High Court: Warrantless DWI Blood Draws Are Unconstitutional

Categories: Courts

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Be careful out there.
Just in time for the holiday weekend, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals has upheld a lower court's ruling that warrantless blood-drawing in DWI cases is unconstitutional.

In a split 5-4 decision Wednesday, the majority justices disagreed with prosecutors' argument that driving on Texas roads is a privilege -- not a right -- and that "the driving public" is presumed to have read the statute outlining no-refusal blood draws. (We must say, there are plenty of roads in Houston that don't really feel like a "privilege" to drive on.)

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Lawyer of Accused Tutu Flasher Says His Client Was Wearing Underwear While Exposing Himself

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Harris County Constable file photo
There's nothing like getting caught with your pants...er...tutu down.

While it may be embarrassing, the attorney of a man accused of flashing a local salon says baring your balls from underneath a tutu is hardly indecent exposure. After all, his client, who has been accused of doing just that, had on some sort of "shielding" undergarment, too.

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Reminder: Houston Grand Juries (Almost) Never Indict Cops For Shooting Civilians

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Michael Barajas
Protesters marched down MLK Blvd Tuesday night
Hundreds of Houstonians joined protestors across the country Tuesday night, voicing anger after a Missouri grand jury chose not to indict Darren Wilson, a white Ferguson police officer who shot and killed unarmed 18-year-old Michael Brown this summer.

Signs and placards carried familiar names that have sparked national headlines, like Trayvon Martin or John Crawford, the young black man shot and killed by cops in an Ohio Walmart just days before the Brown shooting for walking around with a toy gun he picked up in the store. But other names scrawled on protest signs hit closer to home. Like Eli Escobar Jr., an unarmed 14-year-old boy shot and killed by a rookie Houston cop in 2003, or Brian Claunch, a 45-year-old wheelchair-bound double-amputee who suffered from mental illness who was shot in the head by police in 2012 after wielding a ballpoint pen in a scuffle with two HPD officers.

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Blood in the Streets: Harris County Suing Texas Farm Fresh Halal Over Alleged Violations

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Photo by Dianna Wray
The Texas Farm Fresh Halal Meat

After more than two years of alleged violations, Harris County is suing Texas Farm Fresh Halal Meat.The Harris County Attorney's Office filed a lawsuit against Texas Farm Fresh Halal Meats last Friday requesting an injunction and civil penalties against Irfan Sheikh, the owner of the slaughterhouse. The suit alleges that Sheikh has discharged industrial waste into state waters, improperly stored animal parts and discharged contaminated storm waters without a permit. And according to the recorded violations, this has been going on for years.

It started with blood in the streets.

Well, bloody water, technically. On Dec. 31, 2012, someone called in to complain about a slaughter house, Texas Farm Fresh Halal Meats, located on 13221 Old Richmond Road out on the very edge of Harris County. Bloody water was filling up the parking lot and slopping into the streets, the caller reported, according to court documents.

A Harris County Pollution Control investigator went out to the scene and "observed blood and smelled a metallic odor" in a ditch in front of a property just east of Texas Farm Fresh Halal. There must have been about 500 gallons of blood, she figured, according to court records. She noticed a small pool of blood, just a few inches wide, next to the fence bordering the two properties, with a 25-foot trail connecting the small pool of blood to the larger amount in the ditch, according to court documents. And this was just the beginning.

The investigator continued following the gory trail, tracking pools of blood to the animal holding pens and then to the kill floor. She watched the blood flowing from the site at a rate of about a quarter of a gallon per minute. And then a violation was issued against Texas Farm Fresh Halal Meats. A couple days later the investigators came back and managers of the company said that the kill floor waste is set up to flow into a septic tank, but the septic tank was clogged, hence the blood in the streets.


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Charity that Builds Custom Homes for Wounded Veterans Once Again Facing Fraud Allegations

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Helping A Hero Gala Invite 2014

When Army Sgt. 1st Class Scott Lathan returned home from his second tour in Iraq, finances were tight. Lathan had been severely injured in Balad, Iraq in 2006 when 155mm rounds blew apart the Humvee he was riding in, leaving him with a traumatic brain injury, cognitive disorders, PTSD, and knee, back, and hip problems. The young soldier, who had a wife and young child, could no longer work.

