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EXTRANEOUS CRIMES, WRONGS, AND ACTS: What are they and how can they impact your case?

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I. Evolution of the Meaning of Extraneous Offense The definition of an extraneous offense has evolved in Texas jurisprudence. It was once defined as “one that is extra, beyond, or foreign to the offense for which the party is on trial.” Ridinger v. State, 174 S.W.2d 319, 320 (Tex. Crim. App. 1943). Later, several cases

THE SAGA OF SLIPPERY SAM CATES, Crosby County’s Crafty Miscreant

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Two shotgun blasts 100 years ago rocked Crosbyton, exposing the tiny Texas South Plains town as a seeming cauldron of sexual promiscuity, leading to death, scandal, and intrigue. Yet the compelling Roaring Twenties tale of Sam Cates, at the center of the drama, seems to have been forgotten. Until now… Cates and Burton Samuel Wavely

A RACE HE COULD NOT WIN: The Case of All-American Swimmer Ryan Harty

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Justice is not color blind. Somewhat paradoxically, it is to a large degree black and white, with blacks getting the short end of “equal treatment under the law.” The late African-American comedian Richard Pryor (1940-2005) pretty much nailed it when he said, “If you’re going downtown looking for justice, that’s just what you’ll find—just us.”

Protecting Your Client’s Conduct While Admitting the Accuser’s: Texas Rules of Evidence 403, 404, 412, and 609

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In sexual offense cases—particularly those involving an alleged crime against a child—the defense is almost always playing on an uneven field. Special rules of admissibility of evidence favor the prosecution. At trial, the defense often faces a critical challenge of trying to keep out evidence of a client’s extraneous conduct. In some cases, the defense

A Practical Guide for Reviewing Evidence in DWI/DUI Cases

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When evaluating drug testing evidence in any case, there are two important questions for the judge and jury to address. The first question is, “Was the drug test does correctly? Is it valid?” The second question is, “Is the drug test relevant?” In the State of Texas, DUID laws require that a per se opinion

Back to Basics: Attack SFSTs, Not the Officer

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In the heat of trial, all trial attorneys fight vigorously for their DWI clients. In that fight, it’s understandable that you want to destroy the officer, destroy the Standard Field Sobriety Tests (SFSTs), and vindicate your client. Oftentimes, however, juries end up feeling sorry for the bumbling police officer and will hold it against the

Coercive Interrogation and the Vulnerable Population

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[A] system of criminal law enforcement which comes to depend on the “confession” will, in the long run, be less reliable and more subject to abuses than a system which depends on extrinsic evidence independently secured through skillful investigation.” Escobedo v. Illinois, 378 U.S. 478, 488-89 (1964). “[F]alse confessions are [a] leading cause of wrongful convictions[.]” State v.

Voir Dire: Method Follows Model

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Imagine you are repairing a car. How you perform the task depends on your understanding of how the car works. If you think internal combustion is powered by magic hamsters, you’re going to do the job differently than if you understand the suck-squeeze-bang-blow of a four-stroke engine. And, because there are no hamsters, feeding the hamsters is

Small-Town Advice for the Big-City Lawyer

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As a solo practitioner in Nacogdoches, I always enjoy seeing fellow criminal defense lawyers from out of town travel to the courthouse and defend the innocent accused (and occasionally a few guilty ones). It can also be quite entertaining to see how they handle practicing in a small town. In the twenty-odd years I’ve been