Articles Posted in Supreme Court of Texas

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the court of appeals affirming the trial court’s grant of Respondent’s petition seeking expungement for the records and files relating to the charge for which Respondent was acquitted. Respondent was arrested for two unrelated charges. Respondent pleaded guilty to one charge and was acquitted of the other. Following her acquittal, Respondent filed a petition pursuant to Tex. Code Crim. Proc. 55.01 seeking expungement of the records and files relating to the charge for which she was acquitted. In opposing the petition, the State argued that Respondent did not meet the statutory requirements because her arrest resulted in both an acquittal and a conviction. The trial court granted the petition. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) section 55.01(a)(1) is neither entirely arrest-based nor offense-based; and (2) partial redactions and expunctions of records are valid remedial actions. View "State v. T.S.N." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court dismissed as moot the City of Krum’s interlocutory appeal from Taylor Rice’s suit contesting the validity of a sex offender residency restrictions ordinance (SORRO) enacted by the City, holding that Rice’s claims were rendered moot during the pendency of this appeal. Rice pled guilty to sexual assault of a fourteen-year-old. Rice was required to register as a sex offender, and at the time, the City of Krum had in place a SORRO prohibiting certain registered sex offenders such as Rice from residing “within 2,000 feet of any premises where children commonly gather.” The SORRO barred Rice from living in his parents’ house. Rice sued Krum, arguing that Krum lacked the authority to pass the SORRO. Krum filed a plea to the jurisdiction, arguing that Rice lacked standing to sue. The trial court denied the plea, and Krum filed an interlocutory appeal. The court of appeals affirmed. Krum filed a petition for review in the Supreme Court, reiterating its jurisdictional arguments. The Supreme Court vacated the lower courts’ judgments, holding that Rice’s claims had been rendered moot by changes in the law, and therefore the courts lacked jurisdiction over these claims. View "City of Krum, Texas v. Rice" on Justia Law

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Relator, who was designated a sexually violent predator and civilly committed pursuant to the Civil Commitment of Sexually Violent Predators Act, was not entitled to appointed counsel in proceedings on the State’s motion to amend his civil commitment order to conform to the Act’s 2015 amendments. The trial court denied Relator’s request for appointed counsel on the State’s motion to modify Relator’s civil commitment order. The court of appeals granted mandamus relief to Relator, ordering the trial court to vacate its orders and appoint counsel to represent Relator in further proceedings on the State’s motion to modify. The Supreme Court conditionally granted the State’s petition for writ of mandamus, holding that Relator was not entitled to appointed counsel on the State’s motion to amend his civil commitment order to conform to the amended Act, and therefore, the court of appeals abused its discretion in granting Relator mandamus relief. View "In re State of Texas" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court vacated the judgments of the court of appeals and the trial court in this interlocutory appeal arising from Respondent’s lawsuit contesting the validity of a sex offender residency restrictions ordinance enacted by the City of Krum. Respondent sued the City, challenging the City’s authority to pass the ordinance. The City filed a plea to the jurisdiction, arguing that Respondent lacked standing to sue. The trial court denied the plea, and Respondent filed an interlocutory appeal. The court of appeals affirmed the order denying the City’s plea to the jurisdiction. The City filed a petition for review. While the petition was pending, the Texas Legislature passed House Bill 1111, codified at Tex. Loc. Gov’t Code 341.906, and the City amended its ordinance. The Supreme Court held that Respondent’s challenge to the ordinance was moot in light of these changes in the law. Therefore, the courts lacked jurisdiction over Respondent’s claims. The court vacated the judgments of the court of appeals and the trial court and dismissed the case for lack of jurisdiction. View "City of Krum, Texas v. Rice" on Justia Law

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The proceedings involving the forfeiture of two handguns pursuant to Tex. Code Crim. Proc. 18.19 are civil in nature such that the Supreme Court has jurisdiction, but, in this case, conviction for possession of a weapon did not authorize a forfeiture under article 18.19(e), which allows forfeiture based on conviction of an offense involving use of the weapon. Defendant was arrested and convicted for the unlawful carrying of two handguns. Thereafter, the State moved under section 18.19(e) for forfeiture of the guns. The trial court granted the motions. The court of appeals determined that the forfeiture proceedings were civil in nature, severed the appeals of the forfeiture orders from the appeals of the convictions, and affirmed the forfeiture orders on the basis that “use” of a weapon under article 18.19(e) includes simply possessing the weapon. The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part, holding (1) jurisdiction was proper in the Supreme Court; but (2) the trial court’s forfeiture orders made pursuant to article 18.19(e) were not valid when they were based on Defendant’s conviction under Tex. Penal Code 46. View "Tafel v. State" on Justia Law

