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Watch Bryan Wilson, The Texas Law Hawk, Jump a Jet Ski

When we had the Texas Law Hawk on the podcast back in March, he told us about his next planned YouTube commercial. He said he was going to jump a Jet Ski into a wall of televisions, which didn’t sound safe to me. He wound up not using the televisions, but the stunt he pulled off still doesn’t look safe. I’ve only watched this video 14 times, so I’m still trying to decide if the baseball scene makes any sense at all and should have been cut from the video. I’m leaning toward: doesn’t make any sense at all and definitely should have been cut. Anyway, have a look for yourself:

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Appeals Court Says Chris Kyle Shouldn’t Owe Jesse Ventura $1.8M

The 2-1 decision of the U.S. Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals was announced today, overruling a jury’s 2014 decision that the estate of the late “American Sniper” Chris Kyle owes former Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura $1.8 million for lying about decking Ventura in a fight:

In a 2 to 1 decision, the appeals court threw out the $1.35 million awarded to Ventura for “unjust enrichment.” It ordered the district court to conduct a new trial on the $500,000 defamation judgment in favor of Ventura.

The decision was written by William J. Riley, chief judge of the 8th Circuit, joined by Circuit Judge Bobby E. Shepherd.

In a partial dissent, Circuit Judge Lavenski Smith concurred with the majority’s decision to reverse the unjust enrichment award, but disagreed with the majority’s decision to vacate and remand the defamation judgment for a new trial.

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Leading Off (6/3/16)

The Rains Keep Coming. Thursday brought inches more of precipitation to an already wet week. Areas to the west of Fort Worth, along the Brazos River, saw some of the worst flooding, prompting the need for evacuations in Granbury and flooded roads that some drivers unwisely attempted to cross. Five soldiers at Fort Hood died and four others (and their truck) were missing after the vehicle was swept away by fast-moving water. A highway in Eastland County (out towards Abilene) was washed out. In Dallas itself, rescue workers looked for someone reportedly swept away into Bachman Creek, but the search was called off after several hours when nothing was found. Rain is expected to continue to fall in North Texas on Friday and into Saturday, but come Sunday the forecast looks to be sunny throughout the week to come.

Texas Built Case Against Donald Trump. When Gov. Greg Abbott was still attorney general, the state’s consumer protection division, which he oversaw, in 2010 gathered evidence for a possible lawsuit against the New York billionaire who’s now the presumptive Republican Party presidential nominee. The claim would have been filed on behalf of $2.6 million allegedly bilked from Texas taxpayers by Trump’s Trump University programs. The former deputy director of the consumer protection division tells the Morning News that the decision not to move forward with the lawsuit was politically motivated and came from the top level of the AG’s office. A spokesman for Abbott contends that reading of what happened is “absurd” and that the legal action was no longer necessary after Trump University agreed to cease operations in Texas. State investigators had determined that hundreds of Texans had paid millions of dollars to Trump University for useless information, some of which didn’t even apply in Texas.

Gay Detention Officer Claims Discrimination. Derek Boyd is seeking money and a court order to stop further discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people by employees of the Collin County sheriff’s office. He’s also asking to be reassigned to a new position within the department, “deputy LGBT liaison.” Boyd, who started working for the sheriff in January, claims he has been harassed and intimidated because of his sexual orientation.

Fiancé Paid Men to Kill Rowlett Woman. A Dallas County grand jury indicted Ioannis “John” Makris on Thursday, along with one of the men he allegedly hired to kill Laura Grillo last November, just a week before she was scheduled to marry Makris.

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Carrollton Church Sued Over $200K in ‘Blood Money’

You might remember Michael J. Mooney’s 2014 piece for D Magazine, “How Not to Get Away With Murder.” The story is about how Frank Howard embezzled millions of dollars from his employer and used the money to carry on an affair with a California woman and hire men to kill his wife of 25 years, Nancy.

The couple were active members of First Baptist Church of Carrollton, and it’s that devotion that’s resulted in the church getting sued last week by the company from which Frank Howard stole:

Raley Holdings Llc. said that Howard, a former chief financial officer, also used part of the cash he stole from the company to live a lavish lifestyle, support a mistress in California as well as make donations to the church over 2  1/2 years.

“It was blood money and it was not Howard’s to give,” the lawsuit states, saying the money all came from the same source.

The church had no comment on the pending litigation.

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Sam Wyly Committed Tax Fraud, May Owe IRS $1.4 Billion

A bankruptcy-court judge yesterday found that Dallas former-billionaire Sam Wyly and his late brother Charles committed tax fraud by putting more than $1 billion in trusts in the Isle of Man in the 1990s.

