Our online readers responded to our October 9 feature "Don't Nobody Cry" by Randall Patterson:
Wait a minute: Regarding your October 9 feature on the exoneration of Ronald Taylor:
The author had called this office only to inquire about the process for defendants involved in negotiated pleas of guilty. He focused the story on the 15-year-old case of Mr. Taylor, yet he never mentioned that case during the interview.
Harris County DA
The author was clearly advised there is no requirement for defendants to agree to destruction of evidence as part of any agreement to plead guilty. In fact, they have the right to file timely objections to the eventual destruction of that evidence. The author was also told about numerous safeguards — legal, judicial and procedural — by this office and other agencies to ensure evidence is properly stored and preserved.
For readers and credibility's sake, it was regrettable that the subsequent article included none of that relevant information. Regarding DNA and every other aspect of our justice system, the public should know this District Attorney's Office is firmly committed to fairly seeking justice.
Public Information Officer
Harris County District Attorney's Office
Truth seeker: Mr. George Flynn, your assurance notwithstanding, it has been proven too many times by the Innocence Project that prosecuters are interested only in landing a conviction, not a search for the truth.
The question you need to answer, Mr. Flynn, is this: Is the DA's office willing to submit itself to outside review of your cases?
Is the DA's office willing to support an individual, objective civilian review board, such as the Innocence Project, to make sure that innocent people aren't being sent to prison? The fact is, until the DA's office can get the "seal of approval" from non-profit orgs such as the Innocence Project, your department will always be the subject of scrutiny from the public. In the end you have to ask yourselves, "Who are you here to serve?"
Reuben L. Owens, Atlanta
Full disclosure: George Flynn is right that I never mentioned the Ronald Taylor case during our interview. As Flynn points out, the case is 15 years old. I tried to contact the prosecutor involved, in her current position as judge, and am aware of no one else now employed in the district attorney's office who has firsthand knowledge of the case.
My questions for Flynn were limited, therefore, to the DA's current practices, specifically regarding the handling of evidence. And I would not say that Flynn outlined to me the "numerous safeguards" employed by the DA's office to "ensure evidence is properly stored and preserved." To my memory, Flynn spoke mainly about the need to destroy evidence, including the Q-tips and cotton swabs of DNA evidence, in order to preserve space in the evidence room.
Evidence continues to get lost in the evidence room of the HPD crime lab. As the county's chief law enforcement officer, the District Attorney is ultimately responsible.
And online food writer Jay Francis got things going on October 12 with his post "Tale of Two Tacos."
Taco Truth: I've always felt Los Tios was a pretty good to good TexMex place. Through attrition they may now be the best in the city. That kind of saddens me — you're right as rain about those tacos, though — they RULE!
Puffing Along: "Puffy tacos" are what they call tacos of the type Los Tios sells. There's a place in San Antonio that's famous for them (well, famous in a Food Network sense), La Hacienda de Los Barrios (www.lhdlb.com).
I've never eaten at the San Antonio restaurant, but I have eaten at Los Tios several times; I work in the area. The tacos are great.
More Puff: Henry's Puffy Tacos is another place in SA that does puffy tacos. I haven't tried Los Tios yet, but I will. Henry's does a good job. I think better than La Hacienda, but La Hacienda, like original Ninfa's, has a lot of love going for it.
Taco Taco Café in San Antonio gets the food network props too. It was almost as good as a houston taco truck taco. (I'd rather go to the Jarro truck on Gessner.) Link for taco taco café: www.tacotacosa.com
A Different Animal: Corey and Kristofer, the San Antonio puffy taco is a slightly different animal. The masa is a lot thicker and the taco has a slightly more chewy texture. There's a recipe for it on page 185 of Robb Walsh's The Tex-Mex Cookbook.
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Go to Gringos, Gringo: At the very least, you could have thumbed through a BEST OF HOUSTON issue and taken the writer to some of the places mentioned...Great job. Next time you want to get REAL GOOD Tex-Mex, you should head south down 45 to Gringos.
Then Again: OOO SNAP!! Yeah, I've always found that the best Tex-Mex places usually look like a Chili's, have a whole section of salads on the menu and have "Gringo" in their name. Give us the goods on your other fave — "Los Honkys"