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State v. Morin

Court of Appeals of Texas, Thirteenth District, Corpus Christi
Aug 17, 2006
No. 13-05-00181-CR (Tex. App. Aug. 17, 2006)

Opinion

No. 13-05-00181-CR

Memorandum Opinion Delivered and Filed August 17, 2006. DO NOT PUBLISH. Tex.R.App.P. 47.2(b).

On Appeal from the 275th District Court of Hidalgo County, Texas.

Before Justices HINOJOSA, RODRIGUEZ, and GARZA.


MEMORANDUM OPINION


The State appeals from the trial court's order granting appellee Estanislado Morin's application for writ of habeas corpus and granting a new trial. In three issues, the State contends the trial court (1) used the incorrect legal standard to evaluate appellee's newly-discovered evidence claim, (2) abused its discretion in granting his application for writ of habeas corpus based on newly-discovered evidence, and (3) failed to enter the habeas corpus order within the statutory time limit. We reverse and remand.

See TEX. CODE CRIM. PROC. ANN. art. 44.01(k) (Vernon Supp. 2006) ("The state is entitled to appeal an order granting relief to an applicant for a writ of habeas corpus under Article 11.072.").

A. FACTUAL PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

A jury found appellee guilty of two counts of indecency with a child and assessed his punishment at five years' imprisonment and a $5,000 fine for each count. Because the jury recommended that the prison sentences and fines for both counts be suspended and that appellee be placed on community supervision, the trial court suspended the prison sentences and fines for both counts, and placed appellee on community supervision for five years for each count. Subsequently, appellee was deported and complied with the terms of his community supervision by mail. On October 10, 2003, appellee applied for a post-conviction writ of habeas corpus pursuant to article 11.07 of the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure, alleging (1) ineffective assistance of counsel and (2) newly-discovered evidence of innocence. In support of his newly-discovered evidence allegations, appellee attached an affidavit of the complaining witness, Veronica Salazar, dated September 19, 2003, wherein she recanted her prior testimony. The State did not receive notice of the application until April 27, 2004, and filed a response on May 24, 2004. The State attached an affidavit, dated May 4, 2004, wherein Salazar recanted her September 19, 2003 recantation. The State also noted that appellee should have filed his post-conviction writ pursuant to article 11.072, instead of article 11.07. See TEX. CODE CRIM. PROC. ANN. arts. 11.07, 11.072 (Vernon 2005). On May 27, 2004, the trial court overruled appellee's claim of ineffective assistance of counsel and ordered a hearing on appellee's issue regarding the newly-discovered evidence of innocence. That hearing was held on June 29, 2004, and Salazar testified about her conflicting affidavits. The proceedings were then recessed to July 16, 2004, so that appellee, who was absent because of his deportation, could be present. The hearing resumed on July 16, 2004, without appellee, who waived his presence. Both sides discussed the sixty-day statutory deadline at great length, and several times the State told the trial court that it would waive the sixty-day deadline, if it could be waived. Both sides mistakenly told the court when they thought the sixty-day deadline would elapse. Salazar testified again regarding her affidavits, explaining that she was pressured by family members to execute the September 19, 2003 affidavit, and her testimony at trial was truthful. After the hearing, the trial court said that before it ruled, it wanted additional memorandums from both sides. On October 22, 2004, the trial court ruled that Salazar's credibility was a question for a jury, and orally granted appellee a new trial. A written order reflecting this ruling was signed on March 4, 2005.

B. STANDARD OF REVIEW

In reviewing a district court's decision to grant a habeas corpus petition, we review the application of legal standards de novo. Ex parte Peterson, 117 S.W.3d 804, 819 (Tex.Crim.App. 2003). We afford almost total deference to the trial judge's determination of the historical facts supported by the record, especially when the fact findings are based on an evaluation of credibility and demeanor. See Ex parte Martin, 6 S.W.3d 524, 526 (Tex.Crim.App. 1999). However, "if the record will not support the trial judge's conclusions, then this Court may make contrary findings." See Ex parte Adams, 768 S.W.2d 281, 288 (Tex.Crim.App. 1989).

