Just Because You Can
It shall be the primary duty of all prosecuting attorneys…not to convict, but to see that justice is done.
Texas Code of Criminal Procedure 2.01
2.01 would seem to a pretty clear directive to prosecutors across the state, justice and conviction are two separate and distinct concepts. Whereas, the language of 2.01 deals only with convictions the principle is broader. 2.01 recognizes that not every violation of the law requires state intervention. The power to prosecute, to forbid activity, should be tempered with a spirit of justice.
This brings me to the TDCAA message boards. Here is a question posed by a Lynn county ADA.
I’ve received a question regarding the legality of a poker tournament planned in our county to raise money for a family in need. The details are that there will be a $20 cash buy-in, and that all cash will go to a foundation established for the family. Prizes donated by local businesses will be awarded to the winners. It will be held at the local country club in conjunction with a golf tournament, but it will be open to non-members as well. I don’t see any issue with it right off, but wondered if any of you more learned folk have any thoughts on it?
Posts: 13 | From: Lynn County, TX | Registered: 01-25-08
This prosecutor doesn’t see why this would be illegal but wants guidance from his TDCAA brethren. This Lynn county prosecutor’s position is reasonable. Our state’s poker laws are inane, but also leave room for interpretation.
Guess what the response was from the TDCAA community? Does anyone say to let this tournament go on to help the needy family? Maybe some ideas on how to interpret our state’s gambling laws to allow this charity tournament?
Right…. the TDCAA message boarders quickly retort on ways to find this tournament illegal. JB’s repsonse is typical-
If people play a game and win a prize decided by the outcome of their game, that is gambling.
Charity is giving money with NO expectation of anything in return. That’s why it is called a gift.
Posts: 6135 | From: Williamson County, Texas | Registered: 01-25-01
That’s a pretty broad definition of gambling. I played soccer as a kid. The result of those “games” was that we could win a nice plastic trophy. I never realized we were breaking the law.
Nary a mention of justice or keeping the State out of a charity event.
Just because you can shut down a charity poker game designed to help a needy family during the worst recession in decades…. does not mean that you should. What is the greater justice in this situation? Helping a needy family, or zero tolerance enforcement of our state’s poker laws?
I can hear the statist rebuttal- “But it’s against the law!”. First, if charity poker tournaments are against the law, then the law is an ass. There is no justice in forbidding charity.
Second, there is room for disagreement on the boundaries of our state’s poker laws. Instead of always going for the broadest interpretation let’s apply some common sense and human decency. Heck, even ADA’s don’t agree on what poker games are illegal. The tie should go to the runner.
Allowing one charity poker tournament will not turn Lynn county in to Las Vegas. Unless the Lynn county DA wants to host a fundraiser for this family, they should let the chips fall where they may.