Man Gets 11 Years in Online Drug Ring Deaths Case

Categories: Courts

Somewhere, a guy called "Scootdog" is laughing his ass off.
A Houston man has been sentenced to 11 years in federal prison for his role in a synthetic-drug ring that prosecutors say led to the deaths of two men in North Dakota and Minnesota in 2012.

John Robert Polinski, 26, was sentenced for his role as a "computer specialist" for an online drug importer and distributor called Motion Resources, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office in Fargo. Motion's owner, Charles William Carlton, 29, of Katy, pleaded guilty in March for his role, and will be sentenced August 28.

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Federal Judge Vindicates Superior Steel and Its Manager

Categories: Courts

Michael Vackar is probably wishing for an asteroid right about now...
Two years ago, we reported on a federal lawsuit filed by former sales rep Michael Vackar against Superior Supply & Steel in which the ex-employee accused his boss of firing him because he didn't take prospective clients to strip clubs for, uh, special favors.

The Houston Press has now learned that in late 2013, U.S. District Judge Lee H. Rosenthal granted partial summary judgment against the ex-employee, Michael Vackar, ruling that there was no evidence to support Vackar's claims, but plenty to support Superior's claim that the guy was fired for being a lousy salesman and for filing false expense reports.

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UPDATED: Leah Purcell Charged in Spindletop Dog Refuge Case

Categories: Courts

Charges finally filed.
Update: First Assistant District Attorney Phil Grant tells us that one felony count of animal cruelty has been filed in addition to the four misdemeanor charges. A felony count is punishable by a maximum of two years in state jail and/or a $10,000 fine.

Former Spindletop Dog Refuge owner Leah Purcell has been charged with four misdemeanor counts of animal cruelty.

Filed July 15, the charges stem from the shuttered dog refuge where, in 2012, local authorities and Humane Society of the United States personnel seized nearly 300 dogs who they say were kept in filthy, appalling conditions. Thirty-eight other dogs allegedly suffocated to death in a building on a property a few months before the raid.

The charges were filed two days before the expiration of the statute of limitations.

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Suspected Spring Shooter Collapses in Court [UPDATED]

Categories: Courts, Crime

Harris County Sheriff's Office
Updated: This story was updated to include a statement from a father of one of the victims.

It can be tough to face reality. The man accused of killing six members of his ex-wife's family collapsed in court Friday morning upon hearing the allegations against him, according to reports.

The Associated Press reported that Ronald Lee Haskill, who, according to the Harris County Sheriff's Office, killed six people at a north Harris County home Wednesday, fell to the ground twice during a probable cause hearing -- losing blood in his face while his knees buckled. According to the AP, he was eventually wheeled out of the courtroom and is being treated in the Harris County Jail.

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Municipal Courts Offering Alcohol, Tobacco Education Programs

Categories: Courts, Education

Photo by SuperFantastic

Hey rebel teenagers in trouble with the law, have a minor in possession of alcohol, minor in possession of tobacco, or public intoxication charge you have to deal with? Look no further than the City of Houston Municipal Courts Department to help you.

The Municipal Courts Department is now offering alcohol education programs for minors, and Texas Tobacco Awareness Program education to minors via the Juvenile Case Manager Program. The courses will satisfy judgments that require alcohol or tobacco education for lawbreakers hit with minor in possession of alcohol, tobacco or public intoxication charges handed out in any state court.

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Leah Purcell: Former Spindletop Owner Arrested for Illegal Dumping

Categories: Courts

Let this be a stern warning to all y'all alleged illegal dumpers!
Former Spindletop Dog Refuge owner Leah Purcell was arrested July 5 in connection with an illegal dumping charge.

The Texas Department of Public Safety was the arresting agency, but we have no further information regarding the arrest. We're waiting to hear from the Montgomery County District Attotney's Office, which obtained an indictment against Purcell in April 2014.

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New Mustachioed Taxis Under Legal Pressure Pending City Hall Vote [UPDATED]

Photo from Lyft
Lyft's trademark pink mustache marks ordinary cars as providers of a peer-to-peer ridesharing service that traditional taxi companies call "cheating."
Updated 7/3: This story has been updated with info from a Lyft spokesperson.

Alternative West Coast taxi companies Lyft and Uber have finally deployed in Houston with the reputation of establishing dozens of successful operations throughout the country -- and warding off ample legal protest from local cabbies.

Houston City Council members will weigh criticism from traditional Houston taxi companies summarized in an April lawsuit against Uber and Lyft, in which a long list of transportation services accused the competition of illegally operating uninsured vehicles for hire without obtaining licenses, paying attending fees and charging regular rates.

Lyft and Uber both carry liability insurance of $1 million per incident.

For customers, the trade-off for the security of riding with a licensed driver is simple: cheaper service.

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No to Four Kinds of Contraception for Employees of Hobby Lobby's 15 Houston Stores [Updated]

Categories: Courts

Photo by Nicholas Eckhart

This story was updated to include a statement from Governor Rick Perry and to shed some light on exactly what kind of contraceptives we're talking about here.

Hobby Lobby has 15 stores in the Greater Houston Area, and none of them will have to offer insurance coverage for birth control methods the company equates to abortion.

The Supreme Court ruled 5 to 4 that the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 protects corporations with a limited number of shareholders from providing insurance coverage for such contraception under the Affordable Care Act.

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The Finnisher's Strange Story Continues

Categories: Courts, Crime

Screenshot from

Remember the Finnisher? Remember the guy who tackled an armed robber and then capitalized on it with a super-duper cheesy car dealership ad?

This ad:

Well, he's struck again. ABC13 earlier this week reported that RIk Melartin was arrested for bribery and DWI in Galveston County. He blew almost twice the legal limit.

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Houston Lawyer Calls SCOTUS Decision on Smartphone Search a Good Thing (Of Course)

Categories: Courts

Photo by West Midlands Police
You cell is safe from police search, without a warrant.
If you've ever wondered if, when you get into trouble, cops can just run up in your smartphone and start looking at your pictures, and emails and stuff then you can thank the Supreme Court for helping to protect your rights.

The court ruled unanimously today that cops cannot search your phone after they stop you. In most cases, they'll need a warrant.

Here's a summation from the court:

Modern cell phones are not just another technological convenience. The fact that technology now allows an individual to carry such information in his hand
does not make the information any less worthy of the protection for which the Founders fought. Our answer to the question of what police must do before searching a cell
phone seized incident to an arrest is accordingly simple -- get a warrant.

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