About Me

My photo

Reading is difficult. As a writer, I help the reader every way I can think of. As a reader, I work hard not to miss the big things in the middle of the road.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Where to File Texas State Habeas Corpus Applications

In March 2012 I promised a post about what Texas state courts to file habeas corpus applications in, but I don't seem to have done it yet.

  • Civil- Applications for writs of habeas corpus only arise in civil trial courts one of two ways:
  1.  When someone is held in contempt of court. Contempts of court may be divided into two types: criminal and civil. Contempt of court is a crime in Texas, and habeas corpus may be sought against a criminal contempt finding, as it may for any other crime. Civil contempt is when judges confine people in order to coerce them to follow a court order. They appear to arise most often in family law matters. Judges may only hold people in civil contempt for a maximum of 18 months.There is no right to appeal a civil contempt order; the only relief is through habeas. In these cases, one may generally apply for habeas through a court of appeals that supervises that trial court. The Texas Supreme Court may also have jurisdiction but in practically all cases it will require a relator to exhaust its court-of-appeals remedy before the Texas Supremes will hear the case.
  2. When the writ is sought as to a nongovernmental confinement, most commonly possession of a child contrary to family law rights, though habeas is a civil remedy against any unlawful private confinement, against a kidnapping, enslavement, peonage or the confinement of sex workers, etc. Courts of general jurisdiction may hear these matters: state district courts and most county-courts-at-law. If a relator doesn't like the result there, the relator can apply for a writ first in the court of appeals, then if one needs to go further, to the Texas Supremes. Under a few circumstances, an appeal may lie against a trial court's denial of habeas relief.
  • Criminal pre-trial- One must start in one's trial court, and if one wants to go further an application may subsequently be made first the court of appeals, and, if necessary, in the Court of Criminal Appeals.
  • Criminal post-conviction- Practically all such applications for State of Texas relief are governed by Texas Code of Criminal Appeals chapter 11, with special provisions for habeas applications relating to people under a death sentence, people seeking relief from community supervision judgments and people imprisoned for non-death offenses. People suffering under imprisonment convictions apply straight to the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, which has a large group of staff attorneys dealing with  those cases, including old friends of mine formerly with State Counsel for Offenders. Non-death-penalty relators are governed by article 11.07 and has a required form which may be found here. Texas offers all indigent imprisoned convicts appointed counsel on appeal to the courts of appeal, but not to non-death-penalty prisoners, so the vast majority are not done with lawyers, but are done by the convicts themselves. The form is intended to be helpful to them and to ease the court's work. Community supervision relators have to try to reform their conditions in the trial court, then file in the trial court, and they and the State may appeal that decision.

No comments:

Post a Comment