An interesting older article on the Castle Law's enforcement in Texas
'Castle law' arms Texas homeowners with right to shoot
Does new law make them quicker to pull the trigger?
08:18 AM CST on Sunday, January 20, 2008
By MICHAEL E. YOUNG / The Dallas Morning News
Certainly the castle law has become a high-profile addition to the Texas statutes since it took effect Sept. 1, but police and the district attorneys association argue that it brought little substantial change.
While it appeared to apply to each of these cases, so did a batch of other laws, along with the tradition of Texas juries giving people every benefit of the doubt when protecting themselves, their families and their property.
None of these property owners was charged. Police referred a few cases to the Dallas County grand jury, which declined to indict. In others, police determined that the shootings were justified. . . .
Dallas police homicide investigators said they've yet to encounter a self-defense situation since the castle law took effect that would have been barred under previous laws.
"There may come a time when that's not the case," said Lt. Craig Miller. "But I would have to look at each of those under its own merits."
Shannon Edmonds, director of governmental relations for the Texas District and County Attorneys Association, said he didn't know of a single Texas case in which the castle law would have made a difference.
"The reality is Texas grand juries routinely no-billed deadly force cases under the old law, which was very lenient," he said. "Many of the cases that you read about center on defense of property laws, which were always very, very lenient in the use of deadly force.
"That's just how Texas is." . . .
91 year old man defends wife from criminal who has a gun pressed against her head
Ocoee man, 91, shoots at, repels home invaders who threatened his wife
Henry Pierson Curtis | Sentinel Staff Writer
December 25, 2008
Terror erupted in the Johnsons' heavily barred house on Lake Stanley Road shortly after 4 p.m. Tuesday as the couple watched TV news. She was sitting in her wheelchair. He was sitting nearby on the sofa.
That's when a stranger stepped through the back door.
"What are you doing? What are you doing?" Berlie Mae Johnson, 90, remembered asking as the man stepped on her shiny-clean tile floor. "By then, he had the gun to my head. I don't know what all I said."
The man ordered the couple: "Be quiet. Don't say a word. Don't move."
Overcome by shock and fear, Berlie Mae Johnson said she couldn't move as a second man wearing a stocking over his face started to come through a sliding-glass door from the backyard.
"It's terrible. You don't know what [they're] going to do. You expect at any moment . . ." she said, her voice breaking. "I can't hold up. My nerves are shot. He'd probably have killed me."
But the love of her life was ready.
Her husband, who goes by Johnny, had his stainless-steel Police Special revolver tucked under a cushion on the sofa. He has been protective, she said, ever since they met at a Church of God service in Cocoa during the Great Depression.
"You don't think, man. You do what you have to do," Johnson said of how he grabbed his revolver as the second intruder entered. "He saw the gun and, boy, he was gone."
Shifting his aim, Johnson fired at the man still holding a gun to his wife's head.
"I shot as plain in his middle as I could have," said Johnson, describing how the man jumped and ran out the door. "I think I missed."
Orange County deputy sheriffs began arriving within three minutes of Johnson's 911 call. The response was delayed slightly because the home invaders tore out the Johnsons' telephone, so Johnson had to walk next door to call for help.
A K-9 tracked the home invaders' scent until it disappeared through a neighborhood on the south shore of Lake Stanley. Local hospital emergency rooms were notified to be on the lookout for a man suffering from an unexplained bullet wound.
Johnson bought his revolver for protection decades ago. A former citrus grove manager and plumber, Johnson said, "I'm still active. I still garden. We want to get a message out to other people. Be prepared. Keep your doors locked. And be alert."
His wife added, "And have a gun ready." . . .
Texas: "Police investigating deadly shooting that could fall under 'Castle Law'"
07:31 PM CST on Sunday, December 28, 2008
By JESSICA VESS / KVUE News
Police investigate a deadly shooting that could fall under the State’s so-called “Castle Law”.
