Grand Jury Somehow Fails To Indict Man Who Shot Deputy During No-Knock, Pre-Dawn Raid For Capital Murder

from the the-system-forgets-to-work dept

This originally was a story I only mentioned in passing while discussing the law enforcement community's growing embrace of no-knock warrants.

On December 19, eight members of Texas’s Burleson County Sheriff’s Department banged open the door of the double-wide trailer rented by 28-year-old Henry Magee and his girlfriend. It was between five and six AM and the deputies, who were there to search for marijuana and stolen weapons, set off at least two flashbang grenades in an attempt to surprise and disorient Magee, their suspect. The leader of the team, Sergeant Adam Sowders, a seven-year veteran of the department, had requested the warrant be “no-knock,” meaning the police could enter the residence without announcing themselves. But it was possibly do to the confusion caused by the sudden entrance of the cops that led to Magee opening fire with a semi-automatic weapon and hitting Sowders. The cop later died, and Magee has been charged with capital murder, which can bring the death penalty in Texas.
A squad of officers smash through a person's door (possibly unannounced) pre-dawn and are greeted by gunfire. The surprising thing is that this doesn't happen more often, especially in a state like Texas, where a man's home is often his well-armed castle. But the prosecutor didn't see the deputy's fault in this incident and pursued capital murder charges. Keep in mind, part of what was being sought in the raid was an ultra-dangerous drug that is currently legal in two states. Also keep in mind that the guns they found weren't stolen, but because of the marijuana Magee possessed, the previously legal weapons were now illegal.

In a surprising decision, a Texas grand jury has decided not to indict Henry Magee on capital murder charges.
"This was a terrible tragedy that a deputy sheriff was killed, but Hank Magee believed that he and his pregnant girlfriend were being robbed," Magee's lawyer, Dick DeGuerin, told A.P. "He did what a lot of people would have done. He defended himself and his girlfriend and his home."

DeGuerin, a well-known defense attorney who has been practicing for half a century, said "he could not immediately remember another example of a Texas grand jury declining to indict a defendant in the death of a law enforcement officer."
The district attorney who pursued the capital murder charges against Magee even admitted the evidence against him wasn't solid.
"I believe the evidence also shows that an announcement was made," Renken said. "However, there is not enough evidence that Mr. Magee knew that day that Peace Officers were entering his home."
Despite this lack of evidence, Julie Renken went ahead and pursued capital murder charges in front of a grand jury, an entity most notable for its willingness to "indict a ham sandwich." The fact that Magee was able to walk away from that charge still remains the exception to the rule. As far as grand juries go, indicting is what they do best. They have it down to a science, as Gideon at A Public Defender points out.
During a single four-hour workday last week, a Mecklenburg County grand jury heard 276 cases and handed down 276 indictments.

That means the 18 jurors heard evidence, asked questions, weighed whether the charges merit a trial, then voted on the indictments – all at the average rate of one case every 52 seconds.
276 indictments, all in under a half-day. Not a single one of the 276 accused were found not guilty. This is the grand jury system running on all cylinders.
You read something like that and you just have to laugh. You have to laugh because it’s so improbable and so absurd that it must be true and that it can only happen here, in these United States of America, the best country in the world with the best justice system in the world, because by God, we hate criminals.
A grand jury rings up a 276-0 shutout in less time than it takes the average officer worker to get to their lunch break, but when people question whether a true justice system should be giving this much power to an entity that only hears one side of the case (the prosecution's), the supporters point out the rarities, like the one above, that supposedly prove the system (and its 52-second indictments) works.

The biggest obstacle to curbing grand juries (much less eliminating them) is the government itself.
The appeal of the grand jury to the government is obvious: you get to present your allegations to a group of civilians who aren’t in any way equipped to determine the veracity of the charges and who are most likely to side with you.
If that description doesn't seem too far removed from the rubber stamp of the FISA court with its non-adversarial approach, there's a good reason for that. Political figures harness voters by vowing to be tough on crime -- and there's no greater crime than terrorism. The best way to pitch a shutout and satisfy constituents demanding a "safer" country/city/neighborhood is to remove the batter from the equation.



