Tag Archives | Texas

Future Crime Comes to Texas: Police Can Get A Warrant For Crimes You Might Commit Later

minority-report

Picture: Tom Cruise in ‘Minority Report’

Y’all better not let ‘em think that you’re ‘fixing’ to commit a crime.

Via Raw Story:

An appeals court in Texas ruled last week that police may obtain a search warrant based on the prediction of a future crime.

Officers in Parker County took Michael Fred Wehrenberg and some associates into custody in summer 2010, after watching his home for about a month as part of a drug investigation.

A confidential informant told police that Wehrenberg and others were “fixing to” cook methamphetamine, and investigators searched the house while he and his friends stood outside in handcuffs.

Police said they found pseudoephedrine, stripped lithium batteries and materials used to make meth and then asked a judge to grant them a warrant to search the house.

They did not mention in the warrant application that officers had already gone into the house, and instead only based their request on information supplied by the confidential informant.

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Texas Judge Elizabeth Coker Busted Texting Instructions to Assistant DA During Trial

BAA_x2x_jpg_1827636272…and that’s not all of it. Judge – now former Judge – Elizabeth Coker is also accused of improper meetings with jurors and defense attorneys about cases in her court. She has been forced to resign in lieu of disciplinary action, and will have to foot the costs of any litigation that arises because of her misconduct. No word as of yet whether all of the people convicted in her kangaroo court will get retrials.

Via Raw Story:

[J]udge Coker used Assistant District Attorney Jones to privately communicate information about the Reeves case to the assistant district attorney prosecuting the case; to suggest questions for the prosecutor to ask during the trial; to ensure that a witness was able to refresh his memory and rehabilitate his testimony by reviewing his videotaped interview with law enforcement before he took the stand for the second time the following day; and to discuss legal issues pertinent to the case.

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Republicans Now Seeking To Prevent Women From Voting

votersIt’s no longer just about minorities, the poor, and college students; introducing the next target for disenfranchisement. The New Civil Rights Movement notes that Republicans in Texas (and a number of other states) have now devised and passed new voter ID laws that will render a large fraction of female voters, but not male voters, ineligible to vote:

As of November 5, Texans must show a photo ID with their up-to-date legal name. Only 66% of voting age women have ready access to a photo document that will attest to proof of citizenship. This is largely because women have not updated their documents with their married names. Suddenly 34% of women voters are scrambling for an acceptable ID, while 99% of men are home free.

A birth certificate is not enough. Women voters will have to show legal proof of a name change: a marriage license, a divorce decree, or court ordered change; and they have to be the original documents.

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Anti-Vax Megachurch Unleashes Measles Outbreak In Texas

Anti-Vax Megachurch

The church is part of the empire of megapastor Kenneth Copeland, who advocates faith healing and a connection between vaccines and autism. The Dallas Morning News reports that the church is relenting and members are receiving vaccinations:

Tarrant County health officials have linked 11 measles cases to a megachurch near Eagle Mountain Lake.

Eagle Mountain International Church officials confirmed Tuesday that a person who was exposed to the infectious disease while on a mission trip to Indonesia had visited their church, about 50 miles northwest of Dallas. “[The man] shook hands,” Robert Hayes, the church’s risk manager, said. “He gave a number of people a big hug.”

Those infected range in age from 4 months to 44 years. It took time to narrow the source because measles symptoms don’t surface right away, officials said.

Though the disease is rare in the U.S., measles is so contagious that it infects 90 percent of those who are not immune and come into contact with an infected person.

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Texas Police Raid Farming Commune After Mistaking Tomato Plants For Marijuana

tomatoesPerhaps to be on the safe side, we should prohibit growing plants in general. NBC 5 Dallas–Fort Worth reports:

A small organic farm in South Arlington is demanding an apology from police who raided the property in early August. Officers raided the Garden of Eden, a 3.5-acre farm, searching for marijuana in the gardens, according to search warrants. Police did not any drugs.

Quinn Eaker, a resident, told NBC 5 that the six adults who live at the farm were handcuffed when SWAT officers from the Arlington Police Department came to their home with weapons drawn. According to a statement posted on the Garden of Eden’s website, the raid of the farm lasted for an estimated 10 hours.

Code compliance officers mowed the grass on the property and removed wild, cultivated plants including blackberries and okra. Eaker said that the plants police mistook to be marijuana were likely tomatoes: “They can’t even tell the difference between tomato plants and a marijuana drug cartel.”

