Local Prosecutor’s Blog in the News

Today’s Statesman has an article about Travis County ADA Mark Pryor’s blog, D.A. Confidential, which I first came across about three weeks ago and have since found to be worthwhile reading. Originally writing anonymously, the blog’s author was revealed to the local criminal justice community by this humorous post, which referenced Pryor’s English accent and contained a hint that he practices in the 167th District Court.

Most prosecutors aren’t comfortable blogging without the protective veil of anonymity so being outed tends to be the beginning of the end for their blogs (see Mark Bennett’s post on this topic and note that the exception he identified has since shut down his blog as well). I hope that Mark Pryor proves an exception.

Criminal Practice: The Treadmill

Houston Criminal Defense Attorney Mark Bennett has a recent blog entry describing they dynamics of high versus low-volume practice that I want to preserve here because I couldn’t have put it better myself:

I charge bigger fees . . . so I can take fewer cases . . . so I can give each case more attention . . . so I can get better results . . . so I can charge bigger fees . . . so I can take fewer cases . . .

I charge smaller fees . . . so I have to take more cases . . . so I have to give each case less attention . . . so I get worse results . . . so I have to charge smaller fees . . .

Criminal defense lawyers: which gerbil wheel would you rather be on?

Travis County Finding of Prosecutorial Misconduct Upheld by CCA

Last week, the Court of Criminal Appeals refused to reverse a lower court ruling that threw out the sentence in the Laura Hall case due to prosecutorial conduct by a Travis County ADA.  Hall was convicted of tampering with evidence and sentenced to five years in prison as a result of her role in the mutilation of the body of a 21-year-old former University of Texas student.  More…

Coverage of lower court rulings: (1) Original trial court ruling. (2) 3rd Court of Appeals decision.

Upcoming Criminal Justice Issues in the SCOTUS

The following cases on the January argument calendar for the Supreme Court of the United States are of interest to criminal law practitioners.

Mon., Jan. 11:

Briscoe v. Virginia (07-11191) — Scope of crime lab analysts’ role in a criminal trial; sequel to Melendez-Diaz v. Massachusetts, on Sixth Amendment Confrontation Clause rights. The Melendez-Diaz case, which was decided earlier this year, requires the prosecution, when it presents a lab report as evidence in a criminal trial, to make the analyst who prepared it available for cross-examination by defense counsel. Sadly, the 5-4 decision may already be in jeopardy. More….

Tue., Jan. 12:

U.S. v. Comstock (08-1224) — Constitutionality of court-ordered civil commitment for federal convicts who are at the end of their sentences and people who have been found mentally incompetent to stand trial when deemed to be “sexually dangerous.”

1/29/10 Revision. Changed category from “Cases of Note” to “Case Law.”