Friday, November 28, 2008

San Antonio Police Officers Face Punishment Following Racy Photos

When revelers take to the streets of a major city, especially when they have consumed multiple adult beverages, they have the tendency to pose for overly jubilant photos in front of famous landmarks. In New Orleans, the French Quarter and cheap strands of beads tend to be involved. In Washington D. C., there may be a quick trip onto the lap of President Lincoln at his Memorial. Apparently, the desired photograph to capture while enjoying time in San Antonio is with the downtown bike-pedaling police officers. Five of the city's finest have learned that obliging to appear in such pictures could lead to problems beyond just being captured at an unflattering angle.

The police officers agreed to pose with several young women who appeared in suggestive poses while wearing less than your typical November attire. The officers are seen laughing with their new female friends and one of the ladies even borrowed a cop's jacket as a photo accessory. The photos ended up on (surprise!) a MySpace page and were then emailed to a local television station.

There are conflicting opinions over the severity of the officers' actions. Some say the men were just being polite to a few women having a good time. Others believe that members of the police force should be held to a different, higher standard. As Geary Reamey, a law professor at St. Mary's University, said, "If the public doesn't take law enforcement seriously, because they engage in juvenile behavior ... that's not an image that advances law enforcement." The police chief has decided to reassign the officers while he decides how seriously the photos should be taken. The men face anything from a simple reprimand to three days' suspension.

If you took part in some innocent fun and now believe that you are being unfairly punished by your employer, the attorneys at Bertolino LLP can help. Please contact our Austin, Houston, or San Antonio office today if you could use our legal assistance.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Houston Police Searching for Killer of Beloved Deer

When a criminal decides to inflict violence on a treasured member of a community, you can expect that he will face severe repercussions from the men and women who live in the neighborhood. Sometimes the victim is an elderly lady who has been widowed for years and has become the honorary grandmother for everyone on the block. Other times, inexcusable violence against a child rallies neighbors together in a cry for justice to be served. This week in Houston, the focus of mourning is on an old deer named Mr. Buck.

Mr. Buck was a resident of a wildlife sanctuary at Bear Creek Pioneers Park. Park rangers considered him too tame to survive in the woods, and he even allowed schoolchildren to pet him. He was kept on the 2100-acre park with various other animals as part of a federally protected reservoir. Now, the person or persons who crept into Mr. Buck's home in the darkness of night and killed the trusting animal will face some very serious federal charges.

Someone walked through nearly a mile of marshland, broke through the back fence of the sanctuary, and then killed the deer with some sort of instrument. The perpetrator then decapitated Mr. Buck and stole his head as a trophy. A bloodhound brought to the scene on Tuesday has captured the scent of the person who committed this violent act and local taxidermists have been given photos of Mr. Buck in case the attacker enters one of their stores. Once caught, the deer killer faces charges of felony poaching, animal cruelty, trespassing, criminal mischief, damage to county property and additional crimes once the weapon is determined.

This crime has understandably disturbed the entire community, including children and animal lovers who made regular visits to Mr. Buck and his fellow residents. But, of course, even those who commit such unpopular acts are entitled to their day in court. If you have been accused of any crime, we have defense attorneys at Bertolino LLP who can help. Please contact our Austin, Houston, or San Antonio today if you need legal assistance.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Texas Man Receives Pardon Due to Daughter's Efforts

With the end of each presidential administration, speculation begins on which controversial criminals will receive last-minute pardons. With President Clinton, there was a lot of criticism over his decision to pardon Marc Rich on his last day in office. Some are now wondering if President Bush will make a similarly controversial move with a decision to pardon Scooter Libby. These high-profile moments of legal forgiveness are rare, however, with most pardons occurring under the radar and with little resistance. To someone like Daniel Pue, however, that official word from the federal government is life-changing even if no one else notices.

