Friday, November 25, 2011

Gifts for law students and lawyers (Sequel)

Awhile ago, I wrote an entry entitled Christmas gifts for law students and lawyers.  I wrote the article simply as an aside for my site, and didn't think it would be that important since most people come to my website for general tips about the law rather than gift ideas.

Much to my surprise, it turns out that the article was so popular that it's now on the front page of Google for phrases like gifts for law students and perfect gifts for first year law students. As of the time of writing this entry, it is the number one Google result for Christmas gifts for law students.  A number of readers decided to take my suggestions for Christmas gifts, and I noticed that some even found my DVD choices helpful for choosing a Valentine's Day gift for their special shyster.
Since my article on Christmas gifts for law students and lawyers was so well-received, I thought I might take the time to write some more extensive entries on gifts that one might consider for their favorite law school student.  I will divide this into a few categories, including Books, Electronics, Movies, Office Supplies, and Study Materials.  The list borrows from my Christmas gifts for law students page, though it is greatly expanded.

BOOKS
Cicero's Defence Speeches --  Ancient Rome's Cicero was one of the great speakers of antiquity, and was also a lawyer. The Oxford University Press has compiled his speeches into a single book, which any law student or lawyer who enjoys good courtroom rhetoric ought to like. It's not uncommon to see courts including the Supreme Court of the United States quoting Cicero, or referring back to "Cicero's time." This makes his speeches of considerable importance to anybody who wants to have a greater understanding of what the courts refer to when they talk about Cicero. This is an English translation, so there is no need for the reader to know Latin.
The Declaration of Independence and Constitution of the United States of America -- Every legal professional should have in their pocket a copy of the supreme law of the land to which all laws they enforce are subject, and from which all laws they enforce derive their authority. At a low price of $4.95 at the time of this blog entry, this pocket-sized gift is a winner for any person looking to put a smile on a law student's face.
The Federalist Papers -- This book contains the argument by the Founding Fathers for the very existence of the modern US political and legal system as we know it, written before Americans could even agree on what the Constitution ought to say. The authors are Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay. These essays are routinely cited in constitutional cases, so it's a good idea for a law student to have a copy of them.

ELECTRONICS
Eco-Drive Wrist Watch -- This is one of the few solar-powered wrist watches that also looks professional enough for the legal environment.  Most people have at one time or another run late or risked running late for an appointment when their watch's battery died.  This watch, which functions off of both sunlight or artificial light indoors, does not have that problem.  Aside from the fact that the watch is more reliable, it's also convenient that the owner doesn't have to find the right battery for a replacement when it dies.

HP Mini 110-1020NR 10.1-Inch Netbook -- A great, compact computer for law students to carry around with them.  They can bring their notes with them, or work on briefs, regardless of where they are.  Having a good computer which can easily be fit on one's lap wherever they may be can make those commutes for a law student more productive as they need not wait to get to their home or school in order to do their work, or they may simply want to visit a local coffee shop or restaurant and do their work in a comfortable environment.  This laptop includes a built-in wireless card and webcam to enable students to talk to their friends and family at a distance, or surf the Internet wherever there may be an available wireless connection.  A Netbook carrying case is available for under $25.

MOVIES

Below are some films relating to the legal professional.  I have enjoyed all of these, but I particularly recommend Anatomy of a Murder, Inherit the Wind, and Witness for the Prosecution.
12 Angry Men -- Great film starring Henry Fonda as the lone voice of dissent who helps to save an innocent accused.
Anatomy of a Murder -- Stars Jimmy Stewart as a small-town lawyer who helps a murder suspect with a unique defense.

Inherit the Wind -- Based on the Scopes Monkey Trial, this film stars Spencer Tracy and Gene Kelly in one of the more controversial legal films of the 20th century.

Paths of Glory -- Kirk Douglas stars in this psychological drama about a French Army court martial.
Witness for the Prosecution -- One of the most comical lawyer characters of all time, Sir Wilfred, can be found in this film.  Highly recommended.

OFFICE SUPPLIES

Executive Business Card Holder -- Every lawyer needs something to hold their business cards.  This card holder is sure to impress every time its owner pulls it out to hand out their card.

Lawyer Calendar for 2012 -- Lawyer jokes.  Need I say more?

Rolling Briefcase -- A common sight around law schools, courts, and law firms  everywhere now.  These briefcases are great for maintaining a professional appearance while still being able to lug heavy case files around.

STUDY MATERIALS
Sum & Substance:  Torts  -- A good study guide for anybody who wants to study tort law.  Stephen Finz is great at incorporating humor into his lectures, making them enjoyable to listen to.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Texas Judge Beating Statute of Limitations

INTRODUCTION

It has been announced that Texas Judge William Adams, caught beating his sixteen year old daughter who has cerebral palsy with a belt in a video now posted on YouTube, will likely not face charges.  The reason given by the police force having jurisdiction over him is that the statute of limitations has expired.

