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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, October 14, 2015

Possibly Coming Soon to a Texas Criminal Trial Court Clerk Near You- E-filing in Criminal Cases!

Rules governing electronic filing in Texas criminal cases have been finally approved. A clerk may implement criminal case electronic filing in that clerk’s office when that clerk has the written consent of a majority of the judges in the county who have jurisdiction in criminal cases and who are served by that clerk. Appellate courts generally require e-filing for documents filed by attorneys in criminal matters, so these new rules apply to trial courts. Under these rules, e-filing may not be the exclusive manner of filing documents; paper filing must still be allowed (i.e. the kind of filing done presently). Charging instruments cannot be e-filed; they must be paper-filed. Otherwise, the e-filing is similar to that in civil cases, viz. no in camera material, no material under seal or proposed to be under seal, no sensitive information.
New rule 1.04(b) does not appear to be harmonized with Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code Annotated section 132.001 (West Supp. 2015). It appears to me that a statute trumps a supreme court administrative rule.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Personable, Hard-Charging, Drug-Court Leader Wants to Replace Larry Meyers on the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals

Spanning the state to bring you the constant variety of Texas Court of Criminal Appeals politics, I am finding candidates for next year's election. First up--366th District Court Judge Ray Wheless of Collin County (the county north of Dallas County, and red as a beet), seeking position two. It is currently occupied by Lawrence Meyers, who switched from the Republican Party to the Democratic.
Judge Wheless's court handles civil and criminal cases. He is married to Cynthia McCrann Wheless, presiding judge of Collin County's 417th District Court, which has a juvenile docket.
Born in Abilene, Wheless dropped out of school and joined the Air Force during the Vietnam era. He fixed fighter aircraft in California and came out four years later with a G.E.D. and four years of college under his belt. He got a Bachelor's in Business Administration in California and went to UT Law in Austin. He became an AV-rated specialist in civil trial law and personal injury trial law, served as president of the Plano Bar Association, the Collin County Bar Association, and the Plano Metro Rotary Club. A 35-year Republican Party activist, he was appointed a public member of the State Board of Chiropractic Examiners, a county-court-at-law judge in 2000, a district court judge in 2009. He's been a member of the Texas Parental Rights Advisory Panel. His main claim for preferment is that he established Collin County's first misdemeanor and felony drug courts, is Chair of the Specialized Courts Advisory Council, and is President-elect of the Texas Association of Drug Court Professionals.

This guy is very charming and energetic. I've had two phone conversations with him and enjoyed both of them immensely, Since I interviewed him in July, he has been to more political functions in my home county, Montgomery, than I have. What kind of Court of Criminal Appeals judge would he make? Only God knows. He doesn't have a background as an appellate lawyer nor as a prosecutor nor as a criminal defense attorney.
Houston criminal district judge Mary Lou Keel is the other person in this race with a campaign committee. I intend to have a piece about her at the end of the week