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Saturday, January 19, 2008

Houston DA's office -- and Islamic Law on Divorce. divorce by text and punish for 1 pill

The rise of technology has put old ways to the test - such as the Islamic law provision that a man can divorce his wife simply by saying: "You are divorced" three times. But does putting it in a text message count the same? That's the issue before an Egyptian court when a man issued his cell phone to send the message via text.

Ah, modern technology, making life so much easier and more "efficient." Or confusing. No one knows if the text message was legally binding. Liberal divorce rules in a ultra-conservative society has resulted in 99% of the children of divorce being on the streets of places like Cairo.

Things aren't much better on the local scene. The attorney for the indicted judge now wants to punish the Grand Jury members who indicted him against the DA's wishes. The smell from this case keeps getting stronger. It appears that the Grand Jury reviewed hours of evidence and felt there was enough to indict. If it had been a truck driver or other ordinary soul, none of this would have happened -- he or she would have been indicted and prosecuted.

I once had to defend a woman from the Houston DA's office. She was arrested for having 1 prescription pill in her purse without a prescription (a muscle relaxant - she had been in an accident and her back had been broken). The DA's office made it sound like she had done something horrible like having a ton of heroin, before finally dismissing it. All of this over one ordinary pill. I never handled another criminal case after that strange experience.

But if it is a judge from the Supreme Court, then the DA --who loves the death penalty even when the defendant is mentally disabled (that one was reversed by the conservative US Supreme Court) and videos of women getting their tops ripped off -- got riled up and dismissed the indictment.

Meanwhile, another case just turned up where prosecutor misconduct lead to a death penalty conviction that was contrived - and an "ethics" ruling kept the attorney from talking about it for 10 years. Apparently, putting the wrong man to death did not bother the prosecutors in that case.

In Houston, the same mentality exists. Harris County leads the country in death cases. But that fervor for the maximum punishment apparently doesn't apply to high level members of the DA's own party. We don't know if the Judge and Mr. Rosenthal used to trade email "jokes" --but turning on the Grand Jury and holding them in contempt is an abuse of the system.

Contempt is what the DA has shown for women, minorities, equal justice by his actions, including contempt for his own Grand Jury. None of his actions pass the smell test.

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