Police are not saying much right now because they are still investigating the invasion, but we do know that the suspected burglar was shot and killed. It happened at a home about an hour northeast of Austin in Cameron.
Milam County Sheriff's deputies got a call around two this morning about the shooting of a home intruder.
Deputies found suspected burglar, 34-year-old Eddie Sexton III, dead.
No charges are filed yet, but the case could be the latest in a string of Castle Law defenses.
The law which was passed last September by Texas lawmakers gives homeowners the right to shoot an intruder - but there are boundaries.
It's still unclear whether or not the homeowner is the one who shot and killed Sexton this morning.
Deputies say the investigation will go to a grand jury. That group will decide if charges should be filed.
That is the way all Castle Doctrine defenses are handled. . . .
See also a related story in Colorado that has gotten a lot of national and international attention here:
Mistaken for thief, man gunned down
Comments 247 | Recommend 24
December 29, 2008 - 4:01 PM
SUE McMILLIN and BILL VOGRIN
COLORADO SPRINGS — . . . .
Colorado Springs police spokesman Lt. David Whitlock said residents of the Virginia Avenue house made a 911 call and reported that someone was trying to break into the house.
One of the residents confronted Kennedy at the back door and fired a handgun at least once, Whitlock said. He said the two people inside the home did not know Kennedy.
He declined to name the residents or to provide additional information.
"We're doing timeline work now to see what brought these people together," Whitlock said. He characterized the shooting as an "unfortunate situation" and said police will turn their investigation over to the District Attorney's Office to determine whether charges will be filed.
The El Paso County Coroner's Office said an autopsy is scheduled today. . . .
Here is an additional story:
New Details In Springs Shooting
Updated: Jan 1, 2009 09:54 AM
KRDO News Channel 13, Colorado Springs
COLORADO SPRINGS - New information have come to light about the shooting death of a 22-year-old Colorado Springs man who may have been mistaken for an intruder.
It now appears the victim, Sean Kennedy, had broken a window and was trying to get inside a back door when he was shot and killed by the homeowner Sunday night.
An Associated Press story that starts out being critical of those who shot the intruder has this information towards the end:
David Webster, a defense attorney and former prosecutor, said it's still unclear whether the "Make My Day" law will apply to this case.
"It gets murky if the door is broken but not open," he said. Prosecutors also must consider whether Kennedy was warned before being shot.
The occupants of the house called police to report that they believed a burglary was occurring. Police have not said how long after the call that shots were fired.
"The time frame will be key," Webster said. "It sounds like they were trying to do the right thing and get law enforcement there." . . .
Kennedy's house has a wooden privacy fence in the backyard, while the home where he was shot has a chain-link fence. His friends said he was in no condition to notice the difference after an evening of drinking and watching the Denver Broncos game at a friend's house.
From the Denver Post: The man's father described the situation this way:
"He had had too much to drink, as boys that age will do, and he apparently went to the wrong house, rang the doorbell and went to the back door and was pounding pretty aggressively, I guess, to wake up his roommates," Grant Kennedy said. "I guess the people inside were fearful of him. It's just a tragedy." . . .
Budget cut in Wilkes-Barre, PA stops issuance of CCW permits
WILKES-BARRE — Luzerne County Sheriff Michael A. Savokinas on Friday said his office will not accept gun permit applications until Jan. 19 because of staff cuts that went into effect Wednesday.
On Jan. 19, gun permit applications will be accepted Monday and Wednesday from noon to 8 p.m. only, Savokinas said. On Tuesday, Savokinas said the staff cuts prevent him from providing “adequate courtroom security or the timely transportation of prisoners” to the courthouse.
Savokinas said anyone who has received notice that a gun permit is available for pick-up this can do so Monday, Jan. 5, through Friday, Jan. 9, from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. Gun permit hours had been 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesday, according to the county Web site.
The sheriff’s main office is at the courthouse annex at Jackson and North River streets in Wilkes-Barre. In 2008, the sheriff’s office received 2,331 gun permit applications, about 44 a day, Savokinas said.