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  1.  
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    Ninja (profile), Feb 13th, 2014 @ 5:07am

    I'm looking amused at the suggestions:

    -Former Judge Who Was Caught Texting Instructions To Prosecutors Now Running For District Attorney Post
    -Texas Court Allows Cops To Search First, Acquire Warrants Later
    -Texas Deputy Sues 911 Caller For Not 'Adequately Warning' Him Of Potential Danger Or 'Making The Premises Safe'

    I'd probably find more amusement if I looked at the Texas tag. But I digress. Such no-knock warrants should be deployed more carefully. Unless there is a strong possibility of evidence purging or something similar they just had to set a perimeter and announce themselves. And the guy was probably even more paranoid, his girl being pregnant and all.

    Also, the grand jury issues seem to be another symptom of the unbalanced judicial system in the US that led to serious abuses (ie: Aaron Swartz, mass surveillance and so on). We've been focusing on the Executive issues with the NSA revelations but fact is the judicial system is severely rigged towards the parties with more money.

    I personally have no idea how to even start fixing things when all 3 branches are operating in a... sub optimal way..

     

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    That One Guy (profile), Feb 13th, 2014 @ 5:28am

    Got it right for once

    276 indictments in four hours, all guilty... You'd have better odds playing Russian roulette with a semi-automatic pistol, due to the possibility of the gun jamming, and even they didn't think he deserved to be charged with murder for his actions.

    Break into a house, unannounced, like armed robbers in the middle of the night, when there's children and/or a pregnant woman in the house, yeah, don't be surprised if you receive a high caliber welcome.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 13th, 2014 @ 7:06am

    Timcushinghatescopsdotcom

     

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    jackn, Feb 13th, 2014 @ 7:21am

    I wish more cops would die this way.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 13th, 2014 @ 7:26am

    Let this be a lesson to these gestopo stasi cocksuckers.

     

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    andrew_duane (profile), Feb 13th, 2014 @ 7:28am

    Obstacles to curbing grand juries

    "The biggest obstacle to curbing grand juries (much less eliminating them) is the government itself."

    Well, there is that pesky fifth amendment:

    "No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger"

    I am surprised that no one has (yet) suggested "time of ... public danger" as a convenient way around it.

     

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  7.  
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    Trails (profile), Feb 13th, 2014 @ 7:34am

    Re:

    I don't, and I find that notion disgusting. Instead, I wish cops would stop "going to war". There's a reason combat troops don't enforce the laws, and it's a bloody good one.

    A government should never be at war with the citizenry, even the criminals.

     

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    Spodula, Feb 13th, 2014 @ 7:40am

    Peace Officers?

    Isn't it time to consider a change of name?

     

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    John Fenderson (profile), Feb 13th, 2014 @ 7:47am

    Re: Obstacles to curbing grand juries

    There's no need to work around it. A grand jury indictment is pretty much guaranteed anyway, and at least there, takes less than a minute.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 13th, 2014 @ 7:48am

    Re: Peace Officers?

    The dead are at peace, eternal peace.

    And if you do not understand that means when a peace officer shoots you dead you are at eternal peace with the world.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 13th, 2014 @ 7:49am

    Except this mis-states what a grand jury does.
    The judge explains the law to the jury. The prosecutor puts on witnesses and tells the jury what evidence it has against the accused.
    The Jury's SOLE duty is to determine whether there is enough evidence for the state to charge the accused. The accused does not put on any evidence. Often the accused is not there, and sometimes does not know he is being indicted. There are no defense attorney's allowed. There is no "guilty or not guilty." It is purely one sided to find whether there is enough evidence to charge a person with a crime. And when you talk about cases, often many cases can be against the same person with the same evidence, or a group of people.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 13th, 2014 @ 7:52am

    Re: Obstacles to curbing grand juries

    No, that only applies to people "in actual service". It's pretty clear on that. So you don't have to stop for a grand jury to execute a soldier in the middle of a war.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 13th, 2014 @ 7:56am

    Re: Peace Officers?

    i had to read thata few times - are all police called peace officers?

