On the Records
Deferred dilemma: Your story ["Bad Checks," by Keith Plocek, July 6] did touch on a big problem with the DPS database, but there is a bigger problem out there. There are so many corrupt lawyers that are allowed to lie to their clients about deferred adjudication and get away with it. I was 17 when I was lied to about deferred adjudication. I was accused of stealing somebody's credit card. The real thief was my friend at the time. There were three people who corroborated my story. What's a 17-year-old kid supposed to do when he has two cops telling him that he's going to prison for ten years and will be raped while in there? I have been told by another attorney that there's a law out there for young, first-time offenders besides deferred adjudication that will result in no record at all. Neither my attorney nor the D.A. ever offered me this. People do make mistakes; I have not been charged with a crime since. These attorneys are abusing their power, and until the media starts reporting this, then nothing will change because Texans are completely unaware of these issues.
Now and forever: First, I would like to personally thank Keith Plocek for not being afraid to tell it like it is. The problem some may have with this article is if they have never had to deal with the Texas criminal justice system. The No. 1 fact is, if you are falsely accused of a crime, all it takes is one allegation against you and your life is screwed forever. Say you take deferred adjudication (non-conviction by law) for making a mistake: You do your probation, case dismissed, no finding of guilt, right? Wrong! The case may be dismissed, but the record remains for the whole world to see.
I have yet to meet a true hardened criminal in our group. These people have gone above and beyond to show that they have learned from their mistakes, and now, due to their records being sold to every background check agency out there, they are being denied employment, car insurance, a place to live. Our system is set up for failure. The probation system is set up for failure. How? You are denied employment, so how on earth are you supposed to pay your fines and probation fees? That is called busting probation, and what the public doesn't know is that this can get your butt sent to the pen for two to three years, if not more!
An estimated 25 percent of the people convicted in Texas are in fact innocent. I could go on forever, but if anyone is interested in learning more on deferred adjudication, please visit us at www.tajlr.com.
Beverly Blaha Lanfear
Texas Association for Justice and Legal Reform
Absolutely awesome! Richard, you are a world champion at your craft ["Top of the World," by Richard Connelly, July 6]. Over the years, I have seen various written accounts of our hobby, and they are generally very vague. Your in-depth coverage of what it takes to compete at the highest level of a sport that has very little exposure was very refreshing. Once again, nice job.
Lt. Col USAF ret., B-747-4 Long Haul Pilot ret.
Proud dad of Mike
Obscure reason: Richard Connelly does a good job of giving people some idea of what goes on in the event referred to as control line combat. This and several other events are fast and furious. One of the main reasons that this sport is so obscure is the lack of publicity. Competition is sanctioned by the Academy of Model Aeronautics, a national organization that's been around for a long time. At one time, the U.S. Navy sponsored major events such as the National Model Airplane Championships, working hand in hand with the AMA. The Navy did this in an effort to recruit young people who were interested in aviation. Eventually, the Navy must have figured that the expense was not worth the return and stopped the program. And unfortunately, the AMA has not generated the publicity needed to keep the nation informed.
Mike Willcox has done much to gain world-class skills that are required of a world champion. He has traveled extensively to different countries in the world to hone those skills. Thanks for shedding some light on Mike and his success.
Southampton, New Jersey
The other side: Chris Baker may be "right-wing" in his current incarnation, but he is not "hard-core" ["Debate Club," Hair Balls, as told to Rich Connelly, July 6]. He came to town as a hard-core liberal, a watered-down Howard Stern wannabe. When it became apparent that wasn't going to fly on AM radio, he became a "conservative" talk show host. Maybe that's why he had difficulty defending a position in which he doesn't believe.
Robert W. Ellis
His heroes: Thanks for the excellent review of the Frank Black record [Rotation, by Lee Zimmerman, June 22]. It was an honor and a privilege to play on much of the record with my drumming heroes Levon Helm and Simon Kirke and my good friend Jim Keltner. Having grown up in Houston and having played with the likes of Guy Schwartz, Shake Russell, Dr. Rockit, Billy Joe Shaver and Freddy Fender, I think it's nice to see the Houston Press give Frank a great review.
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Thriller to Death
Sample problem: John Nova Lomax, please defend your credentials as a serious music critic ["Trae Cool," June 22]. Word from the wise: The "circular guitar pattern" you reference in LL Cool J's "Hey Lover" is itself a sample of Michael Jackson's "The Lady in My Life," from his 1982 smash album Thriller. Any music critic worth his free promo CDs should know to check himself before he wrecks himself in print. Respect the architect. You are wack, son.