Weekly Case Summaries: July 30, 2010

Texas Courts of Appeals

Garcia v. State - 4th COA

07/21/10 : Cite No. 04-09-00735-CR

Issue:

For purposes of Ch. 64 DNA testing, does the "identity" at issue refer to the complainant's or the perpetrator's identity?

Holding:

As other intermediate courts have held, the perpetrator's identity. Read Opinion.

Commentary:

This is another example of how the law is abused by very guilty criminals sitting in prison who want to play the DNA lottery. Defendant killed and burned up four victims. He pleaded guilty to avoid the death penalty and confessed. Yet, 18 years later, he gets to waste the court's time by demanding testing of the remains of the bodies. Fortunately, the DNA law focuses on discovering the identity of the perpetrator, not the victim. Shouldn't the defendant have to provide some explanation as to why he pleaded guilty and confessed before we suspend our disbelief and use state resources to test a theory of innocence that doesn't even involve his identity?

Render v. State - 5th COA

07/23/10 : Cite No. 05-09-00528-CR

Issue 1:

Is the continuous sexual assault statute unconstitutional because it violates the state constitution's unanimity clause or the federal Due Process Clause?

Issue 2:

Was the absence of a "not guilty" provision from the jury charge reversible error?

Holding 1:

No and no. The statute is not unconstitutional on these grounds. Read Opinion.

Holding 2:

Even if it was error, given the other charge instructions, evidence, jury notes, and arguments, it was harmless error.Read Opinion.

Commentary:

This opinion was originally not published. Strange, since it decides, for the first time in Texas, that the relatively new ongoing crime of continuous sexual abuse, which relieves the jury from having to all agree on the same acts of sexual abuse before convicting, does not violate the constitutional requirement of a unanimous verdict. Note: always a good idea to have a fresh set of eyes read a jury charge to catch the little things, like a missing not guilty verdict.

Ji v. State - 5th COA

07/23/10 : Cite Nos. 05-09-00659-CR & 05-09-00660-CR

Issue:

Did the trial court abuse its discretion in denying the defendant the right to represent himself at trial?

Holding:

No. The defendant's mental illness was severe enough to warrant the appointment of counsel. Read Opinion.

Commentary:

This opinion provides a very good description of the difference between incompetency to stand trial and incompetency to represent yourself in a trial. The trial court did a good job of using an appointed expert to support the ruling.

 

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