Articles Posted in Kaufman County Criminal Defense Lawyer

Clients of mine who have experienced the criminal justice system in multiple Texas counties are often surprised by how different the process is in each locality. The Penal Code and the Code of Criminal Procedure are the same across the State. However, judges still have a lot of discretion in how they run their docket.

For example, how many resets do you get in a court before you must plea or set the case for trial? What time does docket start? What forms do you need to get a plea done? Does the client have to show up at each hearing?

It’s important for lawyers and defendants to know what they are getting into before they arrive. Recently, Dennis Jones was appointed as Judge in the Kaufman County Court at Law. Judge Jones published a short list of protocols for his court that you should know.

Judge Wiley will be sworn in as Kaufman County District Attorney on April 22nd at 1pm in the County Court at Law. All are invited to attend.

I began my career in Kaufman County as a prosecutor in Judge Wiley’s court. I learned quickly that Judge Wiley will not suffer an unprepared attorney in her court, be it a prosecutor or defense lawyer. Her high standards made me a better attorney.

Judge Wiley is tough but fair (I’ll go with present tense from here, since Judge Wiley is still on the bench). She is always curious and interested in the cases and defendants before her. She has compassion, in a very tough love kind of way, for the defendants in her court. For example, Judge Wiley created and manages the successful DWI court program. DWI court helps addict-defendants avoid prison and stay sober with a strict regimen of counseling, treatment, drug testing, and weekly court sessions. It’s a lot of extra work for her court, and it shows her level of dedication to rehabilitating defendants.

Our State’s highest criminal court recently reversed a marijuana conviction out of Kaufman County Court at Law 2, just in time for 4/20. Whenever I discuss marijuana prohibition I always mention how much court time, prosecutor time, appointed lawyer time, police time and tax dollars we waste we waste prosecuting cannabis cases like this one.

It can take years for a case to move form arrest to appeal, and the whole time you are footing the bill so that the criminal justice system can have something to do (besides prosecute real crime that is). Marijuana prohibition is like an evil version of the WPA. Which reminds me, our lege is in session, so why not call your rep and ask them to support bills like this?

Enough editorializing, on to the case, our case of the day is Abney vs State.

When I was an Kaufman County ADA I was assigned to Kaufman County Court at Law. It’s where I cut my teeth in K-town, and it’s a court I still enjoy trying cases in. Kaufman has two County Courts at law, both courts hear misdemeanor cases and certain felonies (felony DWI and state jail dope cases). County Court at Law also hears civil cases, CPS, and juvenile criminal matters.

Here is what you need to know about the Kaufman County Court at Law if you have an adult criminal case.

1. You always have to appear.

Forney is one of the faster growing DFW exurbs. It has quickly become a hotbed of Kaufman County DWI arrests. I used to get a fair number of DWI cases from across Kaufman County, many DPS arrests on the interstate, and then a fair number from Terrell/Crandall/Kaufman etc. It seems that I’m seeing a greater number of DWI arrests from the Forney Police Department. I’m not surprised. Forney is a city seemingly designed to maximize DWI arrests. You can’t walk anywhere, and you certainly can’t walk to any establishment that serves alcohol. I’m not sure why we have the majority of our alcohol serving-establishments next to the interstate, why old downtown Forney (the most walkable area in the city) remains mostly dry.

Forney has it’s own jail, and it is possible to make bail there without being transported to Kaufman. I haven’t figured out why certain arrestees are transported to the county jail and others make bail in Forney. Going to jail anywhere sucks, but the Forney jail/police station is brand new and really clean. Much less risk of getting a resistant staph infection than if you are arrested in Dallas.

Forney does not have it’s own breathalyzer, so if you take a breath test you have to go to Kaufman. By the way NEVER TAKE A BREATH TEST. Kaufman County’s breath test machine is based on 1968 technology. The operator manual admits that today’s version of the Intoxilyzer is no more accurate than it was during the Apollo program. Really, don’t do it.