Three full-time employees in the sheriff’s office were laid off Wednesday, because $65,900 was cut from the sheriff’s allocation for salaries. The 2009 budget also eliminates $120,000 in funding for 24 per-diem employees in the office. . . .
Filibuster Threatened over Franken
Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) threatened Friday to filibuster any attempt to seat Democratic Minnesota Senate candidate Al Franken next week.
The newly minted National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) chairman said he had not whipped votes in the GOP caucus, but added that he could not imagine any members defecting and seating Franken without a certificate of election.
Franken will not have that certificate as long as the election is challenged in the courts — a likely scenario, with Sen. Norm Coleman’s (R-Minn.) legal team already attacking the credibility of the recount process.
“This is a very, very serious matter,” Cornyn said. “I can assure you that there will be no way that people on our side of the aisle will agree to seat any senator without a valid certificate.”
Some have suggested that Franken could be seated provisionally, which would allow for any court challenges to play out and potentially change the outcome.
But since Minnesota state law won’t provide Franken a certificate of election with an election contest pending, seating Franken could be a risky and difficult proposition.
Franken leads the race by 49 votes with all challenged ballots resolved, but Coleman’s campaign is attempting to include about 650 improperly rejected absentee ballots from areas friendly to the incumbent.
That would be on top of about 1,350 improperly rejected absentees already designated by recount officials.
Beyond that, Coleman is expected to take up a legal challenge to the result.
Cornyn, a former Texas Supreme Court judge, suggested Friday that the case could go to the Minnesota Supreme Court or beyond. . . .
Should Students be encouraged to take brainpower boosting drugs?
Students should be allowed to take “smart drugs”, such as Ritalin, to help boost their academic performance, a leading academic has suggested.
John Harris, professor of bioethics and director of the Institute for Science, Ethics and Innovation at the University of Manchester, said the government and medical profession should “seriously consider” making cognition-enhancing drugs available to students without prescription, or allowing them to be prescribed for non-therapeutic purposes, such as studying.
Students have long used drugs to boost their study performance. Caffeine and ginseng are traditional favourites. But recently the use of more powerful, restricted drugs, particularly the anti-hyperactivity medicine Ritalin, has spread from campuses in the US.
Currently such drugs are available only on prescription. Although many students buy them on the internet, their use without a prescription is a criminal offence.
But Professor Harris, joint Editor-in-Chief of The Journal of Medical Ethics, said that serious consideration should now be given to making some of them available on prescription for non-medical reasons, specifically for the purpose of enhancing cognitive performance.
There was now a sizeable body of evidence to show that stimulants such as Ritalin, Provigil and Adderall significantly improve concentration and performance and their side effects were proportional to their benefits, he said. . . . .
The Sun and Temperature, also wacky Obama advisor
Global thermometers stopped rising after 1998, and have plummeted in the last two years by more than 0.5 degrees Celsius. The 2007-2008 temperature drop was not predicted by global climate models. But it was predictable by a decline in sunspot activity since 2000.
When the sun is active, it's not uncommon to see sunspot numbers of 100 or more in a single month. Every 11 years, activity slows, and numbers briefly drop near zero. Normally sunspots return very quickly, as a new cycle begins. But this year, the start of a new cycle, the sun has been eerily quiet.
The first seven months averaged a sunspot count of only three and in August there were no sunspots at all — zero — something that has not occurred since 1913.
According to the publication Daily Tech, in the past 1,000 years, three previous such events — what are called the Dalton, Maunder and Sporer Minimums — have all led to rapid cooling. One was large enough to be called the Little Ice Age (1500-1750). . . .
In a speech at Harvard last November, Harvard physicist John Holden, President-elect Obama's choice to be his science adviser as director of the White House Office of Science and Technology, presented a "top 10" list of warming solutions.
