By Aaron Reiss
By Angelica Leicht
By Dianna Wray
By Aaron Reiss
By Camilo Smith
By Craig Malisow
By Jeff Balke
By Angelica Leicht
Off the "X"
Border Patrol blues: I would like to commend you on the excellent depiction of the Border Patrol in Brownsville ["The Bored Patrol," by John Suval, June 21]. I too am an agent assigned here and applaud you for your truthful reporting of the facts of everyday life.
I hope that you can get a nationwide news line such as the AP or Knight Ridder to pick up this story so everyone across the country can read about the truth, not the misconceptions that are presented to them by upper management.
I too grew weary of sitting on an "X" for four years, and will begin my new career as a special agent with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms on July 2. I have a bachelor's degree and was tired of seeing my eight years of law enforcement experience go to waste. I would hope that you could follow up on this story and keep letting the taxpayers know where a good portion of their hard-earned money is going.
A courageous family: As the father of almost six-year-old twins, I read your article with tears in my eyes and a lump in my throat ["Blind Faith," by Steve McVicker, June 14]. I would like to do whatever I can -- all I can think of is to offer them my little beach house on Bolivar for a few days. All kids seem to like the beach.
Great writing -- and what courage from that whole family.
The Low Down
Best of a bad situation: Unlike the critics whose comments have been circulated in print and on the Web, I was one of the defense lawyers who provided representation to those in jail on the Tuesday after the flood ["Bargain Basement," by Lauren Kern, June 21].
Half the room was set up as a felony court, and the other half as a misdemeanor court. The judge (George Godwin) had a table set up as a bench, the prosecutors had a table, and the defense attorneys had two tables to use for consultation with clients. There was no effort made to change the room to ensure privacy, but neither did I see any effort to "eavesdrop" or otherwise violate what privacy was attempted. The actions basic to representation were accomplished, and there was neither time nor facilities to do any more.
There were no felony pleas taken that Tuesday in the basement. I did not observe much of what occurred on the misdemeanor side of the room, except that the misdemeanor judge did have a table set up and was accepting guilty pleas.
The only violation of rights I saw (and it is a fundamental one) was that the proceedings were not open to the public. However, I believe that it was more important to get the accused warned and have counsel appointed then and there, rather than objecting to the proceedings and letting them sit uncounseled and unwarned in jail for some additional time.
I didn't see any attempts to influence or coerce any defendants or defense lawyers, by either the prosecutors or judges. I didn't notice any "chaos" or anybody's basic rights being "trampled." I didn't see a "plea bargain mill" set up. What I did see was people trying to carry on and make the best of a bad situation. I'm not here either to defend or embarrass "the system," but the critics who spoke so stridently were not there, and they sound like they didn't talk to anyone who was.
Joseph W. Varela
Editor's note: Complaints from defense attorneys centered on the lack of notice about the special arrangements, the closed courtroom proceedings and the misdemeanor (rather than felony) plea bargains. Defense lawyers complain that judges continue to use excuses of an emergency situation to bar the public from these courts, more than two weeks after the flood.
Jail hell:Attorney Randall Kallinen complains about what he calls a secret court in the county jail basement. This goes on all the time at the city jail.
I was transported there when I turned myself in last October. They have regular court sessions inside the jail via television monitor, where you are given no understanding of what is happening. Groups of females are led into the male section of the jail and given a separate holding cell (there were about 15 of us who were together) until the judge was available for the "monitor court" proceedings.
We inmates were all trying to figure out what to plead. We gathered around in the tiny cell and asked each other what might happen and if anyone had ever been through this kind of thing before -- no one had.
I ended up pleading guilty when I shouldn't have. I was in jail and given no recourse, no legal help and no way to obtain help. And this is routine.
Name withheld by request
Fed up with sex:I noticed the PR photo of Ann-Margret promoting her debut in The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas[Stage Listings, June 14], with the caption "Postmenopausal sex symbol Ann-Margret " Does this mean I can expect to see next a photo of Sylvester Stallone or Paul Newman with the cutline "postmenopausal sex symbol "? Obviously a man writes your cutlines.