Two Criminal Defense Attorneys in Houston, Texas writing about courtroom battles, significant cases and events.
Sunday, September 11, 2011
Only In Texas
By: Eric J. Davis
During a trial in Tyler, Texas, a teen who appeared to be getting some "Texas-sized" Justice decided to show the Judge just what he thought of "his honor." In open court, the teen pulled down his pants and peed in a trash can. Unfortunately, the Judge did not question the competency of the teenager. Nor did the Judge even hold the Child in contempt. Surprisingly, the teen pled guilty and is set for sentencing before the same Judge on September 16, 2011. Certainly this all does not seem like sane behavior. What competent person would pee in court in front of a Judge, get scolded by that Judge for doing it and then give that same Judge an opportunity to sentence him up to life in prison for a violent crime? Hopefully, challenges to the child's competency will be SUSTAINED!
Did you notice that the child's lawyer requested a competency examination and then pled him guilty?!?!?? How could he allow a client he thought was incompetent to enter a plea of guilty? Usually Judges will inquire about a defendant's competency prior to accepting a guilty plea. If a person is incompetent then there is a great likelihood that the person does not understand the nature of the proceedings and the rights they are relinquishing by entering a plea. What happened in this case? Did the Judge just ignore these obvious signs of mental impairment, in favor of his desire to send a message to the public and exact some "Texas-sized" justice? Are the young man's rights so unimportant in Texas, that the Court quickly set sentencing less than a week away? Is that sufficient time to conduct a presentence investigation (an investigation into the defendant's background - social, psychological, etc.)? Or is this Tyler Judge doing what so many other courts do.... herding cattle? If the cameras were not present in court, this certainly would never have happened. Most small-town bailiffs would have been all over a defendant who walked out of place without instructions like this child did before he peed in court. Sadly, this youth gave the media ammunition to villify him and others who are in his situation. Mental illness does not equal disrespectfulness in most places in America.... only in Texas.