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Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Beaumont's Ninth Court of Appeals Rejects State's Retrial Objection

Justice Hollis Horton, writing for a panel of Beaumont's Ninth Court of Appeals including Chief Justice Steve McKeithen and Justice Charles Kreger, affirmed District Judge John Stevens's granting of a motion for new trial in the case of James Cody Guedry.
In August 2007, a City of Beaumont patrolman sees a car fail to yield the right-of-way to another car at a controlled intersection. In the stopped car, two men were in the front.  One was  in the back.  After the stop, other officers arrive to prevent the driver of the car and the front-seat passenger, D.N., from interfering with the arrest of the back-seat passenger, who had an outstanding warrant. A fight started when Guedry tried to pat D.N. down.  An officer near Guedry, David Todd Burke, began hitting D.N. with his baton. Guedry then tased D.N. twice.
The State charged Guedry and Burke with official oppression, a Class A misdemeanor, and they were indicted. Burke was tried first. At Guedry's trial, he used the same lawyer that Burke had, and the same expert witness (He waived his lawyer's conflict of interest in also his also representing Burke.). Guedry's field training officer testified that Beaumont officers should provide a subject with an opportunity to avoid the taser's use if feasible before discharging the taser. D.N. said that he had made a rude comment when Guedry patted him down, but denied resisting the search by grabbing Guedry's hand. Guedry contradicted D.N., and offered the testimony of the expert who testified that if D.N. resisted, Guedry's use of a taser was reasonable.
Guedry was convicted, and filed a motion for new trial, which he amended the day before the hearing (more than 30 days after sentencing). The trial court granted the new trial in the interest of justice on the ground that Guedry had been denied effective assistance of counsel. The State appealed because:

  • the court should not have held a hearing on a motion for new trial where it was not sworn and there were no affidavits and because relief should not have been granted on a new trial motion amended more than 30 days after sentencing; and
  • Guedry did not prove ineffective assistance of counsel.
The Appeals Court held that new trial motions that do not assert newly discovered evidence need not be sworn nor have affidavits. It also held that the amended motion added no new legal grounds to the motion, implying that any error from the amended motion was harmless. Lastly, the Court of Appeals said that ineffective assistance had been proved. Guedry's being stuck with Burke's expert was incompetent.
The D.A.'s office was willing to set its face against Guedry and Burke and so was the police hierarchy, but the bench is not.
Thanks to KIII-TV, channel 3, in Corpus Christi, Texas  for bringing this story to my attention. I don't have any reason to think that the story made it into Beaumont media, but Corpus is all over it.
State of Texas v. James Cody Guedry, No. 09-11-00185-CR, (Tex. App.--Beaumont, Sept. 5, 2012, no pet. h.).

1 comment:

  1. News about a civil suit related to this incident. http://www.beaumontenterprise.com/news/article/Beaumont-cops-seek-dismissal-of-civil-suit-3920518.php

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