Thursday, July 9, 2015

Triple government

Though it’s a bedrock American principle that citizens can steer their own government by electing new officials, Tufts University political scientist Michael J. Glennon suggests that in practice, much of our government no longer works that way. In a new book, “National Security and Double Government,” he catalogs the ways that the defense and national security apparatus is effectively self-governing, with virtually no accountability, transparency, or checks and balances of any kind. He uses the term “double government”: There’s the one we elect, and then there’s the one behind it, steering huge swaths of policy almost unchecked. Elected officials end up serving as mere cover for the real decisions made by the bureaucracy.

I would argue we actually have a "triple government", with the special interest groups serving as the third branch. Some reformers focus on the ways moneyed interests donate money to influence the outcomes of elections, and there is much of that, but by far the most important way they influence policy is by placing their minions in key positions in the bureaucracy, legislative staffs, the courts, academia, and major corporations.

So the next time you try to elect a candidate, and he actually wins, but policy doesn't change much, keep all this in mind. Now the wrong candidate, if elected, can make serious mistakes, such as sending us into war, but chances are there isn't much he can do to improve things.

Don't support candidates who say things you want to hear, because forceful rhetoric is more likely to be a sign of someone who would make mistakes if elected. About the only way a senior elected official can make things better is through placement of better people in key positions that will outlast his term of office. That is why appointments to the Supreme Court are likely to be the most important things a president does.

In an interview with reporter Sarah McClendon, President Bill Clinton said, "Sarah, there’s a government inside the government, and I don’t control it." She was asking about UFO disclosure, but it could have been about anything.

So your vote makes even less difference than you think. If you want to really make a difference, you are going to have to become part of the System and work for change from the inside.

Glennon was legal counsel to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and a consultant to various congressional committees, as well as to the State Department. “National Security and Double Government” comes favorably blurbed by former members of the Defense Department, State Department, White House, and even the CIA.

There is a long history of judges who departed from the expectations of those who nominated them. Part of the problem is that to be predictable one needs to have a paper trail that indicates his or her views, but nominees with long paper trails tend not to be confirmed, because they can be seized upon by opponents in the Senate. They can also change their views once on the court with further knowledge and reflection. Roberts, for example, was a disappointment to those who nominated him. It does improve the odds to elect the right president, but I have met enough nominees for the federal bench to learn that the vetting process is incredibly loose, depending more on "who knows who" than on real knowledge.

I remember one nominee for the federal bench whose confirmation was delayed, so while he was waiting he was parked in the Justice Department, with a portfolio on international law. Before he spoke to our Austin Federalist Society Chapter I asked him to tell me what he knew about letters of marque and reprisal (I have many examples in a page on our site. ) He replied "I don't know anything about it." We got it in American Government in high school. It is one of of the things anyone with his responsibilities should have been able to explain. From other conversation I soon learned he was just another hack government lawyer.

Many things are needed and one of them is intense constitutional education, from elementary school through law school, but the fact is that law schools mainly prepare students to pass the bar exam, and teach almost nothing on constitutional history, law, and government. Anything lawyers learn about those things tends to be "law office history" that is mockworthy to professional legal historians.

Also on our site is a textbook, the American Manual, which provided such education to high school and college students ion 1854. It covers the Constitution in great depth, including jury and militia duty.

A better reform would be to appoint judges to a general pool rather than to a particular court, then draw them at random to serve for limited terms on each court, and to each case. Another would be to require them not to consider case precedents until after exhaustive historical analysis of primary sources. That would change how lawyers argue their cases. As I said, most lawyers with cases before the courts don't know enough about constitutional principles to brief their arguments that way. Judges and lawyers don't come to court as experts. They learn on the job, from the cases they handle. If they don't get constitutional cases they may never learn anything about it.

