Confrontation Clause

posted on 3/12/18

In relevant part, the Sixth Amendment to the United States Constitution provides: “In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right…to be confronted with the witnesses against him.” This is known as the Confrontation Clause. The Confrontation Clause in the Constitution is of most importance with respect to providing a defendant with proper protection. That is to say, the Confrontation Clause provides criminal defendants with the opportunity to face prosecution witnesses and dispute those witnesses’ testimonies, which is accomplished...

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Phantom Killer

posted on 3/5/18

Texarkana, Texas in 1946 was mayhem. At the time, a serial killer known as the “Phantom Killer” created havoc in the city to the point at which the city ordered a curfew on all residents when it started to get...

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Eyeball Killer

posted on 2/26/18

Police in the United States, when catching criminals, are known to like three things - guns, drugs, and prostitutes. They especially like them when there is a combination of some or all of those elements. The police in Texas are...

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Prejudicial Evidence

posted on 2/19/18

Imagine that a prosecutor stands in front of the jury at the close of a long and emotional trial. The trial featured a murder charge against an accused gang member. The prosecution kept pointing to the children of the victim and explaining how lonely and emotionally traumatized they are now that their father is dead. Now, with high drama in the courtroom, the prosecutor tells the jury that they should put themselves in the shoes of the victim, who was...

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Mistake of Law

posted on 2/12/18

Say the police arrest someone for murder. At trial, the prosecution provides compelling evidence that the defendant committed the crime. The defense team calls the defendant to the stand. There, the defendant tells the jury about his miserable upbringing and how he did not know that it is illegal to kill someone. Suppose that his testimony is compelling and believable. Nonetheless, the jury returns with a guilty verdict, sending the defendant to Texas’s death row. Mistake of law isalmost never...

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posted on 2/5/18

The Texas Penal Code criminalizes bigamy, which is the crime of marrying a spouse while still married to a different spouse. It happens when a person is unhappy in his or her marriage and falls in love with someone outside of marriage. The second lover wants to continue the relationship, but only if the parties get married. If that occurs, the individual who was married committs bigamy, generally a misdemeanor. Note that it is rare for a prosecutor to charge...

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Habeas Corpus

posted on 1/29/18

There has been a recent increase in cases of complaints about police brutality. In Dallas and other places, there has been an uptick of arrests claimed to be unfair and racially motivated. When this occurs and you find yourself in jail, you can petition a court with a writ of habeas corpus. Habeas Corpus Basics The term habeas corpus is Latin for “you have the body” (corpus is similar to corpse). This means that the authorities currently are holding the...

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Strict Liability Drug Crimes

posted on 1/22/18

In general, drug crimes are strict liability” crimes. This means that to prove a defendant guilty of the crime, the prosecution need not prove the defendant’s mens rea, or guilty mind, in connection to the crime. It need not be...

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Jack Ruby

posted on 1/15/18

January marks 51 years since the death of Jack Ruby, the man who killed Lee Harvey Oswald, who was seemingly the gunman who shot President John F. Kennedy. Jack Ruby died of cancer in 1967 and was interned in his family’s plot in Illinois. The circumstances surrounding Jack Ruby’s mission are bizarre and subject to much speculation. Legal questions remain about culpability, which will be discussed in this article. Jack Ruby Born Jack Rubenstein to a Jewish family in Illinois,...

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Alford Plea

posted on 1/8/18

In Texas courts, a defendant can plead nolo contedere (“no contest”) to certain charges. Similarly, other states and the Federal jurisdiction of the United States allow for Alford pleas. The pleas are similar in that there is no straight admission...

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Criminal Instrument

posted on 12/25/17

Late one night, the police are driving around downtown Dallas on a routine patrol. They observe a man coming stealithily out of an alleyway and looking at a hardware store. The man looks around, seemingly to determine whether anyone is watching him. He then takes a hard look at the lock on the store. He then turns and heads back to the alleyway. A minute later, the same man peeks out of the alleyway wearing gloves and starts feeling the...

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Texas Gangs

posted on 12/18/17

Television has long depicted the concept of organized crime as men who are members of a crime family involved in racketeering. According to this depiction, these men are Italian-American or Irish-American and belong to close-knit families in New York or Boston. They live high lifestyles and wear sharp suits. They go around in limousines and other luxury cars. They have various nicknames and claim innocence. They have hitmen who do all the dirty work for them. They have control over...

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