Last week, we looked at a civil case that was appealed to the Texas Supreme Court. This week, let’s look at a criminal case that was reviewed by the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals.
Go to the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals website:
Read about the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, then use the “Hand Down List” to find a list of the court’s recent orders and opinions, which are organized by the date of issue. Find a decision issued on March 3, 2010, involving Ronald Lee Wilson (PD-0307-09), who was convicted of shooting Amos Gutierrez in 2006. Turns out, the detective used a fake forensic report to bluff Wilson into thinking his fingerprints were on an ammo clip found near the body, which convinced Wilson to confess to the crime.
Write a 3-5 pages essay about the case. Make sure your essay tells your reader:
1. The name of the case.
2. What it was basically about.
3. What did the court decide about the lower court of appeals opinion and why?
4. What is a dissenting opinion, and what were the reasons behind the one in this case?
5. As the majority opinion points out, courts have long held that the police may use a certain amount of “trickery and deception” during an interrogation. If you were a judge deciding this case, how would you rule? How would you balance society’s need to get bad guys convicted with our Constitution’s rights of the accused?
Submit this assignment in Microsoft Word. Cite your sources.
Houston defense attorney John Floyd talks about the Wilson case on his blog: http://www.johntfloyd.com/texas-court-of-criminal-appeals-strikes-balance-for-rule-of-law/
Eugene Volokh covers the Wilson case on his blog, too: http://volokh.com/2010/03/09/an-unusual-exclusionary-rule-case/
The San Antonio Express-News covered the Wilson case: http://www.mysanantonio.com/news/local_news/article/Detective-s-fake-fingerprint-report-leads-to-new-4547385.php
Note on state court websites
The last few semesters, both websites you need for the Texas Judiciary assignment seem to have a lot of problems. If the websites are down, which they always seem to be about the time this assignment is due, here are some alternative ways to get the information you need.
Use “FindLaw,” an online resource for lawyers. They charge for certain things, but this information is available for free.
Go to Findlaw’s Texas page:
Scroll down to the “State” section and click on “Supreme Court and Court of Criminal Appeals Opinions.”
When you get there, you’ll see that Supreme Court opinions are listed chronologically near the top of the page, CCA opinions below. Use the dates listed in the assignment for each case to find the court opinion and proceed with the assignment.