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Sunday, October 27, 2013

David Berg's "Run, Brother, Run"'; Texas Judged De-Benched; W. Texas Lawyer on Trial for Money Laundering

David Berg may be the greatest trial lawyer the average "man on the street" has never heard of. He in in his early 70's now, still a practicing trial lawyer and a successful author. His firm is based in Houston, with offices in Washington DC and New York City. He argued and won a free speech case at the Supreme Court at the tender age of 27. The American Bar Association published his book "The Trial Lawyer: What It Takes to Win," which costs $75 and is worth every penny. I go back to it every time I am preparing for trial.

Berg has a new book, Run, Brother, Run published by Schribner, that is part memoir of growing up Jewish in the redneck South of the 1950's, a murder mystery, and a trial story. He worshipped his older brother, Alan, who was murdered in 1968, his body dumped in a drainage ditch in Fort Bend County. David and Alan's father was cheated out of thousands of dollars by people claiming to have information - Alan was alive in Mexico, or Chicago, or somewhere else. The father hired a big name private investigator and former HPD homicide cop named Claude Harrelson, who quickly came close to "solving" the case, reporting that Alan had been murdered over a gambling debt, and the general location of the body. Apparently he didn't think he got enough money, because he never found the body. In fact, he did know where it was, because his brother was Charles Harrelson, a notorious hitman, who later assassinated U.S. District Judge "Maximum John" Wood in San Antonio.

Six months after Alan went missing, an honest investigator found the body, and id'd the killer. Harrelson hired Percy Foreman, then the most successful and famous lawyer in the country. If any lawyer deserves to be in the Judges and Lawyers Hall of Shame, it's Foreman. I don't want to give too much away, but if you want to see the criminal "justice" system at its sleaziest, you have to read this book. In a tight case, he could always call on a stable of "reserve" witnesses who could give the defendant an alibi. Writing of his father, whose feud with a former employee in a carpet selling business may have been the real reason for Alan's murder, Berg says, "We often conspire with our memories to make things come out as we want, not as they did."

My only criticism of the book is that Mr. Berg almost idolizes Richard "Racehorse" Haynes, who wanted to assist the incompetent district attorney prosecute Harrelson. There are reasonable people who think Haynes will do whatever it takes. For example, read Gary Cartwright's "Blood Will Tell: the Murder Trials of T. Cullen Davis," where he describes how Haynes co-counsel Phil Burleson's "witness factory" "found" a surprise witness who saw a man - not Davis - dressed in black sneaking up to the mansion where a 12 year old girl was executed, her mother shot, a man killed and another paralyzed for life.

If you go to Texas Criminal Defense Lawyers Assoc. annual convention, lawyers like Foreman, Haynes, and Gerry Spence are worshipped like gods. I've heard Haynes do what is in effect a standup comedy routine a number of times, always the same stories, several about his great friend Percy Foreman. Like the one where Haynes represented Foreman in a personal injury case, and Foreman got caught lying that he had never had back pain until the wreck, and the defense lawyer pulled out a stack of medical records where Foreman had been hospitalized for back injuries. When Haynes told the jury that Foreman didn't remember because he was getting senile, Foreman jumped up and called him a son of a bitch. The crowd of adoring lawyers loved the story about the two colorful old trial lawyer legends.

Notwithstanding my minor criticism, Run, Brother, Run gets 5 out of five stars. It took courage to write it.

Texas judge forced to resign after caught texting instructions to assistant DA during trial
Elizabeth E. Coker may forever be known as the "texting judge," but her notoriety will soon be all that is left of her days on the bench of the 258th District Court of Polk, Trinity, and San Jacinto Counties. Coker signed an "AGREEMENT TO RESIGN FROM JUDICIAL OFFICE IN LIEU OF DISCIPLINARY ACTION" with the State Commission on Judicial Conduct…
The agreement comes in the wake of a recent investigation revealing Coker texted instructions from the bench to a Polk County Assistant District Attorney who was assisting in the prosecution of a case in Coker's court.

Houston couple suing Carnival over stranded ship were never on the ship
Last week, attorney John Bruster Loyd filed a lawsuit on behalf of his clients Luke Cash and Ami "Summer" Gallagher stating that that couple had been aboard Carnival Cruise Lines' ill-fated Triumph excursion in February.

An engine-room fire on the Triumph left 3,100 passengers stranded at sea for days with limited food and toilet service, quickly becoming a media and business problem for the cruise line.

The only problem is that the couple wasn't aboard the Triumph.

Carnival weighed in on the suit that the Cash couple is bringing to their doorstep, with spokesperson de la Cruz saying in a statement that the cruise liner is baffled as to why they are even suing Carnival.

"That this lawsuit was filed, alleging the plaintiffs suffered injury and mental anguish during a cruise they weren’t even on, is truly shameful and reprehensible. Further, the fact that the suit also alleges misrepresentation and fraud is quite ironic."

Ex-Texas soldier sentenced in child abuse case
SAN ANTONIO (AP) — An ex-Texas soldier who blamed post-traumatic stress disorder for sexually assaulting a 3-year-old boy has been sentenced to 30 years in federal prison.

Former Army Sgt. Wade Allen Perkins acknowledged to authorities that he coerced his girlfriend, also a former soldier, into sex acts with the child.

The San Antonio Express-News reports (http://bit.ly/16ag6Lt ) that at a sentencing hearing Friday in San Antonio, Chief U.S. District Judge Fred Biery said he wished he could have given Perkins more time for the production of child pornography charge.

Testimony ends in Texas lawyer's laundering trial
EL PASO, Texas (AP) — Testimony ended Friday in the trial of a West Texas lawyer and former Carnegie Mellon University trustee accused of conspiring to launder drug money, and closing arguments are scheduled for Monday.

Marco Antonio Delgado is accused of devising a scheme to launder up to $600 million for a Mexican drug cartel in 2007 and 2008.

Delgado testified on Thursday and Friday, saying he never knew the funds he handled were illegal. Prosecutors argue he conspired with Lilian De La Concha, the ex-wife of former Mexican president Vicente Fox Quesada, and others to launder money for the now disbanded Milenio cartel.

3 jailers quit for smuggling drugs to inmates
CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas (AP) — The Nueces County sheriff says three of his jailers have quit after an investigation shows they were smuggling synthetic marijuana to inmates at the jail in Corpus Christi.

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