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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.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Can't slap attorney's fees on an indigent criminal defendant

Clifton James Taylor was found to be indigent at the beginning of his case and was lucky enough to get Judith Shields, a doughy criminal defense fighter from Conroe. Taylor pleaded guilty to third degree felony assault against a family member and went to the judge for punishment. Among the penalties the judge rendered was attorney's fees. Shields took this up on appeal along with another issue. Justice Leanne Johnson wrote for a panel including Chief Justice Steve McKeithen and Justice Hollis Horton removing the attorney's fees. Credit should be given to the Montgomery County District Attorney's Office for graciously conceding this point before the opinion was rendered.
Taylor was found indigent at the beginning of the trial court case. No one alleged that his indigent condition had changed during the course of the proceedings so the law of the case at the end of the trial was that he was indigent, and that therefore charging his attorney's fees was inappropriate.
Criminal defense lawyers, check for this in your judgments and know at least one case to cite before your trial judge and the State.
Taylor v. State, No. 09-14-00039-CR  (Tex. App.-- Beaumont Jan. 28, 2015, no pet. h.) (mem. op.) available at http://www.search.txcourts.gov/SearchMedia.aspx?MediaVersionID=9cfac722-1afc-4640-854d-3e4affb5a49d&MediaID=f537d09f-36e3-4448-8e1c-55ee9a0921b3&coa=%22%20+%20this.CurrentWebState.CurrentCourt%20+%20@%22&DT=Opinion

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