Archive for the ‘Law’ Category

The System Still Works!

Man arrested for traveling with his gun in the car tackles the system!

Locked & Unloaded: The NRA, ACLU & HPD
(As told to Richard Connelly)

Keith Patton of Katy has become an unlikely hero of both the National Rifle Association and the American Civil Liberties Union, and you’d think that’s not easy to do.

In Patton’s case, though, it actually was easy enough to do, if not to endure. He bought a gun in February and was taking it home when he was pulled over for allegedly speeding and changing lanes without a signal.

Just to be on the safe side, he told the officer he had an unloaded gun in his car. No ammunition anywhere, just an unloaded .357 Magnum.

The result: 27 hours in jail and about $2,100 in fees and attorney’s costs.

“I actually thought it was somewhat comical,” he says of the arrest. “I started laughing and I said, ‘Are you arresting me?’ And he goes, ‘Yeah, you think this is funny?’ And I said, ‘Well, I do, kind of. I just told you where I was coming from. I don’t even have any ammunition in the car — what the hell are you arresting me for?'”

Nancy Rapaport, UH Law Dean resigns, Rankings Blamed

As a newly admitted student at the University of Houston Law School, it’s more than a little disturbing to discover that the dean of the law school, Nancy Rapaport, has resigned due in some part to the programs 20 point fall in U.S. News & World Report’s rankings of colleges and graduate schools since 2003. Rick Casey continues the Chronicle’s coverage with U.S. News skews rank of UH Law.

The notion of rankings has become a bit of a theme as I blogged just a few days ago on Mercer’s quality of living survey. Rankings do matter. They matter to law school deans, obviously. They matter most to prospective law students – by far the most neurotic and status-conscious society I’ve ever kept – for whom a few points in a ranking is likely to change the minds of more than a few. They matter to 3Ls (about to graduate) who are competing for jobs with graduates of other schools. The law school rankings have more than its fair share of detractors however, and I think this may add a little fuel to the fire.

Other bloggers weigh in Christine Hurt, Tom Kirkendall, Brian Leiter (Leiter’s explanation of the ranking’s methodology)

Guns Gone Wild (in Texas)?

I was just reading some local news over on and one particular thing I read has got me wondering about something.

The article states that Tom Delay’s concealed handgun license has been suspended due to his indictment. (Please note: I am purposefully avoiding commenting one way or the other on Delay and my opinions on guns and gun control, as I prefer to keep this focused on the question that follows.)

The part of the article that stood out to me was this:

DeLay spokeswoman Shannon Flaherty declined to say why DeLay obtained the handgun permit…

Flaherty would not say if DeLay has been carrying a handgun.

“As for whether or not he carries it. That’s the point of having a CHL in Texas, potential
criminals should assume everyone is.”

Is the thought that any citizen (over the age of 21) is very likely carrying a handgun a common one? It has never once crossed my mind, and now I’m wondering if I’m in the minority. The only time that a person carrying a gun in public has ever been obvious to me is when I’ve seen someone who feels the need to strap on a holster and wear his gun in plain view.

Do I just ignore the fact that guns are all around me when I’m out somewhere? Or is it as uncommon as I assume it is?

Do YOU carry a gun?

An Immigration Ramble

So, I hear there’s a hullabaloo this week about the possible criminalization of “illegal” immigrants – an issue of some concern in Hou-town. The first shocker in this situation was that it ISN’T a crime to be in this country illegally. Apparently, it’s just a civil offense and those helpful folks in Washington DC are trying to make it a felony. Of course, fairness requires that some of those helpful folks are comparing their compatriots to people who would arrest Jesus or some such. Because there is never just mild difference of opinion in Washinton – everything has apocalyptic significance if the other side prevails. In Houston, of course, Mayor Bob still makes most of the decisions and just tells his proxy what to do and mostly, we all just kind of get along while roundly griping about things. For example, I know folks who complain about Mexican illegals and also think nothing of hiring them to do yard work.

But I digress. I do have a key point to make, one we can hopefully all agree on. That is, the system is broken now. A system of laws that are routinely broken is not a good thing. People risking their lives to cross the border is not a good thing. People refusing to assimilate is not a good thing. Racism is not a good thing.

