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Tag: Texas

Central Americans Rush to Cross Border Because of Trump’s Threat to Build a Wall

Border Fence in the DesertBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

President-elect Donald Trump’s pledge to build a wall has triggered a surge of Central American families flowing into the U.S.  to escape poverty and warlike conditions.

Smugglers are telling migrants they better cross the border soon before the wall is erected, the Boston Globe reports. 

For Smugglers, fears of Trump building a wall have been a selling point.

To handle the influx, the U.S. sent 150 additional agents to Texas to shore up the border.

The Globe writes:

Here at the border, the obstacles to Trump’s plans appear daunting. To hold, quickly process, and deport the tens of thousands of arrivals each month, the Trump administration would have to add scores of immigration judges and dramatically expand detention facilities, which have faced legal challenges. A wall could cost billions.

Some here welcome a Trump crackdown. Many Border Patrol agents resent what they see as a ‘‘catch-and-release’’ approach to the flood of Central Americans. To them, Trump’s win has delivered the morale-boosting equivalent of a Red Bull.

‘‘We’re going to be able to do our jobs again,’’ said Chris Cabrera, a Border Patrol agent and a spokesman for their union, which endorsed Trump for president.

‘‘We’ve turned into a detention agency,’’ he said. ‘‘We’re not out there enforcing. We’re doing jailer work and sometimes babysitting.’’

But analysts, lawyers and elected officials on both sides of the border say it is a place that has always defied easy fixes and expensive barriers.

The Supreme Court, Police Shootings and Black Lives Matter

By Ross Parker
ticklethewire.com

Have the frenzied media coverage of incidents involving police shootings of African Americans and the protests of Black Lives Matter activists affected the Supreme Court?  The Court has not addressed a case involving race and the criminal justice system in some time, but two such cases are scheduled for oral argument this month.

Coincidence or a legitimate attempt to weigh in on a crisis jeopardizing law enforcement lives and the faith of minority Americans in the fairness of the criminal process?

US_Supreme_Court

The Court exercises discretion in at least three ways: what cases to accept for hearing (only about 1% are heard), the timing of oral argument (these cases were set for the first month of the 2016-2017 term), and in the individual votes and opinions of the Justices). The first two seem to demonstrate a special sensitivity to this subject which is embroiling race relations in America.

However, the other related question is whether the open seat on the Court from the death of Justice Scalia will affect the Court’s ability to decide these cases and to resolve conflicts in the lower courts. A 4-4 vote will mean that the lower court decision will stand. In these two cases the lower courts both rejected the petitions of minority defendants on racial issues.

The first of the two cases is Buck v. Davis, a death penalty appeal which has bounced around the Texas state courts, the federal district court in Houston and the 5th Circuit since Buck’s sentence of death in 1996. Buck was convicted of capital murder of his ex-girlfriend and a man at her house in a jealousy-fueled shooting spree. During the penalty hearing his defense attorney, who had a notoriously bad record in capital cases, called a psychologist to testify on the subject of Buck’s likelihood of posing a danger in the future.

In Texas the jury must unanimously conclude that the defendant poses a danger of violence to warrant the verdict of death. The defense psychologist testified that the fact that he was Black made him statistically more likely to be dangerous. Ultimately, however, the psychologist was of the opinion that he was at a lower probability of being dangerous. His report, which included the race analysis, was admitted as a defense exhibit. The prosecutor reiterated this race opinion in cross-examination and the witness’s conclusion in his closing argument.

On the most recent appeal, the 5th Circuit concluded that, although racial appeals had long been unconstitutional in criminal trials, the defendant had not met the standard of a substantial showing of prejudice to justify a Certificate of Appeal. There had been no proof that the result would have been different without the expert’s testimony in view of the defendant’s callous actions and his lack of remorse. The defense showing on appeal was not extraordinary and the prejudice de minimis.

This particular psychologist had repeated this race-based statistical opinion in six other capital cases, and the Texas Attorney General announced in a press conference that it would not oppose re-sentencing in all of those cases. However, a new Attorney General reneged on this promise as to Buck’s case.

In addition to the race-based issue, the case illustrates the tension in capital cases between two important principles. In cases involving the death penalty errors in the trial are painstakingly reviewed and appellate opinions often reach to achieve due process. On the other hand, there is a need for finality in the resolution of criminal cases. The length of time capital defendants sit on death row today is considered by some to be a failure of finality in the system.

Read more »

Parker: The Supreme Court, Police Shootings and Black Lives Matter

Ross Parker was chief of the criminal division in the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Detroit for 8 years and worked as an AUSA for 28 in that office.

By Ross Parker
ticklethewire.com

Have the frenzied media coverage of incidents involving police shootings of African Americans and the protests of Black Lives Matter activists affected the Supreme Court?  The Court has not addressed a case involving race and the criminal justice system in some time, but two such cases are scheduled for oral argument this month.

Coincidence or a legitimate attempt to weigh in on a crisis jeopardizing law enforcement lives and the faith of minority Americans in the fairness of the criminal process?

US_Supreme_Court

The Court exercises discretion in at least three ways: what cases to accept for hearing (only about 1% are heard), the timing of oral argument (these cases were set for the first month of the 2016-2017 term), and in the individual votes and opinions of the Justices). The first two seem to demonstrate a special sensitivity to this subject which is embroiling race relations in America.

However, the other related question is whether the open seat on the Court from the death of Justice Scalia will affect the Court’s ability to decide these cases and to resolve conflicts in the lower courts. A 4-4 vote will mean that the lower court decision will stand. In these two cases the lower courts both rejected the petitions of minority defendants on racial issues.