Wyly filed for bankruptcy protection in 2014, after he and Charles were found liable for $299 million in damages for federal securities violations involving the same trusts. Joseph Guinto wrote in D Magazine about the potential problems for the Wylys ahead of the SEC trial in 2013.

In the October 2015 issue of D CEO, John Browning described what was unusual about the Wylys’ bankruptcy strategy:

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Judge Says Dallas Can Ban Exxxotica From Convention Center

The ruling over the city’s decision to bar porn convention Exxxotica came down late this morning. From the DMN:

U.S. District Judge Sidney Fitzwater denied Exxxotica’s request for a preliminary injunction, which was filed in February after seven members of the Dallas City Council sided with Mayor Mike Rawlings’ resolution banning the porn expo from returning to the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center.

Exxxotica had hoped to return next month, following last August’s Dallas debut. Today’s ruling means that will not happen.

Roger Albright, one of Exxxotica’s attorneys, said he and his client are “surprised and disappointed” by the opinion and weighing their options, which include the possibility of an appeal to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, refiling a motion for a preliminary injunction or merely waiting for trial.

The judge’s decision bought into the the city’s argument that the Kay Bailey Hutchison isn’t so much a “public forum” in which free speech must remain unhampered but is instead just a building that the city happens to own that it rents out for commercial purposes:

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Ross Avenue Mechanic Who Fought For Property Rights Can’t Sell Shop

Tristan Hallman at the Dallas Morning News followed up on the case Hinga Mbogo, who fought for (and lost) the right to keep his auto shop in business on Ross Avenue in violation of zoning that was changed 11 years ago:

But in his latest crusade to borrow more time, Mbogo withheld a key piece of information about his suddenly illegal 30-year-old auto repair shop.

Even if he wanted to sell his shop, he couldn’t.

“Somebody is crowding the title,” he said.

That somebody is Mbogo’s former business partner, who claims he still has an ownership stake in the business. Mbogo, whose plight has been nationally showcased as a government infringement on property rights, has spent the last year trying to secure the full rights to his property, according to Dallas County civil court filings.

Mbogo’s long-ago partner Mohamed Ahmed contributed $30,000 toward the down payment and never sold his share. The two went into business together in 1990.

Mbogo and Ahmed disagree about what their deal was when Ahmed left the day-to-day business of the shop in 1997.

This helps explain why Mbogo claimed her couldn’t get a good offer for his shop, despite 30 years of appreciation for his property values. But why didn’t he mention it before the council? All he told Hallman was “That’s not their business. That’s my business.”

Mbogo says he’s not shutting down until the city comes to forcibly close his doors, which would presumably happen next month.

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Leading Off (4/13/16)

Funeral held for food reporter Stacey Fawcett and her two sons. More than 2,000 people filled Prestonwood Baptist Church yesterday to pay their respects to popular WFAA food reporter Fawcett and her sons. News broke Friday morning that Fawcett’s eldest son, 19-year old McCann Utu, Jr., murdered the reporter and her younger son, 17-year-old Josiah Utu, before turning the knife on himself. Friends and family say McCann’s mental health suffered after two concussions. His brain was donated for research.

Two dead in Southlake murder-suicide. Police found Anil and Neeta Kharabanda dead in a bedroom. Authorities believe the man shot the woman before killing himself, however they could not confirm how the two were related. This marks the city’s first murder since Mexican lawyer, and possible cartel leader, Juan Jesus Guerrero Chapa was gunned down in the Southlake Town Square.

Ethan Couch to appear in adult court. The “affluenza” teen who killed four people while driving under the influence, who then cost taxpayers a hefty $200K in rehab bills, who then skipped out on his cush probation sentence, is scheduled to appear in adult court for the first time today. He celebrated his 19th birthday in solitary confinement on Monday. Today’s hearing could keep Couch in jail for another four months. Fingers crossed.

Dallas woman caught riding dirty. Real dirty. Like, $1.6-million-worth-of-meth-hidden-inside-custom-tires-on-a-Chevy-Trailblazer kind of dirty. Eat her dust, Chamillionaire.

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Podcast: Texas Law Hawk Bryan Wilson on His Talons of Justice

Fort Worth lawyer Bryan Wilson, aka the Texas Law Hawk, stopped by the Old Monk on Thursday to talk about how his outrageous commercials went viral and led to a Super Bowl ad appearance for Taco Bell. A Q&A with Wilson appears in the April issue of D Magazine, which is on newsstands now.

Today is Good Friday, which means I’m abstaining both from the consumption of meat and the writing of notes about podcast episodes. So let’s get right to the show. Remember to subscribe to EarBurner via iTunes, Stitcher, or your favorite podcatcher.

