Did I grow up on another planet? Was my education about the basics of a criminal trial, or even just the nature of plain old fairness, totally alien? Apparently so, when I read what the Texas Legislature is up to…
We here in the Texas state senate are voting to change a rule of evidence in criminal trials. Now, this wouldn’t be for every criminal trial, just a special kind of case, one where the defendant is accused of rape or sexual assault. Y’see, people accused of rape or sexual assault—not convicted or admitted rapists, mind you, but accused rapists—they are so clearly evil (evident by the fact that they have been accused) that we think our good God-fearing prosecutors deserve a little help inflaming the passions of connecting with the jury.
This bill would make it legal in rape and sexual assault cases for the state to present evidence to a jury—after the judge hears the evidence outside the presence of the jury and decides that it is relevant—that at some time in the past there had been similar allegations of rape or sexual assault made against this same defendant. Now, we’re not talking about telling the jury about a person’s record of criminal convictions during the punishment phase of the trial, after they already found the guy guilty of the new charge; that’s already in the law. No, we mean telling the jury before they reach a verdict in this case about any time in the past when the same defendant was ever even accused of a similar crime.
Now, just to be clear: we’re not saying the jury should know that this guy was once arrested, or indicted, or tried on a similar charge; that’s OK and all, but we mean we want it to be OK for the jury that hasn’t yet decided if this scumbag’s defendant’s guilty of this crime to be told if he was ever accused of any similar crime—doesn’t matter if he was never arrested, or indicted, or tried on the previous accusation.
You and I both know that there’s some of them whiny types (folks who came here from New York City, probably) who’d say we’re ignoring fundamental rights and revving up some kind of witch hunt, but they just don’t understand how we do things here in Texas, is all. We’re putting this together to go with a new package of laws we think’ll be good for Texas, stuff like:
Not getting all spun up about $27 billion in state budget “challenges” and starting the session off with having Governor Haircut declare that things like mandatory pre-abortion sonograms and outlawing sanctuary cities and demanding Congress pass a balanced budget amendment are emergencies, and need to go to the head of the legislative line; and
Making sure we get our money’s worth out of our lazy-ass liberal college professors by putting a premium on productivity and emphasizing more time in the classroom, not that egg-headed research they’re so keen on; and
Seeing to it that the long-suffering public servants in the Legislature get the treatment they deserve and can carry their concealed handguns in places like bars and amusement parks, places where we already decided it wouldn’t be safe to have everyone packing.
Any questions? Well, thanks for your attention.
These are my favorite stories about the Texas Legislature:
There was a “typo” when they wrote the state constitution back in 1876—they didn’t mean to have the legislature in session for 140 days every two years, they meant for it to be two days every 140 years.
In the 1970s the mayor of Austin, who was noted for an irreverent sense of humor, was holding his weekly news conference and a reporter idly mentioned, “Well, the Legislature’s coming back to town soon.” The mayor’s immediate response: “Lock up the kids and dogs!”