Criminal justice

 Graphic by Todd Wiseman

Reservoir Dogged

In 2004, two brothers thought they had found the perfect ecologically friendly business venture: create a wetlands preserve on 4,000 acres of neglected farmland along the Sulphur River in Northeast Texas and make a pile of money selling mitigation credits to developers who build over environmentally sensitive lands elsewhere. Seven years later, the only thing stopping them from realizing that dream is the state of Texas, which has plans to submerge their property under 80 feet of water.

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 Graphic by Todd Wiseman

TribWeek: In Case You Missed It

Stiles' and Torres' three-parter on the changing Texas political map, Ramsey on questions about Brian Birdwell's voting history and residency, Aguilar on the Obama administration's immigration crackdown, Reed on hospitals that won't induce early labor, Stiles on what Troy Fraser left off his financial disclosure form, the latest installment of Hu's Face-Off video debate series, Grissom on the problem-plagued Driver Responsibility Program, Galbraith on the controversy over fracking and M. Smith's interview with former Texas Supreme Court Justice Harriet O'Neill: The best of our best from July 26 to 30, 2010.

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TribBlog: Keller Appeals

Judge Sharon Keller says that in sanctioning her, the State Commission on Judicial Conduct “acted in a lawless, unconstitutional manner.”

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 Bob Daemmerich

TribBlog: More Calls for Innocence Commission

Michael Anthony Green was supposed to be freed today after serving 27 years for a rape he didn't commit. The exoneration is the second in two weeks to come from Harris County District Attorney Pat Lykos' Post Conviction Review Section. State Sen. Rodney Ellis, D-Houston, said the findings give more credence to his argument that Texas needs a state innocence commission.

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 Bob Daemmerich

TribBlog: A Teen Debtor's Prison in Hidalgo?

The ACLU has sued Hidalgo County for jailing an estimated 150 impoverished youths for failure to pay fines racked up on school-related tickets. Such sentences amount to running a "debtor's prison" and violate the Constitution and Texas law, ACLU attorneys argue.

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A Conversation with Harriet O'Neill

After nearly two decades on the bench, former Texas Supreme Court Justice Harriet O'Neill stepped down earlier this year. She talks with the TT's Morgan Smith about her legacy and what's next.

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Harriet O'Neill: The TT Interview

The former Texas Supreme Court justice on her 18 years in the judiciary, women on the court, the all-Republican bench and what she really thinks about judicial elections.

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Hide in Plain Sight

A few elected officials and municipalities in Texas are asking a federal judge to throw out the state’s open meetings law, which they claim is an infringement on free speech. Ben Philpott of KUT News and the Tribune reports.

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 Todd Wiseman

The Long Arm of the Law

Curbing the practice of barratry — "ambulance chasing," in the vernacular — has prompted an uneasy alliance between tort reformers and the Texas Trial Lawyers Association: They agree on reform ... just not on the form it should take.

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 Graphic by Justin Dehn/Todd Wiseman

Data App: Personal Finance

Politicians, candidates and other state officers are required to disclose their personal finances, to discourage conflicts of interest and, according to the law, "strengthen the faith and confidence of the people of this state in state government." Yet getting these documents isn’t easy, so we've put all 3,070 available online.

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 Graphic by Jacob Villanueva

Age of Innocence

More than 120 college students worked 12,300 hours-plus on Innocence Project of Texas cases from 2007 to 2009, according to the Task Force on Indigent Defense. As student participation has increased, so have exonerations.

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Keller for the Defense

Judge Sharon Keller has been pilloried as the villain of the Texas criminal justice system, but supporters credit the chief of the state's highest criminal court with working to ensure fair trials for impoverished defendants.

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 Associated Press

TribBlog: Getting Drunks Off the Road

The Senate Committee on Criminal Justice met today to talk about ways to stop Texans from getting behind the wheel after imbibing. Judges, police and even a third-time DWI offender told lawmakers some Texas drunken driving laws could use some stiffening, while other measures take punishment too far.

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 Matt Stiles

On the Records: How Public Servants Make Their Money

The Texas Ethics Commission recently released more than 3,000 personal financial statements — documents that detail state officials' financial interests and liabilities. Read, download or embed them with our new application.

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 Murguía campaign

Same As the Old Boss

Ciudad Juárez's mayoral election has Texas' economic leaders intrigued as the border city plans to bid its current mayor farewell in October. For residents in the city plagued by cartel violence, little change is expected, and many brace for continued bloodshed.

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 Courtesy Brad Levenson

Brad Levenson: The TT Interview

After a series of investigative reports revealed serious problems with the quality of legal representation for indigent defendants on Texas death row, lawmakers created the Office of Capital Writs. California lawyer Brad Levenson will be moving to Texas to open the new office and attempt to restore some confidence in the state's busy system of capital punishment.

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 Todd Wiseman

TribWeek: In Case You Missed It

Grissom, Hamilton, and Philpott on the Texas Democratic Party's state convention, the two-step, the forecast, and the ticket; Galbraith on the political and environmental battle between state and federal environmental regulators, and on a new age of nukes in Texas; Burnson on signs of the times in San Antonio; Ramshaw on hackers breaking into the state's confidential cancer database; Aguilar's interview with Katherine Glass, the Libertarian Party's nominee for governor; Acosta on efforts to stop 'Murderabilia' items that sell because of the association with killers; Ramshaw and the Houston Chronicle's Terri Langford on the criminal arrest records of workers in state-funded foster care centers; Hu on accusations that state Sunset examiners missed problems with workers compensation regulators because they didn't ask the right questions of the right people; Ramsey and Stiles on the rush to rake in campaign cash, and on political races that could be won or lost because of voter attraction to Libertarian candidates; and Aguilar's fresh take on South Texas' reputation for corruption. The best of our best from June 28 to July 3, 2010.

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