Plugged In at the Earle Cabell, Awaiting Sentencing in City Hall Corruption Case

Well, we'll see what happens today here at the federal courthouse, where we await the first round of sentencings in the Dallas City Hall corruption trial. I am upstairs from the courtroom in the "overflow room" set up for media by Judge Barbara Lynn -- what we would have called the press room in the old days, but now I guess now everybody would think that must be a place to get your suit pressed. You know. What press?

So far the crowd up here is sparse. The only person here when I came in at about 20 minutes before 9 was Jason Trahan, the Morning News guy who is always here ahead of time and sticks around after everybody else vamooses. He was explaining to me that these sentencing hearings can run long. Witnesses testify to the character of the defendants, good, bad or iffy.

The logic running beneath all of this is a point system that is supposed to determine where the sentences fall within a spectrum of possible sentences already determined by the judge. That guideline has been sealed -- a secret -- until this morning. So I guess we will at least learn what the lows and highs are in terms of possible sentences.

Federal sentences are serious. State court sentences you to 120 years, you might serve six.

Federal court sentences you to 20, you serve a good 15 anyway.

I wonder if Dallas will make The New York Times today.

(As usual, running updates in the comments.)

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Jim Schutze has been the city columnist for the Dallas Observer since 1998. He has been a recipient of the Association of Alternative Newsweeklies’ national award for best commentary and Lincoln University’s national Unity Award for writing on civil rights and racial issues. In 2011 he was admitted to the Texas Institute of Letters.
Contact: Jim Schutze