     

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    pcdec, Feb 13th, 2014 @ 7:56am

    I'm glad he doesn't have to go to trial. I was watching this case and hoping he would be exonerated.
    Marijuana is already legal in two states and it won't be long before it's legal in the entire US. Give it a few years.
    As for illegal guns I don't really feel there is such a thing personally. I believe the actions of the person with the gun should determine legality. Not the status of the gun itself.
    I wanna say "talk about living the dream" but I'm not sure it's appropriate because it is possible, however rare, that the officer killed was a good cop.

     

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    Recneps, Feb 13th, 2014 @ 8:11am

    I've served on a Grand Jury

    The writer seems to think that a grand jury some how has any thing to do with the guilty or not guilty verdict that comes from a trial. They don't. Simply put, the grand jury decides if there is enough evidence to warrant a bench trial. Generally speaking, if the prosecutors don't think they have the right stuff to win the trial, they won't seek a trial. This means that if there isn't enough evidence that the suspect might actually have done it, the case won't even go to the grand jury (There was a recent article about how a Colorado DA did not bring charges against a TSA agent for sexual misconduct because there wasn't enough evidence).

    The grand jury's job is simple, look at what's there. Is there enough there to need the further examination of a trial or not. There is no determination of guilt or non-guilt.

    As I recall, the time I served one of the cases we weighed was an arson case. There was evidence that the fire was set, there was damage to property. There was a suspect. So we sent it to trial. I think the suspect was proven not guilty. I don't know if they ever found the person that actually set the fire.

    In this case, there was apparently not enough evidence to say the shooter knew it was law enforcement breaking down his door. In that case the castle laws take effect. There is no trial.

     

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    Andreas (profile), Feb 13th, 2014 @ 8:21am

    Well, the decision in itself is not surprising, as it only make sense. What's surprising is, that a texan grand jury judges in a way that makes sense, even though a dead cop is involved.

    It's all a big tragedy, but maybe someone should learn from it, that only because a deputy requests a no-knock warrant, the risks of this should be waged against the crime that the suspect is searched for, and if it's not worth having someone dying from a search warrant, deny no-knock and keep all the citizens safer. Because one thing is sure: Noone would've died because of marijuana consumption or dealing.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 13th, 2014 @ 8:22am

    but 52 seconds! to decide whether or not to indict?

     

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    John Fenderson (profile), Feb 13th, 2014 @ 8:24am

    Re: Re: Peace Officers?

    It depends on where you are. In some areas, they're never called peace officers. Technically, there is a difference -- a "peace officer" is any law enforcement officer of any sort. Police officers are law enforcement officers of a specific sort.

     

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  19.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 13th, 2014 @ 8:44am

    Re:

    I agree. Elimination of the grand jury means charges can be brought against an individual regardless of the evidence without any review from the public. Even if the chances that the grand jury won't return an indictment are remote, elimination of the grand jury eliminates any chance of an over-zealous prosecutor bringing a case where someone is charged with a crime based on weak evidence requiring that they have to make the effort to defend themselves against those charges often at considerable hardship and expense. There is a reason this was written into the 5th amendment.

     

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  20.  
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    ethorad (profile), Feb 13th, 2014 @ 8:46am

    Re: Peace Officers?

    Quite, I was trying to square the term "peace officer" with commentary about armed people kicking someone's door in and announcing their presence with flashbang grenades.

    Hello 1984 doublespeak!

     

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  21.  
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    madasahatter (profile), Feb 13th, 2014 @ 8:57am

    Re: Grand Juries

    Also, grand juries can not convict anyone; only indict. Trial juries (aka petit juries) are the only juries which can render a verdict.

