TDCAA Community
Closing the Forms to the Public Forum

This topic can be found at:

July 21, 2005, 07:10
Closing the Forms to the Public Forum
I guess I was unaware that the defense attorneys were using this site for ill gotten gain. If that is the case, then by all means close it up to people like me and others who may have more devious intentions. You guys need to hold you cards as close to your chest as possible.

I do, however, have to question the legality of the press using things from this site. When you boil it down, you can not prove that anyone on this site said anything or felt a certain way. It seems like they could get in trouble for attributing something to one of you when, in reality, no one know who is doing the posting.

I don�t think 33.02(a) would apply here because it is not a �computer system� designed by anyone for private use. It would be like setting up a birthday party in the park and then trying to prosecute someone from trespassing when they came and sat down with you. As long as they don�t steal anything, or mess anything up it is not illegal. I think that law was designed more for corporate lans, and mail systems.

My suggestion would be to change the membership requirement to include a phone number that can be verified in a reverse look up. Just be prepared to see a huge drop in membership. Or, you could always just leave it like it is and occasionally post some false case strategy, and wait for someone to try and use that info against you. Once you catch them with their pants down a few times, they might get a little gun shy.

Until such time as you guys figure this out, I will continue to bug you with mindless banter, and enjoy reading your comments.
July 21, 2005, 10:57
Scott Brumley
After ruminating (I'm trying to continue to impress Greg with my pseudo-intellectual vocabulary) on some of the points made by Rolater and others, I find myself in substantial agreement. While my general thoughts on prosecutorial and governmental practice philosophy entail nothing that should be hidden, I, too, often find need to tap the superior experience and expertise of other practitioners who post here on litigation strategy. A password-protected "litigation strategy" forum (or something similar) would be something I would find useful, and I would be willing to ante up for it, as well. (Yes, I recognize that I used the word "would" three times in that sentence. My editing professor in journalism school would almost assuredly have given me a "D" for this post, since you can't spell "redudant" without it.)

On the other hand, I find input and commentary from defense lawyers (such as Ms. Gibson), lawyers who work with us (such as A.G. personnel like Lisa Tanner, as well as Janette from DPS), investigators (such as A.P. and -- presumably -- notalawyer) and officers to be useful, enlightening, educational and often entertaining. It brings different perspectives to the table, which can improve our own ability to consider the issues involved in our duties. Thus, I don't favor closing the forum overall to such participants in our discussions.
July 21, 2005, 11:26
A.P. Merillat
And you can't spell redundant without an n, Scott. Now how much will you give me not to give you up to your journalism prof?
July 21, 2005, 11:30
A.P. Merillat
Of course, if there was a password-protected site that a lurker like me could infiltrate, I could extort your spelling faux paux outside the public eye. I would demand that you'd leave your diploma on the parking lot of the Home Depot, and if you didn't, I'd paper your house with the pages of Roget's Pocket Thesaurus and spread Alphabets on the front lawn.
July 21, 2005, 14:07
The scope: There are approximately 2400 assistant prosecutors employed by 330 elected prosecutors in Texas.
July 21, 2005, 14:13
By closing a forum, I certainly didn't mean that other law enforcement personnel should be excluded. Often, my best strategies and ideas for trial have come from investigators I have been priviledged to work with, such as the illustrious crew from Fort Bend (Herb Owens, Charles McGee, Mark Herman, Colleen and Emma) or the illustrious multi-talented one man crew in Bastrop (David Lewis). So by all means, interpret my proposal to be inclusive of folks like AG and DPS attorneys and all of our investigators.
July 21, 2005, 14:50

(such as A.P. and -- presumably -- notalawyer)

I'm flattered to be mentioned in the same parentheses as A.P., but no, I'm not an investigator.
July 21, 2005, 15:16
Scott Brumley
Now that I've been thoroughly corrected, I say close the site entirely. Razz (Fade to banjo music)
July 21, 2005, 18:33
From the looks of the growing length of this thread (that even includes a new first-time poster who shall remain nameless), having the site open to the public isn't doing anything to suppress commentary. Sort of like the bogus claim being made by the press about the need for a reporter's privilege at a time when the availability of the press and expansion of its markets is the widest it has been since Gutenberg finished his first book.
July 21, 2005, 20:13
A.P. Merillat
Holy cow, John, do you mean ANYBODY can read these posts? I've been on the cell while waiting for the doctor to finish my spinal tap; he was late because he got a call while driving over. I guess I missed a lot, huh?
July 21, 2005, 21:56
I am a student. Why should you have anything to hide regarding prosecution of Texas residents. If it truly a just legal system, governed by proper enforcement of laws of this State.

Aren't you working on behalf of the Citizens of the State of Texas?

Don't the Citizens have a right to ask how particular laws may be legally applied to their conduct or affect them in their daily lives. By closing your forum to the public it may appear that you have something to hide or that your methods of enforcement of the laws are somehow secret in nature. I think that most citizens would hope that Prosecutors and Defense Attorneys work together to see that Citizens are given a fair trial.

