Tears on Our Steers
Your portrayal of Governor Perry is totally insulting. Whether you agree or disagree with his politics, he is the governor of our great state and, as such, deserves a measure of respect.
Shame on TEXAS MONTHLY for using a caricature drawn by some green-behind-the-ears illustrator from Massachusetts who obviously should have been kept in detention. The finger of choice for the reminder string was not an accident and is very offensive.
Jerry W. McCorkle
It was only a handful of months ago that TEXAS MONTHLY was scolding Yankees not to underestimate Rick Perry. I thank you for turning the corner with your Bum Steer cover. In the future I would recommend a bit more consideration before lending credence to someone who has done so much to undermine Texas’s middle class and educational system and who substitutes prayer for public policy.
The next time Anita tells Rick that God is calling for him to run for president, Rick needs to ask Anita to see if she can get it in writing.
Regarding the final Bum Steer of 2011—“Yes, I’m Looking for Section ‘B,’ Row ‘Um Steer’ ”—I don’t know if it was your intention to lay the Bum Steer on the Arlington Fire Department for closing off access to Super Bowl seats, but that’s certainly how it came across. The real Bum Steer in this situation lies elsewhere. Perhaps with Jerry Jones or the stadium management? Perhaps with the NFL or the Super Bowl committee that approved the temporary seats? Perhaps with the folks who bought those seats from scalpers? To my mind, the AFD was probably the only one on the ball in that fiasco, since, had people been hurt or killed, those headlines would have been significantly different. How about lauding the AFD as good people just doing their jobs or heroic public servants saving the day?
Justice for All
I have spent a considerable amount of time in my life fighting crime, serving in many different capacities at the state level, including chairing the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, and at the local level. I continue to do so as the chairman of Safer Dallas Better Dallas.
In a word, Pamela Colloff’s article “Hannah and Andrew” made me sick [January 2012]. Too much is too much. I had my name taken off the death row unit in Livingston because I feared that some of the people we were killing were innocent. The fact that there have been 21 people exonerated from Dallas alone seems to substantiate my feelings.
The story about Hannah Overton and Andrew Burd demonstrated the abuse and lack of fairness by prosecutors in many locations throughout Texas. I want all guilty parties to pay for crimes, but putting innocent people in prison by hiding facts and manipulation is criminal. This state needs to pass emergency legislation that provides for prosecution of district attorneys and their aides who hide exculpatory evidence and send innocent people to prison. There is no greater sin to your fellow man. We must stop this atrocity. Until the State of Texas provides for the criminalization of inappropriate and illegal activities of prosecutors, this problem will persist.
Charles T. Terrell
I don’t know if “Sketchy Characters,” by John Spong, and “Hannah and Andrew,” by Pamela Colloff, were published in the same issue purposely to draw a vivid contrast between how the criminal court functions for the rich versus the poor, but that was the net effect. Gary Myrick’s courtroom drawings were fascinating, but I noticed that in all but one case his “celebrity” subjects went free or nearly free. Famous lawyer Richard “Racehorse” Haynes was cited as the defense lawyer in most of the cases illustrated. Myrick comments that “trials aren’t a search for the truth. They’re a search for who puts on the best show.” And the best shows cost a lot of money to produce.
By contrast, the story of Hannah Overton is about a family of scant resources without the benefit of good/expensive legal counsel. Even the judge thought that capital murder was an inappropriately harsh charge against her. Exculpatory evidence recently discovered that had reportedly been suppressed at trial seems irrelevant. Capital murder! Life without parole! Throw away the key! Next!
Justice is expensive, not blind. Mortgage your house, sell a kidney, do whatever it takes to get a good lawyer, because once you get sucked into our vast prison system, your chance for justice has passed. You become one in a sea of self-proclaimed innocents on the inside, and you’re no longer heard nor seen. Maybe, just maybe, you’ll be featured in an article in a major publication, like TEXAS MONTHLY, that will result in public outrage or maybe embarrassment for a few important people and that will move the cogs of justice a notch. That notch will make all the difference.
Overton is being punished for the gaps and failures in our system, which deals with thousands of foster children annually, many of them suffering from syndromes and behavioral issues that are organic or the result of early maltreatment or lack of care. Overton is serving time not for what she did or failed to do but because she became a scapegoat for our society’s failure to address the needs of babies and children who require extra care and treatment.
If Governor Perry is looking for a means to prove his capacity, he will grant a pardon to Overton. He will also spearhead an investigation into the errors and omissions that characterized the trial. Despite so-called advances in social justice, technology, communications, and procedure, a witch hunt still looks and smells just like it did back in the 1700’s.
Mary E. Wambach
Editors’ Note: On February 8, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals ordered the trial court to reexamine Overton’s claims of innocence. An evidentiary hearing is due to be held within ninety days of this ruling.