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The Common Law
Recreational waivers and releases
Columns  August 19, 2005, by Luke Ellis and Nicole Clark
"...When contested, courts analyze these waivers to ensure that at the time of the signing, both parties intended to be bound by the terms of the agreement. A patron that has signed a waiver may establish that he did not intend to waive liability by showing that he was unaware that the "waiving clause" was in the document..."

Naked City
Headlines and happenings from Austin and beyond
News Story  May 27, 2005, by Lee Nichols and Cheryl Smith
"...• The U.S. Supreme Court set aside Mexican national Jose Medellin's appeal of his murder conviction – in which he claims that the Vienna Convention was violated – so that his appeal in Texas courts can first proceed..."

Texas Joins the Inadequacy Club
School-finance decision consistent with national trends
News Story  October 1, 2004, by Kimberly Reeves
"...If District Judge John Dietz's decision earlier this month that Texas school funding is not adequate is just "one individual's opinion" – as it was termed by Gov. Rick Perry – then it's an opinion held in common with almost two dozen state Supreme Courts...."

Naked City
Supreme Court hears arguments that Texas courts mishandle capital appeals
News Story  March 26, 2004, by Rita Radostitz
"...On Monday, UT School of Law professors Robert Owen and Jordan Steiker argued before the U.S. Supreme Court that state and federal courts have been misapplying the law in dozens of Texas death penalty cases..."

After 18 Months, APD Releases Report on King Shooting
The APD report on the Sophia King shooting answers some questions, leaves others unaddressed
News Story  February 20, 2004, by Lucius Lomax
"...That is the final epitaph for Sophia King, a 22-year-old mother of two with a history of mental illness who was shot and killed by police at the Rosewood Courts housing project in June of 2002. King, described by police as an "EDP" – emotionally disturbed person – with a history of violence, was threatening the housing project's manager with a kitchen knife when shot by veteran APD Officer John Coffey...."

The Next Redistricting Target: Ronnie Earle?
Tom Craddick hatches a plan to redraw the lines for Texas' elected prosecutors
News Story  November 7, 2003, by Lucius Lomax
"...But he left behind interim charges to the House to guide committee work between legislative sessions. Included among them are directives for redistricting both the state's judicial courts and its prosecutors..."

Who Killed Stacey Stites?
A re-examination of a Bastrop murder case leaves many unanswered questions.
News Story  May 24, 2002, by Jordan Smith
"...Former Reed attorney Jimmy Brown, however, thinks he may know how it could happen: Reed is a black man, accused of killing a young white woman in a small Texas town. "They [Bastrop County law enforcement and courts] have a much higher level of concern for the protection of Caucasians," he said..."

Citizens Not Invited
The Dems and Repubs posture over redistricting, while the rest of us just look on.
News Column  October 19, 2001, by Michael King
"...3), the (right-wing) Republican-dominated Legislative Redistricting Board had just imposed a map making political mincemeat of the state House and Senate. (Or so said the moderate Republicans; what the Democrats said was mostly unprintable.) That dogfight is entering the middle rounds in the courts..."

Death Row Dilemma
Resistant to Change
News Story  January 21, 1999, by Erica C. Barnett
"...There are reams of information presented to them in the Supreme Court and they just say no. They don't have to explain." Lawyers pick on the board, Rodriguez says, because the courts allow them to..."

God's Steward at the TNRCC
In Barry McBee's Environment, Politics and Religion Mix
News Story  January 16, 1998, by Robert Bryce
"...In the name of efficiency, he has reformed the hearings process and denied individuals the right to contested case hearings (the equivalent of civil trials) before the TNRCC. This McBee suggests that, if "you are a landowner and feel that you have been injured, you have full access to the civil courts of this state."..."

PAC by Popular Demand
Critics Say ALLC's Reforms Won't Stem the Tide of Big Money
News Story  October 31, 1997, by Kevin Fullerton
"...When informed of this potential new regulation, Pickens said that the purpose of the Texas statute organizing general purpose PACs is to protect those PACs from the "nightmare" of complying with thousands of individual city campaign finance ordinances. Pickens said he doubts that the courts will allow a city ordinance to supersede state law...."

