Friday, October 25, 2013

Top battles Tattoo faces in fertilizer wars - fight moves

Sergeant complains to judicial commission;
Lawyer squeals to State Bar about judge

By The Legendary
Jim Parks
Defense Attorney Blue Rannefeld
Belton – Auxiliary Court Room for Rent – reasonable rate – to the right visiting jurist with proper credentials, willing to exclude public, conceal exhibits, verbally abuse the defendant, his wife, and his family – all in the name of “ethics.”

M/Sgt. C.J. Grisham wasn't on a random stroll when officers of the Temple Police Department arrested him for going armed on March 16; they didn't apologize when they confiscated a custom-built AR-15 M4 carbine and a Kimber .45 cal. concealment model pistol.

Oh, it was described as a Boy Scout hike of 10 miles so his son Chris, Jr., could get credit for a merit badge. True story.

But there's a lot more to this story.

Sgt. Grisham recalls, “Before I went to Afghanistan, I and another guy went on a high speed chase, going after anhydrous thieves. I had a rifle...,” and then he breaks into that manic war fighter's laugh, the kind any major dude with hard stripes will give, anywhere from a slight chuckle to a hyena's howl. James Jones worked hard to describe it in From Here to Eternity after he tagged the First Shirt with it in his story about a rifle company between wars on the sunny island of Oahu, just waiting for the Japanese to attack, though they didn't know it. The laugh speaks of the firefight, the ambush, night attack, crossfire, minefield, and booby trap.

M/Sgt. C.J. Grisham
No matter what's going on in the far-flung outposts of the Empire, come March, someone at “the house” actually cares what is happening on “the place” - if the middles get run, seed bed is laid out, rows laid off, fertilizer applied and covered with moist soil. Easter time is on its way, and it won't be long until it's time to plant grain sorghum. Cotton follows later, but not much later.

A very undesirable element waits for those times, the times when big white nurse tanks of anhydrous ammonia are spotted around the country in dark fields, not far away from houses where older folks who hit the hay early still live on the land while younger farmers who live elsewhere handle their crops on a custom basis.

When the tattoo faces come to call with flashlights and propane tanks, the old folks cringe. Not only do they know to the penny what that anhydrous costs them; they are scared.

They should be.

Consider what happened to a Bellmead Animal Control Officer one frosty March morning a few years ago when he arrived at the dog pound to feed the stray hounds.

Two sack-chasing methamphetamine cooks were on a mission to retrieve a 50-pound bottle of anhydrous, and they ducked down in the ditch when they saw him coming. When the man went inside the pound, they approached in stealth, and one of them, an old boy with two tear drops tattooed beside his eye - a man who acknowledged during the sentencing phase of his trial for murder that he's already killed twice on a contract basis while pulling a jolt inside the penitentiary - plugged him in the back. Then he flipped the man over and shot him in the dead center of his chest, just to finish him off.

So Sgt. Grisham and his son carried the shooting irons along on their patrol out past the place where a lot of his kin folks live on the land – prime stuff near the airport with soil like coffee grounds, level and always draining well, adjacent to industrial campuses and aviation complexes under the control of a local government economic development authority.

They were men on a mission, as it were. Top Kick and number one son, on foot patrol, but riding for the brand, nevertheless. S'posed to.

They've given me a lot of chances to make this go away,” said Sgt. Grisham last week, when a 4-man, 2-woman jury could not reach agreement on a verdict, and his jury trial for interfering with a public official in the performance of his duty ended in a mistrial.

In Afghanistan, the cash crop is opium, and the Taliban comes to call with AK-47 rifles at the ready, collecting taxes for the Mullah in the name of Allah. Sgt. Grisham should know. He and his men operate in the field of military intelligence, classifying, enumerating, correlating names, dates, faces, accidents, incidents, happenings and reports. But that's another story.

In this story, his jury was chosen in the absence of family and friends who could have watched and listened from the gallery to learn what questions are important to prosecutors when they choose a jury of six qualified, registered voters who are willing to sit still for a week and judge their fellow man for an accusation of a Class B Misdemeanor violation.

Visiting Judge Neel Richardson excluded family and friends during jury selection.

He's allowed to do that.

He's from Harris County, a judicial retiree who must work a certain number of hearings and trials in order to qualify for his full pension from the State of Texas after his retirement. Many judges enjoy the part time work and continue to work for many years past that auspicious occasion.

He had the attorneys and bailiffs position the extra large television screen where folks could not see how Officer Steve Ermis jammed the muzzle of his sidearm into the back of the Sergeant's head, stomped on his foot and jackknifed his torso over the hood of a police car before he jabbed him in the ribs with the pistol and unsnapped the rifle from its sling.

He testified he needed to get control of him so he could determine if he's qualified - allowed to have a gun - and Grisham hollering all along that he has a concealed carry handgun license in his bill fold. To qualify for that, you can't have a felony record, a history of mental illness, sex offenses, stalking or other creepy stuff. Grisham still has his concealed carry permit, but he doesn't have his Kimber pistol. The cops are hanging on to that item in exactly the same way they are keeping his rifle safely under lock and key.

Three developments. The defense lawyer, Blue Rannefeld of Cowtown, has made a motion for a change of venue to another town, though Judge Richardson will follow him there, along with court security people, the prosecutors and the court reporter. Rannefeld is “looking into” filing a grievance with the State Bar of Texas, something that can result in disbarment and the loss of a license to practice law if convicted. Visiting County Court at Law Judges must be licensed to practice law in the State of Texas, admitted to the bar by The State Bar of Texas. Kind of like losing a driver's license, except you can't go to AA and get a permit to drive to work. Can't collect that pension without that law license. Got to be some kind of big deal.

Grisham has filed a complaint with the Texas Commission on Judicial Conduct because the judge told attorneys in an in camera conference that he, Grisham, and Mrs. Grisham are a “couple of yokels” and that he's going to “teach them something about parenting.”

Your correspondent would have joined him, but one must have the Cause Number on the complaint in order to fill out the form properly. That little doo-dad costs $5 if you have the Bell County Clerk's office look it up for you.

How else would one get it? After all, the ladies of the clerk's office are the ones who assign the numbers, now, aren't they?

There are other elements of Sgt. Grisham's complaint, including not allowing the defense to enter some allegedly exculpatory items into evidence and the rumored exclusion of certain witnesses, several refractory sessions in chambers as the attorneys attempted to come to an agreement on the jury instructions, and an outright refusal to help jurors when they called for instruction, trying to understand the basic nature of the charge and what must be proven to find innocence or guilt. Namely, the definition of criminally negligent behavior. This is not to mention his outright refusal to grant a defense motion for a change of venue in the first place – wouldn't even talk about it – and a total disregard for the merits of the case for his recusal vis a vis his allegedly prejudicial behavior.

Penalties include anything from a private admonishment or reprimand, a public version of the same, or outright removal from the bench if the commission is able to pinpoint prejudicial behavior on the part of the judge.

One is reminded of General Sam Houston's admonishment of his troops' exuberant behavior at the Battle of San Jacinto. They continued to slaughter Mexican dragoons, even though the enemy had assumed a position on their knees, trying to surrender, screaming “Me no Alamo; me no Goliad.”

That's murder, the General kept shouting at them, riding back and forth along the skirmish line on his horse. That's a war crime. What in the world is wrong with y'all?

Finally, he gave up and shouted, “Gentlemen, I admire your enthusiasm, but I deplore your manners.”

And it's all about getting arrested for doing something that's not really illegal, namely, walking down the road with a loaded rifle or shotgun, taking a look over the fields.

Hoo, wah.

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