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Bev's Burner
Some's Hot, Some's Not 

By B.K. Carter

"Bev Carter is the owner/publisher of the Fort Bend Star, winner of numerous state and national awards. She has been a voice of Fort Bend's largest circulated newspaper for 30 years."


Too many people are watching the various CSIs, and it has made some jurors believe about most anything the prosecution throws at them if it sounds scientific. It doesn’t matter if it is “junk science,” the subject of a recent Innocence Project report.

Of course, I’m still mad at Barry Scheck and Peter Neufeld, founders of the Innocence Project, because of their defense of O.J. But I read the report with interest, mainly because of its mention of a Fort Bend deputy who handles “scent dogs.”

In reading the report, available here at http://ipoftexas.org/ipot-releases-dog-scent-lineup-report/, I found several comparisons with a recent court case I followed here.

One section stood out for me. It said: “In the hands of a skilled prosecutor, scientific-sounding testimony from any source, no matter how fraudulent, can be played to great dramatic effect and win convictions. Prosecutors have taken full advantage of the gullibility of jurors and the willingness of courts to allow the use of these techniques. In case after case, prosecutors have used phony “experts” with little or no training or education, false results from shoddy labs and dubious “theories” with no basis in fact to get convictions. Taken together, these abusive practices have come to be known as the use of ‘junk science.’”

Texas saw this in headlines recently when it executed a man who was convicted of the arson death of his three children on the basis of “theories of an uneducated arson “expert” according to a real fire scientist, whose testimony was more “characteristic of mystics or psychics” than those of a rational thinker.

It became even more egregious when Gov. Rick Perry dismissed three members of the state’s forensic science commission in order to delay their findings about the arson execution until, many think, after the governor election. Perry refused clemency to the man just before he was executed, despite the fact that new information was submitted from arson experts stating that “no evidence of arson” was found.

Tricky Ricky wanted to avoid having Texans know he had executed an innocent man based on junk science.

All of this brings us to the case a couple of weeks ago where a Fort Bend jury hung 11-1 to convict a woman who shot her husband and claimed self-defense. In that case, the prosecution called a so-call “expert” who had been fired by one sheriff and demoted by another. He is currently a kids-cop coordinator. But after listening to most of the testimony in court, he was allowed to testify about the gun shots and bullet holes in an event that happened three years ago, although he first visited the three-year-old crime scene last month. The prosecution offered this “junk science” as evidence that the woman shot her husband as he was trying to leave the room. This “expert” couldn’t legitimately testify about which shot was fired first and where the man was standing except to say, “It’s possible,” to most of the questions posed to him by the prosecution.

Shame on the Fort Bend DA’s office for using that “junk science.” It seems to forget that the DA is supposed to seek justice, not convictions. It reminds me that the Fort Bend DA sought an expensive case against Fulshear Mayor Jamie Roberts about two old, metal, portable carports.

Eine wunderbare Studenten....Many of my faithful readers know and have asked me about the German exchange student living with me this year. I’m happy to report that we are both settling in well. It’s been a change for me to get used to having someone in the house, particularly a teenager. And for her, it’s probably been a change for her to get used to my sedentary lifestyle and my lack of cooking. Fortunately, she is very self-sufficient and has made friends in her classes and with her tennis team.
She tells me she and her whole family--older brother, younger sister and parents--all ride public transportation and bicycles. However, one of the first things she wanted to do was get her driver’s license and even brought a permission letter from her parents to that effect. We’ve already spent a month one afternoon at the Driver’s License Bureau in Rosenberg.

Another pleasant stay....I started to go there incognito as I have written about them before and nothing has changed. Even though Fort Bend has probably tripled in population in the past 30 years, yet the Driver’s License Bureau has not changed and has the same amount of space and the same number of people working there.

I blame that on the DPS in Austin. Where in the hell are they spending their budget?

I gripe about the facility in Rosenberg, but I met some people from Memorial who came there because it was less crowded than one closer to them.

I’ve threatened to call the fire department because I think they have too many people occupying the room.

BUT, I have to admit that the people who work there are unfailingly cordial. Along about 4:30, they aren’t smiling so much but they are still pleasant when you ask them a question and I didn’t hear them snap at anyone.

That’s a whole lot better than I could do. I work Millie’s receptionist desk at the Star for one hour and I start answering the phone with, “What do you want?!”

I called Eric Thode, the former Fort Bend GOP county chair the other day and asked him if he was ashamed of being a Republican yet. I always thought Eric was well-educated and more moderate than some of his wacko brethren. After all, isn’t that why they wanted him gone? He just wasn’t conservative enough.

Well, he didn’t bite. He soundly defended the Republican party and we ended up gossiping about the local party. I couldn’t even tell him what was happening there as I had not covered a precinct chair meeting since they beat up Gary Gillen. But then I heard that the one person who had the most to do with getting rid of Eric and Gary and changing the by-laws to render toothless the county chair had also gone missing from the meetings.

That’s what I like. People who join an organization, tear it up, then leave because it’s so torn up.

I think it serves the local party right to lose their cachet with local voters. I keep hearing that Fort Bend will probably go Democratic in 2010. I think it may be 2012 and only then according to what people still feel about Obama.

But the Republican party has no national leaders. They stepped on their own petard when they elected Michael Steele to run the national party. They just did it to counter Barack Obama, and it’s backfired as he is clearly unqualified. Now they’ve taken all his power, just like they tried to do to Eric who left before they could and just like they did Gary.

I have to admit though that the Democrats starting lineup isn’t very deep either.

I’m just tired of hearing all the name-calling, on both sides.

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Contact bkcstar@earthlink.net, if you would like to express your opinions/views regarding the column. Write a SIGNED letter to the editor with valid day time phone number--name can be withheld by request.

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   Last Update:
August 05, 2009