Mr. Pue, of Conroe, Texas, was convicted in 1996 on federal charges of illegal storage, disposal, and transportation of hazardous waste without a permit. The materials and chemicals he was carrying were used to preserve utility poles as part of his job with Conroe Creosoting Co. He was sentenced to six months of house arrest followed by three years of probation. He also was required to pay a $1000 fine. Although he maintains that he was just doing his job, Pue never tried to avoid his punishment and followed every detail of his sentence.

Several years later, Pue's adult daughter found herself in a college government class with a professor who, in addition to teaching about checks and balances and federalism, encouraged civic participation in his students. Karen Flint decided that her action would be a pardon request for her dad. And, after the appropriate paperwork was filed and the investigative questions were asked, Daniel Pue was awarded a full pardon by the federal government. It's too bad that Ms. Flint is in her mid-30s and cannot use this as leverage in her home, "Come on, Dad! Can't you extend my curfew just for tonight? Don't you remember I got you that pardon from the president?"

At Bertolino LLP, we have aggressive criminal defense attorneys who will fight for you in court in hopes that a pardon will never be necessary. If you are facing charges and you need legal representation, please contact our Austin, Houston, or San Antonio office today.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Texas Men Engage in Shoot Out Over Stray Dog

Unfortunately, it is not unusual to read stories about gun violence in our city streets that stem from seemingly trivial disagreements. Items of clothing, sideways glances, and coveted parking spots have all been the source of violent disputes. Over the weekend, an animal took center stage as the object of contention.

A stray dog that apparently walked with a confident swagger drove some men to violence outside of San Antonio yesterday. In Northeast Bexar County, a group of young neighbors fought over the legitimate ownership of a street-roaming pit bull and the dispute grew into a shootout in the streets. Around twenty rounds were fired outside an apartment building, with two men getting shot in the foot. While I certainly am glad that no one was seriously injured in the ridiculous argument, I have to wonder how so many bullets were fired with wounds occurring nowhere above the ankle. With aim that low, weren't the combatants in danger of hitting the dog over whom the violence arose in the first place?

Perhaps you are now thinking the same question that went through my mind when learning of this incident -- Is Michael Vick already out of jail and working to repopulate his fighting kennel in a new city? However, the former star of the Atlanta Falcons is still serving time in federal prison and I trust that he will choose to focus on rebuilding his career as a quarterback once he is done. Instead, two of the men involved (those with the foot injuries) are only teenagers and at least two others fled from the scene. As for the dog who was the focus of OK Corral-like activity, he has not been found. So, for now, he remains the possessed object of no man.

Has your strong passion for a random animal in your neighborhood led to a violent incident? At Bertolino LLP, we have experienced defense attorneys who will protect your rights as you enter the legal system. Please contact our Austin, Houston, or San Antonio office today to discuss your situation.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Houston Police Officers Accused of Beating Father of NFL Star

We expect the members of our law enforcement to serve as role models and protectors in our community. With guns, badges and flashing lights, police officers are able to wield a lot of power over their fellow citizens. When one of them decides to cross the line and abuse his position of authority, we are understandably disappointed. When this cop focuses his violent behavior on the relative of a nationally-known figure, he should be ready for some unwanted media attention and severe consequences.

Two Houston police officers are accused of beating Martin Driver, the father of Green Bay wide receiver Donald Driver. Driver was arrested in the driveway of his mother's house in the early morning hours on Monday for outstanding traffic warrants. By the time he reached the Southeast Jail on Mykawa, he was unresponsive. Once transferred to the Memorial Hermann Hospital-The Texas Medical Center, Driver was determined to be suffering from a brain hemorrhage.

What exactly happened during the car ride from the driveway to the jail is now in question. Family members who were present at the time of the arrest claim that Driver was in perfect condition when he left with the officers. They also accuse the police of abusive language and statements that seemed to indicate a vendetta against Donald Driver. Perhaps one of the officers played back-up to Driver on the high school football team and still holds a grudge?

