Articles Tagged with Criminal Appeals

Can a prosecutor insult a defense lawyer at trial?

In the Texas 5th District Court of Appeals case, Gutierrez Jr. v. Texas, the issue known as “going over the shoulder of counsel” is argued. Surprisingly, prosecutors may sometimes throw an insult or two at the defense table. At times an objection can be made and the trial will proceed, but there are few instances where these insults can warrant a mistrial.

In the case mentioned above, the prosecutor told the jury “don’t believe what the defense attorney is saying, he is paid, he has been appointed in this case actually.” The defense counsel objected and moved for mistrial. The objection was sustained but the mistrial was denied.

What is an expunction?

An expunction is available to a someone arrested for a crime, but never convicted, or to a person given deferred on a Class C misdemeanor. Expunctions are for arrests only, they serve as a way to have the arrest taken off of your record.

The process.

The 6th and 14th Amendments of the United State Constitution guarantee an accused party the right to “be confronted with the witnesses against him.” Meaning that if you are charged with a crime and proceed with trial, you have a right to cross-examine testimonial statements by the witness.

Crawford v. Washington 541 U.S. 36, 68 (2004) says that these statements are not admissible against the accused unless the person who made the statement is unavailable and the accused had a chance to cross-examine them.

What are testimonial statements?

You can be convicted of improper photography in Texas, without any photographs.

 Everyone has a camera these days. Even crappy cell phones usually have an 8-megapixel HDR camera on board. Your Instagram feed is full of strange photographs, and some stuff you’d rather not see. But in Texas, some photographs are illegal.

What is improper photography in Texas?

I often have a hard time quickly explaining to my non-lawyer friends exactly how the appeals system is stacked against criminal defendants. Fortunately today’s case, Barnes vs. State, crystallizes how the constitutional rights of defendants are effectively waived through nonsense technicalities. It’s a Kaufman County Drug case, appealed to the 5th District in Dallas.

What happened?

Barnes filed a motion to suppress claiming the police investigation was unconstitutional. Specifically, Barnes sought to exclude statements made during the investigation. This motion was denied (as are most motions to suppress).

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