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The events of January 2, 2021 will go down in history as one of the nation’s darkest hours. Six months later arrest of individuals involved in the Capitol insurrection Capitol are beginning to work their way through the court system – and this is an eye-opening process for a variety of reasons.   One case in particular involves a defendant who has been charged with a federal crime that’s rarely utilized. Federal prosecutors charge that the defendant brought firearms to Washington, violating a federal law that makes it illegal to transport explosives or firearms for use in a riot.  …
  Who would think that pizza dough could lead to federal charges?   Well, as it turns out, when you tamper with consumer products, the federal government takes it very seriously.   Last year, a man pled guilty to tampering with a consumer product. He admitted to placing pieces of metal and razor blades in pizza dough found in supermarkets in New Hampshire and Maine. He will spend nearly five years in federal prison as a result.   Of course, it’s not simply federal law you have to worry about in these cases. State law has its prohibitions as well.…
Protests and other forms civil disobedience have been in the news lately. When such events result in property damage or injuries to other people, suspects have increasingly been subject to federal civil disorder charges.   This past May a Pennsylvania man pleaded guilty to conspiracy and obstruction of law enforcement during a civil disorder event. The charges stemmed from his participation in the George Floyd protests in 2020.   He faces additional charges in state court, as well, including criminal mischief, institutional vandalism, and riot.   On the other side of the country, an Indiana man was charged with civil…
Following the horrendous kidnapping and murder of nine-year-old Jessica Lunsford in 2005, Florida enacted Jessica’s Law. The statute was intended to create tough penalties for sex offenders, such as 25-year minimum sentences for certain offenses and a lifetime of electronic monitoring for crimes against a child under 12. Following Florida’s lead, 46 states have adopted some version of Jessica’s Law.     Texas created its version of Jessica’s Law in 2007. This version has five primary components:   Increased punishments by recategorizing specific offenses to a higher degree of felonies, such as upgrading third-degree sexual performance to a second-degree felony; Increased the…
Article 38.072 of the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure—more commonly known as the “outcry” statute—is thorny legal terrain in child sex cases.    The statute was enacted in 1985 as an exception to the longstanding prohibition against hearsay testimony in a criminal trial. It allows the first adult to whom a child 14 years of age or younger “outcries” about allegations of sexual abuse to testify about the statements the child made to the adult concerning the abuse.   Rule 801(d), Texas Rules of Evidence, defines hearsay as an out-of-court statement “offered in evidence to prove the truth of the…
The National Registry of Exonerations (“NRE”) is a combined project of the University of Michigan Law School, Michigan State University College of Law, and the University of California Irvine Newkirk Center for Science & Society. “The Registry collects, analyzes, and disseminates information about all known exonerations of innocent criminal defendants in the United States, from 1989 to the present.”     As of June 18, 2021, the NRE had documented a total of 2,802 exonerations since 1989.   The costs associated with these tragic wrongful convictions and ultimate exonerations are staggering both in human and fiscal terms.   25,000 Years Lost…
Texas Gov. Gregg Abbott does not like the constitutional right to bail.   Under Article 1, Section 11 of the Texas Constitution’s Bill of Rights, “all prisoners shall be bailable by sufficient sureties, unless for capital offenses, when the proof is evident …” This constitutional right has been codified in Title 1, Chapter 17 of the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure.    The 8th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution state that “excessive bail shall not be required.”   Though it may sound harsh, Gov. Abbott would prefer that this “right to bail” be reserved for people like his political accomplice…
The rules of evidence generally prohibit the use of crimes, wrongs, or other bad acts to prove a person’s character to show that a person acted accordingly on a particular occasion. This rule assures that the person accused is tried based on the evidence of the case rather than past bad character, which is highly prejudicial.    Texas courts generally recognize that extraneous offense evidence is any act of prior misconduct not shown in the charging indictment or information. This misconduct does not have to have resulted in a conviction. Legally speaking, there is no significant difference between an extraneous…
Text messaging is now the preferred  of communication for most people in the world today.   In America, federal laws have scrambled to keep pace with this rapid progression in daily communications.   Text messaging has changed the landscape in federal investigations and prosecutions of criminal activities. For example text messages can be used to time stamp evidence. Sometimes, they can  even act as confessions.   We can turn to recent news for an example.   A resident of Las Cruces, NM faces federal charges for texts that he sent to recipients across state lines. His messages contained threats, which…
Justice delayed is indeed justice denied. Lamar Johnson has seen justice delayed for more than a quarter of a century, and to this day and in the foreseeable future, he will experience justice denied.   In October 1994, Marcus Byrd and James Gregory Elking were sitting on Byrd’s front porch in St. Louis, Missouri, when two ski-masked men approached and gunned down Byrd. Elking was not harmed. He later identified Lamar Johnson as one of the gunmen after the police agreed to pay him $4,000 to cooperate against Johnson. Johnson has always strenuously maintained his innocence.   In 2017, Kimberly…