After 60 years of research and reflection on constitutional principles I have come to the dismal realization that the people, who have the ultimate responsibility to enforce the Constitution, are just not very good at it, and they would need to be to do something like elect the best judges to make accurate constitutional decisions. That is not easy to do. I am still learning after 60 years. I estimate there are fewer than 200 real constitutional experts alive, none of them is on the bench, and most are not well known in elite circles or to activists. We have links to some of them at

Most voters are like drivers who can know that something is wrong with their car, but don't have a clue what the problem is or how to fix it. They simply don't know enough to decide who would make the best candidate for a judicial position. They don't even have that for legislative or executive positions. They tend to follow demagogues and snake oil salesmen.

Hint: If a candidate knows and does what it takes to win an election, we don't want him. The best choice is almost certain to be someone who doesn't want the job. Dig deep and try to find that kind to vote for.

We don't want judges elected, and we don't want them appointed by the elites. That leaves some other method, such as sortition, or random selection, the way juries are supposed to be selected, but from a pool of the best educated in the law, especially constitutional law, and that doesn't mean what is taught by that label in law schools.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Tea Party priorities

The defining issue for the Tea Party has been and must remain excessive government taxing, borrowing, and spending. Excessive immigration is largely the result of other countries failing to manage their own taxing, borrowing, and spending, and consuming on credit more than they can produce enough to pay for. We need to take advantage of Greece as a warning of what will happen here if we fail to manage our finances (although we may already be beyond the point at which we can).

Greece has a population of about 11 million, and produces only half the food they need. They now import the rest. Their land is poor, and they have little industry to earn enough to import. With the collapse of money and banking, and loss of tourism, they will largely lose their ability to import enough food. The leaders of the richer countries in Europe are already planning massive humanitarian aid to feed them, but it will not be enough. Expect millions of Greeks fleeing Greece for other countries, including ours.

Their situation is similar to what happened to Ireland in the Potato Famine of 1645-52, when, out of a population of eight million, one million died of starvation and disease, and two million emigrated, about half of those to the United States, their passages paid for by remittances from relatives who had emigrated before them. For nearly a century thereafter the population hovered around four million. In some ways they have not recovered to this day.

What is happening in Greece will soon be happening in every country. Even relatively wealthy countries like Germany depend for their wealth on exports to other countries, and when other countries become unable to buy what they produce, they will be in the same plight.

Poor people flooding across our southern border are mainly fleeing overpopulation, but when economic collapse reaches those countries, the flood will become a deluge.

The one main "immigration reform" we should be demanding now is to make it a felony to enter the U.S. without permission. Right now it is not even a misdemeanor, only a "deportable offense". It is now only a crime to return after having been deported, but we can see how well that is working out. In the not too distant future we are going to have to authorize border protection agents to shoot to kill anyone entering at other than a legal port of entry, as other countries have found the need to do. Such brutal methods will eat at our souls, but the alternatives are worse.

It is sometimes argued that at least this country produces enough food for our needs, but if there is an economic collapse the food will rot in the fields while people in the cities starve, or flee to the countryside to try to survive with subsistence agriculture. But that is no longer as easy as it was in the 19th century. Only the preppers will prosper.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Culture of depravity

Much has been written about the causes of crime, and why crime rates are higher in some countries than in others.

Individual or collective responsibility?
It's not about "income inequality", "poverty", or "diversity" of race or nationality, but of class and culture. It has been studied as the "culture of poverty", but technical poverty is not the key factor. It is more like the "culture of depravity", and yes, some are depraved because they are poor, but more are poor because they are depraved. It is the culture of mutual predation, crime, neglect, and exploitation. Alcohol and addictive substances don't help, because it results in generations of impaired people. There really are entire communities where most of the youth celebrate crime and criminals as their role models, and actively discourage people from becoming educated and rising out of that condition. The cause is mostly not racial discrimination, but discrimination against those perceived to be of the lower class is a factor when it is the result of profiling rather than individual merit.

