courts

Drugs
9:45 am
Fri November 9, 2012

In Austin, 1 in 4 Pot Busts Doesn’t Lead to Arrest

Austin police have the discretion to ticket - instead of arrest - people for smaller amounts of pot possession.
flickr.com/fiverweed

Voters in Colorado and Washington state elected this week to legalize marijuana for recreational use. In Texas, the drug remains very much illegal. But a state law passed five years ago has resulted in thousands of people in Travis County avoiding arrest when they’re busted with small amounts of pot.

Back in 2007, State Representative Jerry Madden (R-Plano) authored a bill to give police officers the option to cite and release someone caught with less than four ounces of marijuana. 

“The reason for that was to save costs for some of our [police] departments, so that they had more people that would be available on the streets, instead of taking the time to bring very low-level offenders in and book them,” Madden said. “They were going to be released very shortly anyway.”

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Criminal Justice
10:51 am
Thu November 8, 2012

Texas Judge Who Beat His Daughter Is Reinstated To Bench

Hillary Adams (left) as her father was striking her with a belt. She set up a video camera to record what she says was one of many such beatings.
YouTube.com (warning, video is graphic)

Originally published on Thu November 8, 2012 6:36 am

There was outrage across the nation last November when video of a 2004 beating that a local judge in Texas gave to his 16-year-old daughter went viral.

Within days, Aransas County Court-at-Law Judge William Adams was suspended by the State Commission on Judicial Conduct.

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Courts
7:32 pm
Mon November 5, 2012

Ruling Reinforces Law on Handguns in Employees' Cars

Todd Wiseman / Jeff Wilcox for Texas Tribune

In an opinion released Monday that reinforces a 2011 law, Attorney General Greg Abbott's office said that employers cannot prohibit an employee with a concealed handgun license from keeping a handgun in a locked, private vehicle in an employee parking lot.

State Sen. Robert Deuell, R-Greenville, wrote a request for opinion from the office on May 7 on the matter. During the 2011 session, the Legislature passed a law allowing employees to store concealed handguns in their vehicles on employer property except in cases where prohibited by federal or state law.

According to the attorney general’s opinion, Section 30.06 of the Texas penal code — which allows employers to post notices restricting handguns or other firearms on the premises — does not supersede the state law that protects concealed handgun license holders.

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Education
9:35 am
Mon October 22, 2012

Texas Schools Head to Court in Finance Lawsuit

A funding lawsuit joined by over 600 school districts heads to court today.
flickr.com/therefore

Opening arguments begin today in a school finance lawsuit pitting about 600 school districts, including the Austin Independent School District, against the State of Texas. The legal battle could reshape how money is distributed to classrooms.

The way schools are currently funded in Texas is an intensely complicated set of mathematical formulas that even experts sometimes struggle with. Without wading too deeply into the Texas Education Code, here’s what you need to know about the school finance lawsuit getting started today:

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Courts
1:36 pm
Thu October 18, 2012

Second Federal Appeals Court Strikes Down Defense of Marriage Act

Edith Windsor, whose case led to an appeals court striking down the Defense of Marriage Act.
Shannon Stapleton Reuters /Landov

Originally published on Thu October 18, 2012 4:57 pm

The Defense of Marriage Act is unconstitutional because it discriminates against same-sex couples, a second federal appeals court has ruled.

NPR's Joel Rose reports that it took the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals in New York less than a month to come to its decision. As he tells our Newscast Desk:

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AM Update: 9/19/12
8:57 am
Wed September 19, 2012

AM Update: Immigrant Housing Law Under Review, Huston-Tillotson Grant, Rain Helps Edwards Aquifer

A panel of judges at the US 5th Circuit Court of Appeals in Louisiana is set to review a Texas immigration case today.
flickr.com/wallyg

The first day of autumn is still a few days away but Central Texas is already enjoying more fall-like temperatures thanks to a weak cold front. Here's a look at today's morning headlines:

Appeals Court to Review Immigration Housing Law

The 5th Circuit US Court of appeals is set to review a proposed law that would ban illegal immigrants from renting homes in Farmer’s Branch, a suburb of Dallas.

The law requires that all renters in Farmer’s Branch fill out paperwork proving their immigration status.  Illegal immigrants could be denied housing or be evicted from their current home. Under the law, landlords who knowingly continue rent to illegal immigrants would be subject to fines and revocation of their renter’s license.

The American Civil Liberties Union and the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund sued the city to prevent the law from being enforced. A district court ruled that the law was unconstitutional on the grounds that regulating immigration law is a federal prerogative.  A three-judge panel from the US 5th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the district court’s decision in March. The full membership of the court will review the earlier decision today.

Huston-Tillotson Gets Nearly $2 Million Grant

Huston-Tillotson University in Austin is getting more than $1.9 million in federal funding.

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Courts
3:05 pm
Fri July 6, 2012

How The Health Care Ruling Might Affect Civil Rights

People gather outside the Supreme Court on June 28, the morning the health care ruling was announced. Lawyers say they're still teasing out the consequences for other key areas of the law — including civil rights.
David Goldman AP

Originally published on Tue July 10, 2012 3:46 pm

There's been lots of talk about how the Supreme Court's landmark decision to uphold the health care law could affect the federal Medicaid program and President Obama's political standing. But days after the historic ruling, lawyers say they're still teasing out the consequences for other key areas of the law — including civil rights.

At first blush, it might seem odd that a case about the Affordable Care Act would send civil rights experts scrambling back to their law books.

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Crime
4:09 pm
Thu June 14, 2012

Reports: Former State Hospital Doctor Charged with Child Sex Abuse

flickr.com/mirsasha

A former psychiatrist at the Austin State Hospital has been indicted on multiple felony charges, including child sexual assault, according to reports.

The Austin American-Statesman writes that Charles Fisher, who was fired from the facility last year amid charges he sexually abused two teen patients in 2003 and 2006, has been accused of abusing a total of five patients over a similar time period, from 2001 to 2005.

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Crime
2:20 pm
Thu June 14, 2012

Allen Stanford Sentenced to Over 100 Years

A 2009 mug shot of Allen Stanford.
United States Marshals Service

Texas financier Allen Stanford was sentenced to 110 years in prison today, reports Agence France Presse.

Stanford was recently convicted on several charges, including fraud, after prosecutors proved he was running a Ponzi scheme with his Stanford International Bank:

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Texas
4:45 pm
Fri March 30, 2012

Interview: Exonerated After 25 Years, Michael Morton Tells His Story

Wrongfully convicted, exonerated Texan Michael Morton.
Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon, KUT News

Michael Morton has experienced a harrowing, remarkable journey .

Morton served 25 years in a Texas prison, convicted of the murder of his wife in 1987. It wasn’t until 2011 that DNA testing, unavailable at the time of his conviction, proved the innocence he had long maintained.

Morton came to the KUT studios yesterday for an extended interview covering his time in prison, the justice system and wrongful convictions. (An Austin resident before his incarceration, Morton was at UT to discuss the latter topic that day.)

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