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View Full Version : No such thing as speedy trial in Texas



Sherry Martin
Apr 12, 2006, 09:13 AM
Someone I know got caught up in a drug sting last fall. He has been in a Texas jail for six months now. He's seen his public defender exactly ONCE
Nearly three months ago. His court date keeps getting pushed back and back. He has no criminal record, had a good job which he has lost, he
Was supposed to get married this month, of course, that's gone...
He filed for a speedy trial back in November and has had several trial dates which keep getting pushed back again and again. Latest trial date is now
Middle of May. His fiancée isn't being very supportive, I'm two states
Away so I can't help except to make phone calls. I've tried and tried
To call his lawyer, only get an answering machine and never any return
Call nor any visits to the jail. All in all, in Texas, you are screwed unless
You have money to buy a lawyer.
No one will answer ANY legal questions about a constitutional right to
A speedy trial, not the state bar association, nor the district attorney's
Office or the court. They all tell me, if I want legal advice, hire a lawyer.
He HAS a lawyer. He just doesn't have one that will do anything.
There is also no such thing as a county public defender's office.
Texas is truly a lawless place.

RickJ
Apr 12, 2006, 09:19 AM
The public defenders in TX are organized by region, not by county. If he qualifies for a public defender, why not use them?

magprob
Apr 12, 2006, 10:16 AM
First off, if there is no Public Pretenders office then they probably use real attorneys that donate their time Pro Bono. I think "Bono" is the key word here. The attorney has paying coustomers so if he has a break in the paying action, he may get around to it. As far as the speedy trial, the Pro Bono attorney is resetting the court date under any reason he wishes, probably that he needs more time to gather evidence or Discovery. It is a sad fact that if you do not have money then the criminal justice system does not work for you. You only get the amount of justice you can afford. Case in point, OJ Simpson and Barreta. When the court told you to hire an Attorney they were being honest with you. If you don't pay, they won't play. I am sorry to see anyone stuck in this crap but that is America. Besides, the courts are overloaded with cases in which they are protecting their real bread and butter, Corporate America. They have the ability to buy all of the justice they need. Good luck, although luck has nothing to do with it!:mad: P.S. Texas Sucks! Somewhere in Texas a village has lost it's idiot! GW

mr.yet
Apr 12, 2006, 10:36 AM
On going problem in Texas, defendant need to look in to mischief or malfeasance, and file a personal tort claim against them.



Speedy Trials: Defendants shouldn't have to languish in jail

By Editorial, Dallas Morning News
June 12th, 2003


These are hard times for Texas prosecutors, whose competence and ethics are being challenged both in courts of law and in the court of public opinion.

In Swisher County, home of the infamous 1999 Tulia drug busts, District Attorney Terry McEachern is under fire for concealing from the defense and the judge his own doubts about the credibility of an undercover police officer who was found to be not credible.

In Dallas County, which produced the fake drug scandal, District Attorney Bill Hill has acknowledged that his prosecutors might have caught some of the glaring flaws in cases served up by the Dallas Police Department had they not been overworked and cursed with "tunnel vision."

And in Harris County, where the now-closed police crime laboratory is itself under a microscope after a state audit found flaws in its work, two grand juries want to know if the district attorney's office racked up convictions with tainted evidence, and neither wants the help of the district attorney's office to find out. There obviously is a lack of trust here.

One can't blame jurors for being leery of those who fill their canteens from a poisoned well. When prosecutors win cases by relying on faulty evidence, it is fair to ask if they were blinded by the desire to win.

Scandals, Texas has plenty of. What the state needs are bold reforms that restore public confidence in the justice system.

The Legislature needs to pass a law that ensures that those charged with crimes in Texas get a speedy trial.

At the federal level, a defendant is all but guaranteed to get to trial between 60 and 80 days after indictment. Not so in Texas. The right to a speedy trial, while in the state constitution, isn't spelled out in statute. It was once, but that law was struck down. There needs to be a new law that survives judicial scrutiny.

Without it, folks can easily languish in jail for eight or nine months before getting their day in court. The longer the wait, the greater the chance becomes for mistakes, mischief or malfeasance – and the more leverage prosecutors have to induce guilty pleas by threatening to leave defendants rotting in jail.

As the people's lawyers, prosecutors have weightier responsibilities than just winning. They must play fair. They must seek truth. And they must make sure justice is served.

phillysteakandcheese
Apr 12, 2006, 11:55 AM
I'd say this is another great example of how being involved with illegal drugs can ruin your life...

Fr_Chuck
Apr 12, 2006, 11:57 AM
Less than a year is about normal. At least for GA and TN and esp for someone with a public defender.

My son took almost a year to get to trial ( and then they droped the charges the day before the court date)

In Atlanta for example it is almost common practice to keep them in for months and months and then most of the time dismiss the case on time served already.

A lot of it has to do with the number of cases and the time they take.
There just is not enough judges and court rooms. People just don't want to pay more and more tax money each year for such things.