The two officers remain on duty while being investigated by the internal affairs division of the Houston Police Department. Community activist Quanell X, who often finds himself in the middle of heated legal issues in Houston, is calling for the suspension of both officers while information about the events is being gathered. Meanwhile, Mr. Driver's condition recently improved from critical to good.

At Bertolino LLP, we have criminal defense attorenys who are ready to protects your rights in our legal system. If you have been accused of the unwise decision to harass the parent of a professional athlete, we can help. Please contact our Austin, Houston, or San Antonio office today.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Texas Cheerleaders Indicted on Hazing Charges

As a newly-chosen member of the junior varsity cheerleading squad, I'm sure teenage girls expect some harassment from the older, veteran participants. Perhaps someone forgets to spot you during a critical moment in the pyramid formation. Or, maybe your pom poms mysteriously disappear from the locker room as you were preparing for practice. However, I am sure that none of the girls at Morton Ranch High School in Katy, Texas expected the level of hazing that took place in July of this year. What was supposed to be an early breakfast at the International House of Pancakes became a violent incident that may have long-term consequences for the offending parties.

Instead of being taken to the renowned home of the Rooty Tooty Fresh 'n' Fruity for some delicious pancakes, the junior varsity girls where taken to a private home where, bound and wearing blindfolds, they were thrown into a swimming pool. Although no one was physically hurt, the potential for injury or worse certainly was quite real.

Attorneys for several of the girls claim that the prank was innocent fun meant to initiate the new cheerleaders into their new positions. The grand jury disagreed, and seven cheerleaders have been charged with the Class B misdemeanor of hazing. This charge could bring up to six months in prison and a $2000 fine. Five other cheerleaders who are not yet seventeen years old may still face prosecution in juvenile court. All of the girls remain in class as they proceed through the criminal justice system.

If you are a cheerleader whose actions have gone beyond rooting your team to victory on the football field and you are now facing criminal charges, Bertolino LLP can help. We have aggressive defense attorneys who will defend your rights in court. Please contact our Austin, Houston, or San Antonio office today.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Texas Teacher Charged with Sending Topless Photos to Minor

We all know that teachers give a great deal of time and energy to their students, often going above and beyond the call of duty in mentoring our children. There is the math teacher who arrives early every morning to help a high school senior struggling to pass Calculus. Or, the English teacher who sits at her kitchen table well past midnight paying careful attention to every line in her students' essays so that their writing skills are certain to be improved when they leave her classroom. Teachers regularly come to recitals, football games, school plays and other special events to show their support for their students' interests and talents. However, a teacher's attention to her students can go too far. Just ask Victoria Ann Chacon.

Chacon was a Sunday school teacher outside of San Antonio who gifted a fourteen-year-old boy at her church with a cell phone. This little piece of technology was not just intended for simple conversation, as Chacon included topless photos of herself on the screen. This graphic discovery comes months after the boy's parents had already discovered love letters that Chacon had written to her son. Given this written and visual evidence of wrongdoing, Ms. Chacon was charged yesterday with display of harmful material to a minor.

In addition to her leadership in Sunday school, Chacon had been employed at Somerset Junior High. She resigned from her position back in March after the school officials first learned of a possible improper relationship and mentioned an investigation would be forthcoming. There is no evidence that Ms. Chacon engaged in any improper activity with any students at her school of employment. The recipient of her half-naked photos goes to school in another district.

Almost all of our Texas school teachers are men and women who care for their students but always remain professional. However, a small percentage of teachers do cross the line and legal consequences will result. If you are a teacher and you have been accused of sharing pictures of your assets with minors, the defense attorneys at Bertolino LLP can provide the legal assistance that you will need. Please contact our Austin, Houston, or San Antonio office today.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Austin Man Arrested for Behavior During Flight

We have all been on a flight during which a fellow traveler engaged in some annoying behavior. It could be the parents who are oblivious to the fact that their three-year-old is repeatedly kicking your seat and banging his food tray up and down. Maybe it's the guy who finds it necessary to argue with the flight attendant that his cell phone will in no way interfere with the safe movement of the plane to its intended destination. And, all too often, innocent families simply trying to get to Disney World encounter the person who cannot face flying in a metal tube several miles above ground without first ingesting multiple alcoholic beverages. Apparently, John Peter Flack of Austin was one person who fit into this last category and he now finds himself charged with making a terrorist threat. Perhaps he will opt for some fine airport coffee next time.

