Friday, September 3, 2010

Pay Up! Indigent Defendant Relieved of the Trial Court Judgment to Pay Court-Appointed Attorney's Fees

Pay Up
Sikalasinh v. State, 7th District Court of Appeals (Amarillo)

Appellant, an indigent defendant (who, incidentally, also qualified as an indigent appellant), was ordered by the trial court to pay court-appointed attorney's fees and non-resident witness travel fees as "court costs" under Articles 26.05 and 102.002 of the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure, respectively.  To be liable for court-appointed attorney's fees, there must be a finding that the Appellant had the financial resources to "be able to pay."  In this case, the trial court made no such finding, simply ordering the reimbursement on a bare record.  Accordingly, the State condeed the issue and the 7th Court reversed the part of the judgment pertaining to attorney's fees.  Regarding the issue of non-resident witness fees, the 7th Court analyzed the statutory framework, including the recent repeal of subsection (a) on Article 102.002 and determined that the legislature did not intend for a defendant to pay non-resident witness fees as "costs of court."  Conviction affirmed, but judgment modified.

No Plans to Move
Green v. State, 14th District Court of Appeals (Houston)

Appellant's conviction for failing to comply with sex offender registration requirement was reversed.  The sex-offender registration laws require that all sex offenders notify the State within 7 days of their "intent to move."  While Appellant did in fact move without providing 7-days notice as required, the evidence was insufficient to prove that Appellant "intended" to move.  Conviction reversed.