You should be able to work together and learn from each other in an effort to enforce the law in a fair and just manner.

While I understand that the purpose of this forum is not to educate the public. I would think that questions regarding how specific statutes might apply are resonable questions pertaining to law and are not legal advise per se. The better understanding people have of the law may help to them to abide by it. Less crime serves to better protect the public. That is what you are trying to do, right? Protect the public?

In addition, the public has very little resource for help in interpreting the laws. In fact, they do not have the same opportunity to request opinions from the Attorney General that you do. Even though he is an elected official. To hire an Attorney to question the applicablity of a statute so that one may gain a better understanding of its meaning is rediculous. I have found that in some cases,the answer varies between Attorneys anyway. It seems smarter to ask the people that enforce the law how they perceive the meaning.

Lastly, you don't have to answer questions posted anyway. So ignore them. If people don't get a response they probably won't post again.

Just my thoughts.
July 21, 2005, 22:06

Please accept my apology for misspelled words and inappropriate punctuation.
July 22, 2005, 09:27
Neel McDonald can refer you to a lawyer you can hire to answer your questions. they can also direct you to a lawyer who may be able to help you for free if you truly can't afford to hire one. if your questions aren't serious enough for you to be willing to explore those options carefully, you can't possibly expect a response to them here.

BTW, there IS an appropriate forum for theoretical discussions about the law. It's called law school.
July 22, 2005, 10:39
Tim Cole
Footdr, like some others who post on this forum from time to time, you are confusing the purpose of this forum with the prosecutor's duty in his or her job. We have a duty to seek justice when we prosecute. We should also be willing to publicly discuss our decisions and matters involving our duties. However, that doesn't mean that every bit of information that we possess is public. In fact, quite the contrary. We have a duty to our client (the State) to keep some matters confidential. Sometimes we are ethically bound not to publicly discuss certain matters and could be reprimanded by the State Bar for doing so. But, again, that confuses the purpose of this forum with our duties as prosecutors. This is a discussion forum that was at the beginning a sort of chat room for prosecutors where we could go to talk to our brothers and sisters about what bugs us, trial strategy, problems encountered in certain cases, etc. Over time the forum evolved into more as other groups began to monitor and participate. Some members of the media have even begun to quote from posts in editorials and news stories. I think some prosecutors wish for the good old days when we were the only one's interested in these discussions. I don't think there's anything wrong with prosecutors wanting to have a place where only we can go to chat. This forum was never intended to be a place where citizens can question the prosecutor, air complaints about a prosecutor, get advice or find ANY KIND of official position on anything. Having said that, I don't have a problem with other groups participating in the discussion ... just don't take this chat as anything other than what it is intended to be.
July 26, 2005, 10:19
In my experience, the increasing popularity of this forum has, unfortunately, reduced its significance as a legitimate professional resource. When it began a few years ago I posted on a fairly regular basis, and I viewed it almost daily. I found it to be a genuinely helpful resource. And I encouraged its use by others in the office. But my co-workers and I have often lamented the fact that too often now this forum has become more akin to a barbershop - with a lot of chatter about a lot of things - but not much substance. Remember the "Where's a good place to have lunch?" thread? And even when a thread does have some substance, finding it can become a chore because - as with this very thread - there often is a lot of chaff which must be sorted through. As things now stand, it is a rare day when I even bother to view this site.

In short, I would support some sort of private forum, because I think it would encourage more meaningful participation. To those laypersons who'd like to see every government operation conducted in a glass building and every communication broadcast on television, I ask this: If you or your loved one were the victim of a crime, would you want the criminal's attorney - or the general public - to have complete knowledge of what efforts and strategies were being employed by the prosecutor in the effort to bring that criminal to justice?
July 26, 2005, 12:08
w.d. willis

Don't Keep Ol' Floyd waitin now!?
July 26, 2005, 12:20
You mean I can't get a trim here?

You guys don't offer public information AND you don't give hair cuts. What the heck do you do anyway?

(Sorry for the chaff. I just had some extra, and I thought I would share.)
July 26, 2005, 13:26
At the risk of seeming insubstantial, I have to say that I, for one, found the "best places to have lunch" thread riveting.
July 26, 2005, 21:08
The Corroboration thread is approaching 20,000 views. Nothing else is close. Lord knows I've tried. Sometimes you just gotta go with the flow and sneak in a little education when you can.
July 27, 2005, 08:58
P.D. Ray
Some people like their coffee straight, other's with more cream than bean.

I like the corroboration thread. It provides a well needed chuckle. It's threads that don't matter so much that invite the younger prosecutors into the discussion. You guys wouldn't believe how intimidating some of you are to newer prosecutors. As people begin to contribute in the lighter areas of discussion, they become more comfortable asking questions and participating in the opinion threads.

Personally, I jump in with both feet, a paddle, a bottle of sherry and some plastic tubing. But, I know others that have eased into the shallow end of discussion because of the light hearted threads.