Tuesday, January 29, 2008

First Minor Grammar/Usage Rant of 2008

There is only one "n" in the word pundit. So all you television broadcasters, commentators, analysts, and other pundits, stop being so lazy or ignorant: stop saying pundint!!

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Part 2: Trying to Sort Out Today's Pitonyak Appellate Oral Arguments

Sometimes I get caught up in the trees and don't see the forest, sorry. So I'll back up here.

Terrence Kirk did all the oral arguments for the defense today, while Joe Turner was seated beside him and later spoke to the press with Kirk. The defense went first in front of justices David Puryear, Jan Patterson, and Diane Henson. The State argued next, then the defense got a short rebuttal to end.

Kirk began by talking about how particularly horrible, tragic cases such as this one sometimes lead to a tendency to bend the law. He said he'd address four arguments: illegal trespassing, illegal search, incompetent counsel, and lesser-included charges.

I didn't fully understand the first argument about ineffective counsel and tomorrow shall try to look up the case law mentioned, but Kirk said something about the fact that during Pitonyak's trial, his attorney Roy Minton did not object to the State's evidence about APD officers' telling Sharon Cave and Jim Sedwick that breaking into Pitonyak's apartment would be illegal and that they broke in anyway. And apparently Pitonyak's other attorney, Sam Bassett, had brought all this up in pretrial hearings and Minton's effectively waiving error at trial equaled ineffective assistance of counsel.

Kirk cited some case law and justices Diane Henson and David Puryear questioned him about how his argument jibes (or doesn't) with the fact that even Minton and Bassett said in their opening arguments that this case was not a who-dunnit and what does Pitonyak's admission on the stand do to his argument?

Kirk then argued about how the evidence discovered during the illegal search (please see my part 1 previous post) should be excluded.

Kirk later addressed the issue of the exclusion of lesser-included charges, starting by saying that insufficient memory of the event alone should allow the inclusion of manslaughter or criminally negligent homicide charges instead of only the murder charge, citing a case I'm still trying to find. It sounded like he said "Shroeder" and that's just my first-instinct spelling of that name. (I welcome anyone's research and a link to this case!)

Kirk also said that the recklessness (implying no intent) presumed just by the fact of the gun's being shot should make the lesser-included charge(s) allowed.

For the State, Bryan Case began by talking about the emergency doctrine (please see my part 1 previous post re Miles.) Justice Henson asked him how that related to the present case. He said that he couldn't give her case law involving a true emergency doctrine case and that he'd have to refer again to Miles and that, really, Miles is an exigent circumstance case and that in his opinion, emergency doctrine is exigent circumstance.

Then Case addressed the issue of lesser-included charges. He said that Pitonyak's claiming (in his trial testimony) that he had no idea what happened that night and at that same time claiming he was certain he was the one who killed Jennifer Cave didn't make sense--that one of these proclamations had to be a lie. Case further argued that current law says that the jury must believe (from the evidence presented) that the defendant is guilty of only the lesser charge (I think he mentioned case law named Hall here), that we don't have a "just as likely" (the lesser charge or the higher charge) standard.

Kirk had a brief but pointed rebuttal, emphasizing that the end does not justify the means (regarding illegal entry and its resulting evidence.) He finished rather dramatically, saying, "In the words of Atticus Finch, 'For God's sake, do your duty!'"

Part 1: Trying to Sort Out Today's Pitonyak Appellate Oral Arguments

I'm going through my notes now and will try to write a more comprehensive post in a little while, but for now, case law cited by both sides was Miles , although each side had a different interpretation of its application as to whether evidence discovered by a private citizen's (Sharon Cave and Jim Sedwick) breaking the law (by breaking into Pitonyak's apartment) should be excluded from trial.

One of Pitonyak's attorneys, Terrence Kirk, said that what the Miles case boils down to is if the police can't do it (e.g., break into an apartment), a private citizen can't do it either--analogous to trespassing--and therefore evidence discovered during that illegal (entry) activity is inadmissible at trial. He further challenged the court to find any case law justifying this kind of illegal entry. Justice Jan Patterson then remarked that the evidence could still come in through Laura Hall's testimony, if she were given immunity and testified.

On this issue, arguing for the State, Bryan Case said that the Miles case says that if the police can do it, an individual person can do it, too, under certain exigent circumstances and that fits this case. Patterson asked, "so Miles is your best authority?" Case answered, "Miles is the best authority other than common sense."

More later...

