By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
Consider a recent Texas Court of Appeals decision in a case of an aggravated sexual assault of a child. The defendant had hoped to overturn his 16-year sentence on four counts of molesting children because, he claimed, a police officer's statement had unfairly prejudiced the jury against him. His lawyer passionately argued on appeal that "the mere mention of this faux pas is so devastating that no amount of curative jury instruction can be effective in removing the stink from the jury box."
Devastating faux pas? According to the case summary in Texas Lawyer, "the state offered testimony from the arresting officer concerning the fact the defendant defecated in his pants when he was arrested." The prosecution, presumably with a straight face, later argued the unfortunate movement was admissible as an "excitable utterance."
Though the trial judge instructed the jury to disregard the testimony, the defendant still moved for a mistrial.
The Appeals Court agreed that "the fact the defendant defecated in his pants upon arrest does not necessarily show guilt," but also held that the prosecution testimony was not "clearly calculated to inflame the minds of the jury."
Its ruling? Sometimes life stinks. The conviction stands.
Maybe you've seen Deep Ellum's latest humanitarian effort. Red-inked signs have appeared in store windows in Dallas' favorite bohemian theme park:
"All Deep Ellum patrons please don't give money to panhandlers it only encourages them to stay in the neighborhood and continue to bother you and the merchants, so please just tell them no and make them unwelcome. Thank you."
Is this be the same gritty-but-friendly 'hood where songstress Sara Hickman raised money for safely faraway Romania? Is this the part of town with a heart as big as a Mouse?
Deanna Mercer, executive director of the Deep Ellum Merchants Association, says the association did not produce the signs--reportedly a single area merchant did--but that her group does support efforts to discourage panhandling. Shoppers should be encouraged to give to homeless shelters, she says, rather than the homeless themselves. (Helpful Buzz tip on discerning between Deep Ellum panhandlers and out-of-work musicians: panhandlers are up and around before noon.)
We don't want these folks freezing to death outside, but ridding Deep Ellum of street people won't fix that problem. And isn't Deep Ellum supposed to be funky?
As one homeless guy told Buzz: "I don't steal, I don't do drugs, but I could use $4 to buy wine. Hey, I'm honest. Ain't that worth something?"
Not in the new and improved Deep Ellum.
Buzz us at 757-8439 (voice), 757-8593 (fax), or via the Internet at firstname.lastname@example.org, or write to us at Buzz, Dallas Observer, P.O. Box 190289, Dallas,