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A Solution: SB 77

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January 15, 2007, 12:00
A Solution: SB 77
After reading this article, check out SB 77

Former officer gets probation for child rape

By Scott E. Williams
The Daily News
Published January 13, 2007

TEXAS CITY � A 10th State District Court jury Friday sentenced a former deputy constable to probation for sexually assaulting a girl, 16.

Charles Cribbs, 32, befriended the girl in 2004 after members of her family asked him to help counsel her.

She had been sexually assaulted the previous year, court officials said.

Instead of counseling her, Cribbs started a sexual relationship with her. The girl was able to describe Cribbs� pubic area while testifying.

A friend of hers also testified to hearing the two having sex.

Testimony at the trial established that Cribbs had sex with the girl six times, including once at her home and once at the Precinct 5 Constable�s Office where he worked.

Even though the girl reportedly was not forced into sex acts, Texas law holds that a person younger than 17 cannot consent to sex.

Prosecutor Kayla Allen told jurors Cribbs had abused his public trust to satisfy his prurient desires. She asked jurors to sentence him to prison.

The charge carried a possible prison term of two to 20 years, as well as a fine of up to $10,000.

After the trial, jurors told attorneys they gave Cribbs probation because they felt sorry for his young daughter.
January 15, 2007, 13:47
It would be nice if everyone who committed a crime such as this went to prison - and stayed there.

And it is a heck of a bargaining chip that the State gets to say, on the more troublesome cases, "Take deferred from us because if you go to trial you cannot get probation." Many will blink at that and take plea deals.

However, it also seems like nullifications waiting to happen, because the jury will inevitably learn in voir dire that it is prison or nothing, and sometimes they will give nothing, because they just do not understand how big a problem this is and how it destroys the lives of victims, even when it seems "not so bad," or, "she was willing," or they "feel bad for (defendant, defendant's children, defendant's momma, etc.)." And as has been discussed here before, at least on probation they are registered sex offenders. That beats the heck out of the inevitable expunction.

It is like a lot of things in life, it sounds really good on paper, and will probably pass the legislature, so they can be tough on crime.
January 16, 2007, 09:33
Shannon Edmonds
Seems to me you could have those "weak" jurors struck for cause if they couldn't follow the punishment range established in the law .... Wink
January 16, 2007, 16:29
Surely she didn't really say "prurient desires" in closing argument. Texas is a state where we can call a pervert a pervert.

("Prosecutor Kayla Allen told jurors Cribbs had abused his public trust to satisfy his prurient desires.")
January 16, 2007, 21:45
Maybe she's just old fashioned, Jane.
January 18, 2007, 20:48
My grandmother was old-fashioned, but I don't think she would have known what "prurient interests" are. And grandma had a Master's degree. It's like a judge I once had who used the word "obfuscate" to a jury panel.
January 19, 2007, 08:35
Maybe the prosecutor didn't need to "talk down" to the jurors if the phrase had already been explained and bandied about during trial. But you raise a important issue. Along the same vein, look at your charges. I hope they do not contain the archaic and confusing terms that, perhaps, mean something to lawyers but must be incomprehensible to many jurors.
January 19, 2007, 09:05
Terry Breen
This thread seems to have gotten sidetracked--a condition I abhore.

Getting back to the original post, I think SB77 would be a great advantage for us in the great majority of cases, and I think we should support it.

Even if there wasn't all this Big Talk about sex crimes against children, this would be a good bill. But when you factor in all the crazy bills on this subject--death penalties, etc.--this bill as an alternative looks especially good.

As for the prosecutrix using the word "prurient," have you ever stopped to think that maybe she had a jury full of English majors, or similar riff raff, that would appreciate a little high tone talk? Once, while giving my closing argument in a marijuana case, which involved the officer smelling the stuff, I used the French word potpourri, which I thought added a bit of class to my argument. Later, the judge told me that the word is not pronounced "pot-a-pouree," so I'm not sure how high toned it sounded in actual practice.
January 19, 2007, 09:48
Terry, I like the idea of SB77 too but, generally, how much do we want to reduce jury discretion in punishment? Every time we eliminate a little discretion here and there we get closer to the federal situation. And we will have rules, not guidelines.
January 19, 2007, 09:52
In defense of the prosecutor in question (I was sitting second) she did not use the phrase (it was the reporters paraphrase) what she did say was much more to the point and down to earth, much like the prosecutor herself. She did a hell of a job on that case.
January 19, 2007, 14:54
Well, that's good to hear. It's always the media that screws up the story.

And Terry, anybody that's ever been to Garden Ridge or Hobby Lobby or in my mother-in-law's bathroom know that it's pronounced "Po-purr-ee." You know in Texas we don't pronounce French. But, then, neither do the English, right?
January 19, 2007, 16:10
Originally posted by jane starnes:
It's like a judge I once had who used the word "obfuscate" to a jury panel.

Go ahead Jane. Just taunt the band. We like it when you say words like "obfuscate".