Probation, Jail and Prison

Overheard a bench conference about a motion to revoke a felony probation while standing in line waiting to talk to the judge this week. Putting the pieces together, the story went something like this:

The defendant was on a possession of controlled substance probation, and had mucked it up in several different ways. Probably at least one dirty U/A along the way, had absconded (fancy legal talk for “disappeared/not reported” for a few months), and was generally speaking not winning any awards for probationer of the year. As far as I could tell, no arrests for new offenses, but… what are you going to do?


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From The Tao Of Criminal Defense Trial Lawyering, No Balm In Gilead:

Up through law school, we’re taught that the American criminal justice system is a wonderful thing. The organized bar—the ABA, local and state bar associations—pushes the same propaganda. It’s a lie.

The truth is that, while it may be better than any other system yet created, the U.S. criminal justice system objectively sucks. Factually-innocent people get punished every day. Pleas are coerced. Insane people get punished for doing insane things. Crappy lawyers take people’s lives in their hands. Children get treated as adults. Adults with the minds of children get treated as adults. Wealthy defendants get more justice than poor defendants. [emphasis added]

That’s a Tiger Woods crazy-long list of serious problems for a system that might be the best in the world. Worse still, it’s non-exhaustive, easily modifiable by the phrase “including, but not limited to”. So are we the best?


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Via email:

Hello I recently accepted probation. I wanted to ask is it unconstitutional in Texas for me to be given a contract where I give up my right to a trial by jury when I accept probation?

I’m assuming “contract” means the plea paperwork and the portion of it that says, in legalese and

The Orlando Sentinel ran a story about Florida death row inmates dying before they could be executed. Apparently the grim reaper himself often appears in the fourteen year wait between sentencing and government sponsored execution. In the last ten years, it’s been a 50/50 proposition as to which comes first. From “Justice denied? On

Scanning the search terms, I come across:

Bored of Pardons and Parole

As in.. “We’re bored with pardoning and paroling folks, so we just decided not to do that anymore”?