July 12, 2019

Texas Courts of Appeals

Williams v. State

No. 01-18-00332-CR        7/9/19

Issue:

Can a 911 telecommunicator knowingly prevent or interfere with a caller’s ability to request assistance so as to sustain a conviction under Penal Code §42.062(a)?

Holding:

Yes. Under §42.062(a), “prevents or interferes with” is defined by its plain meaning of hindering, impeding, or obstructing. It does not require physical interference with the caller. In this case, the defendant admitted to repeatedly hanging up on emergency calls while working as a 911 telecommunicator. Hanging up twice in a row on a caller attempting to report a robbery is sufficient evidence to support a conviction for preventing or interfering with a call for emergency assistance. Read opinion.

Commentary:

This case presents a (hopefully) unusual application of the interference with a 911 call statute. It also presents in depth descriptions of the operations of a 911 call center and training and activities of 911 “telecommunicators.”

Announcements:

Notice from the Texas Forensic Science Commission

The Commission has issued a memorandum of guidance for questions related to the Becton Dickenson (BD) recall notification for BD Vacutainer® Fluoride Tubes for Blood Alcohol Determinations (grey top tubes) catalog number 367001 and lot number 8187663. Click here for a copy of the Commission’s memorandum.

Heart of Texas Human Trafficking Coalition Training August 2019

Collective Liberty and the Heart of Texas Human Trafficking Coalition would like to invite you to a free 5-day training institute from August 19 to August 23 in Waco. Collective Liberty, in collaboration with the Heart of Texas Human Trafficking Coalition, has designed a training for law enforcement and prosecutors in Texas to walk through lessons learned, best practices, and ways to fight human trafficking in your communities. This multi-day training will also be an opportunity for you to connect with and learn best practices from colleagues throughout the region working on these same difficult-to-investigate crimes. All participants can engage in a dynamic, hands-on case study that will take them from community complaint through to trial and sentencing, facilitated by national law enforcement and prosecution experts. More information and brochure are available here.

Prosecutor Trial Skills Course July 2019

Walk-ins are still available for our Prosecutor Trial Skills Course this July in Austin. It’s a full week of intensive training that prepares newly hired prosecutors for their work both in the courtroom and out. Seasoned faculty advisors are assigned to small groups of attendees to answer questions and direct discussions at each table, and two aspects of trial—jury selection and opening statement—are demonstrated by veteran prosecutors. Other elements of trial are covered, from opening statements to closing arguments, as are DWI and domestic violence prosecution (two of the most common offenses new prosecutors handle), plea bargains, probation revocation hearings, and motions to suppress. There’s even an optional forum on Class C misdemeanors for those prosecutors who practice in JP or municipal courts. New prosecutors won’t want to miss this intensive, high-quality training customized especially for them! 

Reminder:  TDCAA dues-paying members get a $50 discount on TDCAA Legislative Updates!  

One of the benefits of being a dues-paying member at TDCAA is a steep discount on the TDCAA Legislative Updates. If you are a dues-paying member and register in advance online, you will receive a $50 discount off the $150 non-member registration fee. If you want to become a member before you register for an update, just go to www.tdcaa.com/membership. Unsure if you are a member? Contact Kaylene at [email protected].    

Legislative Update Seminars

We have opened online registrations for our Legislative Update tour this summer! We’ll visit more than 20 locations throughout Texas in July and August to teach you, your staff, and your local court and law enforcement communities about all the new laws that will impact your work. If you haven’t already received your brochure listing all the locations and details, a PDF version is available online here. Find a date and location convenient for you and your staff and join us for the big show!

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 [email protected]