Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Archive for November 6th, 2022

The Most Lawless County in Texas

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Kathy Wise reports an amazing story in D Magazine:

Suzanne Wooten had 10 minutes to decide her own fate. It was the Tuesday before Thanksgiving in 2011, and the jury just wanted to go home. Wooten did, too. The 43-year-old Collin County District Court judge was used to observing the courtroom from the opposite vantage point. Now, she was seated at the defense table, dressed not in a robe but in a conservative pantsuit, her blond hair pulled back in a basic bun. She was facing not only the loss of her career but also the loss of her family. Charged with nine felony counts that included bribery, conspiracy to engage in organized criminal activity, and money laundering, Wooten could be sentenced to anything from five years to life in prison.

The whole trial had felt like a terrible farce. She had been accused of taking bribes from a couple, whom she swore she had never personally met, to fund campaign expenses, which she had checks to show she had paid for, in return for favorable decisions in a custody dispute, which she had recused herself from and never heard. But that didn’t stop the lead prosecutor, Assistant Attorney General Harry White, from projecting on screen a photo of Marlon Brando as Vito Corleone in The Godfather and saying, “Not all mob bosses look like that.”

Her lawyers reassured her there was no rational basis for a conviction. If there was, every judge in the state of Texas could be indicted as well. But during the trial, when the jury stopped making eye contact with her, Wooten knew she was in trouble.

Her lowest point came the night before the verdict. She was soaking in her bathtub, trying to figure out what to tell her kids, aged 15, 9, and 7, if the worst happened. Should she say she was sick and had to go away to the hospital? They weren’t stupid. For a moment, she thought maybe it would be better for them if she were dead.

But, as the pragmatic daughter of a career Air Force officer puts it, “I am really not a kill yourself kind of gal.” So she started looking for ways to make something out of the situation. “Well, crap—Shawshank Redemption,” Wooten thought. “I can help people write appeal bonds. I can help people with their divorces.” That flicker of a plan was enough to get her out of the tub.

It was still a gut punch, though, when she saw the verdict form. Wooten is farsighted, and she was familiar with the form from her time on the bench, so it was easy for her to decipher the jury’s findings as the judge silently flipped through the pages: guilty, guilty, guilty.

When the judge read the verdict out loud, Wooten’s husband collapsed and had to be carried out of the courtroom. In a daze, she followed her lawyers, Peter Schulte and Toby Shook, to the attorney-client conference room for a 10-minute break before sentencing. The only saving grace was that the jury had spared her a first-degree felony conviction, so now the worst-case scenario was 20 years. As they headed out of the courtroom, Schulte, a young, tough-talking former cop with a buzz cut, angrily told White, “This is not over. We’re going to appeal this until the end of time.”

During the break, White approached Shook and offered 10 years’ probation if Wooten would waive her right to appeal. He would later testify that he offered the plea because his sole goal was to get Wooten off the bench and keep her from running again. Even if she were sentenced to prison time, White wasn’t sure how long she could stay on the bench during the course of an appeal.

“I’m in this blur,” Wooten says. “But what got me to my decision was one of my dear friends who was there. She said, ‘Do you want to be right or do you want to be free?’ ” Wooten knew that if she were sentenced to more than 10 years, she would not be entitled to an appeal bond; she would go straight to prison without seeing her kids.

She took the deal.

On that November day in 2011, nobody could have foreseen that Wooten, whose hands were effectively tied behind her back without the ability to appeal, would emerge a decade later, Houdini-​like, with a complete exoneration and a $600,000 settlement against Collin County. . .

Continue reading.

One word: Texas.

Written by Leisureguy

6 November 2022 at 11:25 am

Finding your core values

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My post on Covey’s method (establishing habits that increase your effectiveness) continues to get hits every day, and I continue to update the post when I come across tools or ideas that improve (I hope) the effectiveness of the post.

Habit 2 — Begin with the end in mind — involves creating a “mission statement” for your life — a brief statement of your overall goals that reflects your values and direction. It’s not easy to write a mission statement, and it’s an ongoing effort — as your life progresses and your circumstances change, your mission statement will also change.

Today I came across a post by Scott Jeffrey that has a step-by-step guide to defining/discovering your core values, and it immediately struck me that this would be useful in working on a draft of one’s mission statement. So I updated the Covey post, but I thought I’d point it out here as well.

Written by Leisureguy

6 November 2022 at 9:39 am

Posted in Daily life

Purpose and benefit of trekking poles

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I’m a big fan of Nordic walking poles, invented as a way for those who practice Nordic skiing (vs. alpine skiing) to stay in shape during the summer months. Thus the focus of Nordic walking poles is exercise. The poles engage the muscles of the upper body and increase cadence and stride length.

Trekking poles, in contrast, focus on balance and support, as described in this article in the Washington Post (no paywall). Montem makes good trekking poles, which sell at a good price because Montem sells direct to consumers, avoiding a markup (the same idea as Bulat knives, which I like a lot).

Montem also makes a Nordic walking pole, which they call “Nordic fitness poles.” However, the photos on the page at the link show that Montem intends for their poles to be used as trekking poles, not Nordic walking poles. The two people in the photo are using the poles with arms bent and poles in front. The ad copy also emphasizes “stability” and “support.” That’s how trekking poles are used but is totally wrong for Nordic walking poles.

Written by Leisureguy

6 November 2022 at 7:41 am

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