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From America’s Busiest Death Chamber, a Catalog of Last Rants, Pleas and Apologies

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Texas Department of Criminal Justice
The injection gurney, with an overhead microphone, in the execution chamber at the Walls Unit prison in Huntsville, Tex.

Not only are the executed noted down at the Walls Unit prison in Huntsville  Texas, but so are their last words. via The New York Times

HUNTSVILLE, Tex. — Karl Eugene Chamberlain went to his neighbor’s apartment that night in Dallas under the pretense of borrowing sugar. He returned later, forced her into a bedroom, bound her hands and feet, raped her and then used a rifle to shoot and kill her. His victim, Felecia Prechtl, 29, was a single mother with a 5-year-old son.

Eleven years after he was convicted of capital murder, Mr. Chamberlain, 37, was strapped to a gurney in Texas’ execution chamber at the Walls Unit prison here and was asked by a warden if he had any last words. “Thank you for being here today to honor Felecia Prechtl, whom I didn’t even know,” he told her son, parents and brother on June 11, 2008.

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Texas Becomes First State Requiring A Warrant For Email Spying

email spyingI never thought I’d say this, but, has Texas set an example that should be followed on the federal level? Ars Technica reports:

Texas Gov. Rick Perry has signed a bill giving Texans more privacy over their inboxes than anywhere else in the United States.

On Friday, Perry signed HB 2268, effective immediately. The law shields residents of the Lone Star State from snooping by state and local law enforcement without a warrant. The bill’s e-mail amendment was written by Jonathan Stickland, a 29-year-old Republican who represents an area between Dallas and Ft. Worth.

Under the much-maligned 1986-era Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA), federal law enforcement agencies are only required to get a warrant to access recent e-mails before they are opened by the recipient. As we’ve noted many times before, there are no such provisions in federal law once the e-mail has been opened or if it has sat in an inbox, unopened, for 180 days.

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Texas To Allow Students To Bring Guns To College Campuses

guns on college campusesGuns: is there anything they can’t solve? KHOU Houston reports:

The Texas Legislature has approved a bill allowing students with proper licenses to keep guns in their cars on college campuses.

The House and Senate previously passed the proposal by Republican Senator Glenn Hegary. Both chambers on Sunday then approved a version reconciled in conference committee, sending it to Gov. Rick Perry’s desk to be signed into law.

The measure sparked some debate in the Senate and passed only after Democrats received assurances it wouldn’t be expanded to allow carrying guns on campus. House approval was easier.

Under current law, universities can post a sign prohibiting guns like any private property owner. But the approved measure overrides that.

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Texas High Schoolers Uncover Teacher’s Involvement In Sex Cult Murder

cult murderYour teachers’ lives may be more exciting than they seem. Via the Kansas City Star:

Tyler Deaton landed a job in February to teach pre-calculus at Lancaster High School near Dallas. But students Googled and found news stories from Kansas City with allegations that Deaton’s wife, Bethany, 27, was murdered as part of a coverup by a religious cult to hide a series of sexual assaults. The group’s supposed spiritual leader? Tyler Deaton.

Deaton has not been charged in his wife’s death. The person who has, Micah Moore, was part of Deaton’s religious group and lived with the couple at a house in Grandview. Other witnesses told authorities of a group who were making sex part of their religious experience and that men in the group sexually assaulted Bethany Deaton. Moore said Bethany Deaton was killed for fear she would talk, according to court documents.

When word spread through the halls of Lancaster last week, district officials suspended Deaton.

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State Government Of Texas Moves To Hoard Its Gold

Does a Texas legislative session resemble a Yosemite Sam Looney Toons clip? Because that’s what I’m picturing. The Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports:

Call it the Rick Perry gold rush: The governor wants to bring the state’s gold reserves back from a New York vault to Texas. A bill from Rep. Giovanni Capriglione would establish the Texas Bullion Depository, a secure state-based bank to house $1 billion worth of gold bars owned by the University of Texas Investment Management Co. and stored by the Federal Reserve.

The idea isn’t entirely new. Gold-standard-backing Ron Paul has raised repeated concerns about the safety of states’ gold supplies. “If you think gold is a hedge, or a protection, you always want it as close to the individual and the entity as possible,” Paul told The Texas Tribune on Thursday.

“If we own it,” Perry said, “It’s not someone else’s determination whether we can take possession of it back or not.”

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