Category: TEXAS

Case Dismissed

TEXAS DFPS WRONGLY ACCUSES PARENTS OF DEPRIVING CHILDREN

Civil Litigation: Texas DFPS Wrongly Accuses Parents of Depriving Children, Caseworker Lies Under Oath
Case: ITO S children [Cause 85840][Lamar County]
Result: Case Dismissed at First Hearing


Summary: The Texas Department of Childrens’ Protective Services claimed the parents of these three children neglected them by exposing them to controlled substances.  The caseworker, Tiffany Massey, testified under oath that the school principal of one child had told her he had concerns the mother was abusing prescriptions drugs.  Her only other evidence in support of her claim was hearsay testimony.

The judge dismissed the case, but Haslam had already interviewed the school principal and – knowing that he had denied ever making such a claim to Ms. Massey – collected an affidavit from him denying it under oath.  When coupled with the transcript of Ms. Massey’s testimony, her aggravated perjury appears to be a an easy charge to bring and conviction to get for Lamar County District Attorney Gary Young.  Time will tell.

Not guilty

INDECENCY WITH A CHILD BY CONTACT

Criminal Charge: Indecency with a Child by Contact
Case: State v. Evaristo Torres [F13-24064] [Dallas County]
Result: Not Guilty Verdict


Summary: In this classic case of a child seeking attention during her parents’ divorce, Haslam and iconic Dallas lawyer Frank Jackson tried this felony to a jury in the summer of 2016. Mr. Torres was charged with illegally touching a granddaughter twice during family gatherings.  The jury took only an hour to acquit him after a three day trial.

The early teenage granddaughter actually admitted to a Dallas County District Attorney prosecutor two weeks before trial that she was “uncertain” her allegations had occurred.  While the prosecutor informed the defense of the admission, she didn’t inform the so-called expert who testified for the prosecution that the granddaughter exhibited many behaviors consistent with a sexual assault victim.  On cross examination, this “expert”, a woman with a college degree who routinely “testifies” for the Dallas County District Attorney, admitted the child should have been interviewed by her organization, the Dallas County Child Advocacy Center, after the admission because this kind of recantation is inconsistent with actual sexual assault. She further admitted that had she been made aware of this admission by the granddaughter, she would have told the prosecutor the young woman should be re-interviewed.

The case is just one more illustration of the reality that prosecutors can lose their commitment to truth in the blind devotion to career advancement. And an illustration of the value of experienced trial counsel.

Plea Bargain

CONSPIRACY TO DISTRIBUTE CONTROLLED SUBSTANCE

Criminal Charge: Conspiracy to Distribute Controlled Substance and Unlawful Use of a Communication Facility
Case: U.S. v. Tasmin Stewart [3:15-cr-44-D(22)][NDTX]
Result: Defendant sentenced to time served


Summary:

Mr. Stewart was charged in a two-count indictment for [i] conspiracy to distribute a controlled substance [oxycodone & hydrocodone] in violation of 21 U.S.C. 846, and [ii] unlawful use of a communication facility in violation of 21 U.S.C. 843[b].  The U.S. Attorney alleged he bought pills from a man engaged in a large-scale corruption of Texas health-care facilities.

While the allegations contended only a single purchase, conspiracy law casts a broad legal net that can make even someone who had no idea about the greater scheme nonetheless guilty of conspiring to advance the scheme. The use of a telecommunication facility statute criminalizes the use of devices as common as cell phones when used during the commission of a crime.

In this case, the DOJ dropped the much more serious conspiracy count.  However, the government sought the statutory maximum 48 month sentence for the remaining count phone count.

After a sentencing hearing that involved witnesses called to the stand and examined by Haslam before the federal judge, the Court sentenced Mr. Stewart to only 27 months in prison.  After the hearing, however, the government advised it expected Mr. Stewart to be held for a substantial amount of time before his release. Haslam promptly challenged this position, and persuaded the Bureau of Prisons that an accurate accounting of his time credits warranted immediate release.

Mr. Stewart was released from custody to just one year of supervised probation the day after his sentencing.