    The idea of a grand jury, as noted, is to determine if the state has enough plausible evidence for an indictment to be issued against someone. Grand juries, if the prosecutors are doing their jobs, should return a large percentage as indictments.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 13th, 2014 @ 8:58am

    Re: but 52 seconds! to decide whether or not to indict?

    Yes. I've also served on a grand jury. You are literally only concerned about if there is enough evidence to justify a trial. There is no "beyond a reasonable doubt" or "preponderance of the evidence", just "is it possible that this person could have committed the crime from this evidence - not did he/she, just could he/she have".

    And most of the stuff was incredibly obvious. "Person X was caught by the police exiting Business Y at 2am, carrying enough swag to stagger a mule; Person X does not own nor work at Business Y; the door was jimmied with a crowbar; and Person X's fingerprints are all over the crowbar." There may be some completely innocent reason for that, or the police may have bungled various aspects of the arrest to justify a not guilty verdict at a trial; but all the grand jury is concerned about is if charging Person X seemed reasonable (not is it reasonable they are guilty, but reasonable to charge them). And the overwhelming majority of cases were like the above - it's rather obvious Person X was being a bad boy, but all that needs to be proven is that the police weren't just being jerks in charging him.

    There were edge cases. And those did involve some reasonable amounts of discussion and requests for more information. But my overwhelming take-away from the experience was that criminals are exceedingly dumb and Ocean's Eleven is fiction, not SOP.

     

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  23.  
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    John Fenderson (profile), Feb 13th, 2014 @ 9:03am

    Re: Re:

    "elimination of the grand jury eliminates any chance of an over-zealous prosecutor bringing a case where someone is charged with a crime based on weak evidence"

    In theory, perhaps. But in reality, such cases frequently make it through the grand jury.

     

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    Brent Ashley (profile), Feb 13th, 2014 @ 9:04am

    Knock knock

    It's a good thing that bad guys would never knock, say they are the police, then rush in and commit crimes. Because that would mess up the whole thing where you can always be certain only the good guys would knock first and say "It's just the cops, so don't be confused by the stun grenades, menacing threats, semiautomatic weapons and ninja getup, because we're really friendly".

     

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    John Fenderson (profile), Feb 13th, 2014 @ 9:07am

    Re: Re: but 52 seconds! to decide whether or not to indict?

    "But my overwhelming take-away from the experience was that criminals are exceedingly dumb and Ocean's Eleven is fiction, not SOP."

    This is unquestionably true. The vast majority of criminal are idiots. If they weren't, they wouldn't be criminals.

    Or, as Howard Scott once famously said, "A criminal is a person with predatory instincts without sufficient capital to form a corporation." (But I would replace "capital" with "intelligence".)

     

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  26.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 13th, 2014 @ 9:18am

    Re: Re:Just wishing (also known as praying) wont change anything

    You sir, (LEO officer, or just LEO appologist?) are wrong until there are consequeces for trampling the rights of The People this activity will continue and increase. And so I quote another, "Let this be a lesson to these gestopo stasi cocksuckers"

    I would admonish that one to include,statist, oathbreaking, and traitor in your indeictment of the man!

     

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  27.  
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    John Fenderson (profile), Feb 13th, 2014 @ 9:31am

    Re: Re: Re:Just wishing (also known as praying) wont change anything

    Just to make sure I understand you correctly, you're saying that not wanting people to die makes one a LEO apologist?

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 13th, 2014 @ 9:46am

    And the reasoning for planing no-knock the day before is...?

    Why not come when the guy is picking up morning paper in driveway in his pajamas?

    Solution is simple: hire PhDs for LEOs, not wannabe Rambo morons.

    In this case, victim should sue estate of the LEO.

     

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  29.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 13th, 2014 @ 9:53am

    Re: Re: Re:

    Without a grand jury, there is zero chance that the bad cases will be denied a trial. A slim chance is better than no chance.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 13th, 2014 @ 9:57am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:Just wishing (also known as praying) wont change anything

    Not wanting people to die makes one human, just wishing things were different, in my opinion indicates an unrealistic world view, and wishing that the various unconstitutional and criminal acts of our public servants would change without there being real consequences for their actions and not changing,indicates one is likley an idiot.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 13th, 2014 @ 10:03am

    Adam Sowders was recently promoted to sergeant.

