [Note: We're currently ambivalent]. It's about the fact that, by bringing this possibility into serious discussion, the Texas Tribune has changed the macro-environment. Expect more of this.

Bottom Line: This topic isn't going away anytime soon.