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Saturday, January 19, 2013

CCA Says Prisoner's Prior Habeas Application Bars Relief for Trial Court's Lack of Jurisdiction

This is what happened to Casey Tyrone Sledge. He agrees to a plea bargain in the 181st District Court in Amarillo, Texas: deferred adjudication for sexual assault of a child. Three days after his probation term is up, the trial court issues a capias for him, because the state claims he has committed two more crimes. The district court adjudicates him guilty, sentencing him for five years. Sledge doesn't appeal, but he does apply for a writ of habeas corpus to the Court of Criminal Appeals for insufficient evidence. The CCA pours him out. After that, he files another writ application showing that the trial court had lost jurisdiction over his case by waiting after his probation period was over to call him back into court. Judge Tom Price, writing for a majority that included Presiding Judge Sharon Keller, and Judges Paul Womack, Michael E. Keasler, Barbara Parker Hervey ruled that the CCA did not have jurisdiction over the second writ application because Texas Code of Criminal Procedure article 11.07's requirements for a second writ application were not satisfied. Generally, a writ seeker is only supposed to have one application.
Judge Elsa Alcala wrote a dissent joined by Judge Cathy Cochran arguing that 11.07 did not apply since the trial court lacked jurisdiction. 11.07 is for convicts. A judgment of a court lacking jurisdiction is not a conviction. Judge Cheryl Johnson dissented without opinion, and Judge Lawrence E. Meyers did not participate in the case.
I think the CCA is using the prior application as an excuse for keeping a sex offender in prison.
Ex parte Casey Tyrone Sledge, No. AP-76,947 (Tex. Crim. App., Jan. 16, 2013) (orig. proceeding).

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