    That means, he just got GED certifying he can count to 500 all by himself. Prior to that, he had only elementary school finished, obviously.

    Do really such people should have access to guns?

     

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  32.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 13th, 2014 @ 10:13am

    Re: Re: Re:Just wishing (also known as praying) wont change anything

    One big problem with this statement is that it is predicated on the assumption the sweeping generalization that all cops are bad enough to warrant a death sentence. Personally, I am a frequent critic of police corruption, abuse, and their failure to actually serve their intended purpose. However, I am not about to say that police officers in general need to be killed for such actions. Bad cops need to be removed from their positions, punished, and replaced with those who will do the job correctly and with honor and integrity. I agree that it should be a lesson to the bad cops. I should also be a lesson to good cops that would make foolish decisions, like deciding to raid a house in the wee hours of the morning unannounced where the occupant could reasonably believe that the intruders were criminals threatening the safety of his family. More people do not necessarily have to die for them to learn from this. The wish that others should die is misplaced anger, similar to the misplaced anger that some cops have when they step over the line and lash out unnecessarily against citizens that they encounter.

     

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    DOlz (profile), Feb 13th, 2014 @ 10:17am

    George Orwell was a slacker

    "However, there is not enough evidence that Mr. Magee knew that day that Peace Officers were entering his home."

    A swat team is now called "Peace Officers"?

     

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    scotts13 (profile), Feb 13th, 2014 @ 10:42am

    Meet military force with military force

    Law enforcement agencies seem to want to be the Army. Not every interaction calls for overwhelming force, and use of it increases the chance it will be met with same. Why the no-knock? To preserve evidence, and increase the chances of a conviction. The conviction, IMHO, was not worth the life of an officer.

    He was, essentially, killed by the prosecutors office.

     

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    John Fenderson (profile), Feb 13th, 2014 @ 10:48am

    Re:

    If I remember correctly, this whole no-knock nonsense is just another bad result of the drug war. I remember the argument being that they had to be able to enter like that because if they knock and announce, the suspects inside would flush all the evidence before they answer the door.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 13th, 2014 @ 10:51am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:Just wishing (also known as praying) wont change anything

    All I'm sayin' is that if you kick down someones' door at the hairy ass-crack-of-dawn, run in screaming and shouting with fireworks going off and you get shot in the 'effing face (cause crooks of all stripes wear body armor) it is not man-slaughter, it is not murder, it's justifiable homicide and anyone that makes their living kicking in doors, shouting and setting off fireworks needs to remember that and decide if it is really worth doing what they are doing.

    Folks that have lived in areas that have gone through severe political and econiomic strife have known forever that the most dangerous part of the day is from the front door of their house and their workplace and back.

    The Stasi would do well to adopt the same tactics of South American Kidnappers and "Take-Down" the target of their warrant outside the house while the target is not expecting trouble and not ready for it. Less cops would get shot and fewer citizes would be murdered.

    If the situation is serious enough to call for a no-knock warrant then taking the subject in to protective custody while searching the site in a way that increases the likleyhood of a no shooting incident, or at least one where ther is no doubt that it is the police, is a good idea.

    All I'm saying is if you come in kicking and screaming to someones house, like mine, then the occupant is better off being judged by 12 than carried out by 6.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 13th, 2014 @ 10:52am

    Re: Meet military force with military force

    Wisdom.

     

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    Mason Wheeler (profile), Feb 13th, 2014 @ 10:56am

    Re: Got it right for once

    Got it completely wrong. A grand jury does not decide whether or not a person is guilty; a grand jury decides whether or not there is sufficient evidence to issue an indictment, to formally charge someone with a crime so the issue can proceed to trial.

