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Criminal Law No. 260-02, 4/30/2003. Click here for the full text of this decision FACTS: The appellant pleaded guilty to aggravated sexual assault. He told the trial court that he was born in 1978, which would have made him an adult when he committed the offense. The appellant filed a pro se, general notice of appeal, which included as an attachment a Spanish-language document. Trial counsel filed a motion to withdraw. The court of appeals granted the motion, abated the appeal, and remanded the case for a hearing to determine whether appellant was indigent and entitled to appointed counsel. At the hearing, a copy of the Spanish-language document was brought to the trial court’s attention. The trial court appointed counsel and remarked, for purposes of the record, that the Spanish-language document contained in the clerk’s record had been attached to the notice of appeal, that it purported to be a birth certificate from Mexico, and that it indicated that appellant was born in 1982. The trial court expressed no opinion concerning whether the document was in fact a valid birth certificate or whether it pertained to appellant. The trial court also remarked that he had specifically noted on the notice of appeal that he did not grant permission to appeal, and he reiterated that he still did not grant permission to appeal. Initially, the court of appeals dismissed the appeal for want of jurisdiction on the ground that the appellant had filed a general notice of appeal. The appellant petitioned for discretionary review from that decision. Pursuant to Texas Rule of Appellate Procedure 50, the court of appeals withdrew its opinion and substituted a new opinion reinstating the appeal on the ground that the attached Spanish-language document caused the notice of appeal to be in substantial compliance with Texas Rule of Appellate Procedure 25.2(b). Subsequently, the court of appeals issued an opinion reversing the trial court’s judgment and remanding the case to the trial court with instructions to determine whether the juvenile court has jurisdiction over the appellant. Although the court of appeals held that it could not accept the Spanish-language document as evidence that appellant was a juvenile because the document had not been introduced into evidence at trial, the court of appeals held that “the trial court here could have determined whether the birth certificate is what it purports to be.” HOLDING: The court of appeals’ judgment is reversed; the trial court’s judgment is affirmed. The Spanish-language document was not offered as evidence at trial, nor was it made the subject of a motion for new trial. Although the document was before the trial court at the hearing to appoint counsel, the trial court’s general jurisdiction had expired upon the filing of the notice of appeal, and the trial court had authority to proceed only for limited purposes set out by law – in this instance, to determine whether the appellant was entitled to appointed counsel. Because the document was attached to the notice of appeal, it was part of the allegations pleaded in the notice, and therefore, the court of appeals could consider it for the purpose of determining whether the notice was in substantial compliance with the rules. However, as the court of appeals properly recognized, the document could not be considered as substantive evidence in support of a point of error. There was, therefore, no evidence in the record of a lack of jurisdiction. And because the appellant did not submit the document to the trial court at a time in which the trial court was empowered to take evidence regarding appellant’s jurisdictional claim, the court of appeals erred in remanding the case for the trial court to consider such evidence. OPINION: Keller, P.J.; Keller, P.J., Meyers, Price, Keasler, Hervey, Holcomb and Cochran, JJ., join. Johnson, J., concurs. CONCURRENCE: Womack, J., Holcomb and Cochran, JJ., joins. “I agree with the Court’s judgment affirming the judgment of the district court, but for a different, and more basic, reason. I believe that it is a moot question whether the attachment of the “birth certificate” to the notice of appeal was sufficient to “specify that the appeal is for a jurisdictional defect” under former Rule of Appellate Procedure 25.2(b)(3)(A), because such an appeal is not authorized by law. . . . “Here, after receiving a 40-year sentence in adult court, the appellant says that he was a juvenile all along. To prove it, he filed a birth certificate that he says is his. The appellate record is inadequate for a court to decide whether his claim is true. He should seek a writ of habeas corpus, returnable to this court, so that he can try to prove his factual claim.”

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