According to witnesses, Flack boarded his flight from Dallas to Austin already in a state of severe intoxication. When flight attendants refused to serve him more alcohol, he decided to teach them a lesson. He put on a ski mask, which I did not know was a standard accessory when battling the elements in Texas, and took to reciting lines from Silence of the Lambs. Channeling Hannibal Lechter, Flack asked one of his fellow passengers if she would like to see her own liver. He also chose to share lines from a song that featured "kill" as one of its favorite lyrics. And, as if threatening the removal of organs and a murder set to music, Flack completed his performance by making sexual gestures towards a fifteen-year-old girl. He was promptly arrested by Austin airport police when his flight landed.

I do wonder why Mr. Flack was permitted to board his flight in the first place, as his lack of sobriety was so evident to others. Will he blame the airline for allowing the episode to occur? Time will tell. For now, he faces ten years in jail for the third-degree felony. As of this posting, Flack was behind bars following his arrest on Monday with his bail set at $10,000.

We hope that all passengers who choose air travel act refrain from alcohol prior to flying and maintain courteous behavior towards fellow fliers. However, if you do get arrested while en route to your destination, Bertolino LLP has criminal defense attorneys who can help. Please contact our Austin, Houston, or San Antonio offices today to discuss your case.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Houston Gun Sales Soar After Election

With any transition in presidential power, there is extensive preparation required. President and First Lady Bush are probably gathering empty boxes every time they go to the grocery store so that they can begin to pack up their personal belongings. High school bands and cheerleaders from across the country are marching up and down football fields for hours after school every day to insure their best possible performance in January's inauguration parade. And, gun owners from across the country are purchasing their weapons of choice as quickly as possible under the assumed fear that an Obama administration will work to take away their Second Amendment possessions. As local television state KHOU reported over the weekend, Houston residents are particularly eager to hand over some cash for new guns before January 20 of next year.

At the High Caliber Gun & Knife Show held at the George R. Brown Convention Center over the weekend, more than 10,000 interested consumers showed up each day. As one of the organizers said, "I believe people are in fear of not being able to purchase firearms in the future." President-elect Barack Obama has promised that he has no intention of advocating for anything beyond "reasonable" restrictions on gun ownership, but that statement is certainly too subjective for some who enjoy the gun-owner friendly laws currently practiced in Texas. All types of guns, especially assault rifles, are being snatched up in the waning days of President Bush's time in the White House.

Earlier this year, in a five to four decision, the justices of the United States Supreme Court determined that Americans can own guns for the purpose of hunting and self-defense. Even with that ruling by our nation's highest court, some are still concerned that one or two new Supreme Court appointees by the next president will put that decision in jeopardy. Only time will tell if President-elect Obama and the Congress intend to change anything concerning our current gun laws.

At Bertolino LLP, we certainly support all of the Second Amendment rights that have been upheld in our courts. However, if you are a gun owner who has not used your weapon responsibly and you now face criminal charges, we have defense attorneys who are ready to stand with you in court. Please contact our Austin, Houston, or San Antonio office today to discuss your case.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Houston Teacher Arrested for Having Drugs at School

There are many sources of stress for teachers in our public school system these days. There always seems to be another standardized test for which the students need to be prepared. Parents are calling or even stopping by unexpectedly to demand information about their child's progress. And, especially in high schools, those who lead instruction in the classrooms are faced with teenagers who often are as worried about their social status or upcoming athletic competition as writing tonight's English essay. However, no matter how many challenges a teacher faces every day, the answer is never to turn to illegal narcotics to ease the mounting tension.

