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A Judge Delivers His Verdict Too Late

A Judge's Word

Be more balanced: The article printed regarding the trial with defense counsel Ms. Vivian King in my court does not match my memory of the trial ["A Child's Word," by Randall Patterson, May 21, 2009]. To begin with, Ms. King's client was acquitted, so the jury clearly heard all the evidence and determined a just verdict.

It is under unusual circumstances that an advocate of the Bar of the State of Texas would complain about a win in the criminal courts, but perhaps feelings were running high when the interview was done. Ms. King is an excellent advocate who cares deeply about her clients. One can certainly understand if an advocate has strong feelings during the heat of a trial where a man faces a possible life sentence. If such feelings influenced her comments, then I think that is something we should take into account. It should be pointed out that the jury heard all the evidence that was available. Rulings were made by me based on the law presented to the court from both sides of the case, the defense counsel and the prosecutors for the State of Texas.

The laws in the state of Texas are very clear and very strong regarding the introduction of past sexual behavior of the victim, and for good reason. In the past it was common to attack a rape victim for any prior personal behavior, even if it was irrelevant to the case. Once it was determined that Ms. King was trying to bring forth evidence of past false accusations by the complainant and not such shielded information, I changed my ruling. The jury heard all the evidence needed to make its decision.

It is apparent the assistant district attorneys who tried the case were not interviewed. The prosecutors were professional in accepting my ruling in the introduction of evidence, although they had argued against this introduction with great passion.

The responsibility rested upon the prosecutors for the State of Texas to represent this young woman who filed the charges and to also represent the people of the State of Texas in this case, as in every other case where charges are filed. It is a responsibility they take seriously. Both sides, in this case and in every case presented to me, do their absolute best to do what is right and fair for their side. When they do not agree, as was the case in this particular trial, it is my responsibility to determine what the jury will or will not hear.

My job is not to make either side happy in trial. I was elected to fairly and justly decide the law as it applies to the case at hand. That is not always easy, but it is a privilege to do so for the citizens here in Harris County.

I think all of us are served better when we take a step back from the rough and tumble of such a heated trial before we comment on any matter in court. Future articles in this regard should have a more balanced view of the criminal courts, the advocates in trial and on the issues being presented.

Hon. Ruben Guerrero
Judge, 174th District Court

Editor's note: The reporter requested interviews with Judge Ruben Guerrero and ­Assistant District Attorneys Celeste Byrom and ­Tracy Bennett, but they declined to speak to him.

Chasing Skirt Steak

The old days: I enjoyed the article ["Not So Clear Cut," by Robb Walsh, June 18]. It reminded me of growing up, when families butchered cattle and hogs "on site," hoisting the carcass up on a tree limb using a windlass. I guess nomenclature of the "cuts" varies by region, as does squeamishness about "internal organs." Due to lack of refrigeration, the latter were eaten pretty quickly, without euphemistic names.

"Beef 101" sounds like fun.

Scott Barra
Houston

Sick: All this gore for someone to write a cookbook? I gave up beef years ago, and I'm glad. In a sick way, the author of this story seemed to enjoy himself. How pathetic. Get a life.

Melissa G. Pryor
Pearland

Online readers weigh in:

Flat-iron aficionado: I've been using the flat-iron steak as a skirt-steak substitute for fajitas over the past year or two. I found it seems to taste better reducing the pineapple juice, teriyaki sauce, brown sugar and other preferred spices to almost a thick sauce consistency and putting it on the meat near the end of the grilling process instead of marinating the steak. I like the almost foolproof flexibility of the flat-iron steak. Plus, the wife and kids got tired of eating glorified shoe leather. Nice article, by the way.

Comment by Will Hilton from Houston

Defining fajitas: Before I became an attorney, I grew up in the restaurant business. My mother has owned, operated or worked in Mexican restaurants in the town you visited for this story, Bryan-College Station, for the better part of 30 years. She opened her first place in 1978. Her latest venture is Gina's Restaurante Mexicano, not far from where you ate at Papa Perez. Mike Perez, the owner of Papa Perez, and I went to high school together. I learned how to make chiles rellenos and bistek rancheros at my mother's apron strings. She was a pioneer in Mexican food in the Brazos Valley and one of the first people to serve fajitas in the Bryan-College Station area.

With that in mind, I must expand on a couple of points you brought up. Fajitas were popularized, as you said, because of the desire for a more "authentic" style of Mexican food. However, they did not originate in the Valley. Fajitas find their roots in the carnes asadas from Mexican cuisine, which in turn go back to the frontier cattle-raising traditions of Northern Mexico. As beef was a staple of the American cowboy, so it was for his predecessor, the Mexican vaquero.

The root word of Fajita is faja. Faja in Spanish means "belt." Because of its belt-like appearance and its placement on the carcass, it is referred to as the "little belt." As you correctly pointed out, chickens do not have this. Neither do shrimp. Therefore, there are no such things as chicken or shrimp "fajitas." These grilled items should correctly be referred to on menus as pollo asado or camarones asados.

Thanks for your very informative article. Next time I'll write in about how there is no such thing as a "chocolate martini."

Comment by EC_Esq from Houston

Good job: Robb Walsh's article on fajitas was incredible. So much information. Great research. I have lived in Houston for most of my 59 years and was thoroughly educated by this article. It also explains some of the crappy fajitas I have encountered.

Comment by Patrick from Houston

Good Job, Brown

Unethical: I realize you may not consider yourself an important news source, but I didn't think you were satire or a farce. For your writer to cut small portions of what Mack Brown wrote and use them out of context to make him look bad is ridiculous ["Mack Brown, Grumpy Old Man," Hair Ball by Rich Connelly, June 11, 2009]. I would think journalistic integrity would require you to at least make sure his quotes were an accurate representation of what was said. If you read the full text of Brown's entries, you can see quite clearly that he never once complained about this trip being a hardship for him. He talked about his days, including his sleeping accommodations. He also did nothing but praise our soldiers and their dedication. Any comments he made about how difficult life is over there were meant to show the sacrifices our troops are making, and for your writer to imply otherwise is ridiculous. For you to print it is unethical. You should be ashamed. All of you.

Robert Allison
Spring


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