Texas Targets DACA
Are Texas and Trump colluding to end DACA?
News Story  May 17, 2018, by Mary Tuma
"...The filing was expected closer to June, but Paxton expedited litigation after U.S. District Judge John Bates of the District of Columbia issued the third and perhaps strongest rebuke of the Trump administration's efforts, calling them "virtually unexplained" and thus "unlawful." While courts in California and New York have ordered the administration to renew DACA work permits, Bates' ruling is the most expansive, allowing both renewals and new applicants..."

459th District Court: New Civility
All rise for the new bench
News Story  May 10, 2018, by Chase Hoffberger
"...Both have compelling personal tales: Guerra Gamble grew up in Montopolis and went to Yale Law School; Martinez Jones is a first-generation Ameri­can (her parents come from Mexico and Jamaica). The former has worked at both the state and federal level, and currently litigates the kind of cases that will come through the 459th; the latter is an associate judge already in the county courts, with most of her time spent in the CPS and family drug courts..."

Nonprofits and the City's Quest for Affordable Housing
Helping usher Austin out of a quagmire of inequality
News Story  July 13, 2017, by Joseph Caterine
"...House of Representatives, Austin was one of the first cities to receive funding for public housing. The city used those funds to construct the 186 units at Santa Rita Courts, Rosewood Courts, and Chalmers Courts..."

Lege Lines: Deliberately Discriminatory
Voter ID's future in Texas, without the DoJ
News Story  March 2, 2017, by Richard Whittaker
"...Then in January the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear an appeal from Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, a de facto upholding of the lower courts...."

If Not Rosewood, Then Chalmers?
D3 CM would like to see Chalmers upgraded
News Story  March 24, 2016, by Joseph Caterine
"...If the Housing Authority of the City of Austin (HACA) is unable to use a $300,000 U.S. Housing and Urban Development Choice Neighborhoods Planning Grant to revitalize Rosewood Courts, District 3 Council Member Pio Renteria would encourage HACA to redevelop Chalmers Courts on Fourth Street instead..."

Funding Balance
Some Austin politicos think qualified candidates of average means are deterred from running due to low contribution limits
News Story  December 10, 2015, by Jack Craver
"...(Groups affiliated with the Austin Firefighters union and the Aus­tin Board of Realtors led the pack, spending $280,887 and $132,464, respectively.) That amounts to 11.5% of the nearly $6.3 million spent overall by groups and candidates during the election cycle. Courts have consistently upheld laws that require such groups to disclose their spending..."

Planned Parenthood Sues Texas Over Medicaid Exclusion
The provider claims the state is breaking federal law
DAILY News  November 23, 2015, by Mary Tuma
"...The move in Texas is part of a strategic nationwide effort, say PP representatives. The provider optimistically notes federal courts have blocked similar attempts in Utah, Arkansas, Louisiana, and Alabama..."

HB 2 Goes to Washington
Providers want ASC and admit privileges rules gone
News Story  September 10, 2015, by Mary Tuma
"...Plaintiffs contend the 5th Circuit's decision is in "direct and acknowledged" conflict with decisions from the 7th and 9th Circuit Courts, as well as the Iowa Supreme Court, which hold that courts "must examine the extent to which laws regulating abortion actually further a valid state interest in assessing whether the burdens they impose on abortion access are undue." While the 5th Circuit applied a narrow approach (and didn't seriously factor in barriers that women face), the 7th and 9th Circuit courts used a so-called "balancing test" for undue burden that weighs the obstacles for women against the state's purported health interest, creating a divergence in circuit court rulings...."

Abortion Providers Ask Supreme Court to Take Up HB 2
Providers want ASC and admit privileges rules gone
DAILY News  September 3, 2015, by Mary Tuma
"...Providers contend the 5th Circuit’s decision is in “direct and acknowledged” conflict with decisions from the 7th and 9th Circuit Courts, as well as the Iowa Supreme Court, which hold that courts, “must examine the extent to which laws regulating abortion actually further a valid state interest in assessing whether the burdens they impose on abortion access are undue.” While the 5th Circuit applied a narrow approach (and didn’t seriously factor in barriers women face), the 7th and 9th Circuit courts used a so-called balancing test for undue burden that weighs the obstacles for women against the state's purported health interest, creating a divergence in Circuit court rulings...."

