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HOUSTON (CN) – Unsealing a 43-count indictment, federal agents said they arrested 43 people Wednesday morning and seized millions of dollars from a Houston home, breaking up a cocaine-and-heroin trafficking operation involving an associate of the Gulf Cartel.

Houston DEA Special Agent in Charge Will Glaspy said the main target of the dragnet, dubbed Operation Wrecking Ball, is Mexican national Carlos Alberto Guajardo. Though Guajardo is the first of 56 people named in the indictment, he is still at large.

In any family law dispute, it is in the best interest of the parties involved if they can  come to an amicable agreement as to how issues should be resolved. Settlement agreements in family law cases are also viewed favorably by the courts. Under Texas law, if the parties in a divorce action enter into a mediated settlement agreement (MSA), the agreement is like any other contract in that the terms of the agreement are binding upon the parties. Similarly, the court must respect the terms of an MSA in issuing a divorce decree.

If the courts enter a decree that is contrary to the terms of an MSA, it can result in a reversal of the decree, as was illustrated in a recent case decided by a Texas appellate court. If you are considering pursuing a divorce, it is in your best interest to meet with a seasoned Texas family law attorney to discuss your options for pursuing your desired result.

Terms of the Mediated Settlement Agreement

Reportedly, the parties were married for six months when the husband filed a petition for divorce. The petition alleged, in part, that the parties were the parents of two children of the marriage. The wife filed a general denial in response to the petition. The parties then entered into an MSA which stated, in part, that the husband would continue the adoption process of the first minor child, and that the wife consented to the adoption. The MSA also stated it was not subject to revocation. The husband subsequently filed a motion to enter a final divorce decree. The wife retained new counsel who then filed an amended answer, denying the husband’s parentage of the first minor child. The court held a hearing as to the child’s parentage, and ultimately entered a decree stating that the parties were the parents of both children. The wife appealed.

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When she died alone in her hotel room after her father’s birthday party, Autumn Rupkey’s blood alcohol level was nearly 0.5—more than five times the legal limit in Texas.

Alcoholic drink
“I have never seen a case with a blood alcohol level this high,” said plaintiffs lawyer Quentin Brogdon, who’s handled civil dram shop cases for 30 years and prosecuted drunken-driving cases for two years. “It’s amazing she was even walking around at the end.”

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The Justice Department today announced that PRG Real Estate Management and several related entities have agreed to pay up to $1,590,000 to resolve allegations that they violated the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA) by obtaining unlawful court judgments against military tenants and by charging improper lease termination fees. This settlement is the largest ever obtained by the Department against a landlord or property management company for violations of the SCRA.

Under the settlement, PRG will pay up to $1,490,000 million to compensate 127 servicemembers who had 152 unlawful default judgments entered against them and $34,920.39 to compensate 10 servicemembers who were charged early lease termination fees in violation of the SCRA. PRG will also pay a civil penalty of $62,029 to the United States. The settlement also requires PRG to repair the credit of affected servicemembers, provide SCRA training to its employees and develop new policies and procedures consistent with the SCRA.

Under Texas law, if the evidence is insufficient to convict a defendant of a crime, he or she may be convicted of a lesser included offense. In some cases, a defendant may choose to enter into a plea bargain to a lesser included offense to avoid a possible conviction for the greater offense. Typically, either the State or the defendant will ask the court to submit an instruction to the jury regarding a lesser including offense.

As a Texas appellate court recently held, however, the court may choose to provide the jury with an instruction as to a lesser included offense regardless of whether either party requested the instruction. If you face criminal charges, you should retain a capable Texas criminal defense attorney to help you fight to protect your rights.

The Defendant’s Charges and Trial

Allegedly, the defendant was stopped by the police while he was on a bus. He submitted to a pat-down, which ultimately led to the revelation that he was carrying 332 grams of cocaine. He was charged with possession of cocaine with intent to distribute, to which he plead not guilty. The defendant did not testify at his trial but did not dispute that he possessed the cocaine. Rather, the contested issue at trial was whether the defendant intended to distribute the cocaine. During his closing, the defendant’s attorney argued that because the State had not produced sufficient evidence that the defendant intended to distribute the cocaine, the defendant was not guilty of the charged offense.

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Under Texas law, if a person is convicted of driving while intoxicated (DWI), in addition to any sentences or fines imposed following the conviction, he or she may face increased penalties for any subsequent DWI convictions.

