Crime & Justice

Courts, trials and crime coverage for Austin and the Central Texas region.

Miguel Gutierrez Jr. for KUT

Seven out of 10 driver's license suspensions in Texas are due to drivers' inability to pay fees and surcharges from courts and the Texas Department of Public Safety, according to a new study from nonprofits Texas Appleseed and Texas Fair Defense Project.

Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

The effort to create a public defenders office in Travis County isn't dead after all.

At its board meeting this morning, the Texas Indigent Defense Commission OK'd a move to waive a requirement for a letter expressing interest in a $15-million grant to establish a public defender office in Travis County for adult felony and misdemeanor cases – something the county has tried and failed to do for decades.

Larry D. Moore CC BY-SA 3.0

Updated 6:10 p.m., March 5 

Lawyers for a woman who says she was sexually assaulted in Austin are asking a court to force Travis County prosecutors to answer questions and provide evidence after learning of a prosecutor’s phone call that they say defames the woman.

Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo says his department will stop serving "no knock" search warrants, weeks after a raid on a house left two married suspects dead and five officers injured. Acevedo also reiterated that the officer who led that raid may face criminal charges.

"The no-knock warrant's going to go away, kind of like leaded gasoline in our city," Acevedo said. He added that raids that stem from those warrants would only be used in very limited cases — and that they would not be used to nab people suspected of dealing small amounts of drugs.

U.S. Supreme Court Again Reverses Death Sentence Decision For Texas Inmate

Feb 19, 2019

The U.S. Supreme Court has for the second time struck down the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals' way of determining if a death row inmate is intellectually disabled and eligible for execution.

Sarah Jasmine Montgomery for KUT

Anyone who has outstanding warrants with Austin's municipal courts or downtown community court can get their fees waived and settle up with the city without risk of being arrested this month.

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon / KUT

Travis County Judge Sarah Eckhardt and former state Sen. Wendy Davis announced the creation of a Sexual Assault Prevention and Healing Work Group today in response to concerns about how sexual assaults are handled in Travis County.

The group will focus on collecting data about sexual assaults to better advocate for survivors.

Travis Bubenik / Houston Public Media

The trial of the Santa Fe School shooting suspect may be delayed for a year as federal investigators have yet to deliver key evidence, prosecutors said Monday.

Gabriel C. Pérez

City Council Member Alison Alter posted a resolution today that would direct the city manager to find a third-party investigator to look at how sexual assault cases are handled in Austin.

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon / KUT

About 20 young people sit across from one another in two teams in a community room at CitySquare Opportunity Center in South Dallas. Deontra Wade walks around the room with notecards in hand and asks everyone about themselves, using his best Steve Harvey voice.

The federal courthouse in downtown Austin on July 1, 2015.
Miguel Gutierrez Jr. / KUT

Keeping track of federal court cases can be confusing even for reporters whose job it is to follow this stuff, let alone the general public.

Nathan Bernier / KUT

A commander with the Austin Police Department was indefinitely suspended Thursday – essentially fired – after an investigation into allegations that he assaulted a woman he met on Tinder.

The woman contacted police in August to report that Jason Dusterhoft had become increasingly violent during sex.

Miguel Gutierrez Jr. /KUT

A Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit is suing the Texas Department of Public Safety over its automatic driver license-suspension program. The suit alleges the state's Driver Responsibility Program has unconstitutionally suspended 1.4 million Texans' licenses for failure to pay fines.

Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

A national investigation into how police departments solve rape cases discovered that some departments consider a case cleared even when there is no arrest and the suspect is still on the streets. The number of these "exceptionally cleared" cases in Austin, in particular, has raised concerns.  

File photo / Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

Residents can expect to see new branding of Austin Police Department facilities and vehicles in what Police Chief Brian Manley calls an effort to make Austin the “country’s safest city.”

During a news conference Thursday, Manley released an updated report outlining the department’s goals to improve community policing. He said the police department's new tagline “One Austin. Safer Together” will help reflect the values of the police force and residents.

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon / KUT

The founder of an Austin-based company that makes 3D-printed guns has resigned following his arrest on charges of sexually assaulting a minor.

Mike Blake/Reuters

The immigration detention center at Tornillo used to hold undocumented immigrant minors will remain open through the end of the year, a government spokesperson said Tuesday.

Julia Reihs / KUT

No officer will be indicted for the officer-involved shooting of a serial bomber in March, Austin Police Chief Brian Manley said Thursday.

ICE Arrests More Than 100 Workers At North Texas Plant

Aug 29, 2018
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement

Immigration and Customs Enforcement arrested over 100 workers at a trailer manufacturing plant in the north Texas town of Sumner on Tuesday. ICE expects it to be one of its largest workplace raids in a decade, according to The Dallas Morning News.

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon / KUT

The Austin-based company at the center of a lawsuit over 3D-printable guns will send plans directly to customers, its founder said Tuesday, a day after a federal judge blocked the State Department from letting the company publish the files online for free.

Rose Baca / The Dallas Morning News via AP, Pool

The trial of former Balch Springs police officer Roy Oliver continues this week in Dallas.

Oliver is facing murder charges for shooting into a car full of teenagers leaving a party in April 2017 and killing 15-year-old Jordan Edwards. The shooting is one of several controversial police shootings of black men, teenagers and boys that have grabbed national headlines.

But it’s rare that a case like this makes it to court.

Two people familiar with the financial fraud investigation of Donald Trump's former personal attorney, Michael Cohen, say he has reached a plea agreement.

Cohen is due to appear in federal court in New York at 4 p.m. ET Tuesday. He was earlier seen going into a building where the FBI has its New York offices.

Ilana Panich-Linsman for KUT

A court battle over an Austin-based company’s plans to post 3D-printable gun designs online continues Tuesday. Nineteen states and the District of Columbia are asking a judge in Seattle to block the U.S. State Department from allowing the files to be posted until the case can be argued in court.

The judge temporarily halted the posting on July 31.

Facebook Screenshot

The Department of Justice gave a San Antonio housing group legal ammunition Friday afternoon in their discrimination lawsuit against Facebook.

Laura Skelding for The Texas Tribune

A federal judge says the government can now leave it up to immigrant parents: Keep your children locked up with you in an immigration detention center, or send them miles or states away to be cared for in a government-contracted shelter.

Julian Aguilar / The Texas Tribune

The state of Texas will continue to incur irreparable financial harm if an Obama-era immigration program isn't halted immediately, attorneys for the state argued in Houston on Wednesday.

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon / KUT

Update: A federal judge in Austin has denied a request by the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence and other gun control groups to block Defense Distributed from posting plans for making 3D-printable guns online. 

The Brady Campaign called the ruling disappointing, but said the fight wasn't over and urged the State Department to act.

The U.S. government is racing to meet Thursday's court-ordered deadline to reunite migrant families who were separated at the border to discourage other illegal crossings. But the government has acknowledged many parents won't be able to rejoin their children. And for those parents who do get to be with their children again, the future is uncertain.

Reynaldo Leal for The Texas Tribune

More than 450 migrant parents who were separated from their children at the border are no longer in the United States — but the government can’t be sure how many of them were deported and how many may have “voluntarily” left because of confusion over how those individuals were “coded,” Sarah Fabian, a lawyer for the U.S. Department of Justice, said Tuesday at a court conference in San Diego.

Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

Residents of the Stony Point neighborhood are still reeling after the Bastrop County Sheriff’s Department turned roughly a dozen members of the community over to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) late last month.

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