Two elderly citizens, in poor health and fighting a wrongful foreclosure, are issued a ‘death warrant‘ only 5 days after Gov. Abbott’s declaration that Texas was officially a disaster State (on March 13, 2020). On the other hand, a killer due to be executed, is given a reprieve.
It’s probably the most heinous act from the bench in these times of ‘solidarity’ and ‘compassion’ to all humans, especially the elderly, who are struggling through this torrid pandemic, uncertain what the future holds and if they will even be a part of it.
How did this happen? It is a result of an unconstitutional order dismissing the case when there was a scheduled hearing by a self-serving and biased Senior US District Judge, David Hittner of S.D. Texas. He has fallen from the prestige of wearing a ‘black robe’, to being an outlaw on the bench. Hittner’s barefaced hostility towards these two senior citizens and Texas homeowners, who have been in this court for many years as a result of a wrongful foreclosure (which the Burkes obtained a verdict dismissing the case in their favor TWICE in this court) by an unlicensed debt collecting law firm, namely Hopkins Law, PLLC of Austin, Texas, their attorneys Mark and Shelley Hopkins and related law firm BDF Law Group.
That is not how a judge is supposed to act from the bench. Personalities will often clash but you are never supposed to let that affect your job, which has such power available to that one person while performing his or her duties.
Hittner should be ashamed, especially as his wife is a doctor no less. His behavior is inexcusable. And yes, we certainly won’t refer to him as a ‘judge’. David Hittner is not a judge, he is an abuser and a disgrace to the judiciary.
#pandemic @GovExec @GovAbbott @gov_justice @fbi @statebaroftexas @TexasLawyer @HoustonChron @KenPaxtonTX @tedcruz @SenTedCruz @BLaw @cnnbrk @abc13houston @ABAesq @MSNBC @reason @MotherJones @TexasLawyer @TexasGOP @texasdemocrats @TexasLawbook @TexasTribune @boyscouts @jewishsf pic.twitter.com/6ITfzFM8QT
— LawsInTexas (@lawsintexasusa) March 20, 2020
Texas Court of Criminal Appeals stops another scheduled execution because of the coronavirus
Tracy Beatty requested the court stay his execution, set for next week, after the court halted this week’s execution.
A Texas court has stopped a second execution because of the new coronavirus that has swept through the state and world.
The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals issued a stay Thursday for next Wednesday’s scheduled execution of Tracy Beatty, a 59-year-old man convicted more than 15 years ago of killing his mother. Earlier this week, the same court halted the execution planned Wednesday for John Hummel for the same reason.
“We have determined that the execution should be stayed at the present time in light of the current health crisis and the enormous resources needed to address that emergency,” the court said in the order Thursday.
The court’s stay lasts for 60 days, after which a new execution date can be set.
Beatty’s attorney filed a motion to halt his upcoming execution shortly after the court stayed Hummel’s execution Monday, citing the “unprecedented proportions” of the pandemic. The virus has killed thousands of people worldwide, including at least three in Texas. As of Wednesday at noon, at least 95 people in the state had tested positive for the new coronavirus, a number that is undoubtedly lower than the total infected since testing is still largely unavailable.
As in Hummel’s case, prosecutors were opposed to stopping the execution, however. Smith County District Attorney Jacob Putman said in a filing that COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus discovered in December 2019, has not been shown to impact the state’s ability to carry out an execution.
“There has been no evidence that the ‘enormous resources needed to address that emergency’ will also include the handful of TDCJ personnel who will carry out Beatty’s execution,” he wrote.
Seven other executions are scheduled in Texas through September, with two set in April.
TEXAS SUPREME COURT FORECLOSURE TASK FORCE TRANSCRIPT REPORT
As two judges on the task force say in the report (p. 52)
HONORABLE MARK DAVIDSON:
“With respect, no judge wants to have Marvin Zindler in their reception room when they get to the courthouse in the morning wanting to know why you threw the Widow Jones out of the house.”
HONORABLE BRUCE PRIDDY:
“I had one judge, one of my colleagues just — we’re civil judges…We just do civil cases, no criminal cases at all, so we don’t sign death warrants. We can’t do a capital punishment case, and one judge confessed to me that this is the closest thing that he has to a death warrant, is that we’re signing an order allowing someone’s house to be taken away…”
Yet the Texas courts and the State of Texas did execute these death warrants on millions of homeowners, families, children and the elderly – and have continued to do so from 2007 – 2020.
Meanwhile in S.D. Fla.
Magistrate Judge suggests lawyer who opposed extension may want to brush up on karma concepts
Originally published; March 27, 2020
A federal magistrate judge in Miami is letting squabbling litigants know that their issues are less important than the COVID-19 pandemic.
In one case, U.S. Magistrate Judge Jonathan Goodman said the plaintiff had filed “a realistic and commonsense motion” to reschedule a trial and extend deadlines, the SDFLA Blog reports. The plaintiff reported that the defendant’s lawyer had opposed the motion.