Today's Pitonyak Appellate Oral Arguments and Last Night's "48 Hours Mystery"

I wonder if CBS moved up its air date of last night's "48 Hours Mystery" because of today's Third Court of Appeals oral arguments in The State of Texas v. Colton Aaron Pitonyak? I'll be watching those arguments this afternoon. At trial, Pitonyak's lawyers wanted manslaughter or criminally negligent homicide (according to my own trial notes, so I hope I got that right) included in the charge, not solely first degree murder. So I think that Judge Flowers' ruling against allowing the lesser-included charges will be the primary issue on appeal.

Monday, January 21, 2008

More "48 Hours Mystery" Video Promos

Here are more CBS video promos for tomorrow night's "48 Hours Mystery" episode, scheduled to air at 9 p.m. Central time.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Pitonyak & Hall Trials: CBS "48 Hours Mystery" Airs Tuesday, Jan. 22 (instead of early Feb.)

College media website uwire has posted this article and video about the upcoming CBS "48 Hours Mystery" episode about the trials of Colton Pitonyak and Laura Hall. One of uwire's parent companies is CBS, so I have to assume this new Jan 22nd air date is accurate.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Finally, Baby Broccoli!

All six broccoli plants finally have little heads instead of just huge leaves! Yippee! (What appear to be little white dots in this photo are really just water droplets.)

The heads seem to have sprouted almost overnight--amazing. I'll keep an eye on the freeze forecast and figure out if or when I need to cover them.

The cauliflower plants still only have big leaves and no actual "cauliflower", but I'm not giving up yet.

Oral Argument Next Wednesday: Colton Pitonyak's Appellate Attorney

According to the Third Court of Appeals' website, Colton Pitonyak's attorneys are Joseph A. Turner and Terrence W. Kirk. Joseph A. Turner is the same Joe Turner representing John Colyandro (Tom DeLay's and Jim Ellis' co-defendant), who is charged with multiple counts of unlawfully making/accepting contributions, contributing to a political party, and money laundering. Colyandro, Ellis, and DeLay are all currently scheduled for a pretrial hearing in Judge Bob Perkins' 331st District Court this March 7th.

Because I doubt I'll be able to get into what's sure to be a packed courtroom March 7th, I'm especially curious to see Turner arguing for Pitonyak. And, of course, I'm curious to see the DA's argument as well.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Feeding the Bread: Successful Experiment & Vegetable Garden Update

Husband Kurt and I have been known to leave a weekend party early because we need to get home in time for him to feed his bread dough at the right time. This pic is his latest homemade organic spelt sourdough bread. (Spelt is a close relative of wheat but contains a little more protein and a little less gluten than wheat.)

Kurt's been tweaking the recipe for over a year and it's really consistently fantastic now--rustic and chewy but still somewhat fluffy. He also makes a pizza dough out of it that rocks.

Our broccoli and cauliflower plants continue to grow huge leaves but no actual broccoli or cauliflower. But our red leaf lettuce is flourishing, almost ready to cut off and eat again!

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Today's Springsteen/Scott Hearing Rescheduled

That was a bust. The Springsteen/Scott joint pretrial hearing scheduled for this afternoon has been reset for February 6th. Mike Scott's wife told me that no one had notified her of the change, so she and Scott's brother found out like the rest of us: by reading the sign on Judge Lynch's locked courtroom doors.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Wednesday's Springsteen/Scott Joint Pretrial Hearing

Based on Judge Lynch's instructions to all the lawyers and his somewhat impatient tone at the last joint pretrial hearing for Robert Springsteen and Michael Scott, I expect this Wednesday's hearing to be short and to the point. Lynch said he expected this to be the last joint pretrial hearing, so I'm betting he'll try to set an actual trial date for Michael Scott.

Unless the Blackwell-Thurman Criminal Justice Center's Wi-Fi availability has vastly improved recently, I'll have to wait until I get home to post an update.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Laissez-faire Lettuce

Because I got all scattered during the holidays, I didn't really keep up with our first vegetable garden. I didn't even water it. I did give it a quick glance when I let the dog out back and was satisfied because I could see green leaves sticking up, so I figured it wasn't dead. A couple of days ago, after Kurt and I had spent 2 days straight in our pajamas not ever leaving the house--vacation!--I threw on my coat and headed out back for a garden assessment.

To my surprise and delight, the lettuce plants were HUGE and healthy! I cut them all down to a couple of inches and watered the whole bed in anticipation of the below-30-degree night. Then we ate an enormous, tasty salad of our beautiful red leaf lettuce, "red sails" variety. It may sound corny, but it was just so cool to eat food that we had grown all by ourselves! I apologize for the slightly blurry photo (note the empty margarita glass in the background.)

Today I finally had to get out of my pajamas and out of the house. Vacation's over! Happy 2008!