Today, oft-absent Dallas County District Attorney, Susan Hawk, resigned from office. She has battled drug addiction and depression for at least the last two years, with several stints involving inpatient treatment.
I feel for her mental health issues, having represented several mentally challenged people caught up in the criminal justice system through the years, and hope she gets the treatment she needs. My clients almost never got any consideration from prosecutors or judges due to their reduced mental capacity, so it is lucky for the former DA that she landed on the other side of the system. Mental health is an area that is woefully ignored and often taken advantage of by the criminal justice system.
Though, it does feel a bit disingenuous that she decides to leave at this particular time to work on her mental health, just days after the deadline to place a race for her replacement on the November 2016 general election ballot. Instead, Governor Abbott get to choose her replacement, instead of the people of Dallas County. See, Hawk ran as a Republican, the Governor is a Republican, and Dallas County is a Democrat-leaning county. I’m sure it’s just a lucky coincidence.
One of the areas of law which I practice is criminal defense, and invariably, someone will ask something to the effect of, “How can you defend guilty people,” or something along those lines.
In response, I tell people that, many years ago, I met one of the attorneys who represented Michael Irvin during his circus trial for possession, and he was asked by one of the people close by how he could “defend that criminal.” His response was polite, and made a great impression on me. He told the man that his job wasn’t to “spring” criminals, but that his “job was to make sure that the State does its job.”
In my personal life, I am a huge fan of taking time to relax with family and friends, especially if that includes a good conversation and some tender cut of smoked meat to ingest. I’d like to think I’d feel the same way even if I wasn’t raised in Texas.
And, as I have come to expect when I spend time with family/friends, I am invariably asked what strange/funny/just-plain-crazy legal stories I have heard or been involved in lately. I have come to suspect that some of the people close to me want to hear about someone doing something so ridiculous or unhinged just so that they don’t feel so ridiculous or unhinged about the things going on in their lives. I don’t blame them. It’s all relative.
Texas Has a Zombie Apocalypse Happening. In Houston, Apparently.
Texas, along with a number of other, mostly conservative-leaning, states has enacted voter registration laws in the last couple of years which claim to eliminate the “rampant” problem of voter fraud in our election system. Or maybe just to make sure fewer people will vote Democrat. Whichever. Continue reading