Weekly Case Summaries: January 22, 2016

Court of Criminal Appeals

In re Masterson

No. WR-59,481-04 & WR-59, 481-05         1/15/16

Issue:

May this defendant file writs of prohibition based on Government Code §552.1081 and his inability to determine the manufacturer or distributor of execution drugs?

Holding (per curiam):

No. The court denied the defendant leave to file writs of prohibition based on the new Government Code §552.1081, which protects the confidentiality of the State’s execution procedures. Read.

Concurrence (Alcala, J.):

Judge Alcala wrote to state her specific reasoning for denying the defendant leave to file a writ of prohibition. She believed that he could not meet the very strict pleading requirements necessary for filing a writ of prohibition. She also noted the likelihood of similar issues being raised in the future and that the difficulty of obtaining relief may require legislative or judicial action. Read.

Texas Courts of Appeals

In re Meyer (6th COA)

No. 06-15-00180-CR        1/14/16

Issue:

Does the Court of Appeals have authority to grant a writ of mandamus against a County Court at Law judge?

Holding:

No. According to §22.221(b) of the Texas Government Code, courts of appeals have jurisdiction to “issue the writ of Mandamus to compel a judge of the District or County Court to proceed to trial and judgment. …” However, §21.008 of the Government Code was amended in 1987 to create separate definitions for “county courts” and “statutory county courts.” Because §22.221(b) was never amended to encompass both of these definitions, it may apply only to county courts as they were previously understood, not to statutory county court. Thus the Court of Appeals does not have mandamus jurisdiction over the judge of the County Court at Law. Read.

State v. Castorena (4th COA)

No. 04-14-00671-CR        1/20/16

Issue:

Did the State need to identify specific instances of conduct in the defendant’s indictment for misapplication of fiduciary property?

Holding:

No, because the State included aggregation language in the indictment, specifically from §32.03 of the Penal Code stating when “amounts are obtained in violation of this chapter pursuant to one scheme or continuing course of conduct, whether from the same or several sources, the conduct may be considered as one offense and the amounts aggregated in determining the grade of the offense.” Thus Castorena was charged with only a single offense, and specific acts of theft were not necessary. Additionally, the State provided over 400 pages of business records that it intended to use to prove its case; if the defendant had wanted more specific information, a motion to specify would have been the proper remedy. Read.

Office of the Attorney General

Letter from the Chair of the Committee on Public Health

KP-0057                1/19/16

Question:

What is the legality of fantasy sports leagues in Texas?

Answer:

Section 47.02 of the Penal Code makes it illegal for a person to make a bet on the partial or final result of a game or contest or on the performance of a participant in a game or contest. Because the outcome of fantasy sports leagues depends at least partially on chance, an individual’s fee to participate in such activities is a bet and is prohibited under §47.02. A defense to prosecution exists under this statute: If play is in a private place, no person receives an economic benefit other than personal winnings, and the risks of winning and losing are equal for all participants. Read.