Houston Matters

Lawsuit Alleges the Way Texas Elects Judges to its Highest Courts is Unfair to Minorities

Posted on · Last month (July 2016), a civil rights organization sued the State of Texas, arguing the way the state elects judges for the Texas Supreme Court and the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals violates the Voting Rights Act. The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court saying the […]

Houston Matters

Understanding the Many Factors that Determine Prison Sentences

Posted on · On July 18, 2016, former St. Louis Cardinals scouting director Chris Correa was sentenced  to 46 months in prison for repeatedly illegally logging into the Houston Astros’ computer database. When the news broke reaction was swift – and surprising. As the scandal was already well documented, many skipped taking Correa rightly to task for what he […]

Houston Matters

Court Overturns Damages Ruling in Ashby High-Rise Case: What It Means for Homeowners and Developers

Posted on · Last week (June 30, 2016), a state appeals court overturned a ruling pertaining to the fight over the so-called Ashby high-rise, a proposed residential tower near Rice University that’s been at the center of a conflict for several years. In 2013, a jury ruled that if the project were built, the developer — Buckhead Development […]

Houston Matters

Civil Forfeiture: Necessary Tool or Policing for a Profit?

Posted on · Civil forfeiture is a tool where law enforcement can seize money or property from a suspect and, essentially, not give it back. This, the Harris County District Attorney’s Office says, is in order to stop money made from criminal enterprises or stop an implement of a crime – a car, for example – from hitting […]

Houston Matters

District Attorney Anderson & Chief Public Defender Discuss Criminal Justice Issues

Posted on · We continue our exploration of criminal justice in Harris County with the help of two guests: District Attorney Devon Anderson and Chief Public Defender Alex Bunin. First, Edel Howlin asks Bunin about some of the changes he’d like to see in our criminal justice system. Then, we welcome DA Anderson in studio to share her […]

Houston Matters

Defense Attorneys from ‘Making a Murderer’ to Speak in Houston

Posted on · (UPDATE: Dean Strang and Jerry Buting’s speaking engagement in Houston — originally scheduled for May 21 — has been cancelled. A spokeswoman says the attorneys are working to determine if and when a new date in Houston might be rescheduled.) The Netflix documentary series Making a Murderer made a lot of headlines around the holidays (released Dec. 18, […]

Houston Matters

Study: Laws Protecting Child Witnesses Lack Uniformity from State to State

Posted on · It’s not uncommon for kids to take the stand to testify in criminal, civil or juvenile courts. But legal protections for these underage witnesses — and for victims too — vary greatly from state to state, according to some research from Sam Houston State University. To tell us more, we talk with Ashley Fansher, a doctoral […]

Houston Matters

Should Texas Judges Be Attached to a Political Party?

Posted on · Across the country, you’ll find different systems in place for naming and retaining judges. In some states, judges are named by the executive branch and approved or rejected by the legislature. In others, judges are named and then face “retention elections” at regular intervals when voters can choose to retain or dismiss the judge. Here […]

Houston Matters

How the Fifth Circuit Became the Nation’s Most Right-Leaning Appellate Court

Posted on · Until a new justice is named and confirmed to replace the late Antonin Scalia on the U.S. Supreme Court, any rulings resulting in a 4-4 tie among the current justices will lead to the lower court ruling being upheld, without a precedent set. When it comes to cases involving the state of Texas, that lower […]

Houston Matters

Report: Expanding Drug Diversion Programs Would Improve Safety and Save Tax Dollars

Posted on · A new report from the Texas Criminal Justice Coalition suggests there are economic and social benefits to expanding Harris County’s drug diversion programs. To explain, we talk with one of the authors of that report, Jay Jenkins. He’s the coalition’s project attorney for Harris County. The Harris County DA’s office is implementing a “First Chance Intervention Program” […]

Houston Matters

5th Circuit Court Of Appeals Greenlights Controversial Texas Abortion Law

Posted on · Women seeking legal abortions in the state of Texas face longer drives and fewer options today, after the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans late Thursday ruled a law requiring health clinics that offer abortions to meet surgical hospital operating standards could go into effect while a lower court ruling deeming it unconstitutional is appealed. […]

News

Specialty Courts In Harris County And Texas Under the Microscope

Posted on · Recently there was some concern that Houston's new Mental Health Court would be closing. Instead, new District Attorney Mike Anderson used asset forfeiture funding to add another judge. Specialty courts like Harris County's mental health, drug and veteran's courts are a growing trend in Texas —  and now Governor Perry is trying to get a handle on their success.

News

U.S. Supreme Court Agrees To Hear Enron CEO Skilling Appeal

Posted on · The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to consider throwing out the convictions against former Enron CEO Jeff Skilling. He's the highest-ranking executive serving prison time for playing a role in the 2001 collapse of the energy giant. But he says the law that prosecutors used to convict him was incorrectly applied, and that he didn't receive a fair trial. David Pitman has more.