Weekly Case Summaries: August 2, 2013

Texas Courts of Appeals

State v. Barragan

No. 10-12-00100-CR        7/25/13

Issue:

Should the trial court have granted the defendant’s motion for a new trial “in the interest of justice” based on his claim that the State failed to correct false or misleading testimony?

Holding:

No. To be entitled to a new trial, the defendant must: 1) articulate a valid legal claim; 2) produce or point to evidence in the record to substantiate the claim, and 3) show prejudice to substantial rights. Evidence at the hearing on the motion showed the victim’s testimony was, at most, vague or confusing, not false or misleading, so the defendant failed to establish the second prong. Even if he had, any error would have been harmless because the defense had the opportunity to reopen evidence at trial but declined.
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Commentary:

This is a wonderful decision, and it involves a fact situation that can be repeated in many child molestation cases. The analysis is thorough and fully supported by the controlling case law. The Court of Criminal Appeals may review this decision because it involves two issues that are of current importance to the Court: (1) granting a motion for new trial, and (2) allegedly false testimony on the part of a State’s witness. The line drawn by the court of appeals between false and merely vague or confusing could be fine, but this is a good case upon which to rely if a child victim’s testimony (or perhaps even a domestic violence victim’s testimony) is less than certain. Keep a watch on this case. But definitely read it. It should be quite helpful.

Moon v. State

No. 01-10-00341-CR        7/30/13

Issue:

Was the evidence sufficient to support the juvenile court’s decision to waive jurisdiction and transfer the defendant’s murder case to the district court when the evidence supported only one factor in favor of transfer: that the offense was against a person, rather than property?

Holding:

No. The evidence from the psychiatric evaluation of the juvenile showed he lacked sophistication and maturity, and the State did not present any evidence to the contrary. And the court’s conclusion that the defendant’s age would prevent rehabilitation in the juvenile system was not supported by any evidence in the record.
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Commentary:

This is a difficult decision. But it is thorough and supported by case law. It seems, however, that the Court of Criminal Appeals should review this decision because of the importance of the holding and because this issue is rarely litigated on appeal. If you have a juvenile defendant who has a less aggressive demeanor, read this decision to determine where the State might fall short in supporting the waiver of the juvenile court’s jurisdiction and the transfer of the case to the adult district court.

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