He Fought the Law, and the Law Waffled
Remember Trevor Goodchild, the young Austin musician who was tasered repeatedly last February for the heinous crime of telling a cop he didn’t think he could be arrested for playing his guitar on the street? (“A Stunning Toll,” March 8, 2006)?
Well, last week, he dutifully showed up – clean-shaven and in his hand-me-down banker suit – in a Travis County courtroom to fight his resisting arrest charge. But something was missing – the prosecution. On the prosecution’s motion, the judge dismissed the case – although the county attorney’s office has another 11 months or so, until the statute of limitations runs, to refile if it so desires.
“If the bogus charges they had thus far weren’t strong enough for them to go to trial, it’s very doubtful they’ll trump up anything at this point to try another round,” said ACLU board member Debbie Russell. Goodchild has been working with the group to protest Taser abuses by law enforcement.
Goodchild had been offered a plea bargain but wanted the chance to tell his story. Now a free man, he puts ice packs nightly on the places on his back and arms that still ache from the Taser jolts and works as a barback for a hip-hop nightclub. He hopes one night they’ll let him sing his song for “Those Disgruntled Motherfuckers That Have Been Tased.”
It was Francis Montenegro, his attorney, who told Goodchild the good news about the prosecution backing down. “It must have been the suit,” he said.
Inmate Safety – Carswell’s Job?
It wasn’t the ruling Marilyn Shirley was expecting. The former Carswell federal prison inmate had sued the Bureau of Prisons last year for failing to protect her from harm while she was in its custody (she was raped in 2000 by then-guard Michael Miller, now serving 12 years for that crime). Last week, U.S. District Judge Terry Means ruled that “while Miller’s actions are abhorrent,” the prison system is immune from being sued because the rape occurred “outside the scope of [Miller's] employment.” (Static damn sure hopes so. Things are bad enough at that prison for women without rape being part of a guard’s job description: “At least one assault a week will be expected from you as a guard here. … “)
But, Shirley’s lawyers argue, Miller – the only guard on duty the night of the rape – was acting under the authority given him by the bureau. Shirley had no recourse but to obey him when he ordered her to follow him to his office that night on the pretense of a random drug test. Needless to say, Miller didn’t clock out during the rape.
An angry Shirley said she’ll appeal. “All the way to the Supreme Court if I have to.”