Wednesday, February 28, 2007

The Texas Castle Doctrine/Stand Your Ground Law Makes it Through Committee

Yesterday I drove down to Austin and attended the Criminal Jurisprudence Committee's public hearing on HB 284, the Texas Castle Doctrine/Stand Your Ground law. I went to be a part of the process in getting this legislation passed.

One of the first things I noticed when I arrived at the Capitol Building was the large number of AARP members. They were everywhere. The AARP had bussed them in from all over the state, dressed them in the same tee shirts and gave them small signs reading "Utility Reform Now". It is interesting that the AARP can generate enough interest to get hundreds of people to the legislature for the sole purpose of saving a couple of dollars on the monthly electricity bill, but when it comes to legislation that concerns basic freedoms and liberty, only a handful of folks show up.

You can watch a broadcast of the public hearing on HB 284 here. Be warned, the entire meeting lasted over 7 1/2 hours, but the portion concerning HB 284 is only the first 2 hours of the broadcast.

The first person to take the stand was Representative Driver. Rep. Driver is the author of HB 284, and I had a chance to meet and speak with him before and after the hearing. Rep. Driver introduced his bill and all seemed to be going well until they started taking about the "Committee Substitute" of the bill. It seems that an agreement was made earlier in the day with some of the members who had co-authored the bill, but were not happy with it's content. These changes were necessary to get the bill through the committee. Maybe, just maybe, I was not wrong after all.

The "Committee Substitute" has not yet been posted, but Rep. Driver spoke to it early in the broadcast. Basically there were 4 changes to the original bill, as I have not seen the exact wording, these are as I understood them from Rep. Driver's testimony:

1. Changed this wording "...unlawfully entered, or was attempting to enter unlawfully, the actor's habitation, vehicle, or place of business or employment" to clarify that in order for presumption to apply the unlawful entry must be forceful.

2. Added that the habitation, vehicle, or place of business must be occupied. In other words some members thought we would start shooting folks breaking into our vehicles at the mall parking lot.

3. Strikes the affirmative defense to civil action language. Instead provides the crime victim immunity from civil liability for personal injury or death that results from the lawful use of deadly force.

4. Removed this language: "COURT COSTS, ATTORNEY'S FEES, AND OTHER EXPENSES. A defendant who prevails in asserting the affirmative defense described by Section 83.001 may recover from the plaintiff all court costs, reasonable attorney's fees, earned income that was lost as a result of the suit, and other reasonable expenses."

I am going to have to read the Committee Substitute before I can comment. But at the moment I am very disappointed in item #4. The Texas Trial Lawyers Association was the driving force in items 3 and 4, their testimony thanking the committee for making the changes starts at 8:25 into the broadcast.

Carl Wood was next to testify. He is a regular citizen, a CHL holder and an Instructor. He made some very good points for the bill, and his testimony starts at 9:20.

Next to testify for the bill was Susan Buxton, you may better know her at the "Gun Toting Granny" from Arlington. Mrs. Buxton described her ordeal when she had to shoot an intruder in her home. She explained some of the legal aftermath of that shooting and mentioned one thing that I had not known, the goblin was never charged with any crime related to breaking in to her home. He will be getting out of prison in a couple of months on unrelated charges. Mrs. Buxtons testimony starts at 13:15. I had the opportunity to meet Mrs. Buxton after hearing, she is one neat person that I would like to get to know.

Following Mrs. Buxton was Deanna Eggleston (I am totally guessing on spelling, sorry). Ms. Eggleston related her encounter with an intruder late in the night. This man admitted to her that he had come to rape her. What prevented him from doing this was her .357. She did not shoot the goblin, and he was apprehended later. Her testimony starts at 32:35.

Rep. Peña pronounced my name correctly, most do not. I did not testify.

The first to testify against the bill was The Rev. Peter Johnson (youngest aid to Dr Martin Luther King). Rev. Johnson testified about a time when a civil rights worker was severely beaten, and dieing. The police would not allow the man to be taken to a hospital as he was a "nigger lover". Rev. Johnson mentioned that he grabbed a shotgun but was tackled by Andrew Young. Later Dr. King convinced him that violence was not the answer (oh by the way, the kid died). The Reverend never mentioned the Deacons of Defense and their contribution to civil rights. The Reverend also mentioned that he is involved with gun buy back programs in Dallas, he has
"bought back" over 3000 firearms. One statistic he mentioned that I found interesting is that 85% of the guns they purchase in the "buy back" program are stolen. That is 2550 stolen firearms. A thought crossed my mind when he mentioned this statistic. I wondered if the Reverend's gun buy back program was promoting crime in Dallas? If goblins were stealing firearms for the sole purpose of receiving money during the buy back? The Reverend's testimony was very heartfelt and honest. It starts at 39:45

The next testimony against the bill was a representative of the Harris County District Attorney's Office. His testimony starts at 47:00. You do have to view this part of the hearing. His testimony basically stated that the DA's office was against this bill because the presumption of innocence would be difficult for the prosecutor to overcome.

