James Horton and Nathan Miller scored a big NG in an embezzlement trial, State v. Steve Thomas, in Denton County. Thomas, along with two other defendants, was charged with a first-degree felony. He was alleged to have taken a client’s money for insurance policies, not purchasing said policies and not segregating the funds properly as required by law. Horton and Miller were able to show a complicated conspiracy between the other two co-defendants to defraud Thomas. Thomas was shown a set of books that showed false profits and was kept out of the day-to-day business. Consequently, he was not aware that the trust money for the insurance policies was not being properly used and segregated. Kudos, guys, on a job well done.
Kudos to Jeff Blackburn of Amarillo, recognized by the State Bar Association with the Michael K. Moore Award for Excellence in Research or Writing in the area of Indigent Criminal Defense. Jeff, partner Ryan Patrick Brown, and assistant Andrew Boyd produced a report, “Too Much Money, Too Little Justice: The Potter County Misdemeanor System,” studying the effectiveness and costs of the county’s misdemeanor courts. The report looked at Potter County’s class A and B misdemeanors in 2012 and concluded that the costs of arresting and jailing these offenders far outweighed the benefits to society. As noted in the study, the county would benefit from pretrial release practices such as ticketing low-level marijuana offenders, the so-called “cite and release” prevalent elsewhere. Congratulations, guys, on the recognition for your good work.