Next Stop for HB 2 – The Supreme Court?
Legal experts eye Texas law as the most likely abortion case to make it to the high court
News Story  June 25, 2015, by Mary Tuma
"...Supreme Court to step in. As stringent abortion regulations sweep the nation, state by state, and circuit courts create a patchwork of contradictory opinions, legal scholars predict the especially draconian Texas case could very well reach America's high court, forcing it to tackle abortion regulation and provide much needed clarity on what constitutes an "undue burden" for women seeking access. We Do Not Balance the Wisdom ......"

Freedom to Marry Comes to Town
National Freedom to Marry Campaign hosts town hall Monday in ATX
DAILY Qmmunity  December 15, 2014, by Sarah Marloff
"...EW: Well, it’s hard to know which case will make it to the Supreme Court and when, though, clearly, we’re calling on the courts to take a case. Families should not have to fight day-by-day, year-by-year for basic rights...."

Changing Directions
Community-based programs aim to redirect the 'school-to-prison pipeline'
News Story  June 5, 2014, by Dagny Zenovia
"...The Class C misdemeanor tickets that students can receive, handled by municipal courts or justices of the peace, hold serious implications. A parent must accompany the child through the process, which can end with a fine of as much as $500, for families often already financially strained..."

Texecutions Roll On: Another Troubling Case
Texecutions Roll On: Another Troubling Case
News Story  March 14, 2014, by Jordan Smith
"...Neverthe­less, after three hours of deliberation, the same panel sent Jasper to death row. Unless the courts intervene, Texas intends to execute him on March 19...."

Perry Chills on Pot Decriminalization
Texas Gov comes out in support of less punitive drug policy
News Story  January 31, 2014, by Jordan Smith
"...Just as with regulating abortion, states should have the right to legalize pot, he said. He cautioned that he is "not for the legalization of drugs," but that he does favor less punitive drug policy, and supports programs such as drug courts: "after 40 years of the war on drugs, I can't change what happened in the past," he said, as reported by the Austin American-States­man..."

Texas Clemency Process Poor, But Good Enough for Government Work
BPP and court deny Tamayo execution reprieve. Last stop, Perry
DAILY News  January 22, 2014, by Jordan Smith
"...U.S. officials have tried to have Texas agree to the ICJ ruling, but the state courts have balked, and the U.S..."

Death Watch: Madness and Forensics
Two capital cases raise psychological and evidentiary issues
News Story  October 4, 2013, by Jordan Smith
"...On Oct. 1, however, he and two other inmates filed suit in federal court in Houston, asking that his impending execution (and, by extension, that of the three others slated for execution before the end of the year) be put on hold while the courts can consider whether Texas would violate their constitutional rights by changing its execution drug protocol, without disclosing to the inmates it intends to kill anything about that drug, and how it would be used...."

Letters at 3AM: Just Since April
Secret surveillance efforts fly in the face of our Constitution
Columns  August 23, 2013, by Michael Ventura
"...June 17: Obama went on Charlie Rose to tell Americans that "you have federal courts overseeing the [surveillance] program ... and you have Congress overseeing it." The polite Rose wouldn't push to clarify that FISA courts aren't really courts and rarely deny warrants, nor did he mention Snowden's proof that Director of National Intelligence James Clapper flat-out lies to his "overseers," and does so with full White House approval...."

The AggreGAYtor: July 17
What happened today in gay? Here’s your QILTBAG recap of queer news.
DAILY Qmmunity  July 17, 2013
"...Remember how Obama refuses to sign an executive order barring LGBTQ discrimination? Looks like the courts may do it for him...."

Judge Edith Jones: Blacks and Hispanics More Violent
Complaint filed over Jones's discriminatory and biased comments
DAILY News  June 4, 2013, by Jordan Smith
"...According to federal statistics, the majority of complaints were filed against federal district judges. Most of those were made in response to alleged "erroneous decisions, other misconduct, personal bias against the litigants or attorneys, or violations of other standards," according to a report by the Administrative Office of the United States Courts..."

Point Austin: First Bread, Then Circus
If the 83rd Lege glazed your eyeballs, act two might wake the balcony
News Column  May 31, 2013, by Michael King
"...That's one way to look at the instantaneous return of the Lege, in a "special session" called by Gov. Rick Perry nominally for the purpose of redistricting, and more specifically to formally adopt the "interim maps" drafted by a San Antonio federal court to replace GOP-authored maps that the courts had concluded discriminated against minority voters..."