The Texas State Rifle Association was in attendance, but did not testify. I met with James Dark, the Executive Director of the TSRA, after the meeting and he indicated that votes were in to pass the bill on to the house.

The NRA did testify to counter the comments made by the Harris County ADA. Terra Micha (probably misspelled also) represented the NRA. If you are familiar with the Harris County DA's refusal to abide by the Texas Traveling Law, you will get a kick out of her testimony. It starts at time 1:03:50.

A couple of other county DA's testified against the bill, they basically echoed the Harris County ADA and mentioned blood in the streets due to bar fights. and drive by shootings. Totally off topic for this bill. When one of the committee members mentioned that the Dallas County DA was for the bill, the last DA testifying made the mistake of referencing the fact that the Dallas County DA was new and did not really know what he was doing. You will have to watch to see the reaction of the representatives from Dallas. Go to 1:31:15.

The last to testify against the bill was , Texas's very own representative of the Brady Bunch, Marsha McCartney. She pulled out the normal Brady routine and quoted the articles from Orlando and the New York Times that have been fisked left, right and sideways and have been proven to be mostly lies and misrepresentations. Her testimony starts at 1:33:10.

Representative Driver had the opportunity to rebut Marsha McCartney's misuse of facts and make a final statement. His final statement starts at 1:39:30.

The bill was passed on to the full body of the house with the committee's recommendation that it be passed. The vote was 5 to 3 for.

Voting for the bill were Rep's Peña, Vaught, Talton, Riddle, and Pierson.

Voting against the bill were Rep's Mallory-Caraway, Hodge and Moreno. It is interesting that Rep. Mallory-Caraway mentioned a couple of times the amount of email she had in support of the bill, and that the DA in her district was in support of the bill, but still voted against it.

If you would like to read a more concise version, the Dallas Morning News reports here.


AlanDP said...

It just figures that that scummy bunch from the TTLA would do something like that.

Fits said...

Good news mixed with intolerable news. Distressing to say the least. But we keep fighting and that's all a man can do.

PS: It isn't your fault of course, but the visual verification deal works one time in four.

John R said...

"PS: It isn't your fault of course, but the visual verification deal works one time in four."

I am a little slow this afternoon, you are going to have to explain that one to me.

Fits said...

To post a comment, one must type in the word verification deal. Blogger is infamous for not recognizing the correct sequence.

And now for my 5th attempt...

John R said...

And all this time I thought I just couldn't read the verification code.

Anonymous said...

Please read:

i've been in the news... I'm Carter Albrecht's girlfriend, and I hate this law... i want to fight to see it changed. It's ashame that no justice will be served for Carter...

Here's my open letter:

I want everyone to know:

-what a wonderful, talented loving man Carter is. A brilliant musician, but more importantly the most amazing man I've ever known.

I do not blame Chantix for his death. It explains his behavior, but not his death. I do think people should be made aware of warning signs of adverse reactions before they take Chantix.

Carter died from a bullet. Shot through a door that was half GLASS. The bullet was shot through glass. There was a motion light by the backdoor where he was shot. There were no dents or scuffs on the door where Carter was "banging."

I BLAME the CASTLE DOCTRINE for allowing anyone to kill someone by shooting through a window or door (glass or not), with no other reason than to claim, "I was scared."

What if Carter was asking for help? What if I had run nextdoor to ask for help, and banged on the door? Is it still okay to shoot me; if you're scared?

How late at night is too late to "bang" on someone's door? How loud does a "bang" on a door have to be before you can justify shooting the person on the other side?

Who shoots a warning shot through a well-lit glass backdoor at someone's head and then claims "I tried to aim high?" "I was scared."

Chantix is the only thing that makes any sense of Carter's behavior the night he was killed.

The real cause of his death, and the law that allows this makes none.

John R said...


My response to your comment is a bit long for the comments section of a post.

You can read it here:

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