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View Diary: In Harris County, Judges Violate Notions of Fairness and Humanity (64 comments)

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  •  Well (25+ / 0-)

    They can't rightly build a new building, but having all of the elevators working everyday would be a good start (they don't, ever).

    The security process is horrible, because the company they contract with is horrible. It could be done much more efficiently.

    On the back end, we could use scrap 9AM hard docket calls.

    Nothing happens at 9AM, other than a docket call. People who are out on bond can have their business conducted pretty much any time before the court breaks for lunch. I wouldn't mind a rolling docket from 9AM-10AM. This could break up the traffic jam on the front end though it is likely that people would just start coming at 10AM and you might have a similar problem there.

    But a large number of people coming through at 9AM are employees/attorneys, so the traffic would be lessened a bit.

    As I watch court, I really see that people arriving at 9:15 causes no real harm to anyone. The court isn't held up in the traditional sense, because the attorneys are working without the clients anyway.

    Bond revocations seem unnecessarily harsh. This system also disadvantages the poor. Because people there for the first time who have hired lawyers will usually get a break (the lawyer will say that he is present for the client). A person without the money to hire a lawyer will have to tell the court that the first time he or she goes. This means they won't get the benefit of the doubt.

    The best solution is to have a court house that can get every person who arrives within 20-30 minutes of his court time to the court room on time. That doesn't seem unreasonable. But they should have thought about that before they constructed the building with only a handful of elevators and a congested security area.

    "I believe that, as long as there is plenty, poverty is evil." ~Bobby Kennedy

    by Grizzard on Tue Mar 05, 2013 at 11:15:49 PM PST

    [ Parent ]

    •  question: for scofflaws and minor (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      commonmass, YucatanMan, suesue, dewtx

      misdemeanors, are there procedures in place for a person to have his case adjudicated remotely?  I am expressing this poorly but in the case of parking tickets, you can either go to court to fight the ticket or you can mail in your fine and obviate the necessity of a court date.

      There should be some way to streamline procedures which are perfunctory at best  

      •  Yes (9+ / 0-)

        Parking tickets, speeding tickets, and some minor class C misdemeanors (public intoxication, disorderly conduct) can be paid online, through the mail, etc.

        I have no idea what goes on the in the regular misdemeanor courts, because I don't spend any time there. But they use the same building, and the same entrance, as the people going to the big courts.

        For almost everything, you have to appear. But a sub-class of offenses require no appearance.

        "I believe that, as long as there is plenty, poverty is evil." ~Bobby Kennedy

        by Grizzard on Wed Mar 06, 2013 at 12:05:10 AM PST

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        •  thanks for the information; I hope to have no (5+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          commonmass, Lujane, YucatanMan, suesue, dewtx

          need of it but it seems that there should be some mechanism to streamline procedures since, from reading various sites, it appears as many as 60% to 100% of felonies are pled out.  In such cases it would seem appearance is more theater than anything else

          •  Part of the problem (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            scott5js, soros, rlochow

            Prosecutors have unreal powers to force a plea by threatening to charge massive penalties for minor or victimless offenses.

            Juries should routinely nullify such ridiculousness, but they rarely do.

            Ten years in jail for pot distribution? "Not guilty."
            Sex charges for peeing in an alleyway? "Not guilty."

            The verdict should always be "not guilty" for a minor or victimless crime for which the penalty in practical terms is ruination of the defendant's life.

            (-5.50,-6.67): Left Libertarian
            Leadership doesn't mean taking a straw poll and then just throwing up your hands. -Jyrinx

            by Sparhawk on Wed Mar 06, 2013 at 09:32:45 AM PST

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    •  "The court isn't held up in the traditional sense, (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      entrelac

      because the attorneys are working without the clients anyway."

      And a defense attorney would NEVER argue on appeal that parts of the proceeding were ex parte, right??

      I'm sympathetic to this woman, but she was late twice.  This wasn't a first time thing.  When you have a court date, you get there on time.  How many times should the judge have excused her lateness before doing something about it?  

      •  How are you supposed to do that when it takes (8+ / 0-)

        two hours to get through security and the courthouse only opens one hour before your court date, genius?  Push your way past security?  Grab a gun and force your way in?

        You have watched Faux News, now lose 2d10 SAN.

        by Throw The Bums Out on Wed Mar 06, 2013 at 06:10:57 AM PST

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      •  Ask yourself a question (14+ / 0-)

        If you didn't know that it was common practice to do so, would you think it's right (or fair) in America for someone to spend an extra year in prison (Judges/DAs changing plea deals because someone is late) or for someone who has yet to be convicted of a crime to spend six months in prison (a person having their bond revoked) because they were 15 minutes late to a court where they arrived at the building more than 30 minutes before their scheduled time?

        This is why the headline says "Judges offend notions of fairness and humanity" and not "Judges are breaking the f-ing law every day!"

        Sure, it's legal. But it violates the spirit of fairness. And it's completely discretionary. It doesn't have to happen.

        How many times should the judge have excused her lateness? I don't know - how about every time until the county/state fixes the problem downstairs? The judge should apologizing to some of these people (many of them old and in poor health) for them having to wait outside for a half-hour in either not-extreme cold (February here can be windy and cold downtown) and very extreme heat (August sees morning temperatures into the mid-90s.

        "I believe that, as long as there is plenty, poverty is evil." ~Bobby Kennedy

        by Grizzard on Wed Mar 06, 2013 at 06:39:56 AM PST

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        •  And the humidity is unbelievable for people (0+ / 0-)

          who are not accustomed to Houston in July or August.  The temp doesn't tell the whole story.  And then, the mosquitoes....

          Having to wait to enter a public building, period, is unconscionable, but a court house with strict schedules and the absolute necessity that you enter and proceed to your destination is just inexcusable.

          I know just entering a courthouse for jury duty takes a long long time, waiting in line for "security," then finding where you are supposed to go.

          "The law is meant to be my servant and not my master, still less my torturer and my murderer." -- James Baldwin. July 11, 1966.

          by YucatanMan on Wed Mar 06, 2013 at 12:34:14 PM PST

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      •  Actually, there is another fix (6+ / 0-)

        If the Judge can ascertain that the woman twice arrived in good time, yet was twice late because of logistics ... he could dismiss the case.

        These are minor matters and while justice is not best served by letting the guilty go free, it might prompt those who run the place to find real solutions.

        We let the guilty go free all the time, and minor meth possession is not going to cause any real problems if it is not prosecuted.

        I hope that the quality of debate will improve,
        but I fear we will remain Democrats.

        Who is twigg?

        by twigg on Wed Mar 06, 2013 at 07:20:53 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  Thanks. I hope someone is listening. n/t (0+ / 0-)

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