Of all the exotic and fun animals to get loose in Texas, this latest one might just be the most adorable. On Wednesday, a “tame” kangaroo named Lucy escaped her home and was apprehended by the Hood County Sheriff’s Department, which had a relatively easy time getting her back safe.
Mouthful — Despite our execution rate, our criminal justice system is getting a bit, er, bite(?) better. The Texas Forensic Science Commission is expected to rule on Friday that bite mark evidence is inadmissible in a court room. It’s a “move that could resonate across courts nationwide,” writes the Austin American-Statesman. “The panel doesn’t have the power to ban it altogether, but its decision is likely to influence judges and prosecutors in Texas, and it could have a ripple effect in other states.” As the Associated Press noted, “At least two dozen men convicted or charged with murder or rape based on bite marks have been exonerated nationwide since 2000. There is no scientific proof that teeth can be definitively matched to human skin, and critics say it is long overdue that the practice joins other discredited evidence such as bullet-lead analysis and microscopic hair analysis.” The study of bite marks has been thoroughly criticized, with pretty shady practices of the testing technique documented thoroughly by criminal justice reporters. Texas Monthly‘s own Mike Hall has a great look at the issue from the October issue that is necessary reading on the subject.
Crystal Cleaning — So what’s going on with Crystal City, perhaps one of the most corrupt cities in all of Texas? The Texas Tribune focuses on seemingly the lone sane voice on the city council, Joel Barajas, and things have not been easy for him. Barajas is the only city council member not in trouble with the FBI, which arrested the mayor and others last week during a raid at dawn. The way Barajas describes it to the Tribune, the town had a classic good ol’ boy system: “He says his colleagues froze him out from the moment he took office nine months ago. The council veterans didn’t like anyone — inside or outside the government — asking questions about the way they ran the city,” according to the piece. “They refused to share basic public records, like budgeting figures, said Barajas, who runs a fire extinguisher business for his day job. He even had to fight for a copy of the city charter. Sometimes, he was the only one to show up for public meetings.” It’s been a rough few years for citizens of the town who want an honest local government, but the piece finds a surprisingly positive outlook of the citizens after the town hit rock bottom: a judge approved the signatures for an actual recall effort on Tuesday, but there’s still a long road ahead. As the story notes, “Barajas still has no power. The indicted officials remain in office. Residents are trying to force his hand through the recall effort, now restarted.” Isn’t Democracy great?
Bad Mentors — It seems Texas university campuses just can’t seem to get it together. Putting aside Baylor’s shockingly terrible failure to properly address sexual assaults (including another student who came forward saying she was ignored), A&M now has the attention of national media thanks to the alleged racist behavior of its students. “About 60 juniors from Uplift Hampton Preparatory in Red Bird were visiting A&M on Tuesday when they were reportedly approached by students who shouted slurs at them,” writes the Dallas Morning News. According to one eyewitness statement, “the confrontation began when a white woman approached two black Uplift students and asked their opinion of her Confederate flag earrings.” While that’s kinda curious, the alleged response by officials was tone-deaf. “[State Senator Royce] West said a campus officer initially said the A&M students were expressing their First Amendment rights. Campus police responded, and an investigation is being conducted.” Obviously, everyone associated with A&M currently in the public eye is condemning the harassment, and as expected, those looking for “justice” want to see kids expelled from an institution of higher knowledge. Such is Texas campus life in 2016.