Case of the Week Archive
The trial court correctly granted the defendant's petition for habeas-corpus
relief based on an ineffective assistance of counsel claim four years
after his adjudication for stealing clothing from a department store
while in college.At the time of the original trial, the defendant told defense
counsel that he needed to resolve the case in a way that would enable
him to clear his record so that he could work in the banking and
securities industry after college. Defense counsel did not pursue
either of the options (a pretrial diversion or a Class C special
expense) that would have allowed for a later expungement of the
During the defendant's trial for delivery of a controlled substance, he should have been present during individual questioning of prospective jurors. While the trial court informed the defendant that if he continued his unruly behavior he would be placed in a holding cell, the court did not later find him disruptive and commented on his improved behavior during defense counsel's general voir dire. Nothing in the record indicates that the defendant waived his right to be present. Remarks by defense counsel indicated that the defendant wanted to be present and no explanation was provided for the defendant's absence from individual questioning during voir dire.
The trial court should have suppressed the defendant's oral statement claiming that he owned his friend's drugs when the investigating officer failed to warn the defendant of all of his rights under CCP art. 38.22 §3 during a traffic stop and roadside interrogation. There is no statutory exception in art. 38.22 for statements that constitute a crime committed after law enforcement officials violated that provision in attempting to obtain evidence of a previously committed crime. The Court rejects the State's argument that art. 38.23 requires that evidence of a crime committed before illegal conduct be suppressed, but evidence of a crime committed after the illegal conduct is not subject to suppression.
In the trial of an off-duty police officer for deadly conduct, the court should not have granted a mistrial when the State inquired about the
defendant's invocation of his right to remain silent and his right to
counsel. The prosecutor never asked the witness if the defendant actually
invoked his right to silence; he merely mentioned that the defendant
stopped talking. The witness never answered the State's question about
remaining silent and the right to counsel, so the jury never heard
whether the defendant had invoked any constitutional rights.
In the defendant's trial for bail jumping, he had received sufficient
notice of his felony arraignment hearing when the formal notice was not
mailed to the address he provided at the time of his arrest, but to an
address differing only in the usage of "street" vs. "lane" and was not
returned as "undelivered" to the clerk. While the notice was sent to an address on Walker Lane (the
address the defendant provided at the time of his booking and the
actual location of the defendant's residence), there is little doubt
that in the town of 1,500 it would not have been correctly delivered
when addressed as Walker Street. The bondsman also spoke with the
defendant's relative who said that the defendant had received the
notice and would contact the bondsman before that hearing date.
In the defendant's trial for the capital murder of his family, the
State's references to the defendant's proffer and the court's exclusion
of it in the record were permissible. The proffer and the plea negotiations were a significant part of
the defendant's mitigation case at punishment. They showed that he was
willing to plead to as many life sentences as the State was seeking to
take responsibility for the crime and to spare his remaining family
members the ordeal of a trial. The defendant testified that his guilt
was never an issue and that he never planned to present a defense to
the charges against him at the guilt-innocence phase of trial. The
defendant made no objection to the State's references to the proffer
and to the plea negotiations and therefore waived any error.
When the State filed a motion to adjudicate the defendant for new charges after his original plea and subsequent deferred adjudication, the trial court should not have granted a hearing on the defendant's motion for new trial when the basis of the motion was ineffective assistance of counsel. The defendant's motion for new trial and supporting affidavit raised an issue that could not be determined from the record: whether trial counsel was ineffective for failing to inform him of his right to testify on his own behalf and to enter certain medical records into evidence. The defendant failed to explain how counsel's allegedly unprofessional errors would have changed the trial court's finding of true on all three violations in the State's motion to adjudicate and failed to show that the result of the hearing to adjudicate guilt would have been different.
The trial court incorrectly denied two separate motions to suppress brought by two brothers charged with drug offenses arising out of the same search of their shared residence. In both cases the State did not meet its burden to show that exigent circumstances justified the officers' proceeding down the hallway in the defendants' home and conducting a protective sweep of the premises while searching for a runaway minor who was allegedly in the house. There was no evidence that the officers believed they were in danger, only that they were concerned about the runaway who was supposedly inside.
In his prosecution on a theft charge, the defendant had no expectation of privacy in the postal box that he had rented within a
retail shipping and mailing center. By submitting the federally required form to rent a postal box in a
commercial mailing center, the defendant created an agency relationship
with the mailing center. The defendant's postal box could be opened
only in the front by a key, while the back remained open to the mailing
center employees. The manager of the mailing center had the authority
to consent to the investigator's warrantless request to view the
defendant's mail by collecting the mail from the postal box and copying
the front of the envelopes.
For a defendant charged with sexual assault of an adult victim, a trial judge is allowed to impose conditions of community supervision limiting the defendant's interaction and contact with minor children and subjecting him to warrantless searches. The searches were to be conducted during certain hours and only by the defendant's supervision officer. The provisions restricting the defendant's interaction and contact with minor children were modified to allow him contact with his own family and otherwise were reasonably related to the purposes of probation, even though his victim was not a child.
During the defendant's sentencing for a violating his community
supervision, the trial court incorrectly reopened the adjudication
hearing and find the allegations of felony aggravated robbery to be
true. The trial court heard testimony regarding the defendant's numerous
community supervision violations and evidence regarding the current
charge for armed robbery. Both the State and the defense rested and
delivered closing arguments. At this point, the argument had concluded.
In allowing the reopening the trial court violated Code of Criminal Procedure art. 36.02.
Upon the defendant's guilty plea to forgery and assessment of two years in state jail and a $500 fine, the trial court correctly refused to grant him credit for the time he had served in a county jail. The limiting language in Code of Criminal Procedure art. 42.12 §15(d) that the trial court may not require a defendant to submit to both the term of commitment authorized by the subsection and a term of confinement in the county jail under §12 refers to situations where the trial court has ordered confinement in a state jail facility at the beginning of the community supervision term.