Friday, June 08, 2007

Google Yourself Corpus Christi: When Carlos Valdez Confesses Error Does Not The Same Rule Apply?

Google Yourself Corpus Christi: When Carlos Valdez Confesses Error Does Not The Same Rule Apply?

First, in seeking the death penalty, prosecutors sometimes overlook glaring illegalities.

"courts, especially state courts, are too often willing to overlook even obvious constitutional flaws when reviewing death penalty cases."

And if they are "willing to overlook even obvious constitutional flaws and glaring illegalities when Prosecuting & reviewing death penalty cases."

WATT about all of the other cases?

How many "overlooks" of
"constitutional flaws" or "glaring illegalities" have become tools of Cheating Prosecutors who have forgotten "Prosecutors, despite striking hard blows, must never lose sight of their ultimate obligation to do justice in every case.

How many Prosecutors deliberately commit the error of failing to file a reply brief in an Appeal Process because it deprives the appellant of exculpatory testimony, evidence, and confessions of error or witness tampering by the State Prosecuting Attorney?

Friday, Jun. 16, 2000

Earlier this month, Vincent Saldano, one of the 468 inmates on Texas' death row, had his death sentence vacated. This development was duly reported in the press. But accounts of Saldano's good fortune uniformly failed to appreciate what makes his reprieve truly newsworthy and potentially a landmark.

Saving Saldano: Texas Confesses Error


Saldano was not freed from the prospect of execution by the actions of a court or even, as occasionally happens, by the clemency of a governor. His death sentence was erased because Texas, through its newly created office of the solicitor general, "confessed error" in his case -- that is, it admitted, despite defeating Saldano's initial appeals in court, that his death sentence was illegally obtained. Quite simply, this never happens, either in Texas or in the dozens of other states with active death penalty laws. It is thus worth pausing to consider the value and potential implications of Saldano's case as well as the notion of confessing error.

Saldano had received a death sentence in part due to profoundly troubling testimony by a state expert witness at the sentencing phase of his trial. The expert, a clinical psychologist named Walter Quijano, suggested that Saldano should be executed because, as an Hispanic, he posed a special risk of future dangerousness to society. To support this astonishing conclusion, the expert pointed out that Hispanics make up a disproportionately large amount of Texas' prison population.

It does not take a tenured professor of constitutional law to realize that linking racial identity with a propensity for violence was not only bizarre but also a violation of the equal protection clause. Indeed, that it should take a confession of error by the state to correct this problem highlights at least two problems in the current administration of the death penalty. First, in seeking the death penalty, prosecutors sometimes overlook glaring illegalities. The same flaw identified in Saldano's case infects at least seven other Texas capital cases. Second (and perhaps even more distressing), courts, especially state courts, are too often willing to overlook even obvious constitutional flaws when reviewing death penalty cases. After all, before the state's confession of error, Saldano had lost all of his appeals.

Under these circumstances, one might think that confessions of error would be, if not commonplace, at least occasional. On average, the Solicitor General of the United States confesses error in two or three criminal cases every year -- even though it is a safe bet that federal prosecutions, conducted by better trained lawyers with greater supervision, are less likely to contain obvious legal errors than their state counterparts. As the Supreme Court recognized when endorsing the practice in 1942, "the public trust reposed in the law enforcement officers of the Government requires that they be quick to confess error, when, in their opinion, a miscarriage of justice may result from their remaining silent." But as a practical matter, states never confess error in death penalty cases (even though courts overturn roughly two-thirds of all death sentences as legally infirm) -- and some states candidly admit that their policy is never to confess error.

Mutual Distrust

Why? One crucial and usually overlooked factor is the deep antagonism that has grown up over time between state death penalty prosecutors and the death penalty abolitionist lawyers who seek to foil them in every case. The abolitionists, prosecutors know all too well, never concede that their clients deserve the death penalty or that the death penalty was legally imposed -- no matter how flimsy their arguments in a given case. Rather, they use every procedural and substantive trick in the book to delay executions.

There can be no denying that such abolitionist tactics have angered and frustrated state prosecutors. And one response to these understandable emotions has been for prosecutors to mirror the fight-to-the-bitter-end approach of their opponents.

The problem with this reciprocation, however, is simply that the ethical duties of prosecutors and defense attorneys are vastly different. Defense attorneys are duty-bound to scratch and claw to win for their clients. Prosecutors, by contrast, despite striking hard blows, must never lose sight of their ultimate obligation to do justice in every case.

That may sound trite and perhaps overly idealistic, but it has a practical side as well. Prosecutorial confessions of error -- knowing when to fold them, as it is known -- establish credibility. They create trust in the system, a sense that someone is being careful and exercising sound judgment, that extends far beyond any single case. And that can make a world of difference for someone like me, who is not morally opposed to the death penalty but skeptical of how it is imposed.

Death Penalty Politics

In addition, the reluctance of state prosecutors to confess error is a clear reflection of how politics affects the death penalty. Up until now, anyway, undoing a death sentence was akin to political suicide for an elected district attorney or state attorney general, or for any state official with ambitions for re-election or higher office. And yet the willingness of Texas' new solicitor general to confess error in the Saldano case suggests a possible turning point. With the current groundswell of death penalty opposition based on the possibility of executing an innocent person, elected officials may now find some advantage in approaching capital cases (even those where innocence is not an issue) with a greater degree of care and honesty.

case will start a broad trend. But there is reason to believe that the tide is indeed turning. On June 9, Texas Attorney General John Cornyn announced the results of an investigation into other death penalty cases involving testimony by state expert Walter Quijano. Cornyn acknowledged that Dr. Quijano had provided testimony in six other death penalty cases similar to his improper testimony in the Saldano case. Cornyn's staff has advised defense lawyers for the six inmates now on death row that his office will not oppose efforts to overturn their sentences based on Quijano's testimony. In response, a pessimist might note that Texas is appealing a ruling in another capital case that the defendant received inadequate counsel -- when, indisputably, his lawyer slept through much of the trial. But doing the right thing has a contagious quality to it. Or at least so we can hope.

