TDCAA Community
Closing the Forms to the Public Forum

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July 19, 2005, 10:17
Closing the Forms to the Public Forum
Has TDCAA thought about limiting the forums to TDCAA members only? Get rid of useless chatter.
July 19, 2005, 11:07
Mark Edwards
I will give an "amen" to that.
July 19, 2005, 14:06
Martin Peterson
The topic has been discussed before, but not all good ideas garner support. Furthermore, it may be going too far to assume a limitation of participation would limit all useless chatter. Big Grin
July 19, 2005, 14:17
A.P. Merillat
Oh sure, thanks Martin. My chatter is usually useless, but at least I don't do anything worthwhile, either.
July 20, 2005, 06:47
Think of the far reaching effects that such a ban would have on defense attorneys.
July 20, 2005, 08:25
P.D. Ray
What would the ACLU do for bulletin board material without this website?
July 20, 2005, 09:04
Don't close all the boards but we need to add one forum (call it Trial Strategy or something similar) that is password protected.

Because of the turnover of prosecutors, have a password that changes monthly emailed to the electeds who can then distribute the password to their office. Not 100% foolproof but I know myself and many other ADAs that hesitate to post here because of the local defense bar perusing this site.

To prevent everyone from just using the protected forums, the mods can use their discretion and move threads that are not "confidential" to the public boards.

Just a suggestion, I'm sure others have better ideas to implement tighter security.
July 20, 2005, 09:44
Randal Lee
They had that under "elected" but we never used it.
July 20, 2005, 09:47
Note that there is already a function that allows you to create private forums to discuss matters. Hit the MyPop link above and hit the "private topic" tab. Let the defense lawyers and ACLU read what they want, I say. One of our greatest strengths is that prosecutors work out in the open.
July 20, 2005, 09:48
Rebecca Gibson
I'll give an AMEN to that.
July 20, 2005, 10:24
Tim Cole
I don't mind it being open with one caveat. It has become increasingly clear to me that defense lawyers and the media are monitoring this site on a daily basis to look for material to use in (1) the press (2) court. Think carefully about what you post if you wouldn't want to see it in print. In other words, everyone who monitors this site isn't just doing it to take part in stimulating conversation. Witness the ACLU quoting from posts found on this site. That's not to say that anything being discussed here is wrong or bad. It's kind of like being interviewed on television. There are good and bad ways to say the same thing and thinking before you post, especially if you are upset, is a good idea.
July 20, 2005, 10:38
I think it needs to be protected!

Just because I am trying to sort out all of the legal issues potentially involved in my cases does not mean that I would engage in the same converstaion with a defense attorney and give him/her ideas to use against me!!
July 20, 2005, 13:13
I was a supporter of a closed site at the beginning. Then I learned more about the difficulty of maintaining accurate access only to active prosecutors. In addition, the same idea, when provided to elected DA's, died for lack of activity.

There are good ways to maintain work product secrecy: provide a phone number of e-mail address. Use the private discussion stuff already available on this site. Start your own web site.

I know this is hard to believe, but I was reluctant, in the beginning to post public comments. I got over it by realizing we are public servants who should learn to be confident that our thoughts on public safety should perhaps go through the filter of public exposure, at least for the types of discussions held here.

I frankly wonder if the level of discussion my disintegrate somewhat if hidden.

Who is willing to pay for a private discussion group, because someone has to be paid to maintain the site if we did that?
July 20, 2005, 14:20
Tim Cole
I agree with you for the most part, John, we should not be afraid to have our discussions in public and in the open. I think it is obvious from the popularity of this site that we are not afraid to have such discussions. However, I still point out that some of us should perhaps stop and take a deep breath now and then and think about the fact that this IS NOT a forum only seen by prosecutors. In other words, remember the lesson that Governor Perry got recently in his satellite interview after he thought the interview was over: The mike is always open. Adios.

[This message was edited by Tim Cole on 07-20-05 at .]
July 20, 2005, 15:47
Mark Edwards
Two or 3 years ago we could talk, through this forum, about matters of substance and seek help from fellow prosecutors with problems in particular cases. I have learned the hard way that defense attorneys in my area monitor this forum for just that purpose. We now have unknown contributors to this forum who, almost on a daily basis, try to second guess a local prosecutor. And now we have another unknown who is bad mouthing a fellow prosecutor. The proper place for that is in the voting booth, not on a forum that is paid for with our dues. The use of this forum by people who are not members of TDCAA---and who use it for improper purposes---now exceeds the intended usefulness of the forum. I question whether TDCAA money should be used to support a public forum in which members of TDCAA are maligned. I know we have a secure sight to use, but that has never caught on. If I can get a pass word to that secure sight I for one will begin using it.
July 20, 2005, 16:46
Scott Brumley
Tim makes what is an indisputably valid point. Though this website isn't the street corner or courthouse square that legally is considered to be a "traditional public forum" in First Amendment law, on a functional level it is every bit as open to public scrutiny. And I think that's as it should be, given the nature of what we do.

I would, however, favor a system (if it can be devised and practically implemented) to do away with anonymous posting. The Association is not the government, and this website should not be the safe haven of the anonymous political pamphleteer. In keeping with Tim's and Mark's observations, most people tend to be a bit more circumspect about the potshots they take at others if they don't have anonymity to hide behind. Of course, I realize there's no way to ensure that people use their true identities in cyberspace. Still, if one is going to post on these fora, he/she should be absolutely willing to disclose his/her name and hometown.
July 20, 2005, 16:58
Okay, I admit it, I have multiple personalities. Wink

Seriously, I use the anonymity to my advantage by maintaining a second username that does not identify me by jurisdiction or position, and I have used it to post questions and comments that I could not have (or should not have) done in my official capacity. So, anonymity can be a good thing in that respect.

Of course, I wasn't so good at it and someone figured out quick it was me.

The idea of closing the forums has been debated many times since I first found this board. Both sides of the argument have merit. Current system seems to work if you think it through. And, don't forget that you can edit or delete posts that you have second thoughts about, and you can ask the webmaster to take down offensive matters.
July 20, 2005, 17:37
I think we should have at least one criminal discussion forum that is password protected and access allowed only to members of the association. I understand that the password protected forum did not flourish in the elected section, but by and large most of the posters in this particular catagory are assistants (I know that electeds John Bradley, Mike Little, Scott Brumley and others frequently post here, and some other electeds surely do from time to time).

I for one would be willing to ante up a yearly donation for access to such a secure forum. I have nothing to hide but do think that there should be a secure area for the exchange of ideas, case law, trial strategies and the like amongst fellow prosecutors.

I have received extremely useful and relevant information from this board and it's posters on many, many occasions, and will certainly continue to use it.
July 20, 2005, 18:00
Would it then be a crime for an outside member to access that closed group?
July 20, 2005, 18:17
Martin Peterson
33.02(a) would cover this conduct if the protected website is considered a "computer system" (which I think it is). So, no need to expand the Penal Code, John. Does that mean you are for the idea?