Texas Courts of Appeals
Shipp v. State – 6th COA
07/23/09 : Cite No. 06-08-00122-CR : Sentencing
Should the trial court have ordered the defendant’s sentences for possession of a controlled substance in a drug-free zone (60 years’ imprisonment), forgery of a government instrument (25 years), and forgery of a commercial instrument (20 years and a $10,000 fine) to run concurrently?
Yes. The original sentencing was based on Health and Safety Code §481.134(h). Because the court of appeals found that the evidence was legally insufficient to sustain the jury’s verdict that the defendant possessed an illegal substance within 1,000 feet of a school zone, the statute’s prohibition against concurrent sentences does not apply.
An interesting analysis of the sufficiency claim, interpreting whether the co-defendant’s statement that she was putting a "green thing" back in the car was enough to make the defendant aware he was a joint possessor of methamphetamine. Turns out it was sufficient for the possession but not for the drug-free zone finding.
Shipp v. State – 6th COA (Companion Case)
07/23/09 : Cite No. 06-08-00124-CR : Forgery of Commercial Instrument
Does a falsified receipt given to the defendant by his wife that the defendant showed to a store employee as he attempted to leave the store with merchandise qualify as a "commercial instrument?"
No. The forged receipt did not fall into the category of a "commercial instrument" because the receipt only memorialized only a past transaction, rather than being tangible for a future transaction.
A very thoughtful discussion of the meaning of "commercial instrument." The Legislature should add a definition to the Penal Code. In the meantime, the court of appeals provides a rational approach to deciding what is and is not a commercial instrument. Nonetheless, the prosecutor did some very creative charging and presentation of evidence in this case. The effort is to be commended. In evaluating the factual sufficiency, the court of appeals did make one troubling statement: "In this case, we do not entertain the high level of skepticism about the jury’s verdict which would be necessary before we can say that there is a factual insufficiency here." That statement implies that the court of appeals has the discretion to use their own skepticism, not the judgment exercised by the jury, to evaluate the weight of evidence. No, no, no.
Texas Attorney General Opinions and Requests for Opinions
Opinion for the 25th Judicial District Attorney
07/22/09 : Opinion No. GA-0730 : Conflict of Interest
Is it a conflict of interest for a district attorney to occupy office space leased by the county from the district attorney’s spouse?
No. A district attorney’s occupation of office space leased by the county commissioners court from that district attorney’s spouse does not constitute a conflict of interest under Local Government Code Ch. 171 (Regulation of Conflicts of Interest of Officers of Municipalities, Counties, and Certain Other Local Governments).
Opinion for the Kerr County Attorney
07/23/09 : Opinion No. GA-0731 : Recording DWI Interrogation
Is a sheriff required to maintain a room in the jail dedicated to recording the interrogation of a person arrested for driving while intoxicated?
Counties with a population of 25,000 or more are required to purchase and maintain electronic devices to make visual recordings of persons arrested within the county for DWI. However, a county is not required to maintain a room dedicated to videotaping the arrested persons, nor is the location where the equipment is to be used specified. (See Act of May 27, 1983, 68th Leg., R.S., ch. 303, § 24, 1983 Tex. Gen. Laws 1568, 1605.)
Opinion Request from the Executive Director of the Texas Department of Transportation
07/15/09 : Request No. RQ-0811-GA : Issuance of Motor Vehicle Title
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