Friday, September 19, 2014

Giving the Scots their Due 

As you all know, the Scots decisively rejected independence and decided to stay in the United Kingdom, which is a wise move on their part . . . and which proved me correct in my prediction.

But what I find most interesting from last night was a certain episode in Glasgow.  Ten instances of voter fraud were discovered.  Contrast the response to what would (not) happen in the U. S.:

Police launched an investigation after the city’s council alerted them to 10 suspected cases of voters impersonating other people, allowing them to complete two ballot papers. Under British law, voters are not required to present identification when they take part in an election.

Stewart Hosie, SNP Treasury spokesman at Westminster, said it was “very sad that people feel the need to engage in any kind of impersonation”, adding: “I think that’s a daft thing to do. The ballot papers have been identified, they will be taken away and fingerprinted, the police will do their job and I’m sure whoever has done it will be caught and sentenced….”

I’ve made no secret of my disdain for the Leftist politics of Scotland.  But at least they actually oppose and vigorously seek to punish election fraud.

The contrast with the ruling political party in the U. S. is stark indeed.

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Thursday, September 18, 2014

More on the Hannah Overton Ruling 

Yesterday morning, I greatly rejoiced in the overturning of Hannah Overton’s absurd murder conviction.  Now I’ve had some time to digest it.  With the caveat that I am not a lawyer nor do I play one on TV, I find the following most interesting.

Pamela Colloff, who has done a praiseworthy job of following this story through the years, posted a good summary of the case and of the ruling yesterday evening.  If you are not familiar with this case, I would definitely start there.

I think the opinions themselves are also well worth reading.  And they are neither long nor hard to read. 

The lead opinion, to which the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals agreed by a 7-2 margin, pointedly overturns the conviction on narrow grounds as conservative appeals judges are wont to do.  Judge Lawrence Meyers writes that Overton’s Defense greatly erred in not presenting Dr. Michael Moritz, an expert on salt poisoning and pica, to testify. He contends this omission meets the tests of determining ineffective counsel, and then in effect says that’s all we need to rule.

But the conclusion is rather pointed in saying what is left unsaid:

Because we are granting relief on Applicant’s first claim of ineffective assistance of counsel, there is no need for us to address the second issue of whether the State failed to disclose exculpatory evidence. We reverse Applicant’s conviction and remand her case to the trial court for a new trial.

A very interesting concurring opinion by three of the judges just as pointedly says the unsaid.  It in effect says that the issue of ineffective counsel is enough to rule, but we are going to talk about the prosecution anyway.  In their own words:

The majority does not address applicant’s Brady claims because it grants relief based on one of her ineffective assistance of counsel claims. It is helpful, however, to place that ineffective-assistance claim within the broader context of applicant’s claims concerning the fundamental unfairness of her trial.

And they are withering in critiquing the conduct of the prosecution in the Overton trial, especially in withholding exculpatory (Brady) evidence from the Defense.  They certainly do not hold much back on the subject of lead prosecutor Sandra Eastwood:

At the habeas hearing, the lead prosecutor conceded that, during this 2007 trial, she was an alcoholic who was also taking prescription diet pills that affected her memory. She was later fired by the District Attorney (who had been the second-chair prosecutor during this trial) for unrelated ethical violations. During the habeas hearing, the prosecutor repeated seventy-two times that she did not recall or did not know the answers to questions concerning the investigation or trial of applicant. She could not remember documents that she had written during the trial and did not recognize her handwriting; she did not remember writing the e-mails that came from her e-mail address, nor receiving other e-mails at that address; she could not remember if she saw any vomit when she previewed the evidence with one of applicant’s counsel before trial, and she did not remember asking the police to have it tested.

The second-chair prosecutor (later appointed as the District Attorney by the Governor) testified that the lead prosecutor told her that “she would do anything it would take to get an advantage over the Defense,” including sending a “spy” to applicant’s church group to learn the defense strategy. The second-chair prosecutor testified that the lead prosecutor was not ethical and was “not truthful.” She said that the lead prosecutor told her that no vomit samples had been saved as evidence. She said that she was “concerned with the fact that [the lead prosecutor] was violating the Court’s orders.”

And that’s for starters.  Again, I am not a lawyer.  But I find it remarkable the three appeals judges feel it right so to call out the prosecution when that was not necessary to make the ruling in question.  It is safe to say that they were provoked by the egregious misconduct of the Nueces County D.A.’s office.

Not only that, the three question (page 2) the jury instructions issued by trial judge Jose Longoria, although they do not mention him by name.  Those instructions have also been an issue through the years.  They certainly contributed to the over-the-top verdict of guilty of capital murder.

As for the two judges who dissented, this is the last straw for me.  If they are so blind as to think Overton received a fair trial….  Given their short opinion, they hardly seem to care and hardly address the issues raised by the majority.  The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals is elected.  And I will never vote for Judges Keller (aka Sharon Killer) and Keasler again.  I counsel all Texans to do likewise when the time comes.