Edward Lazarus, a former federal prosecutor, is the legal correspondent for Talk Magazine and the author of Closed Chambers: The Rise, Fall, and Future of the Modern Supreme Court.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Can you guys hear me now?

A response below, but do read the whine as we find it most entertaining.

Accept no imitations

Now, this is ridiculous: at the URL (no, I'm not going to give it a live link) someone or other has erected a pseudo-blog under the heading, "Overlawyered", followed by a verbatim swipe of the paragraph ("Overlawyered explores an American legal system...") which for years stood atop this site's sidebar and currently stands atop our "about us" page. The imitation-Overlawyered blog has relatively little content, but one of its entries (dated May 05, 2006) consists of excerpts swiped verbatim from a post of Ted's of Feb. 16, 2006 on this site about a South Texas legal case.

Other content on the pseudo-Overlawyered site suggests that the author(s) take an interest in the South Texas legal scene, and have established a large group of blogspot entities which blogroll each other under the banner of "Team Kenedeno" (more at These interlocking sites often sport not very accurate names such as,, and, and at least one of them (at also contains a more extensive verbatim swipe from Ted's Feb. 16, 2006 post, mentioned above.

I looked around for a while, but failed to find any appropriate "report abuse" procedure on the Blogspot/Blogger site. The nearest thing was a "Flag Objectionable Content" button which apparently triggers a review for hate speech, obscenity, etc., but does not offer any way of reporting the rather different problem arising here. Reader suggestions are welcome.

Update from Ted: "We've contacted the appropriate people. Thanks for everyone's help."

Dear Ted,

The is a web address of which you do not control nor own. I tried to respond to an article on your website

The comment was never published after multiple attempts.

Thus MY CREATION........

One comment made out of pure envy
El Defenzor, a Corpus Christi paper of questionable credibility, claims to have uncovered e-mails among the plaintiffs' bar in that town hand-picking judges for the bench at election time. Unfortunately, this germ of an interesting story is buried in bad punctuation and a deranged-sounding ungrammatical writing style that is consistent with what a commenter here calls "tinfoil hat-wearing."

Hey dude you poked your nose into our business and not the other way around. Now that you stuck it in, you claim you have no interest in South Texas Politics so go back where you came from but not without rebuke.

Then you spout off again as if you sit so high.

Imagine what a credible journalist could do with this story! Sixty Minutes? Houston Press? Dallas Observer? Corpus Christi Caller-Times? Texas Monthly? Anyone out there?
Be a man and take your spanking or not?


Monday, June 05, 2006

cruelty to animals...........Posted on June 5, 2006 at 02:02:29 AM by dannoynted1
is a crime
but to starve a dog is that cruelty?
in florida schindler was not on the list
starving a human with malice and forthought
is that not cruelty?
she breathed on her own
she had her eyes wide open
she had a parent(S)who loved her
logic, reason, as well as common sense of justice says-----her husband should not have been custodian of her healthcare
NOT? cuz a)he no longer had her health as his best interest
b)his interest was ceased when he refused her healthcare in a court of law
c)by starting another family he can not claim both women best interest
talk about A conflict! especially BOTH? OFtheir healthcare-
d)by refusing to allow custody of "her body" for autopsy is a selfish and not in schindler's best interest but his own
e)if he was husband wat happened to in "sickness and in health"
f)where is terri schindler"s starved to death body?

i cant beleive the nerve of politicians and their that and this "illegal immigrant crap" when they could not even be humane enough to speak up on this murder with malice and forethought by starvation!!!!!!!!!!

if they cant help 1 wat could they possibly do for anyone else?

i guess she was "Right" or maybe ESP!

see 13-01-005========esp=====msp=====$$$ ecclesia =============================== lawlawlawlawlawlawlawlawlawlawlawlawlaw

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Birds of a Feather

Party Information: Party: Daniel Torres, William Bourland, and David Natividad
Party Type: Appellee

Representatives for this Party: Attorneys
Mikal C. Watts
William Powers, Jr.
Richard P. Hogan, Jr.
Thomas H. Crofts, Jr.
Jacqueline M. Stroh
Juan Enrique Mejia
Craig M. Sico
Brantley W. White
Sharon E. Callaway
John G. Escamilla


Party Information: Party: The Coastal Corporation
Party Type: Appellant

Representatives for this Party: Attorneys
Darrell L. Barger
Augustin Rivera, Jr.
Reagan Wm. Simpson
Russell H. McMains
Michael A. Hatchell
Julie Tellepsen

Friday, May 05, 2006

Brough's complaint about those "spending millions of dollars" on tort reform is ironic

Brough's complaint about those "spending millions of dollars" on tort reform is ironic; he is allegedly a member of what a community paper calls Mikal Watts's "Millionaire Lawyers Club" that allegedly handpicks judges and influences elections on the 148th District Court in Corpus Christi. But given that a runaway plaintiffs' bar is costing the American economy hundreds of billions of dollars a year, it's unsurprising that some of the victims of that problem seek to fix it. But the plaintiffs' bar outspends reformers by a 3-1 ratio.

10. Did any settlement communications with Ford or Firestone mention the propensity of Nueces County juries to award large verdicts?

11. Did any settlement communications with Ford or Firestone mention the propensity of local judges to favor plaintiffs' firms that supported their election campaign?