Weekly Case Summaries: July 17, 2015

Texas Courts of Appeals

Lowrey v. State

No. 06-14-00172-CR        7/14/15

Issue:

Can the State allege a corporation as the owner of property in a theft indictment?

Holding:

Yes. Traditionally when a corporation owns property, a natural person acting for the corporation would be named as the actual owner in the indictment. However, it is permissible and sometimes preferable to allege an entity (such as a corporation or limited liability company) as the owner of the property from which the property has been stolen and then call any agent or employee who holds a relevant position in the company to testify that the company did not give effective consent for a person to steal or shoplift its property. Read opinion

Thomas v. State

No. 01-11-00258-CR        7/7/15

Issue:

Is it error for the trial court to allow only portions of a witness’s testimony read back to the jury and exclude others, including cross-examination?

Holding:

Yes. The trial court erred in allowing only the portions of testimony that the jury specifically requested to be read back to them during deliberations. Instead the court should have ruled any testimony that was responsive to the request should be read back to the jury. The error was harmless, however, because there was “no variance between the direct testimony and cross-examination.” Read opinion

Sutton v. State

Nos. 09-14-00414-CR—09-14-00418-CR                  7/15/15

Issue:

Can a police officer employed by a school district be guilty of an improper relationship under PC §21.12 (Improper Relationship Between Educator and Student) with a student in the district who attended a different school campus?  

Holding:

No. The officer in this case was an employee of the school district but did not work on the same campus as the student with whom he had a relationship. This does not meet the statutory requirement of §21.12 that the student be “enrolled at the school where the employee works.” Read opinion

Dissent (Johnson, J.):

Judge Johnson wrote to explain her belief that there is sufficient evidence to find the defendant worked at the high school the student in question attended, even if his physical office was elsewhere. She also addressed the defendant’s argument that the statute is unconstitutional and found that the defendant did not properly preserve his constitutional challenge at trial. Read opinion

Office of the Attorney General

Request from the Dallas County District Attorney

KP-0027                7/13/15

Question:

Does §157.901 of the Local Government Code require a county to provide representation to a county judge involved in a disciplinary proceeding before the State Commission on Judicial Conduct?

Answer:

No. Because a court is unlikely to conclude that the term “sued” in §157.901(a) of the Local Government Code encompasses a disciplinary proceeding of the Commission on Judicial Conduct, §157.901(a) likely does not require a county to defend a judge in a proceeding before the Commission. Read opinion.

Request from the Webb County Attorney

RQ-0033-KP        7/15/15

Request:

Authority of a commissioners court, after adoption of the budget, to adopt a standing budget policy that automatically reduces the salary line item of an employee of an elected official upon the employee's departure from the position. Read request

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