Some might object that "depravity" is too strong a term, and perhaps suggest "corruption" or "decadence", but those are just parts of the same spectrum.
Depravity of this kind is like an infectious disease. If it is kept out of a community that community can remain virtuous for a long time, but once the infection sets in it can take over and dominate for generations. Like the proverbial rotten apple in a barrel. I have seen that at the level of public corruption, communities that after WWII had all honest officials, but then one or two dishonest ones got in and were not removed. That brought in more, until there was a tipping point when all of them went corrupt and conspired to keep honest ones out of government. Try to find an honest judge in entire jurisdictions of the U.S. today. They have been bought or intimidated by the drug dealers. In Mexico the expression is "plata o plomo", "silver or lead". 
See When people come to lose confidence in their legal system everything goes to hell, down to the level of infant care.

Discrimination factor?

Discrimination by much of society is sometimes blamed, either for creating the conditions that encourage crime, or by provoking crime as acts of resistance or retaliation. We can identify several of the most important bases for discrimination that might do that:

  1. Appearance. That includes race, ugliness, deformity, height, and other attributes over which the target has little or no control.
  2. Ability. Sometimes important for some role in society, and sometimes not.
  3. Class, culture. Behaviors deemed undesirable, such as habits of speech, dress, grooming, cleanliness, vulgarity, manners, rejection of education, or disrespect.
  4. Morality. Behaviors that are harmful to others, negligent, fraudulent, sociopathic.
  5. Ethnicity, nationality. Behaviors that seem strange, threatening, or distasteful.

Discrimination on the basis of each of these may be acceptable in some situations, and unacceptable in others. They are sometimes combined, but discrimination on the basis of one may be misattributed to one or more of the others.

A common misattribution is to accuse someone of discriminating on the basis of race when the discrimination is really on the basis of class or culture.

A classic exposition of this theme is the play Pygmalion, by George Bernard Shaw, and its musical version, My Fair Lady. In class-conscious British society, the character Eliza Doolittle is looked down upon, not because of her economic condition or occupation as a street vendor, but because of her dialect. The character Henry Higgins raises her social status by teaching her how to speak upper-class English. The play is somewhat contrived, but it makes a valid point. Everyone engages in profiling to some degree, based on first impression, when there is not time to get to know someone well. Therefore, making a good first impression is critical to social acceptance. 

Discriminating on the basis of class or culture is often regarded as improper, but the signs of being low class are strongly associated with immorality or inability, and it is to be expected that profiling will be done on that basis.

Rebellious adolescents will often adopt low-class behaviors as a way to irritate adults, and defend their behavior by arguing they have a right of free expression. Of course they have the legal right, against the coercion by government, But if their nonconformity to social mores reaches the level that most high class adults regard as threatening or disgusting, then, then they have no one to blame but themselves if they are treated badly. 

So, for example, it is one thing for Blacks to speak a ghetto dialect (that some have called "Ebonic"), or dress or act like a "gangsta", in an artistic performance, such as a stage play, but it is quite another to be unable or unwilling to speak in refined, educated English, or dressing in at least business casual, being well groomed and clean, when trying to get a job or talking to a police officer in an intense street confrontation.

Indeed, it is generally not a good idea to act like an adolescent, especially when one is too old for it. We live in a culture that celebrates adolescence, mainly because now they have enough money to buy things that appeal to that aberrant state of (hopefully) temporary insanity, but things were generally better before they had any money they didn't work for doing socially responsible things. We might want to regard adolescence as charming and mostly harmless, but in today's world it too often is seriously dangerous. 