Supremes Agree Texas Inmate Should Have Appeal Heard
Extends 2012 ruling on ineffective assistance of counsel
DAILY News  May 29, 2013, by Jordan Smith
"...The Court of Criminal Appeals and the federal district and appeals courts previously ruled that Trevino forfeited that claim by not raising it in his state habeas appeal; Trevino argues that the appellate lawyer was also ineffective for not discovering and raising the issue that his trial attorney's performance was deficient...."

Smart Enough to Die
In 2002, the Supreme Court banned the death penalty for mentally retarded defendants. Still, Texas finds a way.
News Story  April 19, 2013, by Jordan Smith
"...Chester repeatedly scored below 70 on IQ tests – the generally accepted upper limit for mental impairment; spent almost his entire childhood in special education classes; never learned to read, to shop or cook, or to live on his own, or even to distinguish among colors, according to court testimony; and was placed in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice's Mentally Retarded Offenders Program during his previous stays in the pen. Nonetheless, the courts have repeatedly determined that Chester has not proven he is mentally retarded, and is thus eligible for execution – a sentence the state intends to carry out on April 24..."

Cave Murder: Court Grants Review
Pitonyak to argue that state withheld favorable evidence
DAILY News  March 20, 2013, by Jordan Smith
"...In a brief order, the Fifth Circuit granted Pitonyak's defense a Certificate of Appealability, which allows him to pursue an appeal that has to date been rejected by both state and federal district courts. At issue is whether Travis County prosecutors withheld statements made by Laura Hall – a friend with whom Pitonyak fled to Mexico after the murder – while she was in jail awaiting trial for tampering with evidence and hindering apprehension...."

Point Austin: Welcome to the Madhouse
The Keller day care fiasco and the madness of crowds
News Column  January 18, 2013, by Michael King
"...No matter what happens, it's impossible to return to the Kellers their lives. I certainly hope the appeal is successful, but prosecutors – current Travis County District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg was in charge of the child abuse unit at the time – are notoriously reluctant to acknowledge mistakes, and even in matters of actual innocence, the courts are extremely slow to act upon error, often preferring finality to justice..."

Two More in Line for Death Penalty
These two men were both 19 when they were sentenced to death
News Story  October 19, 2012, by Jordan Smith
"...24. But his attorney, Lydia Brandt, argues that Hines' execution should, once again, be stayed while the courts consider whether his lawyers have done enough to save his life...."

Mexican President Says Texas Court Ruling Discriminates Against Poor Defendants
Nieto asks U.S. Supremes to review notorious Austin case
DAILY News  August 29, 2012, by Jordan Smith
"...Supreme Court. The CCA's decision that clear and convincing evidence is required "reinforces" a split among the federal courts as to what level of evidence is needed, he argues..."

A 3-D Race for the Bench
Three Dems vying for high-profile felony court
News Story  February 24, 2012, by Jordan Smith
"..."I'm not going to allow ineffective assistance [by counsel] in my courtroom," he says, "because that case will be overturned on appeal, and that's not fair." Because any criminal conviction can in effect be a "life sentence," Case favors expanding the current pretrial diversion program run through the 167th court. Diver­sion and specialty courts (such as drug court and domestic violence court) help keep people out of prison when possible..."

Doggett, Travis Returned to Normalcy
New congressional map gives Travis a three-way split, which is a lot better than five
News Story  December 2, 2011, by Richard Whittaker
"...The Republican gerrymander of Texas' state House, Senate, and congressional seats was designed to set Democrats at one another's throats in vicious primary fights. Now federal courts have overturned all three maps, ending a political conflict between Austin Congressman Lloyd Doggett and San Antonio state Rep..."

Feds Toss Out Election Maps
Three judge panel stick sword in heart of the Gerrymander
DAILY News  November 8, 2011, by Richard Whittaker
"...The District Court for the Western District of Texas now has until the end of November to draw new maps, but Democrats are already reacting positively to the ruling. Texas Democratic Party Chairman Boyd Ritchie said, "Republicans drew blatantly illegal maps then tried to game the system by going through the courts rather than the Department of Justice..."