The first of the two cases is Buck v. Davis, a death penalty appeal which has bounced around the Texas state courts, the federal district court in Houston and the 5th Circuit since Buck’s sentence of death in 1996. Buck was convicted of capital murder of his ex-girlfriend and a man at her house in a jealousy-fueled shooting spree. During the penalty hearing his defense attorney, who had a notoriously bad record in capital cases, called a psychologist to testify on the subject of Buck’s likelihood of posing a danger in the future.

In Texas the jury must unanimously conclude that the defendant poses a danger of violence to warrant the verdict of death. The defense psychologist testified that the fact that he was Black made him statistically more likely to be dangerous. Ultimately, however, the psychologist was of the opinion that he was at a lower probability of being dangerous. His report, which included the race analysis, was admitted as a defense exhibit. The prosecutor reiterated this race opinion in cross-examination and the witness’s conclusion in his closing argument.

Ross Parker

Ross Parker

On the most recent appeal, the 5th Circuit concluded that, although racial appeals had long been unconstitutional in criminal trials, the defendant had not met the standard of a substantial showing of prejudice to justify a Certificate of Appeal. There had been no proof that the result would have been different without the expert’s testimony in view of the defendant’s callous actions and his lack of remorse. The defense showing on appeal was not extraordinary and the prejudice de minimis.

This particular psychologist had repeated this race-based statistical opinion in six other capital cases, and the Texas Attorney General announced in a press conference that it would not oppose re-sentencing in all of those cases. However, a new Attorney General reneged on this promise as to Buck’s case.

In addition to the race-based issue, the case illustrates the tension in capital cases between two important principles. In cases involving the death penalty errors in the trial are painstakingly reviewed and appellate opinions often reach to achieve due process. On the other hand, there is a need for finality in the resolution of criminal cases. The length of time capital defendants sit on death row today is considered by some to be a failure of finality in the system.

Read more »

Border Patrol Captures 10 Most Wanted Sex Offender Who Entered U.S. Illegally

Lee Robert Moore has been captured.

Lee Robert Moore has been captured.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

A 40-year-old U.S. citizen, who is a wanted sex offender and known gang member, was captured by Border Patrol agents after trying to re-enter Texas illegally.

John Albert Gover was one of the Texas Department of Public Safety’s 10 Most Wanted sex offenders, the Dallas Morning News reports. 

Gover is accused of trying to bypass inspection by crossing the Rio Grande River. He was apprehended by Eagle Pass Station agents.

In 2009, Gover was convicted of molesting a 12-year-old girl in Bexar County in Texas. He served four years in prison.

Soon after his release, he was arrested in San Antonio for failing to register as a sex offender.

Border Patrol Agent: ‘I Was Shot at by State Trooper’ in Texas

border patrol 3By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

A Texas state trooper fired his weapon near a federal agent because of poor communication between the Border Patrol and Texas Department of Public Safety.

Records obtained by CBS 4 News raise questions about the Department of Public Safety’s decision to increase its presence at the border, even though many troopers aren’t familiar with the area and don’t speak Spanish.

“When you bring DPS officers from other parts of the state who aren’t really familiar with the border, it’s like going into a strange area or an unfamiliar area,” said state Sen. Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa, D-McAllen. “You’re prone to be a lot more cautious and possibly make some mistakes.”

On June 21, a game warden and Border Patrol agent were monitoring the Rio Grande when they said a trooper shot in their direction.

“I was shot at by a trooper,” the Border Patrol agent said.

Undercover FBI Agent Texted Shooter Before Attack: ‘Tear up Texas’

Elton Simpson opened fire in Garland, Texas.

Elton Simpson opened fire in Garland, Texas.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

One of the two gunmen who opened fire at a “Draw Prophet Muhammad Contest” received a text message a little more than a week earlier from an undercover FBI agent who said, “Tear up Texas.”

Cleveland.com reports the message was sent to Elton Simpson, who responded, “that goes without saying.”

According to an affidavit, the agent sent the text “in an effort to continue their dialogue.”

The information came from an affidavit filed for the arrest of Erick Jamal Hendricks, a North Carolina man accused of trying to recruit people to join ISIS.

FBI Agent Was on Scene of ‘Draw Muhammad’ Attack in Garland, Texas

Garland_TXBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

An undercover FBI agent was on the scene when two ISIS supporters opened fire at a “Draw Muhammad” contest in a Dallas suburb, according to newly filed court documents.

The shooting on May 3, 2015, involved two men who used assault rifles to attack people at a convention center in Garland, Texas, where a “First Annual Muhammad Art Exhibit and Contest” was taking place, The Hill reports. 

Hour before the attack, the FBI warned local police of one of the shooters, Elton Simpson, whom the bureau had spent years tracking.

It’s unclear why the FBI didn’t intervene before the attack.

Border Patrol Agents Find $600,000 Worth of Liquid Meth in Texas

These containers were filled with liquid meth.

These containers were filled with liquid meth.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Border Patrol agents seized more than $600,000 worth of liquid methamphetamine in Eagle Pass, Texas, while conducting checkpoint operations.

San Angelo Live reports that canines alerted agents to possible narcotics in the vehicle.

“The profit from these narcotics are more important to the criminal organizations than the negative impact they have on communities,” said Acting Del Rio Sector Chief Matthew Hudak. “I commend our agents for their hard work and dedication in removing these drugs from our streets.”

The liquid meth was found in shampoo bottles.

The driver was arrested and turned over to the DEA.

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