C. DISCUSSION

In its third issue, the State contends the trial court erred by failing to enter its written order within the statutory deadline of sixty days. The State argues that because the order was not entered within the sixty-day period, the order is void and appellee's application was denied by operation of law. Article 11.072 of the code of criminal procedure provides that: "Not later than the 60th day after the day on which the State's answer is filed, the trial court shall enter a written order granting or denying the relief sought in the application." TEX. CODE CRIM. PROC. ANN. art. 11.072. Because the State's answer to appellee's application was filed on May 24, 2004, the 60th day was July 23, 2004. Habeas corpus petitions are to be heard without delay. See TEX. CONST. art. I, § 12; TEX. CODE CRIM. PROC. ANN. art 11.07; Martin v. Hamlin, 25 S.W.3d 718, 719 (Tex.Crim.App. 2000); McCree v. Hampton, 824 S.W.2d 578, 578-79 (Tex.Crim.App. 1992). The proper remedy to a trial court's delay in ruling on a habeas corpus petition under article 11.072 is to file for a petition for a writ of mandamus from this Court. See Ex parte Hargett, 819 S.W.2d 866, 868 (Tex.Crim.App. 1991). After a trial court's ruling on a habeas corpus petition, compliance with statutory deadlines becomes moot. See McCree, 824 S.W.2d at 579; see also Ex parte Kendrick, No. 01-95-00161-CR, 1996 Tex. App. LEXIS 3400, *2 (Tex.App.-Houston [1st Dist.] 1996, pet. ref'd) (not designated for publication). The record shows the trial court failed to rule on appellee's habeas corpus petition within the sixty days required by article 11.072. However, because the trial court ultimately ruled on the petition, we conclude that the timing issue is moot. The State's third issue is overruled. In its first issue, the State contends the trial court used the incorrect legal standard to evaluate appellee's newly-discovered evidence claim. Claims of actual innocence fall into two categories: Herrera claims and Schlup claims. See Schlup v. Delo, 513 U.S. 298 (1995); Herrera v. Collins, 506 U.S. 390 (1993). A bare claim of actual innocence based solely on newly-discovered evidence is an Herrera claim, whereas a claim of actual innocence that is tied to a claim of constitutional error at trial is a Schlup claim. Schlup, 513 U.S. at 314. Because the Herrera and Schlup claims are different, they employ different burdens of proof. Id. Because the verdict of a constitutional-error-free trial commands the greatest respect, the criminal justice system has a need for finality, and retrying stale cases that were originally tried years before imposes a heavy burden on the State, the burden of proof in Herrera claims is "extraordinarily high." See Herrera, 506 U.S. at 417; Davila v. State, 147 S.W.3d 572, 577-78 (Tex.App.-Corpus Christi 2004, pet. ref'd). To succeed in an Herrera claim, "the petitioner must show by clear and convincing evidence that no reasonable juror would have convicted him in light of the new evidence." Ex parte Elizondo, 947 S.W.2d 202, 209 (Tex.Crim.App. 1996). Appellee's first trial was found to be error-free by this Court in Morin v. State, No. 13-01-00001, 2002 Tex. App. LEXIS 3783 (Tex.App.-Corpus Christi 2002, pet. ref'd) (not designated for publication). Furthermore, appellee's claim of innocence is unaccompanied by a claim of constitutional error and is therefore an Herrera claim. Accordingly, appellee must show by clear and convincing evidence that no reasonable juror would have convicted him in light of the new evidence. Because the trial court ruled that "the proper forum to decide the credibility of a victim is the jury," we conclude it used the wrong legal standard. The State's first issue is sustained. In light of our disposition of the State's first and third issues, it is unnecessary to address the State's second issue. See TEX. R. APP. P. 47.1. The trial court's order granting appellee's application for a writ of habeas corpus is reversed. The case is remanded to the trial court to timely determine whether appellee has shown by clear and convincing evidence that no reasonable juror would have convicted him in light of the new evidence.


Summaries of

State v. Morin

Court of Appeals of Texas, Thirteenth District, Corpus Christi
Aug 17, 2006
No. 13-05-00181-CR (Tex. App. Aug. 17, 2006)
Case details for

State v. Morin

Case Details

Full title:THE STATE OF TEXAS, Appellant, v. ESTANISLADO MORIN, Appellee

Court:Court of Appeals of Texas, Thirteenth District, Corpus Christi

Date published: Aug 17, 2006

Citations

No. 13-05-00181-CR (Tex. App. Aug. 17, 2006)