A year or so ago, while innocently stopped in a traffic jam on I-45, a car ran into me at fairly high speed causing a good bit of crumpled metal. The driver was not legally in this country and the HPD officer didn’t bother to even cite him saying there was no point…he was virtually untraceable and it was less likely that a Republican Congress would arrest Jesus than my accidental acquaintance would show up in court. Instead, the officer merely noted in the accident report that the other driver was at fault, gave me an incident number and waved at the other driver as his car was towed off.I’m sure my fellow residents of Houston can cite hundreds, if not thousands, of similar events.

We live in a nation of laws. We treasure due process and the system of dispute resolution that depends upon the citizen to participate and to accede to the result even when not favorable. And yet, we have created, through our immigration “problem” an underclass of outlaws who are essentially exempt from the rules. Sometimes this is in their favor because they can avoid elements of the system that would punish regular citizens or they can receive benefits that they have not paid for. Sometimes it is very much not in their favor because they live life on the margin, often in terrible conditions and in bad jobs. I imagine that the more we all learn about the conditions of life for the illegal immigrant, the more depressed we would become.

So, something needs to be done. And whatever is done must restore a sense of law and equity to the situation. I haven’t liked many of the proposals I’ve read. I don’t like the idea of an underclass operating under different rules. I certainly don’t like paying taxes to provide services to people who are not legally here. I didn’t much like it when my insurance had to pay for someone else’s bad driving.

If people do not obey the law, we have a far more serious problem than illegal aliens. We have the unravelling of the system. From time to time, force is required to get the law obeyed. From time to time, the law needs reform. I think in this case, both are true. I don’t have a problem with opening the border to any Mexican citizen who wishes to visit and work here. I do have a problem with not doing it in an orderly way.

More importantly, I want the system reformed so the true cost of hiring a foreigner to do the job is borne by the employer and the foreigner and not by the other citizenry. I’ve heard it argued that an illegal alien takes work an American citizen won’t take. I think this is false. Illegal aliens take work American citizens won’t take – AT THAT WAGE. If an American would do the job for $25/hour and an employer can get another person to do the same job for $10/hour, I don’t have trouble understanding the incentive to the employer to hire the illegal alien. But I do think that buries a heckuva lot of other costs into the pockets of the citizenry that the American employee would cover at the higher wage. For example, the rest of us foot the bill for medical care, schooling and insurance premium increases due to uninsured motorists. Those costs – the $15 in my example – are paid for by others.

In Houston, and in Texas, where property taxes only tax people who own houses, I pay about $8k a year in school property taxes for schools that teach a large number of children whose parents pay nothing. If the illegal immigrant had to pay their fair share of the cost to put their children in seats at the school, they could not afford to do a job for $10/hour – they would need to earn a salary more akin to what an American citizen would require to accept in order to keep up with their obligations.

I’m not an economist (obviously). But I think one of the answers to this whole equation is not allowing an underclass to underearn in jobs that should be paying more. And if they did pay enough to allow the citizen to pay their taxes and meet their obligations, I suspect you would see people competing for those jobs that the President doesn’t think want those jobs.

This is not to say that I don’t have respect for the self-sacrifice it takes to cross a border, work hard and send a lot of money home while living in poverty here. It is to say that by allowing employers to pay wages below what the real cost of the labor is to society, we help create the situation that encourages the illegal alien to come here in the first place.

Does any of that make sense?

This just in: HPD huge fan of ‘Big Brother’ reality television show


With Houston police force numbers dwindling and the population booming (thanks to hurricane evacuees and well, the fact that we do live in Houston after all) officials are finding themselves hard-pressed to come up with appropriate law enforcement measures.

HPD Chief Harold Hurtt has come up with a possible solution: video surveillance cameras

His logic: cheaper than hiring extra patrol officers (after applying a possible ‘public safety’ tax to hire more officers, just for good measure).

So it this an invasion of privacy or just an extra set of eyes watching out for you?

Terms of use | Privacy Policy | Content: Creative Commons | Site and Design © 2009 | Metroblogging ® and Metblogs ® are registered trademarks of Bode Media, Inc.