    A grand jury is a very different thing from a trial jury, and Tim's apparent lack of understanding on this point made this article painful to read.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 13th, 2014 @ 11:14am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:Just wishing (also known as praying) wont change anything

    "All I'm sayin' is that if you kick down someones' door at the hairy ass-crack-of-dawn, run in screaming and shouting with fireworks going off and you get shot in the 'effing face (cause crooks of all stripes wear body armor) it is not man-slaughter, it is not murder, it's justifiable homicide and anyone that makes their living kicking in doors, shouting and setting off fireworks needs to remember that and decide if it is really worth doing what they are doing."

    I absolutely agree with you on this and I think the grand jury here made the correct decision. Still it's sad that someone had to die.

    "If the situation is serious enough to call for a no-knock warrant then taking the subject in to protective custody while searching the site in a way that increases the likleyhood of a no shooting incident, or at least one where ther is no doubt that it is the police, is a good idea."

    This reminds me of what I said about Waco when it happened. They didn't need to storm the compound. They should have just watched and arrested him when he left to got to the grocery store or something, but they didn't because they were the ATF damn it! and they can storm the compound if they want to because no one can stop them. They may have been dumbasses that got what they deserved for their stupidity and hubris but still I wouldn't have wished them to die.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 13th, 2014 @ 11:19am

    how was he to know what the hell was going on, when all that noise and kerfuffle happened at that time of the morning? i would think that those he didn't hit want to think themselves lucky. as bad as it was that this one deputy got hit and then died, the guy was protecting all that was his in that trailer. i cant see how he could be charged and tried for murder. murder is a previously conceived determination to inflict death on someone, isn't it? how could he possibly have that i9n play when he was asleep, in bed? i would also like to know what anyone else would do, given the same circumstances? the first instinct is survival, the second is protection of those who and things that are precious to you. what should come out of this is the stopping of 'No Knock' raids, pre-dawn or not!

     

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    Trails (profile), Feb 13th, 2014 @ 11:55am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:Just wishing (also known as praying) wont change anything

    Um, you realize I was responding to someone who said "I wish more cops would die this way."?

    You also realize that calling me an LEO officer or apologist (I'm neither) is both an ad hom, and pretty ridiculous in context?

    wishing that the various unconstitutional and criminal acts of our public servants would change without there being real consequences for their actions


    I don't recall writing that, but since you assert it, it must be true. You wouldn't straw man someone on the web, just to have an opportunity to spout vitriol, would you?

     

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    Trails (profile), Feb 13th, 2014 @ 11:57am

    Re: Peace Officers?

    The Ministry of Truth and Ministry of Love are perfectly happy with that name, and so are you.

     

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    Trails (profile), Feb 13th, 2014 @ 12:00pm

    Re:

    The complaint in the article is more that it's too easy to get a Grand Jury to indict (the indictment every 52 seconds part summarizes this). The goal, per the article, is not to route around or skip the Grand Jury, rather to increase rigor so that the Grand Jury process is less inclined to result in indictment.

    Please note this is not my opinion (I'm nt close enough to criminal justice procedures to really form an opinion on this), rather I'm trying to clarify the article.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 13th, 2014 @ 12:20pm

    Re: Re: Re: but 52 seconds! to decide whether or not to indict?

    He said it perfectly no need to change it.

     

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    John Fenderson (profile), Feb 13th, 2014 @ 12:24pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: but 52 seconds! to decide whether or not to indict?

    Except that you don't need much capital at all to form a corporation.

     

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  46.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 13th, 2014 @ 12:27pm

    This guy should take it to the courts at least put up some form of resistance to the no knock warrants. taking a life isn't an easy thing to get over, he'll have to live with that the rest of his life.

     

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  47.  
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    Erik Grant, Feb 13th, 2014 @ 12:44pm

    I know some other people have pointed it out, but I wanted to reiterate that the 276-0 record isn't that surprising. The prosecutor should never be trying to get an indictment unless he's sure he can get one, because if that's risky, there's absolutely no way you're going to get past reasonable doubt in a real trial.

