Thursday, August 5, 2010

11 Angry Men?

Enjoyed a nice trip to Dallas this past week.  I could have certainly done without the 104 degree weather every day, but the heat was wonderfully offset by the availability of Blue Bell Ice Cream.  As I'm getting settled back into my blogging routine, here are a couple of cases from July that you might find helpful or informative (or perhaps neither).

11 Angry Men
In Willis v. State, the 11th District Court of Appeals (Eastland) points out that under Section 62.201 of the Texas Government Code, parties in a district court may "agree to try a particular case with fewer than 12 jurors."  This is one of the exceptions to the general rule found in article 36.29(a) of the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure, which provides that "Not less than 12 jurors can render and return a verdict in a felony case."

Mail Call
In Brown v. State, the 12th District Court of Appeals (Tyler) reminds us of one of the many reasons it stinks to serve time in Texas (or anywhere) - nothing is private!  The Court explained:
[A]n inmate does not have an expectation of privacy. Hudson v. Palmer, 468 U.S. 517 (1984). Seizure of inmate mail is not a violation of an inmate's constitutional right to be free from unreasonable search and seizure. Stroud v. United States, 251 U.S. 15 (1919).  Additionally, there is no violation of an inmate's constitutional rights by prison officials reading the inmate's nonlegal mail. See Thomas v. Allsip, 836 S.W.2d 825 (Tex. App - Tyler 1992, no pet.).  Since Appellant has no expectation of privacy, the corrections officers were within their authority to obtain copies of his mail without a search warrant.