Justia White Collar Crime Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Texas Court of Criminal Appeals
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Applicant Ray Hicks pled guilty to attempted forgery of a government instrument in 2013 and was sentenced, under a plea agreement, to 180 days of confinement in a state jail facility. Applicant filed this application for a writ of habeas corpus, contending he was actually innocent because subsequent analysis showed the $100 bill he possessed was genuine. Applicant was charged with forgery but ultimately pled guilty to attempted forgery. More than five years later, the United States Secret Service notified the Webster Police Department by letter that Applicant’s $100 bill was genuine. The habeas court found Applicant was actually innocent of the charged offense and any possible lesser included offenses based on newly discovered evidence neither introduced nor available to the defense at trial. Specifically, the habeas court found the State could not have proven beyond a reasonable doubt that the Applicant had intent to defraud because the bill was not actually forged. The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals did not find Applicant was actually innocent, but instead, granted relief on the ground of an involuntary plea. View "Ex parte Ray Hicks" on Justia Law

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In his petition for discretionary review, appellant Eddie Ette challenged the court of appeals' judgment upholding the imposition of a $10,000 fine assessed as part of his punishment for misapplication of fiduciary property. The fine was lawfully assessed by a jury, included in the trial court’s written judgment, but not orally pronounced at sentencing. The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals reduced the issues presented by this appeal as: (1) whether a trial court has no authority to alter a jury’s lawful verdict on punishment; or (2) whether sentences, including fines, must be orally pronounced in a defendant’s presence, and, as a matter of due process and fair notice, the sentence orally pronounced by the trial judge controls if it differs from the sentence detailed in the written judgment. The Court held the latter judicially created rule giving precedence to the oral pronouncement over the written judgment could not supplant a jury’s lawful verdict on punishment that has been correctly read aloud in a defendant’s presence in court. Accordingly, the Court held the trial court’s judgment could properly impose the fine against appellant despite the failure to orally pronounce it. Imposition of the fine was affirmed. View "Ette v. Texas" on Justia Law