Sean Thomas, a teacher at Worthing High School, was discovered to be carrying marijuana while on the school's campus. His stash was found by a drug dog during a search of the employee parking lot. He has been charged with possession in a drug-free zone and suspended with pay while the investigation unfolds.

There is one student who I am sure is particularly unhappy with Mr. Thomas' need to bring pot to the school, which is part of the Houston Independent School District. A sixteen-year-old freshman started acting nervously when he walked by the members of law enforcement who were present for the search. Apparently, there was a reason for his shifty behavior as the police removed an unloaded gun from the student's backpack. The boy was arrested, processed for expulsion, and will soon find himself enrolled at an alternative school.

The attorneys at Bertolino LLP value the important role that teachers play in our communities and know that parents want to trust the men and women who work with their children for hours every day. However, if you are an educator and you have made a poor decision concerning your extracurricular activities, we can provide the strong legal representation to which you are entitled. Please contact our Austin, Houston, or San Antonio office today.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Man Guilty of FEMA Trailer Swindle Going to Prison

Even though Hurricanes Katrina and Rita hit the Gulf Coast more than three years ago, the repercussions of those devastating storms continue to be felt in many ways. Our government, from local to federal, is still discussing how to prevent the tragedy from repeating itself. Thousands of residents from New Orleans remain in a state of displacement, many of them never to return. And, in courthouses throughout the region, those who took advantage of the situation are now learning the consequences for their choices.

Christopher Brian McPherson was sentenced to five years in prison yesterday by a federal judge in Houston after being found guilty of wire fraud. He advertised an investment plan through which he would use people's money to refurbish FEMA trailers used by those in need after the hurricanes and then resell the trailers to the federal government. Instead of putting the hard-earned money of his investors into new carpets and sparkling kitchen sinks for the trailers, McPherson used his financial backing for personal expenses. In addition to his time hanging out in a federal prison, he also will be required to pay $278,000 in restitution to the people he swindled into his scheme.

At Bertolino LLP, we take great pride in being active members in the communities in which we work. We have attorneys who understand the many legal problems that can develop following a hurricane, from insurance claims to looting to investment scams. If you are dealing with difficult circumstances resulting from Katrina, Rita, Ike, or another such disaster and you need legal assistance, please contact us. We have attorneys in Austin, Houston, and San Antonio who are ready to help.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

San Antonio Women Learn You Can't Hide Pot in a Milkshake

The question is often asked as to whether or not chivalry is dead. If the practice is no longer part of our society, it that a sign of progress or an indication that good manners are on the decline? Should a man hold a door for a woman and allow her to enter ahead of himself? When the check comes at the end of dinner, should the man rightfully expect to pay for his date? And, here's a another question to ponder ... if a man is pulled over by cops and knows that he is transporting a bag filled with marijuana, should he stay and face the consequences or flee and let the four women also in the vehicle take the fall. For one San Antonio man, the latter option was the preferred choice.

Police officers pulled over a car without license plates at 12:30am yesterday morning. The male driver, knowing that he was playing chauffeur to a duffel bag stuffed with pot, ran away from the scene. The four women, in what I hope was not a compact car, tried to escape from the backseat but found themselves trapped by child safety locks. Those pesky safety features foil yet another crime! Knowing they were stuck in the car but unwilling to give up the goods, the women tried to stuff the drugs in the car seats and inside a chocolate shake. There's one bonus topping that you are unlikely to find at the Dairy Queen anytime soon.

The drug-stuffing, safety lock-challenged women were all arrested and now face charges of felony drug possession. The police say that they are following leads on the identity of the man who fled from the car. Do these women not know the person with whom they were traveling, or are they refusing to cooperate with authorities? At this point, it's probably a good idea to share whatever they know.