Topping the list was "limiting population," as if man was a plague upon the earth. This is a major tenet of green dogma that bemoans the fact that the pestilence called mankind comes with cars, factories and overconsumption of fossil fuels and other resources.
R. Timothy Patterson, professor of geology and director of the Ottawa-Carleton Geoscience Centre of Canada's Carleton University, says: "I and the first-class scientists I work with are consistently finding excellent correlations between the regular fluctuations of the sun and earthly climate. This is not surprising. The sun and the stars are the ultimate source of energy on this planet." . . .
Limiting human population is something that has been advocated at least since Thomas Malthus. The reason I list the Obama advisor as "wacky" is that this notion has been proven wrong time and time again (many entire books have been written on this). With respect to the environment, man's share of global warming gases is so small and global warming gases are such a small share of total reason that temperatures are changing, it is hard to believe that anyone thinks that we need to change world population. More importantly, world population growth is already slowing fairly dramatically simply due to economics. It is also pretty disappointing that Obama's advisor is advocating such a wacky "solution."
MN Secretary of State's Office Had Multiple mistakes in their listing of ballot decisions
If a company did this, wouldn't it be called bankruptcy?
If you expect you'll be getting a refund from California when you file your 2008 state income tax return, be prepared: you may instead receive a "registered warrant." Translation: an IOU.
California is rapidly running out of money. Blame it on the state budget deficit that continues to bleed billions of dollars from California's reserves. Facing inadequate credit to make up the difference, California's Controller John Chiang warns that by the end of February, the nation's most populous state may not be able to pay some of its debts, and instead be reduced to issuing those creditors IOUs.
"My office has projected that, in approximately 60 days, there will be insufficient cash available to meet all expenditures reflected in the 2008-09 Budget Act," stated a Tuesday letter from Controller Chiang to the directors of all state agencies. "To ensure that the State can meet its obligations to schools, debt service, and others entitled to payment under the State Constitution, federal law, or court order. California may begin, as early as February 1, 2009, issuing registered warrants...commonly referred to as IOUs...to individuals and entities in lieu of regular payments." . . .
Northern Ireland Environment minister thinks that "man-made climate change is a con"
Spending billions on trying to reduce carbon emissions is one giant con that is depriving third world countries of vital funds to tackle famine, HIV and other diseases, Sammy Wilson said.
The DUP minister has been heavily criticised by environmentalists for claiming that ongoing climatic shifts are down to nature and not mankind.
But while acknowledging his views on global warming may not be popular, the East Antrim MP said he was not prepared to be bullied by eco fundamentalists.
“I’ll not be stopped saying what I believe needs to be said about climate change,” he said.
"Most of the people who shout about climate change have not read one article about it
“I think in 20 years’ time we will look back at this whole climate change debate and ask ourselves how on earth were we ever conned into spending the billions of pounds which are going into this without any kind of rigorous examination of the background, the science, the implications of it all. Because there is now a degree of hysteria about it, fairly unformed hysteria I’ve got to say as well. . . .
Thanks to William Sjostrom for point out that Wilson is in Northern Ireland.
Government Control of Newspapers?
NEW YORK (Reuters) - Connecticut lawmaker Frank Nicastro sees saving the local newspaper as his duty. But others think he and his colleagues are setting a worrisome precedent for government involvement in the U.S. press.
Nicastro represents Connecticut's 79th assembly district, which includes Bristol, a city of about 61,000 people outside Hartford, the state capital. Its paper, The Bristol Press, may fold within days, along with The Herald in nearby New Britain.
That is because publisher Journal Register, in danger of being crushed under hundreds of millions of dollars of debt, says it cannot afford to keep them open anymore.
Nicastro and fellow legislators want the papers to survive, and petitioned the state government to do something about it. "The media is a vitally important part of America," he said, particularly local papers that cover news ignored by big papers and television and radio stations.
To some experts, that sounds like a bailout, a word that resurfaced this year after the U.S. government agreed to give hundreds of billions of dollars to the automobile and financial sectors.