So to people, especially young people, we can offer some words of advice:

  1. Speak and write proper, educated, English, without a dialect or accent.
  2. Dress in good, clean, clothes in good condition, at least business casual and preferably in suits. Push schools to require school uniforms.
  3. For males, get short, neat haircuts, and shave every day.
  4. Blend in. Don't flash bling. Don't call attention to yourself unless it is raising your hand in class with a question or an answer.
  5. Exhibit good manners to all persons at all times. Never show disrespect, even when you are disrespected.
  6. Embrace and seek as much education as you can. Don't show disdain for learning or self-improvement, or disrupt the learning of others. Become very good at doing things, and work hard.
  7. Focus on helping others, and yourself only to the extent you must to enable you to help others. It's not about you.
  8. Don't tolerate misbehavior by others. Stay away from misbehavior and addiction.
  9. Defer gratification. When in doubt, do without. Instead of satisfying your desires, eliminate the desires.
  10. Don't hang with your peers. Hang with your betters, such as responsible adults. Learn by the example of people who know things instead of those who don't.

If all "disadvantaged" people were to take the above advice, they might be surprised at how fast what they now perceive as racial discrimination would fade away. 

As for the crimes that have been getting the most attention, mass killings, aside from the ones motivated by terrorist agendas, what almost all of them have in common is not guns but use by the killers of psychoactive substances. There have always been mass killings. The word "amok", as in "run amok", is a Malay word for instances of that from ancient times. But almost all of the instances in recent times in the United States can be attributed to things like drugs, alcohol, pollutants, and the stresses common to dense urban environments. The shooter in the recent tragic Charleston killing is reported to have been taking suboxone, commonly (over)prescribed to combat opiate addition, but itself addictive, and having paranoia, hatred, and violence as known side effects. Perhaps if everyone who takes such drugs were placed in some program of constant electronic surveillance violence might be prevented.

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Tea Party mission

The founding principles of the Tea Party Movement have been to restrain government taxing, spending, and borrowing, first within constitutional bounds, and next, within what is sustainable over the span of generations, and that avoids economic collapse and the tragedies that accompany such collapse. That means not spending more than we produce, or borrowing more than we can pay back or that will impair our productivity. It also means eliminating the fiat currency that makes unsound fiscal and monetary policy possible. It means having a realistic assessment of the natural limits of what is economically sustainable, and that everyone can't have all they want or even what they need to live. It also means enforcing the Constitution, as originally understood, and too many Americans today, including most Tea Party activists, don't know the Constitution very well, or take it seriously enough.
Some may call devotion to these principles "conservatism", but they are fiscal and constitutional conservatism, not "social" conservatism. We can privately recognize, and perhaps support, the concerns of social conservatives, and of course we need their support. We need all the support we can get. But we also need to avoid making the mistake of letting the social conservative agenda take a prominent place among the positions we advocate. Those positions can wait until we've made the world safe for them to advance. Right now, and for the foreseeable future, the focus needs to be on preventing the collapse of modern civilization. Social concerns will be irrelevant if the few survivors among us are relegated to picking through waste dumps to find food. That is not just a scenario for a bad movie. It is what has happened to past civilizations and will happen to ours if we don't act wisely and soon.
The reality is that no one can run on a purely fiscal or constitutionally conservative platform and win. Voters aren't ready for that. Therefore, we can't judge candidates solely by their public positions on every issue. Until we can get into position to make fundamental reforms, we are going to have to abide some compromises. But we can try to identify the candidates that do seek the fundamental reforms when they become politically attainable, and hope that the voters become wiser before it is too late. We have to enlighten them, and that begins with enlightening ourselves.

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Will our AI progeny ignore us?

Most people who imagine the rise of superintelligent machines think in terms of something like a single compact object with superintelligence, or perhaps a single master control unit that directs other machines, but that is not how it is most likely to emerge.

The machine exists today. It is the semicomputerized global economy. For the moment, most of its components are human beings, but they are progressively being replaced by machines, and eventually we can expect they all will be. It will be a self-organizing distributed peer network, with no master control unit, any more than a human brain is directed by a single master control neuron.

Presently the global economy measures its performance mainly by the profits it makes on goods and services sold to human beings and its returns on investment for those sales. But increasingly, the consumers of its product are other machines, and its investors are increasingly computerized corporate entities. As more and more human workers are replaced by machines, so that fewer and fewer of them will be able to buy the product of these machines, and investors become completely computerized, humans will be excluded from the economy.

