[Deathpenalty]death penalty news-----KAN., TEXAS
rhalperi at mail.smu.edu
Mon Sep 12 17:15:24 CDT 2005
Jury recommends death penalty for Cheatham
A Shawnee County jury today decided that Phillip Cheatham should be put to
death for the slayings of 2 women in shootings that left a third surviving
woman riddled with bullet wounds.
Cheatham, 32, was found guilty Thursday of 1 count of capital murder, two
counts of 1st-degree murder, and 1 count of attempted 1st-degree murder.
The convictions stem from Dec. 13, 2003, when 2 men sprayed a southeast
Topeka duplex with bullets, leaving Annette Roberson and Gloria Jones
dead. Annetta Thomas survived with 19 bullet wounds.
Cheatham had acknowledged dealing drugs and a previous voluntary
manslaughter conviction, but denied involvement in the Topeka murders.
District Attorney Robert Hecht praised jurors with such words as
"deliberate" and "thoughtful" as they considered the evidence and weighed
the life and death decision. More, he said, must be done to put an end to
illegal drug use.
"This is not the first, nor will it be the last multiple murder
experienced in this community unless and until greater success is achieved
in combating the scourge of illegal drug activity," he said in a release.
Katrina-Displaced Lawyers Get Court's OK to Practice in Texas
As hundreds of displaced Louisiana lawyers stream across the state line
into Texas to rebuild their practices and lives in the wake of Hurricane
Katrina, the last thing they need is the Texas Unauthorized Practice of
Law Committee breathing down their necks.
UPLC officials and the State Bar of Texas realize that. So leaders from
both groups recently consulted with the Texas Supreme Court about how to
handle the influx of out-of-state lawyers into the Lone Star State.
On Sept. 2, the high court quickly issued a one-paragraph order that
allows displaced lawyers holding law licenses from Louisiana, Mississippi
and Alabama to practice in Texas for a period of 30 days without fear of
reprisal from the UPLC.
"Normally a lawyer who's not licensed in Texas who comes into Texas to
practice would need to be licensed," says Texas Supreme Court Justice Dale
Wainwright, who serves as the court's liaison to the State Bar of Texas.
"But the order suspends that."
"What we're doing is helping people who have been affected by an
incredible disaster and at the same time keeping an eye on the integrity
of the bar as well," Wainwright says.
The order is a temporary measure at best. Many of the 7,500 lawyers who've
left New Orleans expect that it will be months before they can return to
their offices; the city is expected to be without electricity or water
services for a long time. Carolyn Dineen King, chief judge of the New
Orleans-based 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, has said the same thing.
On Sept. 2 she announced that her court was relocating operations to the
Bob Casey U.S. Courthouse in Houston for now.
UPLC and Bar officials anticipate that the Texas Supreme Court will need
to revisit licensing issues for out-of-state attorneys displaced by the
hurricane within the coming weeks. "To the extent that they're evacuated
over here and are trying by phone or fax to contact clients and to address
their caseload ... that doesn't give me much problem at all," says Rodney
Gilstrap, chairman of the UPLC and a partner in Marshall's Smith &
But other concerns will arise the longer displaced lawyers stay in Texas,
Gilstrap says. "If they remain in Texas over a longer period of time, then
there's the likelihood that someone down the street is going to say, 'I
got a speeding ticket. Can you represent me?' That's going to happen,"
Gilstrap says. "I don't view it as an immediate problem."
Other southern states are making plans to temporarily suspend bar
licensing requirements, says Kelly Frels, chairman of the State Bar of
Texas' Katrina Relief Task Force and a partner in Houston's Bracewell &
In the meantime, Frels say the State Bar is answering other basic
questions from displaced lawyers beyond helping them find office and
living space. "We've had questions such as, 'What should I put on my Web
site about where I am?' " Frels says. "And we've told them to say that
they are 'temporarily practicing in Texas' so that they're not advertising
that they're Texas lawyers."
The State Bar has specific and complicated rules that govern lawyers who
advertise in Texas.
But Frels expects that the term "temporarily practicing in Texas" will
become an increasingly inaccurate moniker as months pass.
"It looks like it's going to be a long-term situation for many people. And
I suspect some lawyers are going to stay here," Frels says. "And it's an
issue for the Board of Law Examiners to look at down the road."
HERE TO STAY?
Julia Vaughan, executive director of the Board of Law Examiners, says the
board has called a special meeting for Sept. 16 to address those very
Texas has a fairly liberal reciprocity policy that allows experienced
attorneys -- lawyers who have had an active law practice for 5 of the past
7 years -- to obtain a Texas law license without taking the Texas bar
Vaughn encourages displaced lawyers with that required experience level to
apply for a Texas law license as soon as possible.
Vaughn says displaced lawyers can learn more about applying for a Texas
law license by visiting the Texas Board of Law Examiners, which also
provides information regarding pro hac vice rules for displaced lawyers
who want to make appearances for clients litigating in Texas courts.
Wainwright expects that more than a few of the displaced lawyers may
discover that practicing law in Texas is an attractive proposition and may
stay for that reason.
"Texas is a nice place to be and a nice place to practice law," Wainwright
says. "So we've got to look at the rules for that" reason.
(source: Texas Lawyer)
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