Relying on government help raises ethical questions for the press, whose traditional role has been to operate free from government influence as it tries to hold politicians accountable to the people who elected them. Even some publishers desperate for help are wary of this route.
Providing government support can muddy that mission, said Paul Janensch, a journalism professor at Quinnipiac University in Connecticut, and a former reporter and editor.
"You can't expect a watchdog to bite the hand that feeds it," he said.
The state's Department of Economic and Community Development is offering tax breaks, training funds, financing opportunities and other incentives for publishers, but not cash. . . . .
Does the fact that they get all these subsidies in non-cash forms really matters at all? What is the difference between tax breaks and giving the publishers some cash?
Brady Campaign Sues to Stop Concealed Weapons in Federal Parks
WASHINGTON -- An anti-gun group is suing to stop a last-second Bush administration change that would allow Americans to carry concealed, loaded guns in most national parks and wildlife refuges.
The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence sued the Interior Department in federal court on Tuesday.
They want a federal judge to stop the elimination of a 25-year-old federal rule severely restricting loaded guns in national parks.
The previous regulation required that firearms be unloaded and placed somewhere that is not easily accessible, such as inside a car trunk. But in January, visitors will be able to carry a loaded gun into a park or wildlife refuge if the person has a concealed weapon permit and if state law also allows concealed firearms.
Gun control groups' letter to college and university administrators
Are corporate officers paid too much?
You want to know how skittish Apple investors are and how little conviction they have in the company, or trust in its message, look no further than today's Gizmodo rumor fiasco.
The blog reports a serious decline in Steve Jobs' health as the real reason for his decision to pull out of the Macworld tradeshow keynote address, and the stock tanks. Apple shares [AAPL 86.29 -0.32 (-0.37%) ] had spent the day in the green before these headlines hit the tape, and then promptly turned red.
Never mind the Gizmodo report was flimsy at best. Never mind the blog seemed to distance itself from its own report. Traders and their hair triggers swiftly yelled "Sell!" — and rumor overshadowed reason once again.
I spoke to Apple after these headlines crossed and the company, which officially doesn't comment on rumors, reiterated the reasons it offered two weeks ago: Apple was pulling out of Macworld because the company didn't see the need to continue its investment in the expo, which included Steve Jobs' keynote. . . .
Could one imagine the drop if investors thought that the report might have a reasonable probability of being true?
Republicans disowning Bush Bailouts
Republican Party officials say they will try next month to pass a resolution accusing President Bush and congressional Republican leaders of embracing "socialism," underscoring deep dissension within the party at the end of Mr. Bush's administration.
Those pushing the resolution, which will come before the Republican National Committee at its January meeting, say elected leaders need to be reminded of core principles. They said the RNC must take the dramatic step of wading into policy debates, which traditionally have been left to lawmakers.
"We can't be a party of small government, free markets and low taxes while supporting bailouts and nationalizing industries, which lead to big government, socialism and high taxes at the expense of individual liberty and freedoms," said Solomon Yue, an Oregon member and co-sponsor of a resolution that criticizes the U.S. government bailouts of the financial and auto industries. Republican National Committee Vice Chairman James Bopp Jr. wrote the resolution and asked the rest of the 168 voting members to sign it. . . .
More on the inconsistent rulings by the Minnesota Canvassing Board
After examining some of the ballots, I’m concerned. Although voter intent seems clear in a large majority of the ballots, in a number of instances the board’s judgments seem inconsistent in a way that favors Franken.
Inspect, for example, sample ballots posted on the Web site of the Minneapolis Star Tribune newspaper. In Minnesota, most ballots require voters to make their choices by filling in circles, like the Scholastic Aptitude Test. The darkened circles are then scanned by a counting machine.
