: The Blawgraphy
Life of a Law Student, University of Houston Law Center

Please note: I'm no longer updating this particular blog, but keep it around for archival purposes. Visit me at the current blog at

Writ Writer on PBS Independent Lens

The PBS series Independent Lens features the documentary Writ Writer featuring jailhouse lawyer Fred Cruz.

By most measures, Cruz was an ordinary criminal. But in prison he studied law in order to file an appeal of his conviction and 50-year prison sentence. Before long the harsh field labor, brutal corporal punishments and arbitrary disciplinary hearings experienced by prisoners prompted Cruz to file lawsuits against the prison system. He was classified as an agitator and transferred to the Ellis Unit—“the Alcatraz of Texas”—a maximum-security prison overseen by C.L. McAdams, the most feared warden in Texas.

Under pressure from McAdams and his guards to drop his lawsuits, Cruz was subjected to long periods in solitary confinement on a bread and water diet. Despite the isolation and confiscation of his legal papers, he managed to help other prisoners with lawsuits. In 1968, when an inmate was caught with legal papers prepared by Cruz for Muslim prisoners who alleged that their civil rights were being violated by prison authorities, tensions mounted and came to blows. The uprising that ensued drew the attention of outsiders, including attorneys Frances Jalet and William Bennett Turner, who assisted in Cruz’s watershed case, Cruz v. Beto.

Told by wardens, convicts and former prisoners who knew Cruz, WRIT WRITER weaves contemporary and archival film footage to evoke the fascinating transformation of a prisoner and a prison system still haunted by their pasts.

The next showing in Houston ‘s KUHT (Channel 8) is Friday, June 20, 10:00pm

via the Fifth Circuit Blog

One Injunction Away from Armageddon

Oh to be a clerk on this court, for this case – a federal court in Hawaii is tasked with considering the following claim:

Walter L. Wagner and Luis Sancho contend that scientists at the European Center for Nuclear Research, or CERN, have played down the chances that the collider could produce, among other horrors, a tiny black hole, which, they say, could eat the Earth.

From the New York Times article, Asking a Judge to Save the World, and Maybe a Whole Lot More. Scott Greenfield at Simple Justice is “hopeful that the plaintiffs are wrong about this.” Norm Pattis says “Bring it on.”

Shades of United States v. The Progressive?

The case at bar is so difficult precisely because the consequences of error involve human life itself and on such an awesome scale…. A mistake in ruling against The Progressive will seriously infringe cherished First Amendment rights. If a preliminary injunction is issued, it will constitute the first instance of prior restraint against a publication in this fashion in the history of this country, to this Court’s knowledge. Such notoriety is not to be sought. It will curtail defendants’ First Amendment rights in a drastic and substantial fashion. It will infringe upon our right to know and to be informed as well. … A mistake in ruling against the United States could pave the way for thermonuclear annihilation for us all. In that event, our right to life is extinguished and the right to publish becomes moot.

Aside from the jurisdictional issues, how interesting would this Daubert hearing be?

Mr. Wagner, who lives on the Big Island of Hawaii, studied physics and did cosmic ray research at the University of California, Berkeley, and received a doctorate in law from what is now known as the University of Northern California in Sacramento. He subsequently worked as a radiation safety officer for the Veterans Administration.

Mr. Sancho, who describes himself as an author and researcher on time theory, lives in Spain, probably in Barcelona, Mr. Wagner said.

Um, probably in Barcelona?

Inmate’s False Liens Claims drag Federal Judges into Court as Witnesses

Though I’ve heard plenty of stories of jail-house lawyers, Mycal Antoine Poole seems to have taken it to a new level. Serving 60 years for aggravated sexual assault of a child, Poole then filed several liens (wikipedia definition) with the Texas Secretary of State’s Office against U.S. District Judge Sam Sparks and U.S. Magistrate Judge Andrew Austin for between 4 and 37 million dollars each. Both Sparks and Austin testified in the trial on Poole’s fraudulent filings and retaliation charges

Sparks says he didn’t have any problem being a witness. “I’ve lived in a courtroom since 1963,” says Sparks, who began his legal career that year as a law clerk for U.S. District Judge Homer Thornberry of the Western District. “I think the young defender was smart enough not to fool around with me.”

Austin says it was “a bit different” being a witness: “I had to resist the urge to rule on the objections that arose during my testimony.”

Mr. Poole received an additional 20 years for his efforts.

Texas Lawyer: False Liens Filed Against Federal Judges Land Inmate 20 More Years

Blawgraphy: Subscribe by Email

Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner