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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.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Can't Charge a Stone Broke Defendant Attorneys' Fees

After having been convicted of two count of possession of a controlled substance with intent to deliver, Ruben Ramirez had two complaints:
  1. that the evidence in his case should have been suppressed and
  2. that he should not have been charged fees for the lawyer appointed for him as a indigent.
The Fourth Court of Appeals in San Antonio disposed of the first complaint quickly-- no reason to suppress drugs from a place Ramirez
  1. didn't have a possessory interest in,
  2. didn't have a right to be in,
  3. didn't control and have the right to keep other people out of,
  4. didn't take any normal precautions to protect his privacy,
  5. didn't put to any private use, and 
  6. didn't have a claim of privacy consistent with historical notions of privacy.
The second claim seemed a little harder. Ramirez filed an affidavit of indigency-- a pauper's oath-- at trial. There never was a finding that he his status changed. Tex. Code Crim. Proc. 25.06(g) says that attorneys' fees may only be charged to a person who has some capacity to pay, which is not Ramirez.
Justice Marialyn Barnard, writing for a panel that also included Chief Justice Catherine Stone and Justice Patricia O. Alvarez, affirmed the trial court's judgment after modifying by getting rid of the attorneys' fee judgment.

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