We do not recommend that you ever run away from a police officer. Stick around and face the crimes you may have committed. Then, contact Bertolino LLP for the expert criminal defense representation that you will need in court. We have attorneys in Austin, Houston, and San Antonio ready to help you today.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Ninety-Nine Year Sentence for Attempted Murder of Texas Cop

If you were to create the scene for an emotional courtroom drama, especially in Texas, what are some of the elements you would include? The shooting of a member of law enforcement always stirs some strong feelings. What if the accused criminal was the citizen of another country? Now, include in the plot that the offender was only a teenager. Unfortunately, this isn't the pilot for a new NBC series called Law and Order: Houston Style. Instead, these details comprise the very real case that just concluded in a Cameron County courtroom. And now, a young man may be spending the rest of his life behind bars.

Abraham Mar, who is a resident of San Luis Potosi, Mexico, pleaded guilty the attempted capital murder of Officer Carlos Diaz. The officer was shot during a traffic stop and was critically wounded in the attack. The jury determined that this attempt at the life of a police officer was worthy of the maximum sentence of ninety-nine years, with eligibility for parole in forty-nine years.

In addition to the heinous error in judgement that Mar exhibited when shooting Officer Diaz, the nineteen-year-old continued with foolish decisions by fleeing to Mexico. He was given a concurrent two-year sentence for this crime of evading arrest. And, in a third decision that likely pales in comparison to a life in a prison cell, the jury handed down to Mar a $10,000 fine.

At Bertolino LLP, we have attorneys who specialize both in areas of criminal defense and immigration law. We know that the cases such as the one described in this post are emotional and controversial, and our lawyers have the experience to handle every detail. Please contact our Austin, Houston, or San Antonio office today if you find yourself in need of legal assistance.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Texas Man Wanted for Murder and Beheading Captured in Oklahoma

There are certain attributes that are commonly held by members of white supremacist organizations. They are hateful people who wish to blame others for their station in life. Often, their bodies are walking examples of the precise art created by a tattoo needle. And, those with a violent streak manage to find particularly heinous ways to kill fellow human beings. One such man, William Knittel, allegedly decided to kill one of his associates in the Aryan Brotherhood of Texas and then behead him and mutilate his body. Apparently, a shared burning hatred for other races does not keep you safe from the homicidal capabilities of your close friend.

Mr. Knittel, who lives outside the San Antonio area, evaded authorities for nearly a week following his indictment by a Kendall County grand jury. His freedom ended yesterday near Dill City in western Oklahoma. He was captured with assistance from the U.S. Marshal's office and he now awaits extradition back to Texas.

Lamy's headless body was discovered by a fisherman last month. He was identified by family members after they recognized his tattoos in photos. Police are still trying to determine exactly what made such a vicious crime necessary and are still looking for a second suspect in the killing. From the information gathered, it appears that Lamy did something to upset his colleagues in the Aryan Brotherhood and a contract killing was ordered.

Every person accused of a crime, regardless of his social affiliations or the horrific nature of his actions, is entitled to certain rights under the United States and Texas Constitutions. At Bertolino LLP, we have experienced defense attorneys who will make sure you are given your fair day in court. If you need representation, contact our Austin, Houston, or San Antonio office today.

Friday, November 7, 2008

UT Football Player Kicked Off Team for Offensive Remarks about Obama

This week's presidential election elicited a great deal of emotion from the supporters of both major candidates. When the next four years of a nation's course are being determined, there understandably will be strong opinions concerning policy proposals and the men who are vying to execute these ideas from the White House. When the criticisms turn from being of a political nature to simply being personal attacks, lines can get crossed. And, in this age of advanced technology when so many people choose to display their personal lives and emotions on sites such as MySpace and blogs, you must be particularly careful in the words you choose. Buck Burnette, a now-former offensive lineman for the University of Texas Longhorns, painfully learned such a lesson this week. His Facebook posting about President-elect Obama cost him a spot on the football team and likely damaged his reputation.

