Weekly Case Summaries: August 24, 2012

Texas Courts of Appeals

Torres v. State

No. 01-10-0176-CR      8/16/12

Issue

Did the jury charge fail to include an instruction requiring independent corroboration of an accomplice witness as required by CCP art. 38.14?

Holding

Yes, but the error was harmless because reliable evidence from sources other than the accomplice connected the defendant to the capital murder and independently corroborated the accomplice’s testimony. Read opinion

Commentary

This error was harmless because of the strength of the State's evidence, but also because the defense failed to object to that portion of the jury charge, thus placing a higher burden on the defendant to show harm on appeal. Perhaps a jury charge based upon Article 38.14 should be considered a defensive instruction only. If the defense fails to object to the omission of such a charge, then he could raise the issue on appeal, and we would not have to worry about whether the defendant was harmed by the absence of the jury instruction.

Anaya v. State

No. 07-10-00462-CR      8/15/12

Issue

Did the abstract portion of a jury charge on murder properly limit the definitions of intentionally and knowingly to the result of conduct?

Holding

No. Murder is a result of conduct offense, therefore, the statutory definitions for nature of the offense and circumstances of the offense are inapplicable. Nevertheless, in context, the error was harmless. Read opinion

Commentary

Saved once again by the harmless error rule and the defendant's failure to object to the jury charge. This case is a good reminder, along with the previous case, to carefully go over the court's charge to the jury and make sure that it is accurate. The definitions of "intentional" and "knowing" must be limited according to the type of offense for which the defendant is being prosecuted. The defendant was clearly acting intentionally and knowingly with respect to the result of his conduct in this case because he fired a deadly weapon into a crowded car.

Davis v. State

No. 03-10-782-CR    8/16/12 (not for publication)

Issue

Are medical records admissible as business records when the district clerk has refused to store the records as required by T.R.E. 902 because “there was not enough room in the clerk’s office”?

Holding

Yes. Although Rule 902 does not address situations in which a clerk’s office refuses to store records, the court concluded that the judge and the State had made sufficient efforts to comply with the rule, including giving the defendant permission to take the records or a copy home to review before they were offered into evidence. Read opinion

Commentary

This is the type of holding that is very fact-specific to this particular case. There is no possible way that this defendant was harmed. This offense was a brutal injury to a child, the victim being just a few months old. After reading about all of the injuries that the child suffered, it is a wonder that she survived.

Attorney General Opinions

GA-0960

8/17/12

Issue

Do the 2011 amendments to CCP Art. 17.02 conflict with Local Gov’t Code §117.055 in relation to the refund of cash bail bonds?

Holding

The Attorney General concluded that the 2011 amendments to Art. 17.02 specify that a county is no longer entitled to deduct a fee for accounting and administrative expense from the refund of a cash bail bond. The AG also found that Opinions JC-0163 and GA-0436 have been superseded by legislative enactment. Read opinion

Commentary

The 2011 amendment to Article 17.02 was enacted most recently, so it is going to control. That is a basic rule of statutory construction when two statutes conflict.

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