The family struggled without Lathan's income, and money became an even bigger problem when Lathan's wife Sarah, who became breadwinner after his injuries, had to resign from her job to have heart surgery. Saddled with car and mortgage payments, the Lathans worried constantly about how to make ends meet.

But everything changed in September 2012, when Helping a Hero, a local nonprofit group that builds custom homes for veterans that have suffered severe injuries in war, contacted Sgt. Lathan. The charity's director, Meredith Iler, offered to build the Lathans a 2,400 square foot home with four bedrooms in exchange for a small mortgage, $50,000 over 10 years at 3.5 percent. It was a home they could better afford, and it seemed like the answer to their problems.

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College Football Playoff Rankings v 5.0: Cut, Paste, Repeat

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We are on the cusp of a massive weekend of college football, a weekend where traditional rivalries shape the months of December and January, and they do so with the added bonus of massive amounts of food consumed over a 72 hour period.

It truly is glorious.

One price that we pay, though, for Rivalry/Thanksgiving Weekend football is the snoozefest the week before, where relevant teams are playing tune up games, including half the SEC staging a de facto jamboree with FCS schools. The only good things about the Snoozefest Appetizer Weekend are:

1. I can actually attend a wedding on a Saturday night and not feel any "I'm missing football!" animosity toward the bride and groom. (NOTE: I had a wedding to go to Saturday, and had a fine evening. Thank you, Jessica and Gabriel!)

2. I can basically cut and paste the top half of the rankings from last week, so...time saver!!

Here are the fifth iteration of the College Football Playoff rankings, along with thoughts.

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Rep. Steve Stockman Gets His Own Climate Change Denial "Theory"

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Rep. Steve Stockman, the guy who named a climate denial movement after himself.

Retiring Texas Congressman Steve Stockman is on his way out, but it looks like he's making one last swat at cementing a little Congressional recognition for himself with a climate denial bill.

Stockman, a Republican, has been a fairly ardent denier of all things climate change for a while now. Just last month he made a bit of a splash when he started questioning John Holdren, presidential science and space adviser, about why global wobbling wasn't included in models on climate change. "I mean think about it, if your ice cube melts in your glass it doesn't overflow, it's displacement," Stockman said. "This is the thing, some of the things they're talking about, mathematically and scientifically don't make sense." The Daily Show had a lot of fun with that one.

And now Stockman is trying to get a little Congressional recognition for one of his own theories about climate change, namely that actual climate change is a myth and whatever is going on with the weather these days might be caused by magnets. (To be fair, messing with climate denial stuff probably beats pondering how longtime Sen. John Cornyn trounced him in the primaries a while back, or worrying over how he and three aides were subpoenaed by a federal grand jury for some sort of criminal investigation, according to the Associated Press.)


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Evangelist Sued by Disabled Woman Who Claims He Tricked Her Out of Settlement Money

Categories: Crime, Religion

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Tim & Selena Middleton via Flickr Creative Commons
Nothing screams "proper evangelist" quite like a brand new Harley Davidson motorcycle, right? Right.

According to a report by the Courthouse News Service, Marilyn Rupard's lawsuit against John David Crow, filed in Brazoria County earlier this month, claims that Crow, a Texas evangelist-slash-investment-advisor, tricked her out of hundreds of thousands of dollars she got due to a faulty hip replacement, and spent some of that money on -- you guessed it -- a Harley.

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Worker Sues BP Over Handling of Algerian Terrorist Attack

Categories: Courts

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Did BP endanger its workers?
An American worker who survived a 2013 terrorist attack at an Algerian BP plant is suing the oil giant in Harris County District Court for $100 million, saying BP did not disclose security threats to employees or increase security at the plant.

Steve Wysocki's suit is the third Houston complaint filed against BP over the attack, which killed 40 people at the plant in In Amenas, near the Libyan border.

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Stray Horses Wander Onto Busy Houston Highway During Rush Hour, One Killed

Categories: Ridin' Dirty

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It's pretty common, albeit terribly unfortunate, to see stray animals -- usually dogs or the occasional cat -- make their way across busy Houston highways, stranded in the middle of traffic as terrified onlookers whiz past. Rarely are those stray animals horses, though.

But that's exactly what drivers in Northwest Houston came across during rush hour Monday morning, when a pair of horses wandered onto the highway at 249 and West Montgomery, and right into oncoming traffic.

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