The ball is now in the court, if you will, of the current Nueces County District Attorney, Mark Skurka.  His options range from trying Ms. Overton for capital murder again to dismissing all charges against her.

Hannah Overton has already served seven years in prison for a crime she did not commit.  Even if she was criminally negligent in the death of Andrew Burd – and that is a big “if” not at all supported by the body of evidence – seven years is certainly more than enough to serve for that.

D.A. Mark Skurka did not do the right thing when her conviction was appealed.  He now has the opportunity to make some amends.  Mark Skurka should dismiss all charges against Hannah Overton post haste.

I am among those who will be watching his conduct closely.  Eight years of injustice from the Nueces County D. A.’s office is enough.

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The Seriously Nasty Party is Winning Hearts and Minds… or not. 

I mentioned yesterday that the Scottish National Party has been a Seriously Nasty Party in the run up to today’s Scottish independence referendum.   Their lovely behavior continues.

Yes, not all SNP people are acting this way, obviously.  But many are.  And many feel their breath upon them.  A poll has found that 46% of Unionist “No” supporters have felt personally threatened by pro-independence “Yes” supporters.

The question is will their violence, vandalism, and threats succeed in scaring “No” voters away or instead turn people off to becoming an independent state with these thugs in charge.

I contend it will be the latter.  But we will find out tonight, won’t we.

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Wednesday, September 17, 2014

BREAKING: Hannah Overton Murder Conviction OVERTURNED 

I may post more later, but I just got word that the murder conviction of Hannah Overton has been overturned by the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals.  The court found for her claim of ineffective counsel.

This is a great day.

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Why I Predict Scotland Will Vote “No” and Stay in the UK 

It took a while, but now even those on the West side of the pond are aware that Scotland votes tomorrow on whether to leave the United Kingdom and become independent.  Polls are close with some putting pro-independence “Yes” ahead and others putting Unionist “No” in front.

But I am confident “No” will win for three reasons.

1. The Queen pulled off a brilliant exercise of understatement on Sunday.  After church on Sunday, she walked over to well-wishers and told a member of the public, “I hope everybody thinks very carefully about the referendum this week.”

Now us Americans may say, “So what?”  But, although more assessable than American presidents, The Queen usually just smiles and waves at the public.  And she takes pains to remain non-political.  So her expressing her hope to the public is unusual, even though she did not explicitly back either side.

At the same time, it is well known that The Queen wants the United Kingdom to stay together.  And she is beloved, even in Scotland.  So her statement is a timely, winsome, and powerful reminder that she wants Scotland to stay.

By the way, this illustrates one advantage of The Queen remaining above the fray and non-political.  When the time comes that she feels she should make her wishes known, she can do so with great impact, even with her usual reserve.  And I do think her statement is a significant reason Scotland will stay in the UK.

2. The Scottish National Party has more than its share of Leftist thugs, and they act like it, prompting the label “The Seriously Nasty Party”.  There have been stone-throwing, vandalism, and threats of worse.  They even made it next to impossible for Labour leader Ed Miliband to talk to people in an Edinburgh mall.

These thugs will surely turn many voters off and give them concerns as to who would be in charge if the SNP gets their way.  I also suspect some are afraid to answer polls honestly for fear of reprisals.  The “No” vote may be stronger than polls indicate.

3.  I expect the undecideds to break for the Unionist “No” side.  If someone is still undecided, he is probably more likely to vote for the status quo rather than the brave and highly questionable adventure of Scottish independence.

As for my wishes, I have said that I have mixed feelings.  I am certainly praying for God’s mercy on both England and Scotland.  Both are going to need it whatever the outcome tomorrow.

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Monday, September 15, 2014

Dinesh D’Souza, Political Prisoner? 

Under Obama, we are getting more and more of the benefits of Leftist regimes.  So why not political prisoners as well?

Dinesh D’Souza has been convicted of violating federal campaign finance laws.  He pleaded guilty in May and has accepted full responsibility for his violation and that very publicly.  If memory serves me right, he even did so in his latest movie, America.  And he is hardly a hardened criminal.

Yet the Feds want to put him in prison for 16 months anyway.  Now if you think that desire has nothing to do with his being compelling opponent of Obama . . . well then, you probably think the IRS is non-partisan and doesn’t target Obama’s opponents either.  Hey, every Leftist regime needs its useful idiots.

Even if D’Souza does not become a political prisoner, keep voting Democrat and political prisoners will come.

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Friday, September 12, 2014

Shameless Tease 

No.  I am not referring to Obama delaying an announcement of amnesty until after the election (although I certainly could).  I am referring to myself and to this post.

For I am announcing . . . that I expect to make a big announcement soon, perhaps next week.

So watch this space.

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