Court of Criminal Appeals
No. PD-0899-18 2/5/20
Is a defendant entitled to a jury instruction on multiple assailants when the evidence demonstrated that others, who were not the aggressors in their own right, were acting together with the victim?
Holding (Keel, J.):
Yes. The Court held that the defendant was entitled to a jury instruction on multiple assailants, and the failure to include it was harmful. A self-defense instruction on multiple assailants does not require evidence that each person defended against was an aggressor in his own right; it requires evidence that the defendant had a reasonable fear of serious bodily injury from a group of people acting together. Because the evidence demonstrated that the defendant had a reasonable apprehension of apparent danger from multiple assailants, he was entitled to the instruction. Read Opinion.
Dissenting (Keasler, J.):
“Because [the defendant] did not admit to harboring the requisite culpable mental state for the particular deadly-conduct offense with which he was charged, I do not think he was entitled to a multiple-assailants self-defense instruction. Therefore, I dissent to the Court’s holding that he was.” Read Opinion.
Dissenting (Yeary, J. joined by Keller, P.J.):
“I would remand this cause, not to the trial court for further proceedings, as the Court does today, but to the court of appeals. I would leave it to the court of appeals in the first instance to decide on remand whether the lack of a multiple-assailants instruction was harmful. Should the court of appeals decide that it was harmful, then it would, as this Court does today, remand it to the trial court. But should it decide it was harmless, that court would then be obliged to determine whether any of [the defendant]’s other complaints about the self-defense instruction are meritorious.” Read Opinion.
There is no discussion about the propriety of a multiple assailants instruction in general. All of the judges—including the dissenting opinions—appear to assume that a multiple assailants instruction is required if raised by the evidence. If you have a case in which the defendant could have reasonably believed that there was more than one assailant, you need to read this decision and consider whether the defendant is entitled to an instruction on multiple assailants.
Texas Courts of Appeals
No. 10-19-00407-CR, -00408-CR, & -00409-CR 1/29/20
Does the discharge of a criminal sentence, by itself, discharge court costs owed by the defendant?
No. The discharge of a criminal sentence does not, by itself, discharge the court costs owed by a defendant. Because the obligation of a convicted person to pay court costs is established by statute, court costs are not part of a defendant’s sentence. Additionally, Code of Criminal Procedure Art. 103.0081 governs the means and reasons to declare court costs uncollectable. Read Opinion.
The court treated the filings that it received as petitions for a writ of mandamus, but there is little analysis. The opinion is barely three pages long. Nevertheless, this decision could provide at least some authority for requiring a defendant to pay court costs, even though his sentence had been discharged.