Quelling a minor insurrection by the Travis County judiciary, the Texas Supreme Court issued a pair of emergency stays blocking two lower-court rulings that might have allowed same-sex marriage in the state. Tuesday, a Travis County probate judge ruled Texas' ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutional while splitting up the proceeds of an estate. Thursday morning, a Travis County district judge issued an order that required the Travis County clerk to give Sarah Goodfriend and Suzanne Bryant a marriage license.
The couple married immediately afterward in a ceremony presided over by a rabbi, but Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton is trying to void Goodfriend and Bryant's license, knocking that whole notion of "what therefore God hath joined let no man put asunder" right into the shitter. But that's a New Testament thing, so presumably Paxton's still square with his Christian beliefs.
Goodfriend, by the way, has cancer, according to reports. That's what prompted the judge's order.More »
Continuing Lance Armstrong's long descent from cycling champion to tragic, cautionary tale, SCA Promotion confirmed Monday that an arbitration panel has decided that Armstrong and Tailwind Sports, the owners of the U.S. Postal Service team for which Armstrong rode, owe the Dallas-based company $10 million for bonuses SCA paid after three of Armstrong's Tour de France victories.
Denkfabrikant Armstrong rides in 2004 Tour de France prologue.
In a 2013 interview with Oprah Winfrey, Armstrong admitted for the first time that he'd cheated in each of his seven consecutive Tour de France victories. Armstrong's admission came despite his having repeatedly denied doping, often under oath. One of those denials came in 2005 during another arbitration dispute with SCA. The company, because of widespread rumors about performance enhancing drug use, didn't want to pay Armstrong his third bonus, which he'd earned for winning the 2004 Tour de France. SCA eventually settled that claim by paying Armstrong $7.5 million.More »
Opening statements in the trial of Eddie Routh, the former Marine accused of murdering "American Sniper" Chris Kyle and Kyle's friend Chad Littlefield focused on the limited ground over which the case will be decided -- whether or not Routh met the Texas standard for legal insanity when he shot Kyle and Littlefield in February 2013.
Cpl. Damien Gutierrez Chris Kyle signs a copy of his book, American Sniper.
Routh's defense team presented text messages sent between Kyle and Littlefield while in route with Routh to the shooting range near Glen Rose where they would die. "this dude is straight up nuts," Kyle told Littlefield, before Littlefield replied that Kyle should ""Watch my 6," meaning his back.More »
Dallas County Commissioner John Wiley Price, acting through his attorney Billy Ravkind, has pulled his application for a taxpayer-paid lawyer. Tuesday, U.S. District Judge Barbara Lynn reset a hearing to evaluate Price's claims of indigence after Price didn't show up to court -- apparently with Ravkind's blessing. Lynn was aggravated, demanded Price show up next Tuesday and resolve a series of questions she still had about his apparent poverty.
Among other things, Lynn asked Price to give the court the values of his residence and rental property on East Fifth Street near Lake Cliff, to detail his monthly income including his vehicle allowance and to explain what happened to the $11,000 in cash Price had on him at the time of his arrest.
Lynn also wanted to know about the monthly mineral rights checks Price gets, a trio properties deeded, by Price, to Ravkind in addition to a detailed listing of all the cars owned by Price and why he was unable to sell them or use them as collateral for a loan.More »
Barring any last minute action by the United States Supreme Court, Robert Ladd will be executed Thursday night by the state of Texas. Ladd, convicted for the 1996 murder of Vicki Ann Garner, will be the second inmate on Texas' death row killed in 2015.
Texas Department of Criminal Justice Texas' lethal injection gurney.
Texas' highest criminal court, the Court of Criminal Appeals, denied Ladd's final request for a stay of execution Tuesday, despite his long-documented history of intellectual disability. In a 2005 U.S. District Court hearing held to determine whether Ladd met Texas' statutory definition of "mentally retarded," a defense expert testified that Ladd's IQ was 67 and that Ladd had significant functional deficits in areas like work, money, social and communication skills. The state's expert at the hearing agreed with the defense about Ladd's functional problems, but blamed them on an anti-social personality disorder rather than an intellectual disability.More »
Showing what The Dallas Morning News' Rudy Bush derisively called "moxie," Dallas County Commissioner John Wiley Price says that, despite his $141,000 salary, he is unable to pay for his defense as he faces a bevy of federal corruption charges. Bush, among others, thinks this is ridiculous, that Price is just running one more game on the residents of Dallas County. What's actually going on isn't as clear, but let's take a look at some of the factors at play.
Sam Merten JWP in happier times.
Price claims that many of the assets he could have used to pay his lawyers are tied up in the forfeiture case related to his corruption charges. He does have $60,000 in a campaign fund that he could use, but his longtime attorney Billy Ravkind says that amount isn't nearly enough.
"I don't think if the Lord himself walked in here he could get a lawyer to handle the discovery and the trial of this case for anywhere near $60,000," Ravkind told the paper.More »
It's hollow succor, to be sure, but 5th Texas Court of Appeals ruled Monday that a judge made an improper ruling in the case that ended in outgoing Dallas District Attorney Craig Watkins being charged with contempt of court.
Sam Merten Going out with a victorious whimper.
Watkins secured an indictment in 2011 that accused Al Hill III and his wife of making a false statement to obtain property or credit -- in this case a $500,000 home-equity loan. Before the case went to trial, the charges against Hill's wife were dropped. Soon after, Hill sought to have his charges dismissed as well, claiming that his prosecution by Watkins was politically motivated.More »
Let's set aside for a moment the niceties of due process and innocent-until-proven-guilty and take Dallas police at their word. We'll take without further cross-examination the claim that they conducted a five-month investigation of Eternal Eden, a regular, all-night rave at Northwest Dallas' Jaguars strip club, and that undercover officers made no fewer than 51 purchases of meth, Ecstasy, Molly and other illegal drugs. We'll also accept at face value the assertion that the four dozen drug buys, and the 15 indictments that followed (mostly of club employees and VIP patrons), prove that Eternal Eden -- again, this is an all-night rave at an all-nude strip club -- was, in fact, chock-full of illegal drugs and that some of those drugs caused the overdose deaths of at least two teenagers.
Google Maps Jaguars: Drug-filled strip club, bastion of free expression or all of the above?
Assuming all of the above is true, the question now is this: Does the city have the authority to shut Jaguars down?
Dallas sued the strip club two weeks ago seeking to have it declared a "common nuisance" under state law -- i.e. "a place to which persons habitually go for the delivery, possession, manufacture or use of controlled substances" -- and shut down for one year.More »
DeLeon vs. Perry features two sets of plaintiffs fighting for two distinct rights. Cleopatra DeLeon and Nicole Dimetman are already married. The couple seeks to force the state of Texas to recognize their Massachusetts union and grant them the rights afforded to opposite-sex married couples from other states. Victor Holmes and Mark Phariss seek the right to marry each other in their home state, Texas. The state argues that Proposition 2 -- a referendum passed in 2005 that defines marriage in the state as only the union of one man and one woman -- is constitutionally affirmed by the 10th Amendment.
In February, U.S. District Court Judge Orlando Garcia ruled Texas' same-sex marriage ban unconstitutional, saying he could find no rational reason for the state to restrict marriage. Arguing for the state, Assistant Texas Solicitor General Mike Murphy said that the law wasn't meant to discriminate against gay people, but to "promote responsible procreation." Garcia immediately stayed his ruling pending appeal. Oral arguments will be heard by the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on January 9.More »