Ex parte Martinez

Court of Appeals of Texas, Houston (14th Dist.).Mar 25, 2015
451 S.W.3d 852 (Tex. App. 2015)

No. 14–14–00253–CR.

2015-03-25

Ex parte Maria A. MARTINEZ.

Mike Degeurin, Houston, for Appellant. Abbie Miles, Houston, for the State.



Affirmed.


Mike Degeurin, Houston, for Appellant. Abbie Miles, Houston, for the State.
Panel consists of Chief Justice FROST and Justices CHRISTOPHER and BUSBY.

OPINION


TRACY CHRISTOPHER, Justice.


This is an appeal from the denial of a post-conviction application for writ of habeas corpus. Appellant, Maria A. Martinez, argues that her conviction should be set aside because she did not knowingly, intelligently, and voluntarily waive her right to counsel when she entered her plea of guilty. The only question for this court to consider is whether the trial court abused its discretion when it found that appellant had validly waived her right to counsel. Finding no abuse of discretion, we affirm the trial court's order denying habeas relief.

Following Guerrero, we conclude that the record is not silent because the underlying judgment contains recitals, and we presume that the recitals are correct. To be entitled to habeas relief, appellant accordingly had to show by a preponderance of the evidence that she did not knowingly, intelligently, and voluntarily waive her right to counsel. The trial court sits as the finder of fact in a habeas proceeding brought under article 11.09 of the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure. In such cases, the court is the sole judge of credibility and demeanor, and we may not disturb its ruling absent a clear abuse of discretion. See Ex parte Peterson, 117 S.W.3d 804, 819 (Tex.Crim.App.2003), overruled on other grounds by Ex parte Lewis, 219 S.W.3d 335 (Tex.Crim.App.2007). We defer to the trial court's findings of fact that are supported by the record, even when no witnesses testify and all of the evidence is submitted through affidavits. See Ex parte Wheeler, 203 S.W.3d 317, 325–26 (Tex.Crim.App.2006). We also infer all implied findings of fact that are necessary to support the trial court's ruling. See Chadwick v. State, 309 S.W.3d 558, 561 (Tex.Crim.App.2010). Appellant testified by affidavit that she had not been advised of her right to an attorney, and that she would have requested an attorney had she been so advised. The trial court was free to disbelieve this testimony, and in its findings of fact, it expressly determined that appellant's account was not credible. The court did not make a similar finding with respect to the affidavit testimony of appellant's mother and immigration attorney, but we can infer that this testimony was implicitly rejected. Cf. Okonkwo v. State, 398 S.W.3d 689, 694 (Tex.Crim.App.2013) (holding that a trial court had implicitly found that an affiant lacked credibility, even where the affidavit testimony was uncontroverted). Deferring, as we must, to the trial court's assessment of credibility, we conclude that appellant failed to overcome the presumption that the recitals in her judgment were correct. The trial court did not abuse its discretion by denying appellant's application. CONCLUSION The trial court's order denying habeas relief is affirmed.