Following Obama's victory on Tuesday night, Burnette made the ill-advised decision to post a friend's text message about our next president on his Facebook page. Unfortunately, the message was not "Hope!" or "I wish r nu prez the best!" Instead, Burnette's friend used a racial slur and other inflammatory language, and I certainly will not share the reprehensible text here. After realizing that some of his Facebook friends were taking offense to the post, Burnette wrote an apology and removed the incendiary text. The University of Texas athletic department quickly agreed that a website alteration was not sufficient, and Burnette was removed from the team for violation of team policy.

At Bertolino LLP, we have attorneys who specialize in the areas of entertainment and sports law. We know that our clients in these professions received heightened attention for every word that they speak or write. We certainly do not endorse any form of racist or discriminatory language. However, if you are a celebrity who believes you have been unfairly accused of offensive behavior and your career is now suffering, we have attorneys who can help. Please contact our Austin, Houston, or San Antonio office today.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Austin Boxer Released on Probation

When a person is athletically inclined towards a particular sport, he must be careful that those developed skills are not used for ill purposes outside of the sports arena. Soccer players should never kick fellow pedestrians as they walk down busy streets. Hockey stars are not advised to perform a body check on someone who will not stop talking in a movie theater. Even when there is no wrongdoing on the part of the sportsman, some people may assume him guilty of physical aggression due to the nature of his profession. While some of the details remain unclear, former boxer Kurtiss Colvin is convinced that he fits into the category of the unfairly accused.

Colvin was released from jail earlier this week after spending seventeen months behind bars for an incident that occurred during Austin's annual Juneteenth celebrations. During a dispute, Colvin knocked down David Morales because, he claims, the man was reaching for a gun. While some testified that Colvin used just enough force to make Morales fall and cease to be a threat, others asserted that Colvin threw an unprovoked punch. Whatever the specific chain of events, the unfortunate result is that Mr. Morales died as a result of the head trauma.

The jury acquitted Mr. Colvin on the manslaughter charge and sentenced him to ten years of probation for aggravated assault. He also will be required to attend counseling and pay for all court services. Colvin maintains his innocence and told the media that he only got involved because Morales' friend had just hit a young boy with his car. He is considering an appeal and hopes to return to boxing. He said upon his release, "I am a champion. People just don't know yet."

While we appreciate the instinct to get involved when a child has been the victim of a crime, we urge everyone to think twice when the resulting action is further violence. If you have gotten caught in the middle of a shoving match with consequences more dire than you ever could have anticipated, please contact Bertolino LLP if you now find yourself in need of legal assistance. We have defense attorneys in Austin, Houston, and San Antonio who can help.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Austin Police Collect Blood from DUI and DWI Suspects on Halloween

Fall festival festivities (or Halloween, to others) do not just consist of young children ringing on doorbells for free candy while wearing bunny costumes or retrieving apples from a bucket of water in a manner that must be questioned for its hygienic shortcomings. Adults also enjoy this annual evening of ghosts and goblins, and some find it necessary to celebrate with the consumption of an excessive number of alcoholic beverages. Austin police looked to crack down on these revelers when they made the poor decision to get behind the wheel of a car by issuing a "no refusal weekend." Under this policy, drivers suspected of being under the influence have the option of submitting to a breath test or being served a warrant for their blood. In all, twenty-six suspects opted to give up some blood.

Not surprisingly, the "no refusal" policy has been controversial across the state. Advocates who work to decrease the number of drunk drivers on the road applaud any efforts to keep the streets safer. Groups such as the Texas Civil Rights Project find the forced drawing of blood to be invasive and a violation of a suspect's rights. Despite this protest, the Austin police are considering the expansion of the policy to other holiday weekends.

At Bertolino LLP, we certainly discourage everyone from drinking and driving. There are always other options for getting home. However, if you do find yourself accused of this crime, we have defense attorneys who can help. Please contact our Austin, Houston, or San Antonio office today and let us know the situation you are facing.