“If defense counsel opposed the motion, then he is best advised to provide a comprehensive and rational explanation,” Goodman wrote in a March 25 order reproduced by the SDFLA Blog.
“Before filing this response, though, defense counsel may want to brush up on the concepts [of] karma, goodwill, grace, compassion, equity, charity, flexibility, respect, spirituality, selflessness, kindness, public spirit, social conscience and empathy,” Goodman said.
Goodman expressed exasperation in another case involving an alleged sexual assault on a cruise ship, Law360 reports.
In a March 21 paperless order, Goodman said lawyers had to keep things in perspective.
“We are living in an unprecedented situation,” Goodman wrote. “Nevertheless, the lawyers in this case have been exchanging snippy emails over the past two weeks over the scheduling of a corporate representative deposition. Moreover, defense counsel certified that this routine discovery dust-up is so important that it merits ‘emergency’ status. No, it doesn’t. … If all the issues we are currently facing were to be organized on a ladder of importance, this deposition-scheduling dispute would not even reach the bottom rung of a 10-rung ladder. It is painfully obvious that counsel for both sides failed to keep their comparatively unimportant dispute in perspective. Would the world end if the corporate deposition did not occur next week? Obviously not.”
On March 13, 2020, the President of the United States issued a proclamation declaring a National Emergency in response to the Coronavirus Disease-2019 (“COVID-19”) pandemic under the National Emergencies Act (50 U.S.C. § 1601, et seq.). On March 27, 2020, Congress passed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (the “CARES Act”).
This Act authorized the Judicial Conference of the United States to provide authority to Chief District Judges to permit the conduct of certain criminal proceedings by video or audio conference. The President signed the CARES Act into law on March 27, 2020.
On March 29, 2020, on the joint recommendation of the chairs of the Committee on Court Administration and Case Management and the Committee on Rules of Practice and Procedure, the Judicial Conference found, pursuant to the CARES Act, that emergency conditions due to the national emergency declared by the President under the National Emergencies Act (50 U.S.C. 1601 et seq.) with respect to COVID-19 have materially affected and will materially affect the functioning of the federal courts generally.
Acting under § l 5002(b) of the CARES Act and the authority granted by the Judicial Conference of the United States, as Chief Judge of the United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas, I make the following findings and enter the following Order:
1. Emergency conditions due to the COVID-19 virus outbreak have affected and will continue to materially affect the functioning of the courts within this judicial district. Under the authority of § l5002(b)(1) of the CARES Act, I hereby authorize judges in this district, with the consent of the defendant or the juvenile after consultation with counsel and a waiver of personal appearance made on the record, to use video conferencing, or telephonic conferencing if video conferencing is not reasonably available for use, for the following events:
(A) Detention hearings under section 3142 of title 18, United States Code.
(B) Initial appearances under Rule 5 of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure.
(C) Preliminary hearings under Rule 5.I of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure.
(D) Waivers of indictment under Rule 7(b) of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure.
(E) Arraignments under Rule 10 of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure.
(F) Probation and supervised release revocation proceedings under Rule 32.1 of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure.
(G) Pretrial release revocation proceedings under section 3148 of title 18, United States Code.
(H) Appearances under Rule 40 of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure.
(I) Misdemeanor pleas and sentencings as described in Rule 43(b)(2) of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure.
(J) Proceedings under chapter 403 of title 18, United States Code (commonly known as the “Federal Juvenile Delinquency Act”), except for contested transfer hearings and juvenile delinquency adjudication or trial proceedings.
2. Under§ 15002(b)(2) of the CARES Act, I further find that felony pleas under Rule 11 of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure and felony sentencings under Rule 32 of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure cannot in most cases be conducted in person without seriously jeopardizing public health and safety. As a result, if judges in individual cases find, for specific reasons stated on the record in those cases, that felony pleas or sentencings in those cases cannot be further delayed without serious harm to the interests of justice, judges may, with the consent of the defendant or the juvenile after consultation with counsel and a waiver of personal appearance stated on the record, conduct those proceedings by video conference, or by telephonic conference if video conferencing is not reasonably available. This authority extends to equivalent plea, sentencing, or disposition proceedings under 18 U.S.C. 403 (the “Federal Juvenile Delinquency Act.”).
3. This authorization is effective for ninety (90) days unless earlier terminated. If the emergency lasts longer than ninety (90) days, I will review the situation for possible extension of authority under the provisions of the CARES Act. In any event, this authority will terminate on the earlier of the last day of the covered emergency period or the date when the Judicial Conference of the United States finds that emergency conditions from the COVID-19 virus national emergency declared by the President under the National Emergencies Act no longer materially affect the functioning of either the federal courts generally or the courts within this district.
ORDERED this the 30th day of March, 2020.
Chief Judge Lee Rosenthal