One sample ballot shows a filled-in circle for John McCain and Sarah Palin, indicating the voter’s intent to select the Republican candidates. In the Senate race, the circle next to Norm Coleman’s names is filled in, but there is a faint X through it. This might suggest that the voter intended to cross out, or negate, the vote cast for Coleman. Or it might indicate that the voter made an extra scribble when filling in the circle. That is why the ballot was disputed. In this case, the panel ruled that the vote wasn’t for Coleman because the X indicates intent to cancel the darkened circle.
This decision is defensible. If there is an X there, then perhaps the voter didn’t intend to vote for Coleman.
Consider the next ballot, though, which is almost identical except for two changes. First, the filled-in circle that is crossed out is a potential vote for Franken. Second, the X is much larger and more obvious. And what did the canvassing board decide? It is a vote for Franken.
Calling that ballot a vote for Franken is possible in isolation. But taken together, the two decisions are at odds.
This isn’t, it is important to note, evidence of wrongdoing by the board. Any group of individuals making thousands of decisions is bound to make some that are contradictory in retrospect. But at the very least, the appearances are troubling, and the decisions appear by my reading of the ballots to favor Franken. . . . .
Reminder of what I was writing last week.
An amusing Cartoon
Horror story on waiting for medical care in Britain
A father-of-two died after a six-hour wait to be seen at an A&E department - despite having a note from his GP saying he must be treated immediately.
Stewart Fleming, 37, turned up at his local casualty unit with wife Sarah clutching a note from his doctor saying he must be seen 'straight away'.
But instead of being sent to the head of the queue, Mr Fleming had to sit and wait in agony as his organs collapsed as a virus ravaged his body. . . .
What the loss from melting ice means
the U.S. Climate Change Science Program . . . , which coordinates the efforts of 13 different federal climate agencies, has released updated figures estimating combined ice loss from Antarctica and Greenland at 48 cubic miles per year . . . .
those 48 cubic miles, when spread out over the planet's 139 million square miles of ocean, works out to a sea level rise of only 2.1 inches per century. . . .
Wisconsin starting to Issue Gun Permits to Retired Officers
The Wisconsin Department of Justice has issued 15 concealed-weapons permits to retired agents, the only former state police officers to receive the privilege.
MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- The Wisconsin Department of Justice has issued 15 concealed-weapons permits to retired agents, the only former state police officers to receive the privilege.
Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen said he hopes the decision will show other state agencies they can do the same, as allowed under a 2004 federal law. But most haven't issued permits because they say the state hasn't listed consistent standards to do so. . . .
Caroline Kennedy explains why she is not part of the "system"
"I'm really coming into this as somebody who isn't, you know, part of the system, who obviously, you know, stands for the values of, you know, the Democratic Party," Kennedy told the Daily News Saturday during a wide-ranging interview.
"I know how important it is to, you know, to be my own person. And, you know, and that would be obviously true with my relationship with the mayor." . . .
Not part of the system? Well, you know . . . .
Even in Sweden Voters Oppose Temporary Government Control of Car Companies
Do you support or oppose the Swedish state taking temporary control of automakers Volvo and Saab?
Not sure 15%
Methodology: Telephone interviews to 1,000 Swede adults, conducted from Dec. 10 to Dec. 15, 2008. No margin of error was provided.
Did Obama "unwittingly" help Blagojevich's corruption efforts?
Reform Law Might Have Aided Blagojevich Scheme
A 2003 Illinois Good-Governance Measure Supported by Obama Apparently Backfired in Hospital-Construction Scandal
By JOHN R. EMSHWILLER and CHRISTOPHER COOPER
DECEMBER 27, 2008
President-elect Barack Obama helped enact an Illinois good-government reform measure while serving as a state senator in 2003 that appeared to inadvertently have aided Gov. Rod Blagojevich in an alleged corruption scheme involving hospital construction. . . . .
There is no indication that President-elect Obama was involved in any hospital board wrongdoing. But his role in the legislation shows how he became a useful, though apparently unwitting, ally to Mr. Blagojevich's alleged schemes, sometimes conducted under the "reform" slogan that both men regularly invoked. . . . .