Articles Posted in Supreme Court of Texas

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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