But normally the DA office is so over worked that they have to keep moving on to the major cases and let minor cases just wait around.

Since the majority of cases using public defenders plead out, having to wait for a trial is normally the unusually thing

magprob
Apr 12, 2006, 03:51 PM
[QUOTE=mr.yet]On going problem in Texas, defendant need to look in to mischief or malfeasance, and file a personal tort claim against them.
Speedy Trials: Defendants shouldn't have to languish in jail
By Editorial, Dallas Morning News
June 12th, 2003
These are hard times for Texas prosecutors, whose competence and ethics are being challenged both in courts of law and in the court of public opinion.
In Swisher County, home of the infamous 1999 Tulia drug busts, District Attorney Terry McEachern is under fire for concealing from the defense and the judge his own doubts about the credibility of an undercover police officer who was found to be not credible.
One can't blame jurors for being leery of those who fill their canteens from a poisoned well. When prosecutors win cases by relying on faulty evidence, it is fair to ask if they were blinded by the desire to win.
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The Prosecutors are elected officials. The main premise of any Prosecutors campaign is that they have more sucsessfull convictions than any of their peers. The public seems to like a lot of convictions unless it is them or one of their loved ones that has been herded to the slaughter or just put in prison by a rubber stamping assistant. You see, most prosecutors are so "busy" they have their assistants pick up the arrest reports from the sheriff, review the cases and then rubber stamp them. Now in such a political position, who is going to argue with the sheriff? Tell him that maybe one of his deputies violated a person's rights and then dismiss the case? Not many! The way to handle that is to plea bargan to a lesser charge. Why would anyone plea bargan to a lesser charge if the case is the least bit shadey you ask? Because the Prosecutor most always tells the defendant that if they don't take the plea, and go to trial and does not win, they will give them, or recommend, the maximum sentence. Now with a really good attorney and thousands of dollars later one might have a good chance to beat it. Meanwhile, here in the real world, the world the prosecutors are operating in, most folks just don't have the resources to buy that much Justice. So, even if your rights were violated and the case is weak at best, you can be threatened and coerced into pleading guilty to a lesser crime but still a crime that will go on your record. When one is facing a felony and the prosecutor offers you a misdemeanor instead... why not? In the meantime, the prosecutor is chalking up all of their great victories in preparation for the next election day. :mad:

Sherry Martin
Apr 13, 2006, 08:20 PM
He does have a court appointed lawyer. Who has visited him ONCE. To get
Another lawyer he would have to file to fire this one. Which would almost certainly delay his trial yet another several months. I have tried repeatedly
To get this lawyer to return phone calls, left messages on his answering machine (he doesn't seem to have any other way of communication) and
Never received any response. I've tried calling the regional public defender,
They say since he has a lawyer, ask the lawyer any legal questions. Such
As what is the statute of limitations on speedy trial. I've tried state bar
Association, got same answer. They all tell me, you need to talk to the
Appointed lawyer. Yeah, right. Try getting the guy to answer is impossible.

magprob
Apr 13, 2006, 10:46 PM
If you really want to speak to him that badly, go to the court house and check for his name on the docket. It will list the cases for the day and should have the defendants name as well as the attorney. Then, accost him in the hall. That's where most of the justice is decided anyway. Hence the name, the Halls of Justice. I am still not clear if he is a Public Pretender or a real attorney doing Pro Bono. If he is a Public Pretender then he/she may not have even passed the bar yet. Here in Idaho, they let people fresh out of law school defend cases to get experience prior to taking the bar. If this is the case, I just wish you and your friend all the luck in the world!:cool:

Fr_Chuck
Apr 14, 2006, 07:23 AM
There is no staute of limitation on a speedy trial, it is what ever the court believes it is. There are motions for a faster trial that can be filed with the court, but the court does not have to accept it.

And of course there would have been a bail amount set, I will assume no one has or wants to risk their assests to get him out on bail.

Also how much evidence is against him? If a lot why has he not merely plead out, normally he would get a less sentence. And if he really is guilty and will be found guilty, all the time he is not serving will be counted on his sentence.

magprob
Apr 14, 2006, 10:22 AM
There are certain time frames on the Arraingment from jurisdiction to jurisdiction... right around 72 hours average. This is to read the charges and set the bond. Once that has been met though, the attorney pretty well calls the shots on time frames. As I said, this Public Pretender is resetting the dates hopefully to either get better evidence or find witnesses.

Fr_Chuck
Apr 14, 2006, 11:22 AM
Or also following magprob idea, if they have pretty good witness and evidence, if they wait long enough, often wittnesses don't show up, evidence gets lost ( esp in smaller departments) and the such
At times waiting is good for the defense.

I remember one case, it took almost 2 years to go to trial, I did not even hardly remember the case, I looked at the notes before trial, but when I testified my memory was shakey on some events. Next one of the witnesses had moved and was not available. So this man who I caught in the store that he broke into basically got off because he had waited long enough.