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Leading Off (3/11/16)

Elephants Arrive in Dallas. Just 17 pachyderms will be coming to America from Swaziland. Dallas Zoo officials revealed that one of the original 18 died in December of an acute gastrointestinal condition. The death means that only five of the animals, which got to North Texas a little after midnight this morning, will stay in Dallas while the others are headed to Omaha, Nebraska, or Wichita, Kansas.

Trinity East Dispute in Court Today. Lawyers for Dallas will argue that the lawsuit filed by the energy company should be tossed because the city has immunity from the suit. For its part, Trinity East charges the city with breach of contract, negligent misrepresentation, and fraud in denying the company access to land near the Elm Fork Golf Course for which it had hoped to obtain gas leases.

Captain America Robs Beauty Store. Plano Police say a man in a superhero sweatshirt — and his partner in an unimaginative black hoodie — may be connected to the burglaries of several ULTA cosmetics stores in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.

Dallas Police to Investigate Racist Facebook Post. Lt. Thomas Glover said the Black Police Association asked the DPD  to investigate after at least two officers made comments indicating their support of the posting of a picture reportedly snapped at an office party in Russia.

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First Exxxotica Lawsuit Against Dallas Has Been Dropped

Last week the legal actions began against the city of Dallas for the decision to ban the Exxxotica pornography expo from returning to the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center. The first lawsuit to be filed surprisingly didn’t come from the organizers of Exxxotica but instead was brought by a vendor who said his interest was just in being able to attend the event himself.

However, it was reported today, his suit was officially dropped last Thursday, after the organizers of Exxxotica finally took the city to court. The DMN asked the man’s attorney, Gary Krupkin, why he even bothered filing the case at all, given that it was a foregone conclusion the other suit was coming:

Krupkin responded by saying “defending the 1st Amendment is never a bother to me,” then offered this anecdote.

“My father, a wonderful physician that still made house calls at age 87, used to leave a light burning in a downstairs window. One day, I asked him the reason. He said, ‘Gary, that light burns for anybody that needs help. They know they can get it in this house.’ I said, “Dad, I don’t get it. You go the the office everyday to help people.’ He looked at me, and said, ‘Someday, you’ll understand.’ That same light has burned ever since I received my law degree in both my home and my office.”

This explanation is more high-minded than I would have expected from the same lawyer who last week seemed to have his eyes on representing a class-action, speculating that a host of suits from other Exxxotica vendors and patrons might be coming. “What Exxxotica would file would be a suit particular to them,” he said then. Guess Krupkin’s client saw things differently.

The council is going to discuss the ongoing suit and “others who want to lease a city facility for an adult entertainment event” during an executive session Wednesday. On Friday’s Exxotica’s attorney filed for an injunction, asking a judge to prevent the city from banning the event so that it could take place on the desired May dates even as court hearings continue.

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Cole Hamels Couldn’t Get Into Victoria’s Secret Show, So He’s Suing

Philadelphia Magazine shares the details of a lawsuit Texas Rangers pitcher (formerly longtime Phillies pitcher) Cole Hamels has filed against a London-based company that sold him three VIP packages to November’s Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show in New York after he was denied entry to the event:

According to his lawsuit, he paid a U.K. company £49,382 (currently $68,730.36) for three VIP packages that included tickets to the fashion show. He and his wife have sued Cornucopia Entertainment, LLC, and related defendants for a sum “in an amount in excess of $50,000.”

The lawsuit says Cornucopia told Hamels it could provide him with a VIP package that included tickets to the show and afterparty, accommodations at the Kensington Hotel in London, a limo to and from the event and other related perks for £15,995 a person. At the time, the lawsuit alleges, Cornucopia said the show would not be returning to New York — where it has always been held — and would be in London instead.

Hamels doesn’t seem to have been suspicious this was a scam even after learning the event would be in New York after all. Cornucopia apparently assured him and his wife Heidi that there would still be tickets for them at the door. There weren’t.

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Exxxotica Gives Dallas Another Chance to Allow Porn Convention

The lawyer for Exxxotica, Roger Albright, has sent the city attorney a letter inviting the Dallas City Council to reconsider its decision to ban the pornography expo from returning to the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center, as Exxxotica had hoped to do in May.

According to Wilonsky, the council could begin the process of bringing the matter up for another vote with a motion and a second at tomorrow’s meeting. If they don’t, Exxxotica plans to move forward with legal action:

Albright said if nothing happens tomorrow — and if there’s “no indication from the council they will reconsider or have any interest in trying to resolve this” — then the lawsuit will be filed. And it “could be filed after the meeting,” he said.

“Conversely, if there’s progress being made I can certainly hold off,” he said. “One of the issues, of course, is we’re getting closer to those May deadlines every day.”

If a council member who voted for the ban is considering changing positions, they haven’t said so privately or publicly.

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