Sunday Link Roundup- Improper Photography, 600 new laws, and Intoxilzyer Junk Science

Improper Photography Law Found Unconstitutional

Grits for Breakfast has a story on a 4th Circuit decision finding our State’s “improper photography” statute unconstitutional. The Defendant in the case was arrested for taking picture of people at Sea-World in their swimsuits. This definitely sounds creepy. But photography is an important part of free expression (and protected by the First Amendment).

So you may not be excited about the rights of a creepy Sea World swim suit photographers, but that is the price we pay to keep government away from your First Amendment rights, and the pictures and ideas you want to express. Of course the case now heads to the Court of Criminal Appeals, which doesn’t have an excellent track record on individual rights, so don’t get too excited about the state of the First Amendment in Texas.

600 new laws go into effect today

It’s September 1st, which means over 600 our State’s lobbyists most politically palatable ideas have become law. One of the laws we can be proud of is discovery reform in criminal cases. I am pretty tough on TDCAA, and our State government in general, but it was good to see the defense bar and prosecutor lobby on board with this bill. This law should make it harder for crooked lawyers like Ken Anderson to put the innocent in jail by hiding evidence. It will also end the closed file policies that a few rogue DA’s offices still employ.

Intoxilzyer Machines Found to be Unreliable Junk Science

Texas uses the Intoxilzyer 5000 for DWI breath tests. These machines are good enough for government work, which means the manufacturer won’t even issue a warranty that these machines are accurate breath testing devices. Other States have gone on to use the newer Intoxilyzer 8000, which is supposed to improve on the issues the 5000 has. But guess what, that machine has been found to be unreliable as well.

From the Columbus Dispatch-

After a five-day hearing that included testimony by expert witnesses on both sides that the machine has a “presumption of reliability” because it is officially approved by the Department of Health. However, results from the Intoxilyzer 8000 are “not scientifically reliable and the court, as a gatekeeper against unscientific evidence, must prohibit them from being introduced as evidence in this case.”

“Through evidence, we convinced the court that these machines are unreliable,” said Tim Huey, a Columbus lawyer involved in the case and the past president of the Ohio Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers who has been fighting the breath-testing machines for years. “Is it going to usher it out the door tomorrow? No.”

So Texas doesn’t even use the newest version of the unreliable Intoxilyzer, we use the older cheaper model. Yet the State still tricks juries into believing this machine is anything more than an expensive paperweight. Juries want to believe State experts, they’ve been lied to about DWI by DPS for so long (Drink. Drive. Go To Jail.), that they think their duty is to help the nice DPS intoxilzyer expert get his or her conviction. Remember, just because a government “expert” says something is “science”, doesn’t make it so.

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