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After arresting Miguel Herrera, police officers seized his Lincoln Nagivator. An inventory search of the vehicle revealed drugs in the vehicle. The state filed a notice of seizure and intended forfeiture, asserting that the Navigator was “contraband” under Chapter 59 of the Code of Criminal Procedure. The trial court denied the seizure, concluding that the vehicle search was unlawful and, therefore, the evidence should be excluded. The court of appeals affirmed, ruling (1) the stop leading up to the arrest was unlawful; (2) Tex. Code Crim. Proc. Ann. 59.03(b) precludes the state from initiating a civil-forfeiture proceeding based on an illegal search; and (3) after the evidence found in the vehicle was excluded, the state was left with no evidence that the Navigator was contraband. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that an illegal seizure does not require exclusion in a Chapter 59 civil-forfeiture proceeding. Remanded. View "State v. One (1) 2004 Lincoln Navigator" on Justia Law

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Steven Phillips was convicted of and pled guilty to several crimes. A DNA test conducted several years later excluded Phillips as the perpetrator. The trial court granted habeas relief. Thereafter, Phillips applied to the Comptroller for wrongful imprisonment compensation under the Tim Cole Act (“the Act”). The Comptroller found that Phillips was due $2 million for the time he was incarcerated. Phillips also requested compensation for child support he had failed to pay. A 1978 Arkansas divorce decree ordered Phillips to pay Cheryl Macumber child support. In 2013, Macumber sued Phillips in Texas to register and enforce the Arkansas divorce decree. The trial court rendered judgment (“the Enforcement Judgment”) for Macumber, finding she was entitled to $304,861. Phillips requested that the Comptroller pay child support compensation based on the amount awarded by the Enforcement Judgment. The Comptroller concluded that compensation owed under the Act was $25,125. Phillips petitioned for mandamus relief. The Supreme Court granted conditional relief, holding (1) the Comptroller is not bound by a court’s judgment in a child support enforcement proceeding; (2) the Comptroller’s determinations are subject to review by the Supreme Court; and (3) in this case, the Comptroller is directed to recalculate the compensation owed to Phillips under section 103.052(1)(2) of the Act. View "In re Phillips" on Justia Law

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Petitioner, a state-prison inmate, filed suit seeking a declaratory judgment that he was eligible for mandatory release and that three Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) officials failed to discharge their duty to release him. The trial court granted the TDCJ officials’ plea to the jurisdiction. Petitioner appealed and filed an affidavit of inability to pay costs with his notice of appeal. The court of appeals dismissed the appeal for failure to file a declaration of prior actions or a certified copy of his inmate trust account statement as required by Tex. Civ. Prac. & Rem. Code Ann. 14. Petitioner then filed an amended notice of appeal, which included the required Chapter 14 filings, and a motion for rehearing, asserting that the amended notice of appeal cured the deficiency in his notice of appeal. The court of appeals denied the motion. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the court of appeals must give an inmate the opportunity to cure a Chapter 14 filing defect before it can dismiss the appeal. View "McLean v. Livingston" on Justia Law

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N.C., a state-prison inmate, filed a petition to expunge criminal records. The trial court denied the petition. N.C. appealed but failed to include two filings required by Tex. Civ. Prac. & Rem. Code Ann. 14. The court of appeals dismissed the action without giving N.C. an opportunity to cure the Chapter 14 filing defects. N.C. filed a timely notice of rehearing. Thereafter, N.C. complied with the court’s instructions and corrected both Chapter 14 filing defects. The court of appeals, however, denied N.C.’s motion for rehearing. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that, in accordance with McLean v. Livingston, the court of appeals must give an inmate an opportunity to cure a Chapter 14 filing defect in an appellate proceeding, through an amended filing, before the court can dismiss the appeal. View "Ex Parte N.C." on Justia Law