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January 2011 Archives

DWI Stop for Reasonable Suspicion of a Traffic Violation

The Court of Fort Worth in Reed v. State, heard a case on appeal where the State's reasonable suspicion to stop the defendant for DWI based, in part, on the time of day and an area of the city that the defendant was coming from.  "Here the [officer] not only testified that he had stopped the defendant because of her driving violations, but also because he had suspected that she might be intoxicated based on the time of day, the area of the city she was coming from, and his experience with intoxicated drivers exhibiting similar characteristics of driving...[T]he totality of circumstances surrounding the stop support a reasonable suspicion that Reed was driving while intoxicated.

Probation and Polygraph Examinations in Sex Cases

In Ex Parte Dangelo, a case out of the Fort Worth Court of Appeals, the defendant had a Fifth Amendment right not to answer proposed polygraph examination questions about whether, since being on probation, he had sexual contact with minors.  The question asked about independent crimes rather than mere community supervision violations.  The following are the polygraph questions asked of the defendant:

341 Meeting

When a debtor files for protection under the Bankruptcy Code, there are certain timelines and requirements that are laid out in the statutes.  One, when you file there is a first meeting of creditors to be presided over by the trustee under section 341 of the Code.  Typically, this meeting occurs somewhere around 45 days after the bankruptcy is filed.

DNA Testing and Aggravated Sexual Assault

Ex parte Napper was a case out of the Texas Criminal Appeals court where the applicant for Habeas Corpus was convicted of aggravated sexual assault and aggravated kidnapping.  Some of the evidence supporting the convictions involved DNA testing conducted by the Houston Police Department Crime Lab.  After widespread problems were discovered with the HPD Crime Lab, the present case was subjected to further investigation, including additional DNA testing.  Applicant's writ was based upon this further investigation.  The applicant alleged, among other things, that agents of the State consumed the entire DNA sample in bad faith, that a state witness perjured himself or gave false testimony, and that defense counsel was ineffective for failing to discover the problems with the lab's testing and its analysis of test results.

Murder Conviction Reversed

In Winfrey v. State, the Texas Criminal Appeals Court reversed and rendered an acquittal on the defendant convicted of murder.  The appellant was charged with capital murder, but convicted by a jury of the lesser-included offense of murder and assessed a 75 year sentence.  No evidence linked appellant to the crime except "scent lineup evidence" from Sheriff Pikett's dogs that had been "pre-scented" to the victim's clothing and alerted on appellant's scent.  The Court of Appeals affirmed finding:  1.  Pikett's canine-scent testimony provided direct evidence placing appellant in direct contact with the victim's clothing; 2. the jury could have reasonably concluded that the appellant was in the victim's house at the time of the murder, and that he had significant physical contact with the victim; 3. appellant shared information about the murder with his cellmate that was unknown, even by police; and 4.  appellant identified himself as the "number one suspect" at a time when the police did not consider him a suspect.

Possession of Cocaine

In Campbell v. State, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals reversed a conviction of possession of cocaine in an amount of 4 grams or more, but less than 200 grams.  The jury found 2 enhancement paragraphs true and assessed punishment at 99 years in prison.  The court of appeals held that the appellant's notice of appeal was untimely filed and dismissed for want of jurisdiction.

Possession with Intent to Deliver Narcotics

In Spence v. State, the Court of Criminal Appeals heard a case where the defendant was convicted of possession with intent to deliver cocaine that a police officer found during a pat-down search for weapons after he stopped him for traffic violations, one of which was failure to properly display his front license plate.  The defendant objected to the jury charge and proposed two instructions: 1.  He requested that the jury be instructed that it is not a violation of the Transportation Code to have a front license plate in the front windshield.  Two, that there was a factual dispute as to whether he was parked on the sidewalk.

Signature Scandal Halts Foreclosures

The recent home foreclosure crisis has affected millions across the country who can't afford to keep their homes. Letters sent to homeowners stating that they are about to lose their homes have added stress to already-troubled families burdened by the recent financial crisis.

A Side Effect of Debt Hardship -- Mental Health Problems

The goal of bankruptcy is to provide a fresh start to financially burdened Americans. The problem is that the struggles leading up to the decision to consult with a lawyer on bankruptcy options often cause significant stress, mental anguish and tension.

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