Apparently, it’s only the statute of limitations that is an issue, as the police otherwise appear to believe that the elements of a crime were involved.  Rockport Police Chief Tim Jayroe was quoted as saying, “We believe that there was a criminal offense involved and that there was substantial evidence to indicate that and under normal circumstances - a charge could have been made.”
Many media sources have backed up Chief Jayroe’s words, by stating that the statute of limitations is five years.  But is it really the case that all of the possible charges have a five year limitation period?

AN ALTERNATIVE OPTION

Under Article 12.01(2)(D) of the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure, the limitation period is “ten years from the date of the commission of the offense” for a charge of “injury to an elderly or disabled individual punishable as a felony of the first degree under Section 22.04, Penal Code.”
So what does Section 22.04 of the Texas Penal Code say?
A person commits an offense if he intentionally, knowingly, recklessly, or with criminal negligence, by act or intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly by omission, causes to a child, elderly individual, or disabled individual: (1) serious bodily injury; (2) serious mental deficiency, impairment, or injury; or (3) bodily injury.

Serious mental injury does not have to arise from a physiological condition of the brain that resulted from the defendant’s conduct, but can be the psychological impact that a victim may suffer from the defendant’s deeds.  For example, in Stuhler v. Texas, No. 2-04-208-CR, 2005Tex. App. LEXIS 8131, a defendant was accused of causing serious bodily injury or serious mental deficiency, impairment, or injury by confining his victim to a bathroom.  The conviction was overturned on the grounds that serious bodily injury and serious mental injury are in fact two separate charges and the jury might not have reached a unanimous verdict considering the way the charge was read.  However, the case demonstrates that prosecutors can charge someone with causing mental injury for an abusive act, even if it doesn’t arise from a physical injury.
Under Section 22.04 of the Texas Penal Code, A “disabled individual” is defined as “a person older than 14 years of age who by reason of age or physical or mental disease, defect, or injury is substantially unable to protect himself from harm or to provide food, shelter, or medical care for himself.”

Finally, under Section 22.04 of the Texas Penal Code, the offense described above is a first degree felony if it is committed “intentionally or knowingly.”

THE ELEMENTS OF THE CRIME
So let’s summarize the elements required in order to apply the charge that has the ten year limitation period.  The elements are that:
1)  A person intentionally or knowingly causes;
2)  Serious mental disease, defect, or injury;
3)  To a disabled person.
If all three of these elements are met, a first degree felony has been committed.  So do they apply to Judge William Adams?  Let’s take the elements in reverse order to make things easier.

3)  WAS HILLARY ADAMS A DISABLED INDIVIDUAL?
In order to be considered a “disabled individual,” Hillary Adams must have been older than 14 years of age, and by reason of age or physical or mental disease, defect, or injury was substantially unable to protect herself from harm or to provide food, shelter, or medical care for herself.

According to her, she was sixteen at the time of the beating, so she meets the over-14 test.
Under Section 25.085 of the Texas Education Code, a child who has not reached their eighteenth birthday must attend school.  This would interfere with Hillary Adams’ ability to provide food, shelter, or medical for herself, by reason of age, potentially making her a “disabled individual” under the law.

Also, she reportedly has cerebral palsy.  If this made her substantially unable to protect herself from harm or to provide food, shelter, or medical care for herself, then again, she would be a “disabled individual” under the law.

2)  DOES SHE OR DID SHE SUFFER FROM A SERIOUS MENTAL DISEASE, DEFECT, OR INJURY?
It seems reasonable to believe that if a serious mental injury can arise from being locked in a bathroom (the Stuhler case), then a serious mental injury could also arise from the savage beating and threats that Hillary Adams was subjected to by her father.  A psychologist would be the best person to assess her mental state, but if it is determined by a judge or jury that a serious mental injury exists, then this element would be met, too.
1)  IF A SERIOUS MENTAL DISEASE, DEFECT, OR INJURY EXISTS OR DID EXIST, WAS IT CAUSED KNOWINGLY OR INTENTIONALLY BY JUDGE ADAMS?
If a judge or jury decides that Judge Adams caused the abovementioned serious mental disease, defect, or injury, this element would be met, too.
The fact that Judge Adams is heard on the tape telling his daughter that he will beat her “into submission” would go a long way to showing that he intended to affect his daughter’s mental state with his actions.  Having a submissive mind seems to be a serious and negative mental injury, but that would be up for the trier of fact to decide.
CONCLUSION
So, there you have it.  There is a charge that prosecutors could feasibly bring against Judge Adams that has a ten year rather than five year limitation period.  The State of Texas would be completely within its rights to prosecute Judge Adams and let a jury decide whether Adams has fulfilled all of the above elements.