Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Better Study Your Algebra!

Here are a couple more interesting issues that came up recently in Texas published cases:

Better Study Your Algebra
Davis v. State, (14th Ct - Houston) June 29, 2010 - Appellant argued that the trial court abused its discretion by allowing the State to introduce evidence during sentencing of the poor grades he received in school.  Overuling this issue, the Court held:
     Article 37.07 provides, in part, that upon a finding of guilt, evidence may be offered by either party as to any matter the trial court deems relevant to sentencing,‖ and the evidence is not limited to the prior criminal record of the defendant, his general reputation, his character, an opinion regarding his character, the circumstances of the offense for which he is being tried.  Tex. Code Crim. Proc. Ann. art. 37.07 § 3(a).
     Although it is questionable that appellant‘s poor grades were relevant to determining an appropriate punishment for appellant, any asserted error in admitting evidence of appellant‘s grades was not harmful.
Even the State Needs Permission Sometimes
Witkovsky v. State, (2nd Ct - Fort Worth) June 24, 2010 - Where there is no showing that the terms or conditions of community supervision were modified, a person’s community supervision cannot be revoked for failure to meet the modified terms.  Because the defendant's community supervision was modified unilaterally, without court authorization, the trial court abused its discretion by revoking the defendant's community supervision on the basis of his failure to successfully complete a particular sex offender treatment program.

"The Best Part of Waking Up..."
Garcia v. State, (4th Ct - San Antonio) July 7, 2010 - Appellant argues that by placing his bare hand in the coffee can to search for marijuana, the police officer destroyed consumable property in violation of the Takings Clause of the Fifth Amendment to the Constitution.  However, the Court held, when property has been seized pursuant to the criminal laws or subjected to in rem forfeiture proceedings, such deprivations are not "takings" for which the owner is entitled to compensation.  The same rule applies even if the property is seized as evidence in a criminal investigation or as the suspected instrumentality of a crime, but is ultimately returned to the owner either because the government does not pursue forfeiture proceedings or because the owner prevails in a forfeiture action.