    The only reason to fail to secure a grand jury indictment is if you don't actually want to succeed, which is what happened here. A cop got shot in Texas. The DA in charge if this case wants to get re-elected without having his opponent say "He sides with criminals who shoot cops." So he gets the best of both worlds here - bring a case to the grand jury so he can say he tried, and lose the case because the guy wasn't really guilty of the crime. By all rights, failing to even secure an indictment is the best possible case because it means the spectacle ends with a whimper rather than a 6 month courtroom circus.

     

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  48.  
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    JEDIDIAH, Feb 13th, 2014 @ 1:19pm

    Re: Re: Got it right for once

    There is still a burden of proof and evidence to be considered. The fact that cases are being shoved through the process at an absurd pace with a clearly biased outcome is still obviously problematic.

    It's still a jury. It's not a rubber stamp.

     

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  49.  
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    token foreigner, Feb 13th, 2014 @ 2:14pm

    Only in America is the grand jury system abused. Just like only in Japan is the trial system abused, with a 99%+ conviction rate. Just like only in Sweden is the pre-trial detention system abused. Oh wait, all three countries' systems suck.

    It's said that where there's smoke there's fire, and people seriously believe this (why?). They especially believe it when it comes to barbecuing the accused before guilt is determined.

     

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  50.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 13th, 2014 @ 2:14pm

    Re: Re: Re: Got it right for once

    The burden of proof is extremely low. "Could this person have done this crime based on this evidence." Not "Did he do it", not "Is it probable he did it", not even "Would you be willing to put money down on that he did it"; just "is it possible". In practical terms, think of it as "Could this convince a particularly gullible 3yo with severe retardation?" If so, you have to vote for the indictment. The grand jury exists to make sure prosecutors aren't just flinging indictments at people for the lulz. It does not exist to determine someone's guilt in any way, shape, or form - or even if the prosecution has a winnable case; just that it has a case (the petit jury's job is to determine guilt). For virtually all cases before a grand jury, it takes almost no time to establish that level of certainty. And no prosecutor is going to go through the trouble of bringing a case before a grand jury if he can't meet the requirements.

     

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  51.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 13th, 2014 @ 2:16pm

    Re: Re: Got it right for once

    Tim understands what a grand jury's purpose is. He's just questioning the effectiveness of it when it comes to evaluating whether there is enough evidence to proceed because of the average amount of time that the grand jury spends on considering that evidence. I also think the grand jury in this case did get it right. Unless there is enough evidence to suggest that he knew it was the police when he fired, then he shouldn't be charged.

     

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  52.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 13th, 2014 @ 2:21pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Got it right for once

    Also, not all cases before the grand jury work as he describes. The grand jury can and often does subpoena witnesses to testify. The potential defendant can be called and questioned about the case.

     

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  53.  
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    John85851 (profile), Feb 13th, 2014 @ 2:26pm

    Typos

    First why did you repeat the typo from the original article? The sentence should be "But it was possibly DUE to the confusion caused by the sudden entrance of the cops...", not "But it was possibly do to the confusion caused by the sudden entrance of the cops...".

    Second, how old is the lawyer? You said he's been practicing law for half a century, which is 50 years. If he graduated law school and became an attorney when he was 21, is he now 71? Are there many attorneys in their 70's still practicing law?

     

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  54.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 13th, 2014 @ 2:28pm

    Re: Meet military force with military force

    The prosecutor didn't request the no-knock warrant. The deputy did.

     

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  55.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 13th, 2014 @ 2:31pm

    Re:

    "murder is a previously conceived determination to inflict death on someone"

    No that's pre-meditated murder. Murder is unjustified homicide with intent to kill.

     

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  56.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 13th, 2014 @ 2:35pm

    Re: Typos

     

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  57.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 13th, 2014 @ 3:27pm

    grand jury does not decide guilt

    The grand jury only decides if there is enough evidence to go to trial and votes accordingly. The trial jury decides guilt or innocence. Therefore, it takes little time to decide to indict. It takes an exceedingly weak presentation of evidence, or in this case a gross miscarriage of justice to vote not to indict.

