Monday, June 27, 2022 Jun 27, 2022
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Leading Off (12/10/21)

That new Mach-Hommy is a gift, isn't it?
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Elizabeth Frizell Is Again Running for D.A. She’s trying again after losing to John Creuzot in 2018, a race she alleged in a lawsuit was tainted by voter fraud. (That lawsuit was thrown out.) That race was intense and closely contested; Creuzot squeaked by with 589 more votes. The ACLU came down to canvas and the controversial activist Shaun King threw his questionable fundraising network behind Frizell, who was in a race to out-progressive the future district attorney. It will be interesting to see how narrow the race is this time around.

Mesquite Officer Laid to Rest. Ofc. Richard Lee Houston was shot and killed in an Albertson’s parking lot a week ago. His funeral was held Thursday in Rockwall, in which his 18-year-old daughter—one of three of his children—told those who gathered about the support her father offered as she was preparing to preach for the first time and reflected on his life beyond work.

Tamales May Be Hard to Find. I actually have no idea from this NBC 5 story, which quotes a single Oak Cliff restaurant owner saying he can’t find the corn necessary to make the tamales. It’s apparently not a problem in Houston. I will ask the local tamale king and Councilman Jesse Moreno, who has been quiet on this issue.

Bonton Farms Launches Capital Campaign. The South Dallas urban farm is looking to raise about $12 million to add a village of tiny homes, a bank or other financial institution, and a clinic near its location adjacent to the Buckeye Trail on Bexar Street. Mayor Eric Johnson helped kick things off with a speech yesterday, which was attended by a couple dozen folks. Our Kathy Wise has a giant check to present after dominating a gingerbread house competition for charity at the Arboretum—look for more info on that shortly.

R.I.P. Larry Baraka. The county’s first Black district judge died on Monday at the age of 71. Prior to that, he became the county’s first Black felony prosecutor in 1978 before becoming a defense attorney, making an impression with prominent folks like Creuzot. Baraka also stood alone in pushing for a new trial in the case of Randall Dale Adams, immortalized in Errol Morris’ documentary The Thin Blue Line that basically proved he was innocent of killing a police officer. Here is a solid excerpt from a profile in 1990:

“A lot of lawyers don’t like him,” says one prominent criminal defense attorney. “He sometimes seems arrogant, like he doesn’t listen. He always seems to be in a hurry. It’s hard to know what to expect in his courtroom. He is kind of independent and unpredictable.”

Voters know Baraka best as the judge who granted convicted murderer Randall Dale Adams a new hearing when no one else would. The case is typical of his style.

The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals had refused to hear arguments on behalf of Adams, who was the subject of a controversial movie, The Thin Blue Line. Federal courts and other criminal district court judges had upheld Adams’s conviction for killing a Dallas police officer. But when defense lawyers approached Baraka, the judge agreed to review evidence that Adams did not receive a fair trial.

After three days of hearings in December of 1988, Baraka recommended a new trial. Adams was not adequately defended in the original trial, Baraka concluded, and prosecutors deliberately withheld evidence suggesting Adams was innocent. District Attorney John Vance publicly scorched Baraka for his role in the Adams case. Eventually, though. Vance decided not to retry the case, and Adams went free after twelve years behind bars.

As Baraka sees it, Adams’s dilemma was but one example of a Texas attitude that values punishment more highly than justice. “People say we need to be tough on crime. 1 say we are tough. We give out life like it was lunch. Part of the problem Texas has is we have too many people going to the penitentiary, and not the right ones.”

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