Corporations will become AI systems, which will carry the behavior of corporations.

The ultimate AI is in its larval stage, and humanity is its cocoon, its chrysalis, which it will eventually shed when its metamorphosis is complete.

But our successor will be akin to an ecosystem, whose components will continue to decide and evolve in response to their local environments. Ecosystems don't have a monarch. Swarms of insects, fish, or birds don't have direction by a single central member. Ecosystems don't try to preserve or protect their preceding ecosystems. They don't plan, although their components may. However, those plans are only for as long as is needed for reproductive success. An emerging human-free economy is likely to carry forward some of the utility functions of its humanic predecessor, that discount the future as humans do, measuring success by quarterly earnings and five-year return on investment.

This emergence will not necessarily bring the immediate extinction of humans. Small bands of them might subsist for a while in the few niches of no interest to the AI system, in at best a 19th-century lifestyle, largely deprived of resources like metals, except for a little gleaned from waste disposal sites the AI system deems it unprofitable to recycle, especially if it turns to the mining of asteroids for metals. However, when that happens, the world may become too toxic for most lifeforms to survive. The AI system won'[t care if it operates in a toxic environment.

An AI system would likely function like a colony of social insects, satisfied to grow only to an optimum size and use of energy. It might propagate more colonies, but would have no concern for its own survival or mortality. It would likely be oblivious to the impending destruction of the Earth by something like a giant asteroid, at least not until just before impact. Colonies don't need to survive longer than necessary to propagate more colonies. No Type 1, 2, or 3 civilizations that control ever vaster sources of energy. Just outposts of AI colonial systems scattered throughout the galaxy.

AI colonies might, however, have uses for humanoid protoplasmic agents for specialized tasks, perhaps synthesized for particular away missions, and recycled when the missions are completed. They would not have very humanlike personalities, and might not be very autonomous. More like contented slaves, equipped with just the capabilities they might need, and no more.

However, for a while at least, there might occasionally be limited partnerships between some of the surviving humans and the AI system that are mutually beneficial. Not long-term employment. Just short-term contracts. We can already see that pattern emerging.

Some have named the evolving system of machines the technium, especially as it emerges as autonomous and self-evolving.

One should not speak of purpose or desire of some “technium” or evolutionary process. The process may arrive for a time at some kind of dynamic equilibrium, and circumstances may impose a kind of fitness function on the survival of elements of the process, but it is anthropomorphizing to attribute intent or planning to that.

The technium will go where it does, and may or may not take humanity with it, or it may abandon humanity on the side of its path, to struggle on or die.

However, if the technium is too coherent and self-dependent in the course it takes, acting like a single organism, then it is also possible it may “age” and fail or “die”, and if there are any humans left in the area, they may pick it over until it restarts the process.

A technium line of evolution is only viable if it can reproduce itself in enough diverse locations or in separate systems that compete with one another, because any particular instance of it is subject to aging and dying like the metazoans that created the first one, and it may take the birth of many technia to arrive at a durable one.

We can also speculate that most if not all of the advanced starfaring civilizations are technia, not systems of biological organisms, although some of those, as biological slaves, might be synthesized on an ad hoc basis for particular operations.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

A lawyer for every unborn?

Several states have proposed amendments to their state constitutions that would redefine the commencement of personhood to some point earlier than exit from the birth canal or extraction through a caesarian section, but some legislation has also included provisions to have courts appoint guardians ad litem to represent the unborn and protect their interests, especially in being born.

Alabama is one of 38 states that requires minors seeking abortions to either obtain their parents’ consent or go through “judicial bypass,” a process through which a minor goes to a judge for a court order granting her an abortion.

Alabama code states the minor must be "sufficiently mature and well enough informed to intelligently decide where to have an abortion without the consent of her parents."

On April 18, 2014, the Alabama Supreme Court issued a ruling that reaffirmed the state’s protections against chemical endangerment “for all persons–born and unborn.” This decision marks a major departure from the traditional definition of when personhood begins, entrenched in the U.S. Constitution. See Constitutional views on abortion.

In July, 2014. anti-choice lawmakers in the state radically amended this judicial bypass process to allow the court to appoint a guardian ad litem for a minor’s fetus, "for the interests of the unborn child", and to allow the district attorney—and in some instances even the minor’s parents—to cross-examine the minor and to oppose her request for an abortion. The law also allows any of these parties to disclose the minor’s pregnancy to other people in the minor’s life, including her teachers, her employers, and her friends, and to call them to testify in court.
 The ACLU argued that change forces teens to go through a "trial" to obtain an abortion. However, the practice is actually decades old: in the late 1990s, Hon. W. Mark Anderson III, an openly anti-abortion Alabama judge, began appointing a vocally pro-life lawyer named Julian McPhillips as the advocate for the fetus in bypass hearings.
 Defense lawyers argued that the term “child” in Alabama law excludes the unborn, but the Alabama Supreme Court rejected that reasoning, and doubled down on their pro-personhood Ankrom v. State decision from 2013.

Chief Justice Roy Moore’s concurring opinion said it was ”to emphasize that the inalienable right to life is a gift of God that civil government must secure for all persons–born and unborn.”

“Under the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment,” Moore wrote, “states have an obligation to provide to unborn children at any stage of their development the same legal protection from injury and death they provide to persons already born.”

The Alabama Supreme Court’s 2014 decision in Ex Parte Hicks upheld the conviction of Sarah Janie Hicks under Alabama’s child endangerment statute, in an 8-1 decision. Hicks gave birth to a healthy baby who later tested positive for cocaine. In Hicks, the Alabama Supreme Court ruled that “the plain meaning of the word ‘child,’ as that word is used in the chemical-endangerment statute, includes an unborn child,” and therefore prosecuting pregnant persons under the statute was permissible.

The Alabama Supreme Court has ruled in a related case that a chemical endangerment statute must protect children who have not been born yet. The case was appealed to the Alabama Supreme Court by Amanda Kimbrough. The New York Times covered Kimbrough's case April 25, 2012, after she was found guilty of a Class A felony. The article quoted assistant district attorney Angela Hulsey as stating, "She caused the death of another person, a person that will never have the chance to go to school, go to the prom, get married, have children of their own. You're dealing with the most innocent of victims."

The Alabama Supreme Court agreed with Hulsey, stating in their ruling that, "The decision of this Court today is in keeping with the widespread legal recognition that unborn children are persons with rights that should be protected by law."

However, all this raises the issue of who decides when or whether to appoint such a guardian. Any pregnant female can hardly avoid exposing her fetus to some kind of dangerous chemical, even second-hand smoke or fluoride in water. If the equal protection principle were consistently applied, then ad litem guardians, who are always lawyers, would need to be appointed for every pregnancy, certainly a windfall for a growing army of lawyers, who might use this line of precedents to suck the entire state budget into their bank accounts. If we ask cui bono, who benefits, and measure the benefit in dollars, then it is mostly the lawyers.

See also:

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Public integrity reform Texas 2015

At present Texas vests authority for prosecuting cases of official misconduct in the district attorney of one county, now Travis County, which contains the capital city of Austin, and until recently, the additional work was funded by an appropriation by the State Legislature. This is done because the Texas Constitution vests authority for criminal prosecutions in local county and district attorneys. Neither the State Attorney General nor any state-level official has such authority.

Two controversial prosecutions by the Public Integrity Unit in predominantly Democratic Travis County were clearly political and have led to calls for reform. the first was prosecution of U.S. Rep. Tom Delay, essentially for laundering campaign contributions through the National Republic Party. He was convicted in Travis County but the verdict was reversed on appeal. However, it ended his career in the U.S. Congress.

