Case Summaries

Each week, TDCAA staff members summarize the most important cases from Texas and federal criminal courts and provide insightful commentary on how those cases could impact the criminal justice system as well as a link to the opinions. Find a library of previous Weekly Case Summaries here.

Summaries

January 21, 2022

Texas Courts of Appeals

Turner v. State

No. 02-21-00058-CR                               1/13/21

Issue:

Did the Legislature’s removal of the term, “reparations,” from Art. 42.03, §2(b) in 2017 strip the trial court’s ability to assess unpaid monthly probation fees in a judgment revoking probation or adjudicating guilt after revoking deferred-adjudication probation?

Holding:

No. The court noted the Legislature’s intent was a nonsubstantive revision when removing the term “reparations.” Additionally, adopting a functional approach, the court held that these fees were not part of punishment or restitution but instead were administrative fees authorized by Art. 42A.652(a). Read opinion.

Commentary:

This appears to be an issue confined to the Fort Worth Court of Appeals, and the court treats it as such. Apart from that court of appeals, there are very few, if any, decisions dealing with “reparations” after the 2017 amendment deleted the word. The more significant issue the court decides is that a trial court has the authority to assess unpaid monthly probation fees in a judgment revoking the defendant’s probation or adjudicating his guilt. In that respect, the court disagrees with a prior holding of the Eastland Court of Appeals and construes a decision of the Court of Criminal Appeals as not holding to the contrary. The court’s statutory analysis is thorough, but it is possible that the Court of Criminal Appeals might wish to review this decision.

State v. Guilbault

No. 03-20-00110-CR                  1/13/21

Issue:

May a trial court grant the defendant’s motion for a new trial in the “interest of justice” when the defendant believes a witness’s testimony is disingenuous?

Holding:

No. In this case, the defendant did not articulate or show how his substantial rights were affected by the witness’s testimony. A trial court may not make a determination on its own about the credibility of a witness’s testimony. As a result, the court of appeals reversed the order granting a new trial. Read opinion.

Commentary:

This is a great decision, emphasizing once again that, to grant a defendant’s motion for new trial, the trial judge must rely upon a “legal” reason. Claims of false or misleading testimony can be raised in other proceedings, but if presented in a motion for new trial, this decision should help in confronting the defendant’s motion.

TDCAA is pleased to offer these unique case summaries from the U.S. Supreme Court, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, the Texas Supreme Court, the 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 commentaries expressed in these case summaries are not official statements by TDCAA and do not represent the opinions of TDCAA, its staff, or any member of the association. Please email comments, problems, or questions to Stephanie Huser.