Police Notebook: Albert Aguinaga (APD)

Officer: Albert Aguinaga.
Agency:  Austin Police Department.
Alleged Misconduct:  Indecent exposure (Class B Misdemeanor).
Disciplinary Action:  Administrative leave without pay.
Other Information:  Officer Aguinaga was indicted for indecent exposure by a Travis County Grand Jury, which declined to indict him for public lewdness and sexual assault based on a July 15, 2010 off-duty incident in which he is alleged to have exposed himself during a lap dance at a South Austin club. The punishment range for a Class B Misdemeanor is a maximum of 180 days in the Travis County Jail and/or a $2,000 fine.

Police Notebook: Officer Danny Johnson (APD).

Officer:  Danny Johnson.
Agency:  Austin Police Department.
Alleged Misconduct:  Giving misleading statements to his superiors and being rude to a resident.
Disciplinary Action:  90-day suspension without pay.
Source:  This Statesman article.
Other Information:  According to a memo regarding the incident, Officer Johnson was dispatched in response to a woman’s report that she had found a discarded hypodermic needle. Officer Johnson stated in a written report to his supervisors that the syringe was old and cracked and did not contain a needle. But the woman filed a complaint about Officer Johnson’s behavior toward her, which triggered a review of his patrol car video. The video revealed that the syringe clearly did contain a needle, that Officer Johnson did not comply with police procedures for disposing of it, and that he was rude and condescending to the woman.

Police Notebook: David Mangan #6804 (APD).

Officer:  David Mangan #6804.
Agency:  Austin Police Department.
Alleged Misconduct:  Misrepresenting facts in arrest warrants and offense reports.
Disciplinary Action:  Termination.
Source:  Brady notice provided to Attorney Paul Walcutt by the Travis County Attorney’s office, which he reported to the Austin Criminal Defense Lawyers Association.
Other Information:  Officer Mangan was also previously suspended for one day for crashing his cruiser (report available here).

Long time no see.

You may have noticed that this blog has suffered from inattention during a long hiatus on the part of yours truly. My absence was caused first by a massive appellate brief, followed immediately by the happy news but typical and unfortunate side effects of expecting my second child. If things go according to plan (knock on wood), I’ll be back on track within the next few weeks.

Meanwhile, I created a page for The Pace Law Firm, P.C., on Facebook and have started using it for small updates like no-refusal-weekend announcements, links to news articles of interest, and brief posts about political candidates in the Austin Criminal Justice System (go Charlie Baird!). I expect to continue posting brief updates there but use this forum for more in-depth writing, such as my first (and most popular) post regarding the Lying Cop.


DPS surcharge amnesty program.

Earlier this month, DPS began an amnesty program that allows certain folks who are behind on their surcharge payments to lower the payments and in some cases even waive a huge portion of the amount owed! So if you’re behind on surcharge payments, go to this website to enter your information and see if you qualify for the program.

The amnesty period expires in April. Here’s a link for more information about eligibility and other program requirements .

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For those who are unfamiliar with surcharges, Texas law adds a huge administrative fine upon conviction for certain offenses, including DWI, Driving While License Suspended (DWLS), and No-Insurance tickets. The fine is assessed for each of the three years following the conviction and is above and beyond whatever fines, fees, jail time, etc., may be assessed in court for the actual offense.

For example, with a typical first-offense DWI conviction in Travis County, the defendant may spend one or two days in jail at the time of the arrest, then be put on probation for 18 months. As part of his sentence, he will be required to pay a fine, court costs, various other fees associated with being on probation, do community service, attend court-ordered counseling, meet with a probation officer one a month, and submit to random drug and alcohol testing. This is all after paying a lawyer a hefty fee to represent him, of course. The surcharge program means that, above and beyond all of that, DPS also assesses a fine of $1,000 (more under certain conditions) for each of the three years following the conviction, for a total of $3,000.

Needless to say, many people fall behind on their surcharge payments, which means their licenses get suspended. If they’re caught driving after that, they may very well end up with a new conviction for DWLS, which triggers another round of surcharges. It can be a vicious cycle where people end up owing thousands of dollars to the State of Texas that they simply cannot afford to pay.

New criminal court judges take the bench.

The Travis County criminal courts have several new judges that just took the bench:

147th – Judge David Crain
299th – Judge Karen Sage
331st – Judge Cliff Brown
CC3 – Judge John Lipscombe
CC6 – Judge Brandy Mueller

The swearing-in ceremonies are this afternoon for District Court judges and tomorrow afternoon for County Court at Law judges. Here’s more information from an email sent to Austin Criminal Defense Lawyers Association members by Attorney Dan Dworin:

Monday, January 3

Swearing-In Ceremony for New Criminal District Court Judges

Please join us for the Investiture Ceremony and Reception for New Criminal District Court Judges.

The Honorable Cliff Brown, 147th District Court
The Honorable Karen Sage, 299th District Court
The Honorable David Crain, 331st District Court

Time: 3:30 p.m.

Location: Heman Marion Sweatt Travis County Courthouse, 250th District Courtroom, 3rd Floor

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Tuesday, January 4

Swearing-In Ceremony for New County Court at Law Judges

You are invited to attend the Investiture Ceremony and Reception for New County Court at Law Judges.

The Honorable John Lipscombe, County Court at Law #3
The Honorable Brandy Borich Mueller, County Court at Law #6

Time: 3:30 p.m.

Location: Heman Marion Sweatt Travis County Courthouse, 250th District Courtroom, 3rd Floor

No-Refusal New Year’s

I’ve been too busy with the purchase and renovation of my new family home to blog much lately but thought I should at least pass on this information about APD’s latest no-refusal event :

People suspected of drunken driving on New Year’s Eve will have their
blood tested under a search warrant if they refuse to give a breath or
blood specimen, Austin police announced today. The “no refusal”
initiative will run from 9 p.m. Friday until 5 a.m. Saturday.

AquaPalooza and Boating While Intoxicated

7/13/10 Update. More AquaPalooza = more arrests…

Reading the arrest results for this weekend’s so-called AquaPalooza , it occurred to me to mention a couple of things that some folks don’t know…

First there IS such a thing as boating while intoxicated. I’ve had people laugh like I’m telling a joke on a couple of occasions that I’ve mentioned it in a casual setting. But no, I’m serious folks. Furthermore, drinking and boating is actually riskier than DWI from a criminal liability perspective because the police do NOT need a reason to stop a boat. That’s right, whenyou’re in a boat, the police can demand you stop, board the boat, and conduct an inspection justbecause they feel like it.

No-Refusal Fourth of July Weekend

APD has announced that this weekend will be no-refusal beginning at 9 p.m. tomorrow, Saturday July 3 and continuing to Sunday July 4
at 5 a.m. During this time, if you are pulled over and investigated for Driving While Intoxicated, if you refuse to take the breath test, the police will get a warrant to have your blood tested.

Take a cab, folks. It’s a hell of a lot cheaper than fighting a DWI conviction, even if you ultimately win.