A Texas Court of Appeals recently clarified, however, that while prior DWI convictions may be considered during the sentencing phase of any DWI conviction, the State is not permitted to introduce evidence of prior DWI convictions as an element of the offense charged during a trial to assess guilt or innocence. If you are charged with a DWI, you should consult a seasoned criminal defense attorney as soon as possible to discuss your available defenses.

The Defendant’s Trial

Reportedly, the defendant was charged with DWI. The information stated that she committed the offense of DWI on October 25, 2014. Additionally, it stated that on June 12, 2012, she was convicted of a DWI and therefore, the current offense was elevated from a Class B misdemeanor to a Class A misdemeanor.

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In 2015, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals held that Moore did not have an intellectual disability and was eligible for the death penalty. The Supreme Court vacated the decision. The appeals court reconsidered but reached the same conclusion in 2018. The Supreme Court again reversed, noting evidence that “Moore had significant mental and social difficulties beginning at an early age. At 13, Moore lacked basic understanding of the days of the week, the months of the year, and the seasons; he could scarcely tell time or comprehend the standards of measure or the basic principle that subtraction is the reverse of addition … because of his limited ability to read and write, Moore could not keep up with lessons. … Moore’s father, teachers, and peers called him ‘stupid’ for his slow reading and speech. After failing every subject in the ninth grade, Moore dropped out of high school … survived on the streets, eating from trash cans.” The court of appeal employed the correct legal criteria, examining: deficits in intellectual functioning—primarily a test-related criterion; adaptive deficits, “assessed using both clinical evaluation and individualized . . . measures”.; and the onset of these deficits while the defendant was still a minor. The court focused on adaptive deficits and found the state’s expert witness more credible and reliable than the other experts The Supreme Court held that the opinion repeated the analysis previously found improper; it relied, in part, on prison-based development, considered “emotional problems, ” and employed some “lay stereotypes of the intellectually disabled.” Moore has shown he is a person with intellectual disability.

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The Fifth Circuit denied a petition for review of the the BIA’s decision affirming the IJ’s determination that petitioner was removable because she was convicted of a drug offense. Petitioner argued that she was not removable because she was convicted for possessing a small amount of marijuana for personal use. The court held that the BIA’s interpretation of 8 U.S.C. 1227(a)(2)(B)(i)’s personal-use exception was reasonable. Applying the BIA’s circumstances-specific approach, the court held that petitioner’s conviction did not fall within the personal-use exception. In this case, substantial evidence supported the BIA’s findings that petitioner possessed 54.6 pounds of marijuana—substantially more than the personal-use exception’s 30-gram threshold.

Read the full opinion HERE.

Consult an Experienced Texas Criminal Defense Attorney

In Texas, the State must produce sufficient evidence of a crime to support a defendant’s conviction. If a defendant is convicted despite insufficient evidence, he or she may be able to have his or her conviction overturned. For some crimes, such as assault of a family member, a defendant can be convicted based solely on the victim’s testimony.

This was explained in a recent case in which a Texas appellate court upheld the defendant’s assault conviction, despite the fact that the only evidence of the assault was the victim’s testimony. If you are facing assault charges, you should meet with an experienced Texas criminal defense attorney as soon as possible to formulate a plan for your defense.

The Alleged Assault and Trial

Reportedly, the defendant was charged with assault causing bodily injury to a family member. During the trial, the defendant’s wife testified that she and the defendant were in a car when they began arguing. At one point, the defendant threatened to hit his wife. The defendant then pulled over and struck his wife. He began driving again but pulled over a second time and pulled his wife out of the car and threw her to the ground and kicked and hit her. The defendant then left the scene and the wife called 911. During the 911 call, she reported that she and her husband were arguing and the defendant hit her in the head. The wife also testified that she felt pain due to her injuries.

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Read original article from Courthouse News Services here.

Two legal rights groups filed a federal class action Wednesday claiming some New York inmates with mental disabilities who served their time are illegally kept behind bars because there are no beds for them at community mental health centers.

According to the complaint filed in Manhattan federal court by the Legal Aid Society and Disability Rights New York, the Empire State’s practices have “administratively” lengthened the terms for mentally disabled inmates who have finished out their sentences but may become homeless after they leave prison.

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