D.A. Race: Lehmberg vs. (Almost) Baird
Lehmberg announces re-election bid while Baird explores a run
News Story  July 22, 2011, by Michael King
"...Baird told the Chronicle that taking on the incumbent would be a "formidable challenge" and promised a campaign "not about personalities, but about ideas – how that office could change and ... fully address, not only the criminal justice issues, but the human issues of just the individuals that are being processed through the courts."..."

Sparks Grills Lawyers in Ultrasound Case
Court to rule on injunction before new law takes effect
News Story  July 15, 2011, by Jordan Smith
"...And since the plaintiff doctors have not raised a so-called "undue burden" claim, they cannot demonstrate that they're likely to win their larger lawsuit, which means they should not be granted an injunction. Indeed, Sparks peppered Anderson with several questions about the decision not to claim that the law placed an undue burden on women seeking abortion – which has been the basis on which courts have invalidated some laws seeking to more strictly regulate access to abortion..."

Is Texas Breaking the Law?
State poised to execute another Mexican national
DAILY News  June 8, 2011, by Jordan Smith
"...The ICJ sided with Mexico in the case, and then-President George W. Bush asked the Texas courts to take heed of the court's ruling..."

Death Penalty Off the Hook
Preemptive strike against wrongful conviction fails in murder trial prehearing
News Story  January 21, 2011, by Jordan Smith
"..."He has not been convicted of anything. He is asking Texas trial and appellate courts to entertain a purely hypothetical claim and make an advisory ruling in a case that has not been litigated to any final resolution," Cochran wrote..."

New Courthouse for Travis County?
Commissioners to discuss possible downtown land purchase
DAILY News  December 13, 2010, by Jordan Smith
"...Courthouse regulars – including many of the judges – and county officials have long known that the current civil courthouse, the historic 1931 Heman Marion Sweatt building that once housed all branches of county government, has been at overcapacity; currently, said Eckhardt, it is 40% over its original capacity. For the civil courts alone (not counting probate court or the clerks offices), the building has just under 50,000 square feet; by 2035, the county estimates that the civil courts alone will need just more than 188,000 square feet..."

Tone Deaf
Deaf Austinites say police can't seem to listen to reason
News Story  December 3, 2010, by Jordan Smith
"...and with deaf people and deaf culture," she says. After graduating from law school last year, Elliott quickly made it onto the defense appointment list for Travis County's misdemeanor courts, in large part because of her ability to communicate effectively with deaf clients..."

331st Court: Who Should Follow Judge Perkins?
A two-man race
News Story  February 19, 2010, by Jordan Smith
"...He pioneered the mental health docket as a way to try to identify offenders with mental illness and stop them from cycling and recycling through the criminal justice system. For years, he says, the courts were not "being fair to people with mental illness because we didn't fully understand the illness" or "how that might contribute to their behavior." He says that while it's true that he hasn't been handling felony cases, the "mechanics" of the court are the same regardless of the offense level..."

The Junk Science Conundrum
Legislators ponder how to keep questionable forensics out of the courtroom
News Story  January 22, 2010, by Jordan Smith
"...Of course, there's disagreement on how to accomplish these reforms. UT Law professor Olin Wellborn, who teaches aspiring lawyers about evidence and took part in drafting the state's rules of evidence, said he saw merit in amending Texas' rules to require courts to determine whether a particular science – anything from DNA to dog – has achieved "general acceptance" by the practitioners in the relevant field; Bradley countered that Texas' rules as they stand – which essentially require a judge to determine whether the particular piece of evidence is relevant and whether the science and the expert delivering it are reliable – are quite enough..."

Treatment or Jail
Often rehab is the only way out of a jail sentence – even if you don't have a drug problem
DAILY News  November 3, 2009, by Jordan Smith
"...According to the agency, in 2007 (the most recent year for which data is available), 56% of folks headed to rehab for marijuana issues were sent there by the courts – this is often the only way for a person to avoid time behind bars. That number has climbed steadily over the last 15 years, from 48% sent from the courts in 1992..."

Caging Children
A new study from the LBJ School suggests that it's a bad idea
News Story  August 28, 2009, by Richard Whittaker
"...Children under the age of 18 can't vote, serve as jurors, or join Blockbuster, but in the U.S. – the only developed nation with such a policy – they can be tried in adult courts and imprisoned in facilities designed for adults..."

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