     

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  58.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 13th, 2014 @ 3:37pm

    I would have defended my family in the exact same way.

     

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  59.  
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    Mason Wheeler (profile), Feb 13th, 2014 @ 4:42pm

    Re: Re: Re: Got it right for once

    When he says "not a single one of the 276 accused were found not guilty," it gives a strong impression, at the very least, that he does not in fact understand the purpose of a grand jury.

     

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  60.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 13th, 2014 @ 4:51pm

    Hank Magee is a white man. Is there any doubt he would have been indicted were he a black man in the same circumstance?

     

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  61.  
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    TheLoot (profile), Feb 13th, 2014 @ 6:21pm

    Cop Killing Legal

     

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  62.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 13th, 2014 @ 6:44pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:Just wishing (also known as praying) wont change anything

    Really, if you don't stop to knock when you invade their homes in the middle of the night you deserve what you get. Their tactics invite disaster and it is only fitting that they should pay the price for it. It goes beyond karma and straight into natural consequences, i.e. "What did you think would happen?".

     

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  63.  
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    Daemon ZOGG, Feb 14th, 2014 @ 4:03am

    "No-Knock, Pre-Dawn Raids"

    In my neighborhood, that's a very bad idea. Early morning is when most of the criminals(local thugs) decide to crash through your doors or windows, while your at home. Sometimes they do this in groups. I've had to shoot at these idiots on more than one occasion.

     

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  64.  
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    That One Guy (profile), Feb 14th, 2014 @ 6:03am

    Re: Re: Got it right for once

    Fair enough, apparently I misread things when I did a quick search to find out about the process.

    I'm thinking that one of the other commenters down below, Erik Grant, has it right, they didn't want this to come to court, so it wouldn't surprise me if they were intentionally sloppy, hoping that it wouldn't make it past this stage, and could then be swept under the rug.

     

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  65.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 14th, 2014 @ 11:10am

    Re: Re: Peace Officers?

    I'm still stuck on...

    "But it was possibly do to the confusion"

    Should be "due to the confusion".

     

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  66.  
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    pixelpusher220 (profile), Feb 14th, 2014 @ 11:42am

    Re: Re: Got it right for once

    The point was you can't reasonably weigh whether there is 'sufficient' evidence in 52 seconds. Hell it would take longer to 'read' the evidence than that.

     

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  67.  
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    Sheogorath (profile), Feb 14th, 2014 @ 12:18pm

    Re: George Orwell was a slacker

    A swat team is now called "Peace Officers"?
    In Texas, yes. Above them are Navy SEALS, the real experts in detonation of flash bangs.

     

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  68.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 15th, 2014 @ 6:13am

    Re: Typos

    Are there many attorneys in their 70's still practicing law?

    I know of at least 7 who are or did. Was explained to me that if you give up the license its gone. And it allows 'em to help family members with traffic tickets.

     

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  69.  
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    S.M.I., Feb 16th, 2014 @ 2:49am

    in respectful disagreement

    "The vast majority of criminal are idiots. If they weren't, they wouldn't be criminals."

    I normally agree with you Mr. Fenderson, but I have to take exception with that second statement. I'm honestly not even sure if that would be true in an ideal world. The definition of a criminal is simply way too broad and subjective, due in no small part to the subjective nature of the laws/rules they're breaking, knowingly or otherwise (and I won't even begin to go into the issues surrounding enforcement).

    Furthermore, I personally think that Howard Scott had the better word choice.

     

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  70.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 18th, 2014 @ 5:33pm

    Re: I've served on a Grand Jury

    "... if the prosecutors don't think they have the right stuff to win the trial, they won't seek a trial."

    Umm, no. They will often seek an indictment even if the evidence is weak, knowing that poor defendants probably can't afford to defend themselves. They will then offer the defendant a "deal" in which they offer to not railroad them to the max if they will just plead guilty without making a fuss.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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