RobertGuest.com has been redeveloped and is now the home of Guest and Gray Criminal Defense Lawyers. Justia did a great job with the design and I have to say they have again exceeded my expectations. I’ve already reviewed Justa once, here is the short version: they aren’t cheap, but they are worth it. I’m keeping the same url, robertguest.com on the advice of Justia. I was going to switch to GuestandGrayCriminalDefense.com, but apparently it would have offended the Google gods.

Besides the aesthetics of the website what’s different?

For the first six years of my criminal defense practice I was solo. I’ve already discussed the challenges of a solo attorney so let’s talk about my partner in crime… er criminal defense… drumroll………… TRACY GRAY!

Like many suburban Texans I was brought up in a Republican household. The first two political books I ever read were written by Rush Limbaugh. As a young adult I had not heard of libertarianism, but I did hear a lot of rhetoric from the right that I liked; limited government, liberty etc.

I found myself more and more confused at how Republicans supported policies that were the definition of Big Government- drug wars, bans on gay marriage, sodomy laws, blue laws, pornography prosecutions etc. Logically, I could not understand how a political party could espouse limited government and support for the war on drugs in the same platform? How can you be against Obamacare because you oppose big government and against gay marriage? The cognitive dissonance must be overwhelming.

I stumbled upon the answer about a year ago when I read “The Republican Brain” by Chris Mooney. The answer, authoritarianism. Wikipedia can explain this better than I can. Why not copy and paste?

A few months ago I took Lance Platt’s SFST certification course for attorneys. We had mostly defense lawyers and some prosecutors in the room. I didn’t come into this with clean hands. My experience with DWI cases and research of these “tests” tells me they are voodoo bullshit.

I came to this conclusion because as I understood the SFST studies they lacked the markers of real science and quality research; control groups, blind studies, placebos etc. Did you know the field sobriety tests have never been tested on a large groups of individuals who have not been drinking? Or on individuals with different medical conditions? There have been exactly zero studies on gender differences, or on the effect of performing the tests under the stress to mimic the pressure of a typical roadside DWI investigation. Why?

SFST’s are agenda driven science. The feds needed a way to arrest people who had been drinking, but without any bad or impaired driving behavior. So they invented the notion that by performing 10 minutes of balancing tests you can tell if someone is over .08.

Forney has two online media outlets (TheForneyPost.net, and InForney.com) reporting the happenings in this growing exurb. I have been surprised to see how much copy each site devotes to coverage of local drug busts.

The stories themselves are largely formulaic; we get a mugshot, the government’s version of events, and sometime a nice pic of dope on the table for emphasis. I often wonder if the public sees these busts and thinks that something has been accomplished; that by arresting this one drug user or drug dealer we’ve made the world safer, or made some dent in the local narcotics market. The frequency of these arrests may be news to the public, but it’s old hat for anyone involved in the Kaufman County criminal justice system.

I’ve been here for 8 years, and we’ve been arresting suppliers and consumers the entire time. I can tell you that the net effect on supplies of controlled substances in Kaufman County is zero. Drugs are still readily available to meet the demand of our local consumers.

It’s probably past time to announce that I partnered up. Guest Law Firm PC was laid to rest over 18 months ago, but I’ve been too busy to really blog about it until now. I would like to take this opportunity to let all solo practitioners know that having a good law partner makes this job much more enjoyable. Being a solo attorney means having to solve every legal problem, make every client happy, have every great marketing/business idea, follow up on every payment, court date, correspondence etc. It’s a 24/7 job that obliterates any separation of your personal and professional life. If you can give up controlling every little decision and learn to trust your colleagues you can have a much happier and more fulfilling professional existence.

When you have a team of attorneys working together you get some wonderful benefits including specialization of labor (I’m the IT/advertising department at Guest and Gray, in addition to my criminal defense duties), economies of scale (for some reason legal research pricing screws solos), and a built in team of law therapists to share you frustrations with. This is a stressful job and it’s great to have peers you trust to brainstorm with, vent, or just discuss the latest legal happenings.

Since our inception of 5/2/10 we’ve added two new attorneys and are looking to open a new office next year. The current make up of Guest and Gray PC is

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