In closing, I would be remiss if I did not mention the presidential election. Congratulations to President-elect Barack Obama for an impressive victory. Also, a special thank you to Senator John McCain for your hard-fought efforts, dedication, and continued service to our great country. Every four years, Americans are reminded of the great democratic privilege we have of choosing our leader and that is something about which we can all be proud.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Austin Considers a Ban on Texting While Driving

On this important election day, I am sure that most of you have your attention focused on exit polls and those little counters that run on the bottom of the screen of cable news networks showing how many minutes remain until we know who our next president will be. With all the confusion over electronic voting machines and butterfly ballots, we may someday find a way to put those old methods aside and share our choice for president through a simple text vote on our cell phones (what could possibly go wrong there?). If that happens, our beloved city of Austin may prevent you from pushing the "R" or "D" while you are driving. The city's public safety task force has approved a resolution that would ban texting while you are behind the wheel of a moving vehicle. The City Council must now take action by developing a proposal to debate on as possible law.

If Austin decides to outlaw text messaging while driving, the city will join seven states and Washington, D.C. in instituting such a ban. While it is difficult to determine the correlation between texting and car accidents, as police cannot know if the phone was being used unless the driver admits to the offense or there was a witness, simulated studies have shown that typing words on your cell phone is far from a safe driving practice. And, let's be honest, it is really necessary to text, "OMG! I m so trd!" while trying to merge onto an interstate?

Debbie Russell, president of the Central Texas chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union, does not support the legislation as it is arbitrary in the behavior it would criminalize. What about the people who change the radio station every ten seconds searching for the perfect song or the women who believe lipstick is best applied while hurtling a piece of heavy machinery down a busy road? Russell believes that the current laws against erratic driving cover all consequences of distracting behavior and she does not want to institute a new criminal offense just because text messaging is the trendy focus of anger right now.

Have you crashed into the front of your neighbor's house because you were texting your wife about dinner plans? Did you allow a captivating game of solitaire that you had laid out on your passenger seat distract you from the approaching stop light? If your less-than-stellar decisions while driving have left you facing criminal charges, the defense attorneys at Bertolino LLP can help. Contact our Austin, Houston, or San Antonio offices today to discuss your case.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Texas Tech Fans Scammed by Counterfeit Tickets

Texas Tech had the biggest football victory in the history of the school over the weekend when it defeated the former #1 team in the country, the Longhorns of the University of Texas. While it was a sad night for many college football fans here in Austin, thousands of Tech students were thrilled as they rushed the field ... three times! ... in Lubbock to celebrate a 39-33 win with one second left. In fact, Coach Mack Brown said it was the first time in his career that he lost the opposing team's coach when he attempted to walk across the field, shake hands and congratulte after the game. But there were also hundreds of other Red Raider fans who thought they were going to be inside the stadium for the big moment. Unfortunately, they discovered upon reaching the entrance gates that their tickets were counterfeit.

The illegally-produced paper looked like the real tickets used for regular season home games, but the bar codes did not match and represented seats that had already been sold. Even a Texas Tech football player fell victim to the scam, thinking that he had purchased legitimate entrance for one of his friends. That friend must be particularly unhappy. You would think at the very least that your buddy on the team could get you into the game!

David Welsh, the assistant athletic director for ticket operations at Tech, believes that the counterfeit tickets were being sold for an average of $200. He told reporters, "They [the fans] got robbed is what it was. It was heartbreaking seeing all these people get ripped off.’’ Since the game had been sold out for months, Tech was unable to offer real tickets for purchase to those who discovered they had been scammed. Ultimately, around 500 fans were turned away with their pockets significantly lighter and a future wariness of tickets that are not purchased from the on-campus ticket office.

Have you been accused of producing fake tickets for a sporting event? Or, perhaps you released your frustration over buying a counterfeit ticket by smashing a window or kicking a stadium worker in the shin. None of these actions is advised by the attorneys at Bertolino LLP, but they may all require the services of a defense attorney. If you have participated in some questionable activities related to collegiate athletics, please contact our Austin, Houston, or San Antonio office today.