Weekly Case Summaries: July 10, 2009

Texas Courts of Appeals

Urdiales v. State- 4th COA

07/01/09 : Cite No. 04-08-00546-CR : Racing Statute

Issue

Is Transportation Code §545.420 (racing on the highway) unconstitutionally vague in its definition of "the innocent conduct of mere passing on the highway"?

Holding

No. The defendant's "as applied" challenge to the statute failed because he did not show that the statute was impermissibly vague as to his own conduct. The information was sufficient under Code of Criminal Procedure Art. 21.11 because it tracked the language of the statute.
Read opinion.

Concurrence

Justice Marion agreed with the majority but would urge the Legislature to change the statute's definition of "race" (using one or more vehicles in an attempt to "outgain or outdistance" another vehicle), which she believes risks criminalizing behavior by an ordinary law-abiding citizen who is simply using his vehicle to pass another.
Read concurrence.

Commentary

This might have been an interesting issue for the court of appeals. As the concurring opinion points out, one of the definitions of "race" does seem to be the sort of innocent conduct one would expect to see when any driver seeks to pass another driver. The defendant, however, provided not one factual detail associated with his actual crime of racing. That is just sad representation and leaves the court with nothing to decide.

 

Lackey v. State- 6th COA

07/02/09 : Cite No. 06-08-00162-CR : Pecuniary Damages

Issue

Did the trial court correctly assess pecuniary damages at more than $1,500 for criminal mischief where the defendant was convicted of throwing handfuls of roofing nails into the roadway and damaging the tires on the victim's truck and on three police cars?

Holding

No. An employee from the local Goodyear tire store testified as to the value of the tires, whether they were damaged or destroyed. The State produced evidence of the cost of replacement tires, but no evidence of the cost of repairing or restoring the tires from the patrol vehicles. Evidence of repair to the victim's truck showed a pecuniary loss of around only $80, and the State used only replacement value as proof of loss without first demonstrating that the fair market value of the property at the time of the damage could not be ascertained.
Read opinion.

Commentary

If you want to see what happens when trashy people drink too much and fight, read this opinion.

 

Attorney General Opinion Requests

Request from the Kerr County Attorney

06/22/09 : Request No. RQ-08-09-GA : Transport of Proposed Mental Patients

Issue

Under Government Code §402.043, may a peace officer who has taken a proposed patient into custody under Health and Safety Code §573.001 (peace officer's emergency detention) or §573.011 (judge's or magistrate's order for emergency apprehension and detention) be required to transport the proposed patient to a medical facility for evaluation prior to acceptance by either a state hospital or a local MHMR crisis stabilization unit?
Read opinion request.

TDCAA is pleased to offer our members unique case summaries from the U.S. Supreme Court, the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, Texas Courts of Appeals and the Texas Attorney General. In addition to the basic summaries, each case will have a link to the full text opinion and will offer exclusive prosecutor commentary explaining how the case may impact you as a prosecutor. The case summaries are for the benefit of prosecutors, their staff members, and members of the law enforcement community. These summaries are NOT a source of legal advice for citizens. The information contained in this email message may be privileged, confidential, and protected from disclosure. Any unauthorized use, printing, copying, disclosure, dissemination of or reliance upon this communication by persons other than the intended recipient may be subject to legal restriction or sanction. Please email comments, problems, or questions to [email protected] In addition, if you would like to discuss the summaries with fellow prosecutors, look for the thread in our criminal forum.