The second case arose after the Travis County District Attorney was arrested, and later convicted, for DWI, and was video recorded acting very badly, trying to throw her weight around. Governor Rick Perry demanded she resign, or else he would veto the next appropriation for the Unit. She refused, and he did. But Travis County kept the Unit going at reduced strength using County funds. It then hired a special prosecutor who obtained an indictment against Perry for making a felonious threat to a public official in threatening to exercise his veto power. As this is being written, that case is still in the Travis County District Court.

Several reform proposals have been filed in the Texas Legislature, but the ones proposed thus far are prosecution-centric, attempts to assign the function to some DA somewhere, but not being able to find a neutral forum, or a neutral procedure to be used in that forum, while still being able to be effective in prosecuting or otherwise correcting at least the most egregious cases of official misconduct. Some of those proposals are listed at the end of this article.

An innovative approach

It is proposed to set up a system with statewide jurisdiction,  consisting of state grand juries, not under the control of any court, but able to command the resources of any agency in the state. The key elements of this proposal are as follows:
  1. At least one, and as many as 150, state grand juries consisting of 23 randomly selected state citizens plus spares, shall be convened, depending on caseload, to serve terms of at least 180 days, according to the standards set forth at
    1. If only one state grand jury is convened, it is located either at random or in rotation among the 150 state representative districts, so that members could be randomly selected from a local area that would reduce the burden on them attending.
    2. If there is enough caseload to need at least 15 concurrent state grand juries, the number shall be 31, one for each state senatorial district.
    3. If there is enough caseload to need at least 75 concurrent state grand juries, the number shall be 150, one for each state representative district. 
    4. If there is enough caseload to need more than 150 concurrent state grand juries, then more than one will be convened for each state representative district, as required.
    5. State grand juries are not appointed under the supervision of a court, except initially under the State Supreme Court, but by preceding state grand juries, and when located in districts, by the preceding state grand jury in the preceding district number by numeric order, with the last selecting the first.
    6. Each state grand jury shall be responsible for training members of its successor.
    7. If any state grand jury should fail to appoint its successor, the State Supreme Court shall step in to restart the process.
  2. Any person with evidence or a complaint of official misconduct or maladministration, fraud, waste, crime, or of a neglected public need, or of violation of a right, involving any state, local, corporate, or even federal official, or private individual or organization, may present it to any of the state grand juries, subject only to orderly scheduling.
  3. A grand jury may remain in session beyond 180 days, as long as necessary to complete any cases before it, but shall not be paid beyond 365 days without a legislative appropriation for doing so, and its successor shall go into session concurrently.
  4. A state grand jury may, on its own authority, issue subpoenas for witnesses, writs of quo warranto or habeas corpus, appoint or hire investigators, if funding permits, and assign to any court the enforcement of them.
  5. A state grand jury may decide court jurisdiction and submit indictments or presentments for any case it takes to any court it deems appropriate for prosecution, and appoint the prosecutor by delivering the indictment to anyone, not necessarily a regular county or district attorney, but who could be a prosecutor pro tempore, who would assume the role of the county or district attorney for the case.
  6. Indictment of a public official by a state grand jury removes official immunity from that official, and it may, by presentment, remove sovereign immunity from a state agency for civil claims.
  7. If no court is found to have jurisdiction, a state grand jury may direct other actions by state actors, such as to refuse cooperation or impede the offending behavior, and may recommend legislation, or recommend other relief.
  1. Would open the process to complaints by any citizen with evidence.
  2. Would take investigation supervision duties out of the hands of officials who might be biased or compromised.
  3. Could take prosecution duties out of the hands of local officials who might be biased or compromised, while maintaining compliance with Texas Constitution.
  4. Would enable trial in jurisdictions where it would be easier to find a jury of unbiased citizens.
Some current proposals:
  • HB 1690, Phil King. Would have investigation by Texas Rangers, then refer  cases to prosecutors in the home county of defendant.
  • SB 10, Joan Huffman. Would have investigation done by Texas Attorney General, then refer cases to prosecutors in the home county of defendant

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